When is a Friend not a Friend?

 

Julius Caesar had a slight problem with his friends. They killed him. I know, this is not what you want from your friends, your assassination. That shows you what they really think of you as in they think that you are better off dead.

Casino players also have to be careful of the friends with whom they go to the casinos. Are they good for you? Bad for you? Will they ultimately help in creating economic woes for you should you follow their leads? Can you be assassinated by your friends in the temple of Lady Luck as Caesar was assassinated in the Roman senate?

There are some important factors to consider. Be honest with yourself now. Are your friends nutty gamblers? Do they drink to excess and play strategies that are poor or just plain awful? The higher they get, the dumber they get? Do they encourage you to do what they do? Do they egg you on to poor decisions? Do they play too long and keep digging into their pockets if things aren’t going well for them?

By now you must be thinking, “Such friends are not good friends at all – at least not in the casino environment where control and discipline are important ingredients for a player to have.”

Joshua had a problem with his friends. “They would start the evening off really cool and disciplined but as time went on they got crazier and crazier and louder and louder. Some of that I owe to the drinking; some of it was just as they really got into the games, they just lost sight of the fact that they were betting real money that they had earned by working.”

But for Joshua the above was not the worst of it. “As they got more rambunctious they wanted me to take part in their shenanigans but I didn’t want to. They loved to tease the cocktail waitresses and that made me uncomfortable. I finally avoided going to the casinos with them. Otherwise, outside the casino, they were regular guys but it was like they became werewolves in the casino.”

Melanie too had to jettison her casino friends. “I couldn’t take the complaining. Nothing was ever right for them. If they were losing they blamed the dealer for their losses and they would get on the dealers and it was so embarrassing to be with them. If they didn’t get the comps they thought they deserved everybody in the casino had to hear about because they were so loud in protesting how they were being treated. I couldn’t stand that. I wanted my casino visits to be fun, not filled with grief. I dumped them and I am happy I did so.”

Paul had someone he called the “nudge.” This guy was always getting on him to bet more money and make poor bets. “I wanted to bet my money my way and he was always hassling me. I don’t know, it was almost like he wanted me to lose my money and that was really so if he were having a bad night. How could he not have a bad night? The way he bet he was asking for it. But I wasn’t asking for it.”

So there is a simple lesson here. You want your casino friends to enhance your casino experiences; not wreck them.

All the best in and out of the casinos!

Frank’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available from smile.Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, kindle, e-books and at bookstores.

Franklin versus Franklin

 

This information may be apocryphal but so what? Apocryphal stories can be fascinating. A biblical apocryphal story titled “The Wisdom of Solomon” has the author (the smartest man of all time!) caution men not to marry more than one wife, as the anger and conflicts caused by those backbiting women couldn’t be contained.

Ben Franklin and his illegitimate son William Franklin were close for a while, but when the Revolutionary War was brewing William was a “loyalist” to the British, while Ben supported the Revolution. That didn’t enhance their relationship.

William and Ben also disputed which language should be used by Americans; it was a tossup between German and English.  The Germans dominated the northern populace throughout the early days and they were the first of the hated immigrants.  Ben wanted people to speak only English while William leaned towards German. That didn’t enhance their relationship either.

But their big blowout came about because of a bird or, rather, two birds—the bald eagle and the wild turkey. There was a big debate flaring in the colonies as to which bird should be their emblem and later on, the emblem of United States.

William championed the bald eagle because he and his supporters thought the bird was regal and a true monarch of the air. Ben advocated the wild turkey because it was combative and didn’t take any guff from other birds or people. It also tasted a lot better than the bald eagle. Perhaps Ben liked the wild turkey because it was quite promiscuous, enjoying the intimate company of as many lady turkeys as it could.

To this day Americans love turkey, consuming over 750 million pounds of it, according to the University of Illinois Extension.

William’s predilection for the regality of the bald eagle probably came from his love of the British crown and royalty in general. Although not as promiscuous as his father, William did sire his own illegitimate son much like Ben and King Solomon.

Although a close look at the bald eagle will reveal that although it does nail fish and small varmints, it will also chow down on carrion. So it isn’t as regal as William at first thought. Still, unlike the turkey, the bald eagle does not make a habit of attacking people. It’s generally a loner, while the wild turkey prefers gang colors.

Father/son relationships can be fraught with difficulties, as many of you know; just look at Luke Skywalker and his dear old dad, Darth Vader. That relationship cost Luke an arm, although I actually prefer the leg (of a turkey that is).

Visit Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available at smile.amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, as e-books and at bookstores.

 

Does Amy Sherman-Palladino Hate Her Characters?

 

I love the works of writer, director, producer Amy Sherman-Palladino. She is the creator of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the first two seasons of which have been A+, and before that, the long-running Gilmore girls, which was an “A” show until…Ms. Sherman-Palladino went rogue and destroyed her two leading romantic characters, Lorelai Gilmore and Luke Danes.

Gilmore girls got so irritating at the end of the sixth season that my wife, the Beautiful AP, and I dropped out early in the seventh season. We became disgusted with the character of Lorelai and felt heavy-hearted for the mistreatment of the wonderful character of Luke.

You see from season one the audience knew (as did the entire fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut) that ultimately Lorelai and Luke would get together and marry. In a romantic comedy (some writers call this show a dramedy) the relationships dictate the eventual resolutions.

In this case, Luke and Lorelai were meant for each other. But our show-runner, Ms. Sherman-Palladino, decided to take Lorelai, the somewhat goofy, talkative, eccentric but lovable and accomplished main character and have her do two things that destroyed the entire series: Lorelai gave Luke a long-winded ultimatum about the two of them getting married right now, without letting Luke respond (Luke often finds it difficult to get his ideas into conversations), and then, after stomping away, she went to her ex-boyfriend and the father of her daughter and slept with him that night.

That night!

My wife and I looked at each other and both of us shouted, “What the hell?”

How could this charming character act so out-of-character? Yes, she had many affairs but her relationship with Luke went way back and was way deep.

From that point we couldn’t stand the character of Lorelai. Her witticisms were wormy; her machine-gun aphorisms and analyses were annoying; everything about her turned us off. How strange to suddenly despise a character you loved for so many episodes. How strange indeed.

The character went from humorous to humorless.

The show went from fun to exasperating.

I am talking about the writing of the show, not the acting—which was all topnotch. The creator suddenly didn’t know her creation and ruined it, like God wiping out his creation in a flood.

The Internet is replete with dismayed Gilmore girls fans who mourn the loss of their beloved characters and practically accuse Amy Sherman-Palladino of homicide.

With the third season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel set to premier in a couple of weeks, my wife and I are cautious. Will Amy Sherman-Palladino ruin her characters in this show as well? Can a writer of such magnitude actually enjoy destroying her creations? It remains to be seen.

My wife and I can only hope that Sherman-Palladino will give her audience members what they want…a satisfying ending.

 

 

The Empire State Building is Still the Tallest!

 

It is now common knowledge that the Empire State Building is listed as the 38th tallest building in the world. It isn’t even considered the tallest building in New York City anymore, having given way to the One World Trade Center, which is 1776 feet high and is in sixth place on the world’s tallest-buildings list.

Yes, look at the list and check out how many of the tallest buildings are in China and in the Middle East. Supposedly the United States just can’t reach for the sky anymore. We have been surpassed by a host of buildings-come-lately.

Utter nonsense! The Empire State Building is still the tallest building in the world—without question.

How do I know that the Empire State Building is the world’s tallest? Because King Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World, clearly demonstrated this.

Do not fall into the logic-trap by saying that King Kong is merely a fictional character in a 1933 fiction movie bearing his name. In fiction there is often massive truth and King Kong, the movie, and more importantly, King Kong the character, actually transcend all time limits.

He was the most powerful beast that ever lived and he climbed the world’s tallest, strongest building, New York’s now iconic Empire State Building, where he met his doom. What damage was this massive, super-powerful beast able to inflict on the building? None.

Now go to the Internet and look at the 37 buildings that claim to be taller than the Empire State Building. Can you picture any of them standing up to the power of Kong? Of course you can’t! None of these buildings could withstand the mighty simian.

Look at these buildings: mostly glass and steal and some concrete. Kong would have put his hand through all of them. They are fragile compared to his strength! I doubt he would have gotten a quarter of the way up their sides before his destructive power would have stopped him as the building started to crumble.

Keep in mind that the only fictional character to ever go up the side of today’s supposedly tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, was action star Tom Cruise who busted a window to get back inside the structure. Tom Cruise versus King Kong? Come on now. Yes, Cruise is a fine action-actor, but Kong would have squished him. At any time Kong could have crashed through the façade of the Burj Khalifa, something he could not do to the Empire State Building.

There stands the case: King Kong could practically level today’s tallest buildings but he could do no damage to the truly greatest of them all—The Empire State Building, the structural equivalent to the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”

Kong clearly demonstrated what was—and is—the tallest, mightiest building in the world.

So don’t be fooled by today’s statistics of the tallest buildings on earth; as Mark Twain once wrote, “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Take that quote to heart.

Frank’s books are available on smile.Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, kindle, e-books and at bookstores. Follow Frank on his web site at www.frankscoblete.com.

The Worst Players Club on Earth

 

I walked up to the Players Club counter. There was no line and I was able to get to a representative of the Club in a hurry. She was talking to the representative next to her and also checking her fingernails.

“Yeah, well, I told him that he could just pack his bags and go home to his momma if he kept cheating on me and you know what he said? He said his mother loved him more than I did. Well I threw the drink right in his face that’s what I did; smack in the face….”

“Ah, excuse me,” I interrupted.

“Just a minute, I’m talking can’t you see that? God some people,” she said, referring to me. “They think they can just jump into your conversation. Now, where was I?”

“I have some questions about the Players Club,” I said.

“Take care of him fast and we can get back when you’re done,” said her co-worker, a disheveled young man with little sprouts of hair on his face.

“What do you want?” my representative asked me as she checked both sides of her fingers.

“Hi, Ma’am, I just signed up for the Deluxe, Glittery Gold, Super-Dooper Casino Players Club, could you tell me how the points and comps are established?” I asked.

“I don’t have all day, you know, and it’s Miss, not Ma’am, got that? I ain’t that old. Oh, jeez, can’t you just follow the simple formula, for crying out loud? I could really use a cigarette. Joey, baby, when is my break?”

“You just went on a break,” yells Joey, her co-worker, from the position right next to her.

“Could you tell me what that comp formula is?” I asked.

“It is so simple even a two-year old should be able to figure it out. Can’t you figure it out?”

“Help me, please, okay?” I asked.

“Listen now because I don’t want to have to repeat myself. You earn one point for every one hundred dollars you put through the machine and when you have 13,567 points we subtract the weight of one-billionth of the earth from that amount then we divide by 16 and subtract 7 to assess your play. Of course on Tuesdays and Wednesday’s we subtract one ten-billionths of the weight of the planet Pluto from the formula to give you something extra as your slot club return. Good luck because you’ll need it if you gamble in this joint!”

“Look, I didn’t quit understand….”

“I have a whole line of people waiting.”

“Uh, there’s no one behind me,” I said.

“They’re coming. They’re coming.”

“Do you need to know the time?” I asked.

“I’m looking at my watch to see how much of my time you’ve taken.”

“What kind of comps do you give out for what types of play?” I asked.

“You’re full of questions, aren’t you? Oh, jeez, what do you play?”

“Some slots and some tables. I play 25-cent slots. And $5 on the tables.”

“You’re a squirt of a player so you won’t get much. You should play more and maybe we’ll give you something but right now you are just wasting our time when you play. The plastic in your Players Club card costs more than you’re worth.”

“Ah, ha, ha, ha,” roared Joey at that joke. Then a patron came up to him.

“I want to know how much in comps I have?” he asked.

“Can’t you use the automated machine? It’s not hard you know,” said Joey. “They are right over there.” He pointed and the customer begrudgingly obeyed him.

“You don’t get much in comps for my level of play?” I asked my representative.

“You’ll get some little ones and some crummy little gifts every so often, like plastic key chains and some cheap cups with our logo on them and the paint probably has lead in it. What do you want from your level of play anyway? You’re lucky we even give you a Players Club card.”

“I thought every player was valuable to the casino?” I asked.

“Yeah, right, where did you get that idea? I could really use a cigarette. Do you smoke?”

“I never smoked. Mark Twain discouraged me,” I said.

“Who’s he, some dumb doctor?”

“Never mind, thanks for your time,” I said and walked away.

“Yeah, well, you got any more questions we have some kind of booklet.”

“Could I have it?” I asked.

“Go over to hotel registration and they might have one.”

“Thanks,” I said into the air.

Okay the above scenario is not real and I have never met Players Club representatives who are so grossly uncivil and demeaning – and I belong to Players Clubs all over the country and in Canada. But there is some truth in exaggeration.

The purpose of a Players Club is to get players to want to play longer and for more money than they planned to. If you didn’t realize that, give some thought to the casino as a business entity. Any good business wants its products to be attractive so that a customer coming in to buy a toaster just might also spring for the unplanned microwave, if the microwave is presented in an appealing way. The representatives of the business need to be pleasant and friendly and encouraging so that business can thrive.

The representatives I wrote about above were the worst of all possible worlds – who would want to deal with people who were like that or even somewhat like that? No one.

Players must feel they are being rewarded with freebies for being such a great customer – and all players should feel that the casino wants their action, even if it’s small-roller action. But the bottom line is, after all, the bottom line. Good players clubs increase the bottom line for their casinos; bad players clubs don’t.

All the best in and out of the casinos!

Frank Scoblete web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available from smile.amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, kindle, e-books and at bookstores.

She is and She isn’t

 

My wife the beautiful AP was a great card counter at blackjack. We played together as a team from 1989 to June of 2001 when our youngest son, Michael, graduated from college. The moment we finished the graduation ceremony she said to me, “I am now officially retired from playing blackjack.”

I had a strong feeling this was coming. We were spending way over a 100 days a year in the casinos – and that was a lot since we live in New York and the shortest commute we had was 3 ½ hours to Atlantic City. For two people who hate to drive those hours dragged by. Indeed, we went to Vegas far more often than we did to Atlantic City because Vegas had the very best blackjack games in the country, including the best of all time at the Maxim in the early 1990s where all but one card was dealt out of a single-deck game. In addition, the game had great rules too.

While the beautiful AP enjoyed going to the casinos, the intense pressure of counting cards because we needed to make money had taken its toll. She was totally burnt out. She liked the swimming pools, the shows, the gourmet dinners, the great conversations with friends but her card counting career was now over. In those days, the great new card counting method Speed Count which I write about in my new book Beat Blackjack Now! did not exist – maybe she would not have burned out had we been playing Speed Count instead of the traditional methods.

“How about playing craps again?” I asked. “I’ll teach you how to control the dice.”

The beautiful AP gave me that look; that look all husbands understand.

“No, seriously,” I said. “Once you learn to control the dice, you’ll really enjoy the game.”

Now, the reason the beautiful AP shied away from craps didn’t have anything to do with the nature of the game since it is – in my opinion – the most exciting table game in the casino. Her rejection of the game had more to do with her own personal experiences shooting the dice.

You see, while the beautiful AP was a consummate blackjack card counter, she was a deadly craps shooter – meaning anyone at the table, players and dealers, faced death while she was shooting and with each and every one of her throws I held my breath praying no one would get hurt. When the dice left her hands, they were like twin-bullets shot from a twisted tortured gun barrel. She had no idea where the dice were going, I had no idea where the dice were going and certainly the dice had no idea of where they were going.

One time she threw the dice so hard that both went whizzing past the head of the player standing at the end of the table. One went past one side of his head; the other die went past the other side of his head. She once threw the dice down the cleavage of a young woman to the cheers of all the salivating males at the table. She once hit herself in the face as she shook the dice in her hand as one die shot out at her.

Perhaps her greatest and most deadly feat was throwing the dice and having one hit the boxman and one hit the stickman. If you don’t know the game of craps, the boxman is on one side of the table; the stickman is directly across from him. Even Annie Oakley couldn’t have performed such a trick shot. The boxman was hit on the forehead; the stickman was hit in the chest. AP turned bright red and gave up the dice. That was her last roll; her last time playing the game.

I tried to convince her to play again. She said, “I could kill someone with the way I throw.” I told her she didn’t have to throw. She gave me that look again, “What’s the point of playing craps if you don’t throw? That’s the thrill of the game.”

In 2002 I had her enroll in my dice control course. She reluctantly agreed.

Now some of my critics like to think that I exaggerate some of my true-life stories. I mean seriously, how could anyone throw two dice to opposite ends of a table with one throw as I am claiming the beautiful AP did? That has to be impossible right?

Well, in the class I had the instructor we call “Old Eagle Eyes” be AP’s mentor. He is a patient, laid back individual who would handle my wonderful wife wonderfully. He sat down in the boxman’s position and I was in the stickman’s position. AP took the dice for the very first time – and performed her miracle again. She hit “Old Eagle Eyes” right in the head and, to top off her first achievement of this great feat, she hit me on the cheek!

Eagle Eyes sat stunned, “I thought you were exaggerating when you said she once did this. I can’t believe it.” He picked up the die. “These things are really sharp!” he laughed.

Over the course of two days, the beautiful AP did get better but she never accepted the fact that she could become a good enough dice controller to make money at the game. So that class ended her craps career.

My wife was a great card counter at blackjack and she also was the deadliest dice shooter the world has ever seen – and that’s no exaggeration!

Visit Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available from smile.Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, kindle, e-books and at bookstores.

Birds and Bugs

I love birds. I hate bugs.

Now there are people who love bugs. They study bugs; they touch them, hold them, they even talk lovingly to them. These people are called entomologists or maniacs. The bugs I hate the most are mosquitoes—those flying derringers of disease who deposit death by way of itchy lumps on one’s skin.

I am a man beloved by mosquitoes. They attack me ceaselessly when I am outdoors or, if one or more have the brazenness to swoop into my house, they have an unquenchable lust to suck every last drop of my blood leaving me a formerly scratching, now lifeless husk on my bed or floor.

Let me give you an example: My wife, the Beautiful AP, and I recently took a leisurely bird walk at our favorite nature preserve at Jamaica Bay. I slathered myself in diethyltoluamide—Deet as it is known in the trade—in the hopes that my tiny but vicious enemies would leave me alone. That stuff is supposed to work, right?

Wrong!

When I got home I had the traditional bites on my exposed skin but these monstrous creatures had even penetrated my clothing, thereby making the rest of my body look as if I were turning into the lizard man.

On that walk in that bucolic environment, I wanted to see beautiful song birds and those awesome raptors dominating the sky, but instead I succumbed to a flying, buzzing, biting bug. We left the walk early and I commenced moaning about my lot in life. I am (I must admit) a good moaner.

Why are mosquitoes attracted to me? It could be my sweet blood or blood type (type 0 is one of their delights) but it can also be the type of bacteria I have on my skin. Yes, these little brutes are attracted to a certain type of bacteria that about 20 percent of us have. I must have it in abundance.

Mankind almost extinguished some of the most wonderful birds on our planet; the eagles, ospreys, and peregrine falcons, among other raptors, trying to eradicate disease-carrying mosquitoes by using DDT, which certainly did kill those little bugs that cause a host of diseases including Zika, West Nile, Malaria, Dengue and the new one Eastern Equine Encephalitis, also known as EEE or Triple E.

Killing the mosquitoes back when was great (in my humble opinion) but discovering that our raptors were laying eggs with shells that were so brittle they broke apart before the offspring could get a claw-hold on life was not so great. DDT was great at killing bugs but awful for raptors.

What am I to do now? I’m buying mosquito-repellant clothing because I’m itching to never have them bite me again.

Visit Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available at smile.amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, as e-books and at bookstores.

 

I Am Calm and Cool with Others

My wife, the beautiful AP, says I have one criterion for judging people. According to her, “If they agree with you, Scobe, they are smart; if they disagree with you they are stupid. You have no in between.”

Okay, to show my beloved wife that she is wrong I took two people who have different opinions than I and we had a three-way conversation. Here it is, exactly as I recorded it:

 

HE: The worst table game in the whole casino is blackjack. I mean how do you know what decision to make? What are you supposed to hit? When do you stand? It is just too confusing.

SHE: Blackjack is a real pain in the neck because the people at the tables are all experts and some of them have big mouths and they tell you when you are doing something they don’t like. But I am betting my own money and how dare they try to intimidate me into playing the way they like?

ME: Blackjack is a good game if you know the right strategy. You can buy a basic strategy card in the casino gift shop and face maybe a half-percent house edge on the traditional game. If you play the correct basic strategy you can ignore what the “experts” at your table say because there is a good chance they are wrong. Just smile at them and then ignore them.

HE: I don’t want to look at a basic strategy card. People will think I am stupid. That would be embarrassing.

SHE: I really like to play those single deck games. I think you have a better chance to win at those games even with the 6 to 5 payout on the blackjacks. I heard single decks are the closest contest for the players.

ME: A lot of people use basic strategy cards. No one will make fun of you. It actually means you are smart. Now those 6 to 5 payouts on the single deck blackjack games, plus the fact that they hit soft 17s, will give the house about a 15 times greater edge on the single deck games than the casinos used to have in the good old days. You need to get that 3 to 2 payout on the blackjack to help make it a close game in terms of the house edge. So I think you must avoid all those games where the casino is taking too big a cut from you.

HE: I like craps because you have the best chance to win a lot of money at that game. You have bets that pay off like 10 to 1 and sometimes even higher. It’s a great game with a lot of excitement. I like to shake the dice up, blow on them, and then fling them down the table. I try to get them to bounce hard off the back wall and make it all the way back down to me!

SHE: Craps is too confusing. There’s too much going on.

ME: You know a lot of people think craps is confusing and it really isn’t. It’s a simple game. There are a lot of bets and almost all of them are bad. I hate to say this but all the bets that pay off large sums like 10 to 1 are bad bets with high house edges. Just use the Pass Line, take odds, place the 6 and 8 and the game is very close between the player and the house. You don’t even have to know the other bets because they aren’t worth making.

HE: I find roulette to be dull.

SHE: I love roulette. Some numbers get hot and if you are watching the scoreboard you have a really good chance to win.

ME: Roulette is fun and relaxing but the game is random so those hot numbers are not necessarily going to repeat themselves often enough for you to get an edge over the house. Because roulette at a crowded table is a slow game, the high house edge doesn’t hurt you as much as it would if you played the number of decisions you play in blackjack for instance.

HE: The other day I got a great comp from the casino. They treated us to dinner at the Steak House and I really enjoyed the meal.

SHE: My host loves to give us comps. She really likes us.

ME: Comps are rewards for play at specific levels. The host has some discretion but not a lot. If you get a gourmet comp that means you are betting enough that your losses will more than pay for that meal two or three times over. Comps are not given to people who are not going to make the casino enough money to warrant the comp.

HE: I always wanted to play baccarat but the losses at that game look like they are gigantic. All the high rollers play that game so they must lose a lot of money.

SHE: I understand it is a complicated game too. I saw the hitting and standing rules and I couldn’t even follow them.

ME: Baccarat is a good game with a relatively low house edge and the game doesn’t have a lot of decisions so your losses per hour are not so bad. In the high roller rooms the minimum bet is usually $100 but sometimes you can find games with $50 or even $25 minimums. The rules for hitting and standing have nothing to do with you. They are automatic and you don’t have to even know what they are. The dealers will tell you when to deal a card or to stand – which is one of the fun things about baccarat, you get to deal the cards at times. There is a mini-baccarat game too but this is very fast and the low house edge with a lot of decisions can still cut deeply into your bankroll.

There I did it. I didn’t tell either of these two that I was right and they were wrong. Of course, I was right and they were wrong. But I am sure you can keep that a secret from my wife.

Visit Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available at smile.amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, as e-books, on Kindle and at bookstores.

 

Winner! Winner! We Have a Winner!

Winner! Winner! We Have a Winner!

I am on every systems seller’s mailing list. I get emails, letters, flyers, and even some video promotions for “can’t miss” systems of play at whatever game I choose. Some of these systems are just for craps, some just for blackjack, some just for poker, video poker, slots, horse racing, sports betting and some, the really “incredible” ones, can be used for everything because they are – in the words of their inventors – that “powerful.”

Now there are some gambling “systems” that actually work – first because they aren’t systems by definition. Card counting at blackjack works, dice control works, optimum strategies at video poker work. I rarely get information shoveled to me about these “systems” because they all require certain levels of real work and the one thing a systems seller knows is this – most casino players do not want to work in order to get an edge. They want the edge handed to them. These types of casino gamblers are the welfare recipients of Lady Luck.

Systems buyers want a system that is so easy to use a complete fool could use it. Even the supremely easy card-counting system, which I write about in my book Beat Blackjack Now!, does require some modicum of effort. You have to add 1 plus 1 plus 1 and then occasionally subtract a small number from the total. For the system buyers this is just too much work. They don’t want to add; they don’t want to subtract; they don’t want to do anything but use a magic formula to win copious amounts of money – the kind of money the systems seller claims he has won over the past few years using this miraculous system.

The system seller knows how to get people to buy his or her stuff. He will write copious amounts of copy praising his product – liberally thrown in will be anecdotes and testimonials from people who have played the system and won hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands of dollars. These people may or may not actually exist but who cares? The idea is to bombard the reader with so many words and so much positive information that his defenses are ultimately shattered and he will open his checkbook or pull out her credit card and buy the product.

Obviously, I am not opposed to people selling or buying products about gambling. After all, I sell my own books, DVDs, and my speaking engagements. There are many magazines with contributions from many established gambling authorities, many of which are also selling books and other products. There is a gambling-writing industry after all and I am a part of it.

So how can you tell the difference between a legitimate seller of gambling information and a systems seller of bogus information? First the legitimate seller doesn’t make any outrageous promises. There might be such a thing as card counting at blackjack but there is no guarantee that you will become any good at it if you try it. Dice control is real but it is not an easy thing to master. No systems seller is going to tout his system by telling you that it is not guaranteed; that you might not learn it or that your talent could be lacking. That would be economic suicide.

The systems seller needs to sell vast quantities of his system in order to make money. He doesn’t care that his system doesn’t work because once you have bought it you are stuck – you have a worthless system and he has your money.

When I first started my foray in the world of casino gambling I did buy a lot of systems – to see what they were like and, to be honest, praying that they would work. Except for books on blackjack, every system I bought left me scratching my head and asking this question, “How can he sell this junk?”

I bought the “Magic Wand,” a device that would allow me to locate hot slot machines the way a dowser supposedly finds hidden water – or gold. I used it in Atlantic City and the only thing it found me were stares from people who thought I was crazy as I walked through the casino with such a strange looking cheap cardboard thingy.

I bought several systems for blackjack. One had me look for clumps of high cards and then bet heavily on the next few hands because “high cards follow high cards.” One had me upping my bet after three losses because “blackjack is an even game and once you have lost a few nature brings everything back into alignment.” Well, as most of you know, high cards don’t follow high cards and nature is darn fickle about righting things in a run short enough to be understood by me.

The craps system that most impressed me in its ad promised that I would win 83 percent of my decisions. “You Can Win All the Time!” the ad proclaimed. The system was the old “Iron Cross,” where you bet the Field and the 5, 6 and 8. You have 30 ways to win and a mere six ways to lose when the 7 showed. The 7 shows about 17 percent of the time – thus your winning percentage was about 83 percent. Wow!

The problem came in right away – that 7 blasted all your bets into losers, while your winning was always curtailed by concomitant losing. You could win on the 6, for example, but you would then lose the Field bet. You could not win enough to make a profit with this “fool-proof” system because that 7 was just too powerful on the “mere” 17 percent of the times it showed its ugly head.

The system seller knew what he was doing, of course. He was not lying in the traditional sense. His system did win 83 percent of the time. But it was not a winning system. This systems seller was the master of equivocation – he just made you think what he meant was that the system would give you long-term wins; he never actually said it. He never told you that the house edge on the “Iron Cross” was about four percent – which is a pretty hefty edge indeed.

Today the Internet is host to hundreds, maybe thousands, of systems sellers. You can read long, drawn out advertisements for their systems. Many of them claim that they are retiring from gambling life and want to share with you their miraculous system before they go to the fancy island they just bought. Personally I think the only island they should be allowed to inhabit is Alcatraz.

Visit Frank’s web site at www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available at smile.amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, as e-books, on Kindle and at bookstores.

I Beat My Bird Bad!

 

What I wanted to do more than just about anything was beat my older bird, Augustus, and today I did it! I wanted to beat him bad, yes, real bad, for the years of his disdainful disobedience to me. Today would be the day.

Let me back up a little. I have two parrots, Augustus, a monk parrot, who is an old bird of about 22 – 24 (his life expectancy is about 25) and Mister Squeaky who is about seven or eight.

Mister Squeaky is a dynamo. More interesting is that Squeaky is a sexual maniac. I know I am about to lack decorum right after the word “but” but this parrot tries to screw everything. He screws the inside bars of his cage—top, bottom and four sides. He screws them when he is on the outside of them too, which is just about all day.

When he screws he makes all sorts of sounds. I assume they are pleasure sounds.

He screws the toys in his cage; the soft ones and the hard ones. He screws the handles of his cage which are used to transport him to wherever we need to transport him. Since Squeaky and Augustus’s cages are right next to each other, Squeaky goes into Augustus’s cage and screws everything he can find in there. Then he eats Augustus’s food, the same exact food Squeaky has in his own cage.

Oh, don’t feel sad for Augustus because he goes into Mister Squeaky’s cage and eats Squeaky’s food. Except Augustus doesn’t screw around. If a monk parrot can be a monk then Augustus is a true monk—celibate as a strict churchman.

Squeaky wants to be Augustus, who is the alpha bird in the house.

Mister Squeaky is my bird. He obeys my commands. If I tell him, even from across the room, “Go in your cage,” bingo! Squeaky goes into his cage. At 4 pm every day Augustus squawks that he wants to “go sleep.” That time is his bedtime.

So I call across my office, “Okay, guys, in your cage!” Squeaky zips in but Augustus sits atop his cage with his head tilted and his face telling me, “I don’t have to listen to you, bub.” At this point I bring Mister Squeaky’s cage into the dining room where he will stay the evening until he retires at 8 o’clock to have sex through most of his “sleep” time. Squeaky is with my wife and me as we have our usual evenings—meaning my wife, the Beautiful AP, tells me what I should do and I do it. “Lower the set! Stop watching TV and read a book instead.” That is, of course, marriage. Her demand is my command.

Squeaky does not obey my wife’s commands. He is also strong-willed, unlike Mr. Marshmallow, who is me.

Augustus, on the other hand, is my wife’s bird and he obeys her with true affection. They kiss and snuggle. Disgusting!

When I get back into my office Augustus is still on top of his cage, squawking that he wants to go to sleep. When he was young he could actually say, “Go sleep!” But words are not his thing anymore.

When he sees me, he deliberately moves to the back of the top of his cage where it is hard for me to reach him.

Since Augustus has aged he isn’t as dexterous anymore. He finds it hard to move down the bars of his cage and go inside, so I have to help him.

But every day, every damn day, I have to try to reach him across the top of his cage. He enjoys not making it easy for me to reach him.

“Augustus,” I say each and every damn day. “Don’t you want to go to sleep?”

Then I maneuver myself through the labyrinth of my wife’s desk, her chair, her music stand, and her treadmill to get to the back of the cage and that’s when Augustus scoots over to the front of his cage to force me to make the trip in reverse.

We do this several times every damn day, until Augustus relents and lets me pick him up and put him in his cage for a good night’s sleep. The last I see of him when I cover his cage with blankets is his head tilted and that superior smirk upon his face. Yes, a smirk. Parrot owners will tell you that even though a parrot’s face can’t change, you know exactly what it is thinking.

But today I had had it. I was not going to hustle through the obstacle course to get him. He would either come to me or sit outside his cage all night long.

I stood several feet from his cage and just looked at him, my face smirking as best as I could get it to smirk. “You’ll stay out here all night,” I said. “I am never going to chase around your cage again.”

From the living room I could hear Mister Squeaky screwing something. At least one of us was having fun, I thought. Or maybe two, if you count Augustus reveling in being his usual annoying self.

Augustus looked me. I looked at Augustus. Augustus tilted his head. I tilted my head. He squawked. I made some kind of sound back at him.

We looked at each other and then—yes! yes! yes! —Augustus walked to the side of the cage where I stood. I easily picked him up, placed him inside, and covered him for the night.

I won! I won! Yes, I did it! I beat my bird badly. In doing so, I once again established that man—that I! —was the master of the earth, not some recalcitrant parrot.

Flushed with triumph, I decided my next conquest would be my wife. Such a feat requires both strategic and tactical planning, as it is she who has won every encounter for the last 32 years. A man might be the master of the earth, but his wife, damn it! is the master of the universe.

Book Frank Scoblete to speak for your organization.