I have two distinct lives. One in the trenches of low-budget film and television, the other in professional gambling. Because of the feast-or-famine nature of show business I need a reliable income... gambling. So here you will read about both worlds. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Do casinos cheat?

Like the change of seasons, every 3 months or so a post pops up on the blackjack boards; I think the casino is cheating. This dealer was dealing seconds. This latest one really caught my attention:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gambling With an Edge - guest Mike Fields part 2

The guest this week is Mike Fields, Vice President of talking about some of the new games they will be introducing at the upcoming G2E (Global Gaming Expo).
Click to listen - Alt click to download

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Gambling With an Edge - guest Mike Fields.

The guest this week is Mike Fields, Vice President of talking about some of the new games they will be introducing at the upcoming G2E (Global Gaming Expo).
click to listen - alt click to download

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Conventional Wisdom

Recently on one of the blackjack boards someone posted something like this: "I'm going to be in Vegas this week. Does anyone want to meet, and maybe team up?" He was quickly slammed with responses like, "This is a good way to lose all your money." or "Don't trust people you meet on the internet." Loyal readers know that Rule #3 is "Don't listen to people on the internet," but it got me thinking about how rewarding, and profitable meeting people over the internet has been for me. I am not saying you should share your bankroll with the first guy that sends you a PM, especially if his handle is a synonym for Conman. But if you have any street-sense at all you should be able to make a judgement regarding whether or not a person is someone you want to do business with.

I met a guy in a chat room, let's call him T5. People prattled on about keeping a side count of 7s, or how much better the playing efficiency was of this count over that. This is all stuff I have no interest in, but T5 seemed to be actually interested in making money, so while they talked we would be having our own conversation using the private chat mode. He was very interested in shuffle tracking, and this was many years ago when shuffles were still good. He asked if he could fly out to California, and meet with me to talk about shuffle tracking. I tried to discourage him. He lived back east, it would be an expensive flight, and my kids were babies so he would have to stay in a hotel, but he said he wanted to invest his time and money if I would give him some of my time.  I said okay. He came out, and I taught him what I could about shuffle tracking. I felt kind of guilty because I wasn't much of a teacher, and didn't give him a lot of my time. Anyway, about a year later he calls me up, and says he found a very trackable game, but in addition he thought it would be good for sequencing. (Sequencing games are something I very much enjoy.) He described the shuffle, and I said, "Let's go." It turned out to be a nice mid 5-figure score.

Conventional wisdom; I guess I am just a contrarian. When people say they would never play at internet casinos because they probably cheat, and they have no reason to pay you, I think - sounds like that is where the money is. In fact, when internet gambling first started I did get stiffed for a very big number. A few year later I went back and tried again, and did quite well thank you.

Years ago I did an interview with Rob R. one of the founders of CORE. For those who don't know, when gambling first opened in CA it was Class II. That meant the casinos were not allowed to bank games, only players could bank against each other, and the casino would take a commission for each hand.  You can still find this structure in Oklahoma or the CA card rooms. CORE was the first group to take over all the banking in casinos. Their business grew all over the state of CA, and it became one of the most successful gambling ventures ever, taking in tens of millions of dollars if not more. But when this banking first started cheating was rampant. Stanford Wong, and Arnold Snyder both warned people about the dangers of banking because of the cheating. Rob told me this.

"Those articles were very good for us. People were terrified to bank. Our attitude was, they might be able to cheat us for a little while, but we’ll figure it out and stop them. That was part of the game. The fear of being cheated was much worse than the actual cheating. I always like to go into those areas where others are afraid to go."

So when some asshole on the internet tells you, Dice control is not worth pursuing, take what I say with a grain of salt.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Gambling With an Edge - guest Nathaniel Tilton

Our guest tonight is Nathaniel Tilton, author of The Blackjack Life. You can read my review of his book here. Review.
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Saturday, September 8, 2012


I was reading the Nolan Dalla blog today, and he had a rant about how he thought the Rolling Stones should retire. This got me thinking about my own situation. For the longest time when people asked me what I do I would say, "writer."  (These are people to whom I didn't want to say "professional gambler" for various reasons.)  But I never really felt right about saying writer since I certainly don't make anything close to a living from my writing. I had been toying with the idea of saying, "I'm retired" or "I'm semi-retired," but I'm not sure I like the sound of that either. Which brings me to John Kretz.

When I first started playing blackjack in the 70s there was a legendary player named John Kretz.  The story went that he had made more than a million dollars playing blackjack, and had then had plastic surgery to change his face so that he could keep playing. You have to understand two thing. A million dollars in the 70s was a hell of a lot of money than it is now, and back then there was only one place in the US to play blackjack, and that was the state of Nevada. When I finally met John I had to ask, if he had a million dollars why have surgery? Why continue to play? He told me, "Playing blackjack is what I do, it's who I am. What would I do, sit at home and watch TV all day?" His answer made a lot of sense to me. He wasn't out playing just for the money, it was because he loved playing, and I am sure the same holds true for The Rolling Stones. It's the same reason that Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Mohamed Ali all tried to make comebacks when they were far too old. It's much more difficult for an athlete than a musician or gambler.

I have an older friend who knew quite a few of the old-time crossroaders.  One of them had been busted for some cheating. It was over a ridiculously small amount of money, and this was a guy who had more money than he could ever spend in two lifetimes. His lawyer asked him why the hell he would risk this bust over some small amount of money.  His answer is one of my favorite lines in gambling.  He said, "I may be a sick and twisted individual, but I just love fucking these casinos."

So let the Stones die of old age on stage, let them come out with walkers. I get it. And hopefully 30 years from now I'll still be stalking around the casinos looking for a game, but telling people, "I'm retired."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Gambling With an Edge - guest I. Nelson Rose

The guest this week is professor I. Nelson Rose. This week we’ll be talking about his new book, Gaming Law in a Nutshell.
Click to listen - Alt click to download