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 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."


Anonymous said...

I worked with/for John in the 70 s. It was a great experience.

Anonymous said...

Kretzy taught me to play at a game he used to run in his apartment on Wednesday nights. It was never for high stakes, but he ran it for practice. I knew very little about blackjack at the time, so my first night there, I lost all my money. As I was leaving, John told me to stick around. Over the next few hours he taught me a lot about playing, so much so, that I had $350.00 sitting in front of me by the time I was ready to go. I didn't think it was fair for me to take the money, but John insisted, even though he'd guided me to winning it. I remember him fondly.