We are pleased to bring to the blog the first installment of our highly anticipated interview series with esteemed guest and friend, Frank Scoblete (aka Scobe), one of America’s favorite authors and columnists. The number one casino gaming author, Scobe tells it like it is (as only he can) exclusively for hittingthesweetspot by Bob Skelley readers.
QUESTION: You have acknowledged on several occasions that even with an edge you can lose. Knowing that casinos are not in business to give you their money, can people realistically expect to consistently game the gamers?
FRANK: Some casino games can be beaten – blackjack, craps, Pai Gow Poker, video poker and casino-room poker. However, learning the skills to become good is time consuming and requires great discipline. Even with an edge, the patterns are up and down; down and up and every possibility of short wins, long losses, long wins, short losses, a little here, a little there. But if you do have an edge, the longer you play the better the chance that you will be ahead. If you are serious about beating the casinos, you need three things: a strong emotional constitution in order to take losing streaks; the proper strategies executed almost perfectly, and plenty of money so you never worry about money. Do I think most gamblers can really do this? Theoretically, yes; in reality, no. There are very few advantage players out there.
QUESTION: Now that you have done what you have done for as long as you have done it, is there still anything that gamblers can do to win over stretches of time? How are casinos not “on to you” and whatever techniques you utilize and teach? How do you stay ahead of the very people whose job it is to stay ahead of you?
FRANK: I know gamblers looking for a real advantage over the house aren’t going want to hear this but casino games have gotten tougher to beat in the quarter century I’ve been playing. When I first started counting cards as a team with my wife the Beautiful A.P., we were able to play great single-deck blackjack games with great rules in Vegas and Mississippi; also great double-deck games; and in Atlantic City there were terrific four-deck games with terrific rules. Now you will rarely find good single-deck games; usually only the crummy ones with 6-to5 payouts on blackjacks – the payout should be 6-to-4, meaning 3-to-2. Dealers are more often than not hitting when they have a soft 17 (Ace-6) which favors the house.
At craps, dice control became my favorite advantage-play technique in the last decade. Here you attempt to change the probabilities of the game by how you throw the dice. This is an extremely tough thing to master and very few people who try actually put in the time and effort – and it takes a lot of time and effort – to master the techniques and proper betting methods that must be used to win. Many casino bosses have become almost irrational when they think someone might have dice control ability.
When I first learned the technique from my mentor the Captain, there were three dice controllers I knew about – the Captain, the Arm and Jimmy P. Today there are perhaps a thousand individuals who might have some skill at this. So executing the skill is somewhat tougher today than it was in the past because of the scrutiny of the casino bosses.
Yes, casinos are on to me both because of how I play and the fact that I am well known from my books, articles and appearances on television. I have written about how some casinos have treated me and in my two upcoming books – very personal books about my 25 years doing what I’ve been doing – I let it all hang out.
Many casino personnel are great people and some casinos will allow me to play as long as I bet within reason. The opposite is also true. Some casino personnel are – for lack of a better word – maniacs. I’ve seen individuals leap across craps tables at dice controllers – one boss at the Claridge in Atlantic City seemed to be foaming at the mouth; I’ve had casino managers get right into my face screaming at me – the last time a couple of years ago at Bellagio; I’ve had dealers throw cards into my face, and as you will read in my upcoming book, I even had a security guard put a gun in my back. Keep in mind; I am not doing anything illegal when I play in a casino. I am not a cheater or a thief.
I do not play as much now as I used to. In the past I played about 130 days a year, mostly in Vegas, Atlantic City and Tunica, Mississippi. In 2013, I no longer teach dice control or blackjack classes and I have decided to travel the world and the country rather than spending so much of my time going from casino to casino.
QUESTION: What is the state of the gaming industry’s health generally-speaking? Has it peaked in terms of gross revenues? If not, what are the avenues for revenue growth that the gaming industry looks forward to in the coming years?
FRANK: Vegas seems to be able to handle the obvious decline in casino players. Vegas is a true destination venue so I think it will be fine, although that city’s housing market has taken a big hit. Atlantic City is having a great deal of trouble – they are losing revenue at a frightening pace the last few years. I think a few casinos will actually close. The industry might be overextended and that’s probably one of the reasons land-based casinos are hungering to get into the Internet market. Still there are gamblers all over the country playing lottery tickets. Gambling won’t die; it might just shrink a little.
QUESTION: What do you feel is your greatest contribution to the planet? Who or what do you consider to be your greatest success story? What will be your legacy?
FRANK: I have two great sons who have made me proud. I have a great daughter-in-law and two terrific grandchildren. I also have the love of my life, my wife the Beautiful A.P., so my family is my legacy. I taught my heart out for 33 years and many of my former students have told me I did a good job. I do think my gambling writing about blackjack, dice control, Pai Gow Poker and other casino games has helped hundreds of thousands of players. I am also proud of the non-gambling writing I have done and I am doing more and more of that as I reduce my casino visits. You can read my non-gambling pieces at my web site www.frankscoblete.com under the “In Our Time” section.
QUESTION: Do you have any regrets and if so, what are they?
FRANK: I have no regrets. Even if you look at my first marriage, which was the Titanic of interpersonal relationships, it produced two wonderful children with whom I have a great relationship. So I would never not have done that. More good came from that marriage than bad. I taught to the best of my ability for over three decades and I was never bored in the classroom – although I do have serious problems with public education. I acted in plays; I’ve written television shows, books — I really can’t think of anything I regret. I guess you could say I regret that I have no regrets.
QUESTION: Who are your clients?
FRANK: The most intelligent and wonderful people in the world.
(to be continued)
(TOMORROW) Scobe: Take 2!