The Annoying Phone Call


I usually have my secretary answer the phones – or a pleasant answering service takes over in the “off” hours; a service that usually gets about 50 percent of the messages correct and the other 50 percent so completely botched up that I have no idea what the person calling wants. Who knows?

But every once in a while, I answer the phones. This is not a trial for me, except every once in a while the person on the other end is either a nut or a talker who tells you his long life story and how it relates to casino gambling — his long, incredibly boring life story.

The other day, however, I got a real nut who also told me his long and totally boring life story and then proceeded to badger me after the interminable thing ended. After the War and Peace version of his dull life, he then said. “You see, I want to get a way to beat the casino at craps when the other shooters are rolling. I don’t roll the dice. I don’t like to roll the dice.”

“You mean the regular random shooters?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “Do you have a system for that? So I can win when a regular shooter is rolling?”

“No,” I said, “there is no system to beat craps just by betting. You have to control the dice to have a chance to win at the game.”

“That’s not what I heard,” he said.

Then I heard the “click” which meant I had another call behind him. “I have a call behind you,” I started to say.

“There are many systems to beat the game of craps, “ he said. “You should know that. You can watch a table and discover what kind of trend is working at the table and bet that. Or you can bet against that if you think it is not going to last. What about those?”


“They don’t work. Random is random. There’s no predictability in random trends,” I said.


“Nah, nah,” he said, “I have seen trends last for quite awhile at the craps tables.”

“Okay, well, look, I have another call…”


“What about hedging your bets? You hedge your bets on the Pass Line with any craps so you reduce the impact of the seven. That’s a good system. Right?”

“No, no, it stinks,” I said. “Give me a second.” I pushed the button to see who was the other caller. He or she had hung up.

“The hedging is a good thing, all the great gambling people know that,” he said. “I am surprised you don’t understand it. I mean you’ve written a lot of books on craps. Aren’t you supposed to be an expert?”

“I understand hedging,” I said, “and I have written about it on my web site and in Casino Player magazine. Hedging doesn’t work. You lose more money by hedging your bets.”

“You don’t know what you are talking about,” he said. “You find a trend and bet with or against it by hedging your bets. That is a great way to bet.”

“Okay, fine, look, you bet any way you want to bet. It’s your money,” I said. At a certain point some conversations are just not worth pursuing and this one had gotten to that point.

“So you have no betting systems that can get me to win on the other shooters?” he asked.

“I told you that there are no betting systems that can overcome the house edge. You have to control the dice in craps. In blackjack you have to count cards. Betting systems just can’t overcome negative expectations.”

“That’s not what I heard,” he said.

“Like I said, it’s your money, bet it any way you choose,” I said.

“But you sell books on craps and gambling and you don’t know any systems to beat the house when other shooters are rolling?”

“Is this a joke?” I asked.


“Is this a joke? Are you someone who is pulling my leg?” I asked.

“I’m gambling for 40 years. I don’t joke. You should know the systems to beat the games.”

“Look, I can talk about any system you want but none of them works. I’ve written about, well, just about all of them and they don’t work. Random is random. There are trends but they are not predictive – they are random. You hedge and you’ll lose more money. You can use the 5-Count to reduce your action but against random rollers you still can’t get the edge.”

“What about the idea if you see a horn you bet a horn?” he asked.

“Stupid, it’s stupid,” I said.

“Why is it stupid?”

“Because the game is random and that horn number is no more likely to come up next than it was likely to come up the time before. The house edge is about twelve and a half percent. You’re going to lose twelve dollars and fifty cents for every hundred you bet on that.”

“I’ve been gambling for forty years,” he said, but I cut him off.

“Look, why do you need a new system?” I asked.


“Why do you need a system? If you know all these systems and have been gambling for forty years haven’t these systems won you money all those years?”


“You must be a billionaire by now. You must have seen and bet a lot of horns in forty years. You must have been on or off a lot of trends in forty years. You must be so rich with all that hedging that you could own a casino now.”

He hung up. He must have heard the sarcasm in my voice. Guys like him can make you go crazy. Then the phone rang again. I picked it up, “Look, you idiot, I told you, there are no betting systems that can beat a negative expectation game! You’re an idiot for thinking there are!”


“Go away, go away. Go away! ” I shouted.

“It’s me, Margaret,” said my mother-in-law.

“Ah,” I said. “Oh…Hi, how are you?”

And she told me, for the next hour, how she was.

Frank’s latest books are Confessions of a Wayward Catholic; I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps, and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available from, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, e-books and at bookstores.

Bird Breakups


Many birds “marry” for life, others for a little while, and some others continually play the fields, bushes, trees and shorelines. Females determine with whom they will mate, so the male birds must be colorful and expert at the sex dances in order to get those women to love them—at least for the few seconds that the actual mating takes place.

Females produce the eggs and do what they must do to propagate their species. Yes, there are some couplings where the males actually help out around the house and some even are house-husbands but usually the males are doing most of the hunting to feed their brood and leave the baby caring to the ladies. Some males just scoot away never to be seen or heard from again.

The March 2018 issue of Scientific American has an interesting article “Bird Breakup” by Jason G. Goldberg on why certain bird couplings go astray and sometimes end in a birdie divorce. Blue herons have a different mate every breeding season—they are the Liz Taylors of birding—while the mallards only have a nine percent divorce rate. The mallards are committed to marriage. The blue herons are committed to mating without commitment.

Why so?

First, most of the birdie divorces occur because of the death of one spouse or a lack of synchronicity in the birds’ migrating patterns. If hubby arrives at the nesting site a few weeks ahead of his wife but his dear wife does not get there within a certain time period, the urge to reproduce is too great for the male to hang in there. After all, the bird’s genes are screaming for reproduction. In short, death, delay or lack of synchronicity can wreak havoc with a bird marriage. A male or female is not going to wait for a delayed or dead spouse to hurry on home because the future awaits.

It is rare that in a bird marriage, one will say, “Go on now, go! Walk out the door. Just turn around now, ‘cause you’re not welcome anymore.” Generally the breakups are due to circumstances outside the bird’s control.

Then there are accidents that can cause problems in a bird’s relationship with his spouse. In New York City’s Tompkins Square Park, according to The New York Post, a lovely red-tailed hawk couple, Christo and Dora, who have raised 10 chicks together, have suddenly encountered true marriage problems.

You see Dora needed to go into rehabilitation and no, even though this is New York City, her stint in rehab had nothing to do with drugs; she had a broken wing.

Red-tailed hawks usually mate for life but with Dora’s disappearance, and presumed death, a new love entered Christo’s picture, Nora, meaning “not Dora,” flew in, wiggled her feathers and enticed Christo to give a second marriage a try.

Christo and Nora started the mating rituals and then – oh, no! – Dora was released back into the park.  Dora saw Nora. Nora saw Dora. Christo saw Dora and Nora. And there was trouble with a capital T!

The two females had no intention of being sister wives. They were on the verge of fighting to the death when Christo helped create two nests far enough away from each other so 0that Dora and Nora didn’t have to bother with one another. But Christo is not a Mormon bird from the old school of polygamy and whether he can handle two wives is yet to be seen. New Yorkers who enjoy the hawks are waiting with baited breath for the end results of this bigamy.

Peregrine falcons that also mate for life will experience devastating angst when their mates die. In the marvelous book Wings for My Flight: The Peregrine Falcons of Chimney Rock, Marcy Cottrell Houle recounts the death of a female falcon whose mate waits and waits for her return.

The male flies and flies miles and miles as he desperately searches for his mate. In his travail he loses significant weight, and when he finally realizes that he has lost his beloved, he mournfully takes up the total care and training of the chicks himself. It is a heartbreaking tale that looks exactly like true love.

Can a bird love? Can a bird feel loss? Decide that for yourselves, but my answer is yes.

Frank’s latest books are Confessions of a Wayward Catholic; I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps, and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available from, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, e-books and at bookstores.

Act It If You Don’t Feel It


There is something in the human heart that needs to be appreciated and liked and maybe even loved. Many men and women would love to be worshipped as well. Short of all that, most of us will take a pleasant friendliness in the people we must deal with, especially in our leisure time pursuits.

I remember one particularly horrid meal I had in New York City’s theatre district. My wife, the beautiful AP and I, along with gambling’s maverick author Walter Thomason and his wife, best-selling romance novelist Cynthia Thomason, were going to see the delightful hit The Music Man and we selected a restaurant near the theatre and we made an early reservation – 5:30PM – so we could make the 8PM curtain. This restaurant had come highly recommended by someone I will never talk to again!

The waiters were the nastiest people I have ever met. Poor Walter ordered a drink before dinner, then during dinner, then after dinner – the same drink, because they never brought it to the table. Yet the drink appeared three times on the check. The service was slow. The food was cold when it was brought to the table and when we left we told the maitre d’ that the service and the food left a lot to be desired.

He looked at us and said disdainfully, “This is New York if you haven’t noticed.” I have no idea what he meant since I have been living in New York for more than half a century. Was he saying that nastiness is something we New Yorkers should be proud of? Most New York restaurants have very friendly waiters by the way. So did he think we were tourists who had to be mistreated to get his version of the New York flavor? Beats me.

Almost topping this dining disaster was one I had in Memphis, Tennessee at a restaurant everyone told me had the best barbequed ribs on the planet. I was staying at the delightful Peabody Hotel and I went nearby to enjoy this world famous barbeque. Aside from the fact that the ribs went down like bricks, the waiters at this restaurant were frothing cousins to their New York City counterparts. Even worse, I found the restaurant greasy, the plates smudgy, the drinking glasses smeared. I had a hard enough time starting my meal, much less finishing. I don’t care how famous a restaurant is – filth is filth. The surly waiters almost threw the plates on the table and when I ordered a glass of wine – the glass looked like those jelly glasses that Welch’s used to sell so when you finished your jelly you had a cheap glass. The wine at this dump did not taste as good as the Welch’s jelly either.

These two events brought home the fact that not everyone belongs in the “service industry.” When I was a young man I worked in a fancy restaurant where I wore a tuxedo and spoke with a slight French accent (this restaurant only hired people with foreign accents so all of us Americans pretended to be from somewhere else) and I know that many nights I had to act friendly even though I didn’t feel friendly. That’s the nature of the job – you must be professional and friendly if you want to be a good waiter or waitress. In a real sense you are the servant of those whom you are serving and no one wants a surly servant.

Now is it easy to be a servant? No, many times it is difficult because the people you are serving, over the course of a day, a night, a week, a career can sometimes be tough to deal with. That one nasty person can make an otherwise great day turn somewhat sour. But a professional is a professional. Actors in a bad mood must still show delight if the scene in the play calls for it. A waiter must show the same friendly face even if inside he is steaming because of this or that event or patron. If a servant can’t do that he or she should seriously consider another job.

The casino industry is no different than any other service industry. From the moment you drive onto a property you are meeting service people – valet parkers, bellhops, reservation clerks, dealers, pit personnel, waiters, waitresses, spa attendants and more – all of them working jobs where your satisfaction is the key to their performance. The casino-hotel has made a commitment to making your stay enjoyable.

Players who play at tables with surly dealers certainly have diminished pleasure. The dealers can’t make you win or lose, of course, but they can present you with a winning attitude, a friendly disposition, and a professional demeanor. So how come some dealers seem like fire-breathing dragons, ready to incinerate you for daring to talk to them? Because they haven’t learned the most important aspect of the service industry – acting.

I learned from being a waiter that it didn’t matter what I was actually feeling. The patrons at the restaurant weren’t interested in my internal state. They were there for a gourmet meal served by a professional waiter. So that is the role I played. I showed the same disposition whether my internal state was happy or glum.

Dealers, pit personnel and others you encounter in the casino environment must perform their roles regardless of their inner states. What’s inside is irrelevant to the job.

Let me close with a great moment from the lives of two of the world’s greatest actors, Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman. They were filming Marathon Man and the scene to be shot was supposed to be about Hoffman’s character having stayed awake for 24 hours. Hoffman, being a method actor, wanted to do the scene for real – so he stayed up for 24 hours before the filming. Of course, he could not remember his lines and he was screwing up left and right. Olivier, to be helpful, said to him, “My dear boy, if you had learned how to act you wouldn’t have had to stay up all night!”

Great advice.

Teachers Toting Guns


Mr. Morris Dickly served in the military. He was good with pistols and rifles and assault weapons. He was also highly strung but he was able to do his job.

Now 12 years later he is a teacher in a wealthy suburban high school composed of snotty teenagers who have no respect for anything other than themselves. These students have seemingly mated with their phones.

The principal selected him as one of 10 teachers who would now be able to carry a concealed weapon in school to protect against possible school shooters. No students knew about this new but secret security measure. No non-weaponized teachers knew about it either.

Dickly taught history and government. Did the students like him? Not really. Most obeyed because they were too lazy to exert energy in discussion or homework and it was up to Dickly to get them through their exams so their pain-in-the-ass parents wouldn’t complain. You never want parents to complain.

Dickly had three students he hated, Charlie Crisp, Raymond Barlow and Jeremy Jones. They were insufferable and nasty.

You see Dickly had a rather large red nose with plenty of hair coming out of it. The redness wasn’t from drinking, although Dickly loved his beer and it showed in his expanding gut. Every day he would get home from school wound-up and wishing his students, especially those three, would just go away like his wife did two years ago with that guy who never served a day! A few beers soothed him. Why did he ever go into teaching? He couldn’t stand most teenagers.

Charlie Crisp enjoyed sticking pencils in his nose to imitate Mr. Dickless as the three called him. Actually most of the kids called Dickly Mr. Dickless but they did it so Dickly couldn’t hear them. Barlow went so far on occasion as to put some cotton in his nose to imitate Dickly’s nose hair. Jones for his part was the loud laugher “Yuk! Yuk! Yuk!” whenever his compatriots did their thing. Dickly figured that everyone in the school could hear Jones’ laughter coming from his room. I hate those three fucks!

Those three were responsible for writing on the chalk board “I am Mr. Dickless! I can’t stand up!” whenever they could. Dickly could occasionally hear them saying under their breath Dickless, Dickless, Dickless when he had his back turned to the class. But he couldn’t nail them doing it. None of the other jack-asses and jack-lassies would tell on their schoolmates. Fuck them too!

On the day it all happened Dickly was late for class. Charlie Crisp was dog style on Dickly’s desk with the pencils in his nose making pig noises while Barlow, cotton balls sticking out of his nose, was pretending to have anal intercourse with him. Jones was laughing his head off – “Yuk! Yuk! Yuk!” All the other kids were laughing too.

Since Dickly was late he did not get to his private locker to put his pistol away. When the class saw him, they quieted somewhat, but Jones kept “yuking” it up. “Yuk! Yuk! Yuk!”

“Yeoow!” screamed Crisp, not knowing Dickly was standing in the door. “I’m Dickless getting reamed, yeoow!” Jones roared, “Yuk! Yuk! Yuk!” Barlow bellowed, “I’m Dickless screwing myself up the…” “Yuk! Yuk! Yuk!” roared Jones.

Then the three of them knew something was different. They turned and saw a red-faced Dickly at the door – red faced with his nose even redder. They were about to make the wrong choice.

“Get off my desk Crisp,” said Dickly.

“You don’t scare me Dickless,” scoffed Charlie Crisp, suddenly feeling invulnerable as many teenagers will.

“Yuk! Yuk! Yuk!”

“Aren’t you enjoying what is happening, Dickless?” scorned Barlow.

“You like it this way!” shouted Crisp shaking his ass and at this and the whole class, even the usually quiet kids, went into paroxysms of laughter.

That man had stolen his wife. Now these three had stolen his dignity. They were sneering at him. The fucks!

The gun blasts were heard throughout the school. Teachers brought their kids into the closets and locked their doors. Students at gym hid under the bleachers.

“Bam! Bam! Bam!” One bullet caught Crisp in his ass; another tore part of Barlow’s face off, and Jones was killed right after a “yuk!” Three dead. Those fucks!

That night students talked to the television news crews who were swarming like locusts outside the school. The students, even the ones from Dickly’s class who laughed at Dickly, were all acting sorrowful,. “Mr. Dickly just snapped. No one did anything.”

Commentators on the networks talked about the need not to allow teachers to have guns. “Only administrators should have guns,” said one principal wearing the cowboy belt his wife had given him for his birthday.

Frank’s latest books are Confessions of a Wayward Catholic!; I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps, and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available from, Kindle, e-books, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.

The Bookcase: Review of “Wesley the Owl” by Stacey O’Brien


Last things first—I cried. Wesley the owl died at the end of the book at the age of 19. I am not ashamed to admit I cried. Thirty years ago I would have been sneering at my tearing but in the last 22 years I have had two parrots as pets (both still alive) and I know the close relationship that a human and a bird (perhaps all pets and people) can have.

My older bird, Augustus, came close to death about five years ago. My wife, the Beautiful AP, and I were shattered. I never thought that could happen to me, my lord, I was sad because of a bird? Yes, I was. Augustus was a part of my family; he is still a part of my family.

Stacey O’Brien has written a masterful tale, Wesley the Owl, of her 19 years with a barn owl who would have died in the wild because he started his life with a broken wing. If owls can’t fly, they die. Stacey had a choice; adopt the owl or know that she had consigned him to oblivion. Stacey is a biologist specializing in wild animal behavior. She adopted the owl.

Of course, she had to figure how to feed it (loads and loads of mice) and take care of it in the confines of an indoor life. Wesley had some very strong ideas about how he wanted to live—one way was without other males coming near his “mate.” Wesley was jealous of “suitors.” In that he was much like the Greek hero Odysseus, after whose return from a 20 year adventure, killed his supposedly widowed wife’s suitors.

Despite the word barn in the owl’s name, it is an outdoor creature that might only very, very occasionally wind up in someone’s barn for some strange reason or other.

Wesley the Owl is a personal tale. Stacey suffered from migraines which became so bad that she would pass out. Ultimately, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, then a stroke and wound up in a wheelchair. She seriously thought of suicide. What held her hand? Let her tell you:

“Wesley had been my constant companion, my teacher, and my friend. I now made the decision to honor this little body with the huge soul, and to see him through to the end. I had promises to keep. It was the one thing I could still do. It’s the Way of the Owl. You commit for life, you finish what you start, you give your unconditional love, and that is enough. I looked into the eyes of the owl, found the word of God there, and decided to live.”

I just gave my two birds kisses. These are birds I love. Stacey loved Wesley. Read the book; I think you will enjoy it.


This book review first appeared in the South Shore Audubon Society’s newsletter The Skimmer at

Frank’s books are available at, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores.

I Hate These Commercials



I am not a big fan of television commercials. I don’t like seeing car companies selling speed with whooshing automobiles and sexy women salivating over the vehicle which only leads idiots to conclude that driving fast is a good thing and will get them plenty of sex too. I don’t like those drug commercials that sell you on something that has so many side effects it’s amazing anyone lives who takes these drugs. I certainly don’t like those male erection commercials that warn if you have an erection for several days after taking their powerful drug you’d better head for the emergency room. Even as a teenager I didn’t want an erection that lasted several days!

But in my business as a professional gambling busybody, the commercials that have driven me over the edge are coming not from auto manufacturers, or from the chemistry industry, or from the erector set, but from the casinos and casino venues.

Here are a few:

In Tunica, Mississippi, Fitzgeralds had a radio commercial that promoted itself as the luckiest casino in the area. How do you measure that? How can you say you are the luckiest casino? What is the precise definition of luck and how does a casino have more or less of it than some other casino? Had the casino said it pays back more on its slot machines and proved that, well, that is a statement of fact – but to say your casino contains more luck is a statement of fantasy to be nice, or falsehood to be precise.

The bizarre thing is that another Tunica casino, The (now defunct)Grand, was also billing itself in radio commercials as the luckiest casino too. It even had radio commercials where “players” claim that they have the best luck at the Grand. So which casino is the luckiest? Can there be two luckiest casinos?

The Vegas promotion of “what happens here stays here” has generated a tremendous positive buzz around the country – it’s more popular than any quote from Shakespeare. It’s also as false as a “dicer’s oath.”

These commercials are designed to make people think that they can do anything they want in Vegas and no one will ever know. Speak to former education secretary Bill Bennett and you learn his multi-million-dollar slot-play losses didn’t stay in Vegas but made front-page news all over the world when “secret” casino files were released. These “what happens here stays here” commercials are recommending that people lie and cheat on their spouses and fiancées. They recommend giving fake names to people you meet so you can have “carefree” pickups. In short, they recommend the type of behavior you were taught from childhood to avoid – the type that is ultimately not healthy for your mind, body or spirit. Germs don’t stay in Vegas.

Now the massive Foxwoods, Connecticut casino came up with a truly nauseating commercial. It was a takeoff of The Wizard of Oz and had several weird looking people cavorting on the grounds of and in the casino. “Dorothy” looked as if she was seriously strung out. The others looked worse. What is the point of the commercial? That people who look like crack addicts have fun at Foxwoods?

Foxwoods competitor, Mohegan Sun, had its own strange television commercials. One highlighted a middle aged woman using her “psychic powers” to find a hot machine – as if such mysticism actually was the way to winning slot play. It isn’t of course. But it fuels the poor deluded slot players into thinking they too can find a fabulous machine just by using their psychic powers.

Perhaps the commercial that drives me to yelling at the television was Mohegan Sun’s “Nick Felder: I Am An Idiot!” commercial. Yes, I have named it that based on its content.

The commercial opens with a crowded craps table where everyone is madly cheering. A somewhat disheveled young man who has been shooting the dice turns and then walks towards the camera: “I don’t even know how to play this game,” he laughs. “But I’ve got them all fooled. It’s all in the game face, something I call ‘attack force delta.’ So tonight Nick Felder is the deadly green felt ninja. And tonight I’m faking it until I’m making it and no one is going to know the difference.” He then turns and goes back to the table where he shoots the dice and everybody cheers like maniacs even before the dice stop moving.

This commercial was not subtle in getting its points across. It explained that the casino prefers its players to be complete dolts at the tables. Certainly if an idiot such as Nick Felder, the green felt ninja, can play craps than you certainly can too. You don’t have to know anything. Just throw the dice and win! This commercial recommends stupidity as a primary criterion for playing its games, not knowledge of the odds, not knowing which are the best bets.

You have no idea of whether the craps game being shown in this commercial is a good one or a bad one or one in between. Because none of that matters. The casino isn’t selling a good game – it’s selling a mind set for the player or a mindless set to be exact. Just pretend, that’s all you have to do, and you can have “them” all fooled too.

Now to be fair, there are many good casino commercials – showing people enjoying the games, the restaurants, the shows and athletic events, the spas – none of them attempting to promote a mindset that is seriously absent the mind part.

In truth, casino games are tough enough to beat when you know what you are doing. “Faking it until you are making it,” is a sure way to economic disaster.

Frank’s latest books are Confessions of a Wayward Catholic!; I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps, and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available from, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, ebooks and at bookstores.


Old Pro Wrestling Was Better Than New Pro Wrestling


Call me an old fart (don’t you dare!) but I just bought some pro-wrestling DVD’s featuring the real “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers, Antonino Rocca, Killer Kowalski, Gorgeous George, Pat O’Connor, Verne Gagne and a host of others.  I watched the first tape today, some 10 matches.

They were absolutely mesmerizing.

When I was a kid I went to all the shows at Madison Square Garden — this was in the mid-1950’s to the mid-1960’s. I saw all the old greats: those mentioned above, in addition to Sammartino, Dr. Jerry Graham, Haystacks Calhoun, Ricky Starr, Bobo Brazil and many, many others.

I was a true pro-wrestling fan.

To me, even then, I considered it a form of physical opera. The wrestlers themselves were always “themselves” as often as they could be. They even, mostly, had villain and hero dressing rooms.

So to most of the fans – many of them true fanatics – the matches were real. And they were expertly done; the matches actually seemed real and those “old-time” wrestlers played their parts to perfection. Killer Kowalski scared the hell out of some of my friends.  Rocca delighted us. And Buddy Rogers (to me) was THE man (villain or not).

I lost track of wrestling after that. I got much more involved in boxing (had my head handed to me in my “farewell” fight) and then I turned to teaching, writing, marriage, children, divorce, a second marriage (to the one and only Beautiful AP) and challenging the casinos with several forms of advantage-play.

I flirted with wrestling during the Hulk Hogan era. I enjoyed it to a degree. But it was over-the-top. Yes, Macho Man was great and one of the best bouts I ever saw was his with Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat at WrestleMania III (I think it was III). I think Bret “the Hitman” Hart was also a great pro wrestler. But overall, the “new” wrestling just didn’t top the “old” wrestling.

Today? The “new” “new” group? Great athletes. Amazing physical skills. But…but…it just doesn’t have it. And I mean IT. The big IT! You know it is all a performance but it has become (I hate to say this) ridiculous. Outlandish, yes; and superb, yes; but mesmerizing? Not in the least.

If I were in control of the “sport”? I’d take it back several steps. Let’s go back to the “old” days, at least a little. Today’s jumping out of the ring on another wrestler (almost every show I have seen recently) has become trite, routine. Killer Kowalski glaring and shouting was amazing. He had more power than all the flying jumps of modern-day wrestling performers.

And Buddy Rogers? THE “nature boy” and one of a kind.

I wish I could go back in a time capsule and relive these great wrestlers live and in the arena.

(One problem with the DVD’s is this: The announcers are awful, just dreadful. Today’s announcers are far superior.)

Frank’s latest books are Confessions of a Wayward Catholic!; I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps, and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available from, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.

Men, Women and Slots


According to a survey by Harrah’s a while ago, about 81 percent of all women casino gamblers played the slot machines, while only 66 percent of the men did so. The table games are dominated by men with craps having about a 90 percent male majority and blackjack and roulette seeing smaller male majorities, but majorities nevertheless.

The slots are still a woman’s world as they have been since the casinos started placing them on their floors.

Obviously women like playing the machines and many of the machines are geared to this female enjoyment. Note the number of new machines each year that have movie titles, television titles, or star titles as their branding. Most of these machines are clearly aimed at women – although the Clint Eastwood and comic book machines are obviously geared to men.

Why women prefer slots to table games in such a huge majority is not truly known with certainty. Maybe the tables seem more competitive, combative and judgmental. After all, no one tells you how to play the slots but many blackjack “experts” have no hesitation telling other blackjack players how to play their hands or scolding them that they just played a hand incorrectly. Whether the blackjack “expert” actually knows how to play is irrelevant – he thinks he knows how to play and that is enough for him to lambaste anyone who plays differently.

You will not get this kind of game interference at the slot machines. Other slot players don’t care whether you play one coin, two coins, or three coins or whether you are superstitious or happy or depressed or clinically insane. Most slot players exist in a world of their own, only occasionally interrupted by the screams of some other slot player who has just won a big one and can’t keep from yelling her good fortune to the world. Slot players rejoice when other slot players win and then they quickly go back to doing what they love to do – playing those machines.

While slot play is overwhelmingly the game of choice for both women and men, savvy slot aficionados recognize an interesting peculiarity in their slot-playing brethren. Slot players lose interest in all types of machines relatively quickly. They will play a given machine for a period of time and then abandon it. One slot player said, “I love the Elvis machines but I never won on them so I quit playing them and moved on to Betty Boop.” And what happened? “I didn’t have much better luck on Betty so I dumped her too.”

Like bad marriages, slot players and slot machines divorce rather often. Slot players are the Elizabeth Taylors of casino gamers – always looking for the perfect match and never finding it. This is probably due to the fact that most slot players lose most of the time on all of the machines. By switching machines so frequently, they hope to switch their luck. Unfortunately, the machines are not programmed to increase your luck. They are programmed to increase the casino profits.

Casino executives know of the brittle relationship of slot player to slot machine and that’s why each and every year you will note how many new machines make their way onto the casino floors. All casino gaming shows such as G2E (Global Gaming Expo) are dominated by new machines. There may be no difference in payouts between Betty Boop machines and Shirley Temple machines but they look different and sound different and the slot player will jump from one to the other hoping they are actually different.

The first law of slot machines is “keep them coming” because new machines will be tried by players. You will not see this same jumping around at table games. Craps players don’t abandon their favorite game because, win or lose, they love the game. Blackjack players are loyal as well. You will not see many new table games at gaming shows and while some new table games have gotten a foothold in the casinos but compared to the number of new machines out there, the number of new table games is infinitesimal.

The paybacks on slot machines make them tough sells. Most have edges over 5 percent and many have edges over 10 percent. These are big edges and in league with the high speeds with which slot players attack the machines, they add up to frequent and often large losses. Very few people will stay in a marriage where they are abused and slot players don’t want to stay at machines that have been cuffing them around for any period of time. So onto the new machines with hope burning in their hearts. Slot players are like a country and western song, “I Keep Losing My Love but I Never Give Up!”

Of course, if slot payouts were really generous, say 99.5 percent (the casino having a half percent edge in that case – an edge similar to a blackjack basic strategy player), then the chance is fairly good that the slot player will stick with such a machine come hell, high water, or new slot inventories. Getting some kind of return on a gambling investment is the best way for casinos to keep their players playing. The second best way is to offer new machines. The casinos prefer to offer new machines.

There is really no end in sight to the slot revolution that has taken place in the casinos. In 1984, in both Atlantic City and Las Vegas, the slots made more money than the table games for the first time ever and their growth since then has been nothing short of phenomenal. While 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce, most divorced people still want to get remarried. And slot players still want to play the machines even after they have divorced numerous previous machines. It’s the way of the slot world.

All the best in and out of the casinos!

Visit Frank’s web site at . Frank’s latest books are Confessions of a Wayward Catholic!; I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps, and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available from, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.

Save the Best for Last


My wife, the Beautiful AP, and I went bird watching recently at the Jamaica Wildlife Refuge in Howard Beach, Queens, New York. This is my favorite place to go for the variety of birds, and for everything else—the marsh, the lakes, the ponds, the bay, the paths, the forest and the magnificent vistas.

You are in beautiful nature yet, through your binoculars off in the distance, you can see the skyline of Manhattan, which is always a spectacular sight. And since this refuge is quite close to Kennedy Airport you get to see hundreds of planes flying into the sky—mankind’s successful attempt to mimic the birds of the air.

Having gotten out of a 10-day post-New Year’s single-digit deep freeze, it was a relief to escape into 40-degree weather, although along the ocean and wetlands, it was still cold and windy.

We had to sneak into the park; it was closed because of the Federal government’s shutdown. We did a two mile walk on the main path; on our left the salt quarter-frozen bay and on the right the completely frozen freshwater lake.

About a hundred feet into the walk we encountered a young female photographer who was sitting on a bench looking at the bay on the opposite side of which is Far Rockaway.

“Any luck?” asked AP.

“Nothing except some flitters that are too fast to photograph,. They zip into the bushes and vanish,” she said. “Nothing is standing still today. There just isn’t really much to see.”

“Well, good luck,” I said as we walked on.

When we hit the area that had no bushes or trees on either side of the path, the wind whipped us. “So much ice,” said AP, looking over the bay.

“Nothing out there,” I said. Just then high overhead a small flock of Canada geese sailed over our heads. “I wouldn’t want to be a Canada goose,” I said. “Nobody seems to like them.”

“Do you like them?” asked AP.

“Not after stepping in their shit all these years,” I said.

“Remember the ones that were so aggressive at Hall’s Pond? If you didn’t give them something to eat, they attacked you.”

“Even if you fed them,” I said. “They still bit you.”

So we kept walking the path, stopping occasionally to look through our binoculars to see if there was anything to see. There wasn’t. The Manhattan skyline looked great as did the planes soaring into the air, but that was about it.

“Maybe we will see something in the second half of the walk,” said the Beautiful AP. “Maybe the second half will be good.”

“The second half of life’s been good,” I said.

“My first half wasn’t so hot,” said AP.

Indeed, AP’s first 29 years saw her more like a deer caught in a car’s headlights on the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey. She titled her parents’ marriage “Ozzie and Harriet in the Twilight Zone.”

“I was in the Twilight Zone with them,” she said. “It was a middle-class suburban family in chaos.”

“I had wild ups and downs in my first half of life. I certainly disappointed my father,” I said.

“You didn’t become a major league baseball player,” said AP.

I laughed, “I didn’t become the next Joe DiMaggio. I was nowhere near as good as you had to be to become a professional player, even a minor leaguer. So I didn’t get the fame he wanted for me. I petered out. And then a bad marriage, divorce and damn it wasn’t exactly turning out like It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“If we hadn’t met each other I sometimes wonder if I would ever have left Twilight Zone,” she said.

“Without your support I would never have become a well-known writer,” I said.

“The second half has been the best,” said AP.

“Agreed,” I said. “I’ve always felt bad for the people who look over their early years, say in high school or even in college, and reminisce as if these were the best years of their lives. It is sad that the right now is not their best times.”

“I have no nostalgia about those years. I’d never go back,” said AP.

“Me too. Just as we wouldn’t go back from where we came from on this walk, other than a flock of Canada geese, not a bird in sight, I prefer moving ahead. ‘Let the dead past bury its dead,’ as someone famous once said.”

“So let’s move on with the future of this walk,” said the Beautiful AP.

Right then a sparrow landed on the path in front of us. Our first non-goose! AP focused her camera but the sparrow scooted into the bushes before she could take a picture. The sparrow was not the last. We took a couple of steps and two unidentifiable black birds zipped over our heads. At least they were birds!

At the tail end of our walk all hell broke loose! Or maybe you could say that the heavens’ opened. Suddenly there were a half dozen different birds flying overhead, landing in the denuded trees, walking on the snow on the path searching for water and seeds, and some just stood on the side of the path looking at us. AP took dozens of photos. A couple came over and both the husband and the wife exclaimed, “Look at all the cedar waxwings!”

These birds are small and look like miniature cardinals. They were not skittish and the Beautiful AP got dozens of pictures of them. There were cardinals and robins and sparrows and gulls and, yes, flying overhead and honking like crazy were those Canada Geese. There were some other birds too—I just don’t what kind. It was, I kid you not, like being in an aviary.

When we finished, we snuck out of the Refuge and walked  to the car.  AP summed up our lives and this bird walk stating, “The second half was so much better!”

Frank’s latest books are Confessions of a Wayward Catholic!; I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps, and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available from, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.

Streaking into 2018


Let’s talk about streaks. Every casino gambler, from the best of them to the worst of them, knows that all casino contests are streaky. You win some, you lose some; you win a few in a row; you lose a few in a row. You have good days; you have bad days.

Streaks and gambling go together like a horse and a carriage, love and marriage, Belvedere and a martini. We all know this for a fact.

However, some gambling pundits pontificate that the good and bad streaks even out in the games – which is not the case in almost all casino games. Indeed, if you are a betting man or woman wager your money on the fact that the casino will have more “good” streaks for them (good meaning they win more decisions or take a tax out of your winnings) than “bad” streaks against them. The players will face just the opposite situation. They will have more bad streaks and fewer good streaks.

The reason for this is in the nature of the games, which usually means the math of the games. Let’s take a look at the casino players’ favorite table game, blackjack. It is no secret that blackjack is a very close contest between the player and the casino – if (and this is a big IF) the player knows the correct basic strategy, the computer derived best play of each player hand against every dealer’s upcard.

In most traditional blackjack games, the player using correct basic strategy will face an approximately one-half percent house edge, which means a loss of approximately 50 cents for every $100 the player wagers. That’s a good game, pretty close.

However, blackjack is not the equivalent of flipping a coin where the player and the casino win half the hands and lose half the hands respectively. Absolutely not. The house will win approximately 48 percent of the hands; the player will win approximately 44 percent of the hands; and approximately 8 percent of the hands will be pushes (ties).

Clearly the house will have longer winning streaks and shorter losing streaks than the player because of these percentages. If there were no other betting options in a blackjack game, the player would lose $4 for every $100 he bet. Yet, the player does not lose this much; in fact, the player loses much less because blackjack has certain playing options that allow the player to get more money on the table in certain hands – he can double down on two cards; he can split; he can sometimes double down on his split hands; he might even be able to surrender his poor hands. A big benefit for the blackjack player is getting that 3 to 2 payout for a blackjack – with blackjacks appearing in about 5 percent of the hands.

These playing options bring the monetary edge of the casino down to that approximate one-half percent. Casinos that have instituted the 6 to 5 payout for blackjacks have therefore seriously hurt the players’ chances of winning at the game by drastically increasing the house edge.

At roulette the house is a solid favorite to have more winning streaks than losing streaks on the outside even-money proposition bets. On the red/black, odd/even, high/low propositions the house will win 20 decisions and lose 18 decisions. That translates into a 53 percent win rate for the house and a 47 percent win rate for the player. The house therefore is the favorite to have winning streaks, while the player is the favorite to have losing streaks.

On the center “straight up” wagers, the house wins 37 times and loses one time in 38 spins on average. Of course, no one would play the straight up wagers if the payout were one-to-one so the house pays 35 to one on these wagers. That brings the house edge down to 5.26 percent, which is fairly hefty. The only way the player can bring the winning and losing streaks even at roulette is to bet half of the numbers.

Unfortunately, while betting 19 numbers at roulette is a 50-50 game in terms of streaks, the house still wins more money since the payoffs are shortened by that 5.26 percent.

Craps puts the house in a favorable streaking situation on its most popular bet, the Pass Line. The house wins 251 decisions, while the player wins 244 decisions on this wager. While this makes it a very close contest you can see the house will have slightly longer winning streaks than losing streaks.

As with roulette’s straight up wagers, the proposition bets at craps are all long shots that pay less than their true odds. Take a bet such as the 12, known as boxcars, which has a one in 36 chance of appearing. Obviously, the player who bets the 12 each and every roll will find himself in enormous negative monetary streaks. However when he hits this number, the house doesn’t pay the win off at one-to-one as only the truly insane would then make such a bet. Instead, the house usually pays off at 30 to one – much less than the true odds of 35 to one, but far better than one-to-one. The house edge on this bet comes in at almost 14 percent, a huge edge nevertheless. You only have to be somewhat insane to make this particular bet.

All the carnival games such as Caribbean Stud, Three-Card Poker, Four-Card Poker, and Let it Ride also give the house a much better chance of having longer winning streaks than losing streaks against the player.

Let’s take Let It Ride as an example. While this game has a loyal following, that following plays a game where the house wins approximately 75 percent of the decisions and the players win approximately 25 percent of the decisions. The player will have much longer losing streaks; the house will have much longer winning streaks. However, to make up for this inadequacy, many winning hands at Let it Ride pay a premium bonus, bringing the house edge down to around three percent.

Information about the casino-favorable nature of streaks is not some arcane but useless knowledge. Knowing this tells you a very important thing – gambling systems based on the erroneous idea that the house and the player will experience the same types of streaks are wrong. Using them to win money at the games is a sure way to disaster.

Now you can streak into 2018 properly.

Read Frank’s Confessions of a Wayward Catholic!