I never expected to write a book on gambling. Me, I'm just a guy who's been gambling in casinos since the spring of 1960, when my friend Lyle Stuart talked me into flying to Las Vegas from New York—a daring endeavor and extraordinary then in those days of mostly propeller-driven planes. This, for a scant three days and two nights, all just to see a legendary casino show that would become known as "The Summit Meeting." It starred Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. By night they performed together on stage at the Sands, while by day they were filming Ocean's ii. Forty years and hundreds of casinos later, I have to admit that I haven't seen a better casino show since that first one. Gambling-wise, I've done a lot better since, but it was a torturous—and rather expensive—journey. In retrospect, what it cost me in blood money—money that at one point I couldn't afford to lose—amounted to the dues I paid to reach where I am today.
What I am going to tell you in this book will save you a lot of dollars. I'll confess the costly mistakes I've made so that you can avoid them. The information I offer cost me many thousands of dollars in pitfalls and pratfalls along the way. I finally wised up, but it was an expensive journey. I learned it the hard way, but I can help you to learn it the easy way.
A gambler who lies to himself and to others is doomed forever to dwell among the ranks of losers. If you gamble and you want to enter the thinly populated world of the winners, learn that you cannot live in the bullshit dimension. Don't imitate the casinos. They tell you "their" casino is "The friendliest" in Atlantic City or Las Vegas, that "they" want you to come (with your bankroll) and "feel like part of the family."
The casinos play hardball all the time. If you want to have a chance to beat them at their own games, you must understand that they are suckering you. Keep your wits about you at all times, until you're safely heading home with your winnings. With my two no-hitters against the casinos in a little over two months, I can write with a modicum of authority.
Don't get me wrong. Arrogance and smug self-assurance are the quicksand that'll gobble up a gambler's bankroll. I never approach a gambling table without the utmost caution—the same caution with which I would approach a bear trap. On May 16, 1999, I played at fourteen blackjack tables in twelve casinos in a row in one day without a loss. At the fourteenth table—my last table for the day—I exercised as much caution in playing as I did at my first table, when I was fresh off the bus from New York.
This book is not only about blackjack. I will share with you my experiences with every game in the casino, including my onetime love/hate relationships with Keno and the money-hungry slot machines. I'll even tell you about one flawed slot machine that I emptied out, and how I had the sweet thrill of watching the sour-faced attendant turn the depleted machine to the wall.
Some of what I write is anecdotal. I will relate my adventures in dozens of casinos, from Monte Carlo and Nice, to Reno and Waldorf, Maryland, as well as my stints in illegal casinos in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I'll tell you about times I was cheated—yes, cheated—in Atlantic City and in Las Vegas—and the times dishonest casino employees cheated the casinos in my favor, hoping for a handsome "toke" (tip).Share on: