Play With What You Have

When the great New York Yankee Hall of Fame baseball player Phil Rizzuto died, the papers were filled with stories about how such a short guy – Rizzuto was “just” 5’6” – had overcome his height disadvantage to achieve such big things.  He was an all-star, an MVP, won ten pennants and eight World Series during his 13 years with the Yankees. He was described as a “winner” in baseball and in life.

On Rizzuto’s plaque at the Yankee Stadium Memorial Park it reads: “A man’s size is measured by his heart.”

That got me to thinking. Was being 5’6” a disadvantage in baseball or in life? I am 5’6” and I never felt that I was short. I never made comments about being short or jokes about myself as some short people do. Indeed, it never occurred to me to do those things.

In my mind I was the right height. People who were taller than I were tall; people who were shorter than I were short. I played basketball; I played baseball. I played with and against the best players in New York City. I never felt as if I had to overcome anything. I just played to the best of my ability.

Intellectually I now realize that I am on the short part of the height continuum but in my head I still have that “I am the right size and everyone else is either tall or short.”

Casino players can learn a lot from Phil Rizzuto. You play the game with what you’ve got and in casino terms that specifically means with the bankroll you’ve got for actually playing such games. You can’t wish and hope to have more money to play with because that makes you feel bad about yourself. What has the size of your bankroll got to do with anything? You are who you are. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.

The casinos, obviously, are skillfully designed to reward those players who bet (and lose) large sums of money. But it does not follow that the player who loses large sums of money is a better player than someone who loses small sums of money – how good a player you are is not determined by the size of your bets but by the strategies and decisions you make.

I’ve seen many of those high rolling players using strategies that were so awful you wanted to shake them by the collar and say, “You are throwing your money away!” And I have seen mere five dollar players engaging in tight contests with the casinos. Of the two types of players, which is to be respected? The answer is obvious.

If a high roller doesn’t use basic strategy at blackjack; if that roller makes high house edge bets at craps; if he plays low payback slots and video poker machines; if he uses his “intuition” to guess what trends are about to appear or disappear, this person is large all right – he is a large fool.

The small wagering player who knows how to play the games the right way – using all the tools the casino allows to reduce the house edge to its minimum – is really a large player indeed. It is not the size of the bankroll that counts; it is the intelligence in which it is used.

Often in the casino atmosphere the red-chip player wishes he were a green-chip player and the green-chip player wishes he were a black-chip player and the black-chip player wishes he were a purple-chip player and the purple-chip player wishes he were an orange-chip player (and on it goes) – that is a caste system that must be discarded in order to play the games properly. Wishing you were someone else is not going to make you a better player. Learning the proper playing strategies will.

So let the casinos put people in castes, that’s their business; to get people to bet more, play longer, in order to “impress” the casino comp raters; but your business as a savvy player is to play perfectly with the money you have and ignore all the other players playing higher denominations and not worry about comps.

Phil Rizzuto played the game the best he could with all his ability. That made him a Hall of Famer. That made him a winner. Height be damned!

If you want to enter the casino Hall of Fame than you must play with what you’ve got and you must play the perfect strategies. There is no shortage of good betting strategies that follow the math of the games; strategies that give you a real chance to bring home the casinos’ money.

Phil Rizzuto’s object was to win games and that should be your object too. You are your own standard of performance; no one else is. Be happy with what you’ve got and play accordingly.

All the best in and out of the casinos.

Frank Scoblete’s web site is His books are available on, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores. Join his email group!