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!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Gambling With an Edge - guest Scott Bell aka ElevenGrover

Our guest this week is Scott Bell aka ElevenGrover in the poker world. Scott has produced a new documentary called Ultimate Beat about the cheating scandal at Ultimate Bet poker.
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gambling With an Edge - guest Rich Muny of the PPA

The guest this week is Rich Muny of The Poker Players Alliance. The PPA lobbies for legal regulated poker in the US.
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Friday, October 18, 2013

No Work and All Play - Book Review

No Work and All Play: Audacious Chronicles of a Casino Boss

When I was a teenager I was obsessed with gambling. I was reading any book I could find, mostly about backgammon and poker, but also general gambling books. There was a pit boss from Las Vegas named Mike Goodman who wrote a book in the 60s called How to Win, and another in the 70s called Your Best Bet. You can pick these up for a penny now if you like - Mike Goodman books. These books were filled with a lot of nonsense about how to gamble, and about gamblers who were "sharp" or "tough" because they knew to bet more when they got on a streak. But what I liked about the books were the stories form the pits in Las Vegas. Superstitious bosses, or players. People who did crazy things in the casinos. High rollers and dames. It just made Vegas sound like the coolest place in the world. Then in the 80s another pit boss, this one named Barney Vinson wrote a couple books called Las Vegas Behind the Tables 1 & 2. Again, the advice on how to play was mostly voodoo and nonsense, but he had some great stories about the characters you find in Las Vegas on both sides of the tables. Now you know what I was expecting when I picked up this book. Unfortunately the book should be titled Chronicles of a Hotel Boss and Corporate Suit.

Roger Wagner went to UNLV, and graduated in 1969. He started working at the Dunes as at the front desk of the hotel. He bounced back and forth between the Sands and the Dunes during the 70s, working his way up the corporate ladder, but always working on the hotel side of these organizations. I found this mildly interesting only because I have a soft spot in my heart for the Sands. I spent my honeymoon there, and spent a lot of time there counting cards when I first started playing blackjack. Anyway, we get a step by step of Roger working in Reno, and Laughlin, and then Atlantic City, (He worked for Trump which provided a few interesting stories) and ultimately COO of the Horseshoe casinos under Jack Binion.

Anyone who has ever had a job has had a supervisor, or boss who was a complete moron, and/or grossly incompetent. Not Roger. Everyone he worked for is a "role model" or a "mentor". The harshest thing he has to say is he doesn't care for Harrahs. His favorite quote, which he mentions several times in the book is, "The boss aint always right, but the boss is always the boss." You can see why he ended up at the top of the corporate ladder.

I will recommend the final section of this book to anyone who works in casino management. The difference in the way Jack Binion ran his casinos is something most casinos could learn from. When Caesar's was in negotiations to buy Horseshoe they asked how many Harvard MBAs Jack had in the organization. (Caesar's is apparently very high on Harvard MBAs.) Jack said there might be one or two, but he had 60 CPAs at Horseshoe Hammond alone. They asked why he would have so many accountants. He said, not accountants, Car Parking Attendants. You know, people who actually have value to the customers.

I have to relate one story from the book about Jack's father, Benny Binion. There are hundreds of stories about the late Benny Binion, but this is the only one in the book. Benny was running a craps game in a hotel room in Dallas. Benny had a lookout in the hallway, and the guy tells Benny that the game is pretty noisy, and people coming down the hallway might hear it and know what was going on. Benny sends the guy across the street to buy a radio so he can play music in the hall, and cover the sound of the game. The guy does, comes back, but the radio doesn't work. He takes it back across the street, and the guy has a sign, "No Returns." They argue, but the guy refuses to take the radio back. The guy goes back across the street, and tells Benny the store won't take the radio back. Benny grabs the radio, and heads back across the street. The store owner points at the sign, and tells him, "I told your flunky i have a policy, no returns." Benny winds up and throws the radio into the shelf of radios behind the counter. He then whips out his pistol and puts a bullet into 6 more radios, and yells at the owner, "And I also have a policy. Don't ever let anyone screw me. That's my policy. Period." He then grabbed a working radio, and stormed out.

Roger tells this story as, "The funniest story about Benny Binion." All I could think when I read it was, "Why was this sociopath allowed to roam the streets?" Sorry Roger, I guess we just have very different senses of humor.

No Work and All Play: Audacious Chronicles of a Casino Boss  I give it...

1 1/2  ACES

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Gambling With an Edge - guest Bob Nersesian #8

The guest this week is Bob Nersesian.  Bob is a frequent guest to the show, and always entertaining.  Bob is the lawyer who advocates for the players against the casinos, and has successfully sued many Vegas casinos on the behalf of players.  He is also the author of Beat the Players.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gambling With an Edge - No guest this week

We have no guest this week, so Bob and I discuss various promotions and other gambling stories from our pasts.

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Advantage Play of the Day

Here is a free shot. The government just released a new $100 bill. See the article here. New $100.

I visited 3 banks today. Two had not received the bills yet, and one had 17 which I bought. The idea is if you are lucky enough to find bills with very low numbers, like 000000001, well that bill is going to be worth more than $100. Any unusual number could score. 314159... or 123456789. all it takes is a few minutes of your time.

Back in 2007 the government started releasing $1 coins with the faces of presidents. The first coin was of course George Washington. What makes these coins unique is they have printing around the edge of the coin.

Some of the first batch were printed in error, and this printing on the edge was missing. I bought all the rolls I could find at my local bank, and was lucky enough to score 24 of these. This netted me over $2,000 for about 15 minutes of my time. so give it a shot. Stop by your local bank, and try to hit your lucky number. It's like the lotto, except the ticket costs you nothing. Good luck, and good hunting.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Gambling With an Edge - guest Ed Miller

This week's guest is Ed Miller, author of Playing the Player, as well as 4 or 5 other books on poker. We talk about the new online poker, and the upcoming World Series November 9. We also discuss Poker Plays You Can Use by Doug Hull which Ed edited.
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