From swing to stategy
By Frank Scoblete
Casino playing is more to me than just wagering at games the casinos oﬀer. I tend to stick with certain games that give me the best chances to win and I do play the very best strategies at these games. My goal is not only to last but to actually beat the house—a rough deal.
From the earliest age I was brought up with competition, ﬁrst with myself and then with opponents. My father wanted me to be a major league baseball player. He modeled my swing after the great Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees, a man I met in 1953 after he was retired. Despite public belief that DiMaggio was cold and aloof, he was cordial and treated me as a future player. That was nice.
When I became a Mickey Mantle fan I became a switch hitter, batting from the left and right sides of the plate. I had a good baseball career until I was a late teenager. I was recruited to play on one of the best New York City teams and we won a championship. I even got a tryout with a professional team and that was when I realized that I was indeed a good player but I’d never be a major leaguer, not even close. That ended my baseball career.
Basketball was in my blood too, thanks to intense schoolyard games against some of the best players in the City (you always capitalize the “C” in New York City).
My 8th-grade team, a team I call the real dream team, won 55 games in a row (both exhibition games against high school freshman and some junior varsity teams). We were undefeated and we played the best basketball teams in the City.
In our league in Brooklyn we won the championship with ease. No team came within 20 points of us. Only one team in New York City came within 10 points of us—St. Jude’s of Manhattan in the LaSalle Tournament. They lost by eight points to us.
You might not remember St. Jude’s. Its star player was 6’ 11” Lew Alcindor, who changed his name in the late 1960s to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I’m guessing that many of you remember that name.
In the City at that time there were three top teams; number one was St. Jude’s, number two was St. Cecelia’s and number three was Our Lady of Angels, our team. We had the worst uniforms—old and really dull. The ﬁrst two teams had great uniforms. In fact, St. Cecelia’s had guys on their team with mustaches.
“I knew I missed that thrill of competition. And I ﬁnally found it! Casino playing. I just fell into it.”
In the St. Francis Prep tournament, we were decided underdogs in that ﬁnal game where we faced St. Cecelia’s of the beautiful red uniforms and mustaches—we won by 30 points! We pressed them, harassed them, and our center, the 6’ 8” Patrick Heelan, owned the boards.
That set up the confrontation between St. Jude’s and Our Lady of Angels. In those days, the 8th- grade teams got great coverage in the daily newspapers. A big article appeared in the New York Daily News about the confrontation of the two top teams in the city, both led by giants. Alcindor versus Heelan.
The game turned out in a diﬀerent way. Heelan got three fouls in the very ﬁrst quarter and we had to play St. Jude’s with our backup center, Ken Peterson—at 6’ 3” a somewhat giant and a tenacious ballplayer. The rest of our starting team was not big. I was 5’ 7” and Stevie Gardell, Doug Bernhardt and Billy Bell were not over 5’ 10”.
St. Jude’s, even apart from Alcindor, was a giant of a team.
The game was close, the closest we ever played, but we beat St. Jude’s by eight points. We were the best 8th-grade team in New York City. To cap oﬀ the LaSalle tournament we again met St. Cecelia’s in the ﬁnals and beat them, this time by 36 points.
My sports days did not go beyond high school and in college I took up boxing, a big mistake. I could beat the ﬁghters who had limited experience because I had trained at a local gym as a teenager, but in my 19th ﬁght I faced a good ﬁghter, a Golden Gloves champion, and (so, so sad to say), he wiped the ﬂoor with me.
I went into teaching and theater, got married, had two children, then my wife and I divorced. I wrote book reviews, restaurant reviews, non-ﬁction articles and plays.
But I knew I missed that thrill of competition. And I ﬁnally found it! Casino playing. I just fell into it. I was researching a character I was to play in The Only Game in Town by Frank Gilroy, which was about a Las Vegas craps player and a chorus girl (my costar and whom I later married). I studied the game of craps and met the Captain, who taught me everything about how to be a player. I then learned blackjack and went on a tear learning all the other games.
Then I wrote about everything: 35 books, over a dozen television shows, DVDs, radio shows and the like. I taught classes—basically, I toured the country. I had another ﬁeld to conquer and I have been at it ever since. And, yes, players can get slight edges at some games too; thus, some players aren’t always fated to lose.
I love the competition against the casinos. All the best in and out of the casinos!
Frank Scoblete’s website is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books, libraries and bookstores.