We bring our readers the second installment of our highly anticipated, three-part interview series with Frank Scoblete (aka Scobe), one of America’s favorite authors and columnists. The number one casino gaming author, Scobe tells it like it is for hittingthesweetspot by Bob Skelley.
QUESTION: How much money do you need to have before you can feel you do not have to work anymore? Will you ever retire in the traditional sense?
FRANK: Although I have had 26 books published (with four more on the way); and a dozen books under my imprint by some of the best gambling writers in the country; and several television shows; and consulting for movies and patent cases, just take a look at how much writing I have done that has never been published. It dwarfs my publications!
I came “this close” to having my own television show and one of my movies scripts almost got made by a major Hollywood company (that Hollywood story will be in my next book Bless Me Father for I Have Sinned: Confessions of a Wayward Catholic). I write because I love to write. I will probably die at my keyboard (hopefully not today).
Now, of course, I love to make money from whatever it is I do but I do what I do because I love doing it and I will continue to do it whether I make money from it or not. So retirement is not in the cards for me.
QUESTION: You have been a teacher and mentor much of your life. Briefly, what are some of the personal stories that have given you the greatest satisfaction over the years?
FRANK: I have received probably a couple of hundred emails from former students telling me the positive impact I had on their lives. That is satisfaction in spades. With many I had no real idea of the troubles they had in high school but coming to my class was fun for them. I have helped many gamblers; I’ve entertained people. I’ve been the best father I could be (hopefully that’s good) and my wife and I have a relationship the romantic poets write about. This will sound silly but my life so far has given me satisfaction.
QUESTION: Do you envision a day when you will become bored with what has brought you fame and recognition? If this is already in the process of happening, why is this so and what/where will your future interests lay in order to stave off this malaise?
FRANK: I’ve never been bored. I have goals, yes, but I just don’t sit around and think, “I am so bored.” I am limiting the casino end of my career so I can travel with my wife. I do want to see the world; not just the world of the casinos. I do want to really start making a name for myself for my non-gambling writing. So the future always seems exciting to me; while the past has never been boring.
QUESTION: With so many people struggling to scratch out a living in an indefinitely poor economy, do you feel at all removed from the pulse of the common worker?
FRANK: I think of myself as the common worker. I was not born in wealth. As a kid we lived in what was called a “cold water flat” which meant two of the rooms in the apartment had no heat in winter and you had to heat your own water on the stove. I started working at the age of 12 and haven’t stopped. Although I got an academic scholarship to college, my mother and father hit hard times while I was in college and I worked full time, sent my salary home and carried a full load with three majors. I worked as a waiter and a single day as a cook. I have the story of my college working career (in all its ugliness and weirdness) in my upcoming book Bless Me Father for I Have Sinned: Confessions of a Wayward Catholic.
QUESTION: Should all income level types consider your teachings when it comes to creating possible advantages when gambling?
FRANK: Tough question. To play with an advantage you need a big bankroll to a small bet – the bigger the better. Even if you are starting as a low bettor, say $10, then at blackjack you’ll need about $10K for card counting to be able to withstand the fluctuations in your bankroll without getting a heart attack. You’ll probably need half that for dice control if you keep your bets under $30. I would never recommend gambling to someone who is having even the least trouble in meeting the important obligations in life. Gambling money, even when you play with an advantage, has to be side money.
I see the poor saps at my local stationary store buying lottery tickets, scratch off and Mega Millions and Powerball tickets, every day! Those are awful bets. If they want to dream the big dream, wait until the jackpots get to about $200 million and then buy one ticket. Relax, dream your dream, and don’t waste any more money.
QUESTION: You have made mention of saving money while gambling. If one were truly interested in saving money should not they forsake entirely all thoughts of gambling in the first place?
FRANK: Okay, there are two types of gambling. One is true gambling – meaning the casino has the edge over you and your expectation is to lose. So, yes, to be pure, if you want to save your money do not gamble when the casino has the edge.
The second type of gambling is called advantage-play; which means you have the edge over the casino. This type of gambling is not really gambling. There are ups and downs, of course, but your expectation is to win. This type of gambling is the type I would recommend.
Now, if you have leisure-time money, plenty of food to eat, house easily paid off, kids happy and healthy, or you are single with a decent income – sure you can play games where your long-run expectation is negative. Look, you go to the movies, it costs you money – sometimes you gain something because the movie is good; and sometimes you lose something because the movie is not so good. So I can see the first type of “true” gambling for people who use discretionary income for it.
QUESTION: Are you optimistic about the future of the world?
FRANK: I know the older generation always thinks the younger generation is destined to destroy us. I look at it in a long view. Believe it or not there are lower levels of violence in civilization than ever before. The book The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker shows clearly that as we advance in civilization we actually kill fewer people within our societies.
Now, at first, you’d look at the world and go “Is that author (Pinker) out of his mind?” But think about it. Yes, there are wars in many places on Earth. Such wars are not new. There has never been a time when there has been no war; no killings; no murder. But looked at in a long range, these horrors have decreased.
Perhaps it looks so awful because we have so much more information about the world. When American Indian tribes were at war with other American Indian tribes while crusades raged in Europe and the Middle East and tribes in Africa were warring with each other as were tribes in Mexico and South America and warlords in Japan and China and whoever was fighting in Russia, none of these people knew about those other people. Today, we see it all before us. We see the whole stage ranged before us. This is the first time in history that we see it all but in fact the “all” is less than what it was in the past.
I also think if we can get by this period of radical Islam and see that religion calm down the way the Catholic Church has calmed down the last few centuries, then the religious element that is causing such instability will fade.
So I am optimistic about the future.
(to be continued)
(TOMORROW) Scobe: The Final Take 😦
Categories: Human Interest