Loser - Thoughts and War Stories from Years of Casino Battles
by Mr. Lucky
Dorrance Publishing Company

"There are so many people that go to casinos and there are so many different outcomes from these trips."

The author of this ingenious, self-satirizing, and surprisingly sagacious work is a man who has patronized casinos for many years, won some money, lost as much or more, and wants to share his experiences for the guidance and potential benefit of others. His own gambling daydreams have always included the possibility of winning a huge sum after thousands of hours playing slot machines and sitting at blackjack tables. But he also deals with fascinating facts, such as the tale of Archie Karas, who began his gambling foray in Las Vegas with just fifty dollars, managed to transform that into a notable forty-million-dollar bankroll, and gradually gambled it all away. The sandwich, the author tells his readers, was invented by the Earl of Sandwich, who wanted food brought to the casino table so he wouldn’t have to break for a meal.

But along with such realities, there are rollicking recollections taken from Lucky’s vast collection of anecdotes and observations. For example, there was the fellow sitting at the slot machine next to Lucky’s who spat on the machine every time it failed to register a win (which is typically most of the time, Lucky reports). And then there was a lady in a similar scenario who spoke to the machine as though it were her lover each time it offered her the smallest success. As the author notes, there are many different reasons to visit a casino. Some come merely for a good meal or to see the entertainment, as “casinos can be a fine way to innocently pass time.” But he warns readers that in addition to the nearly impossible weighting of the odds for winning at the various games—each described here in credible detail—there are characters on the prowl perpetrating their personal scams. One of Lucky’s memories of becoming “Mr. Idiot” involved helping a plausible passing stranger who just needed a few extra dollars (and a few more), all couched as a loan that was never repaid. But there have been other incidents when the author assisted a fellow gambler in distress and felt the better for it.

The author, using the evocative pseudonym of “Mr. Lucky,” retains that witty identity throughout this droll but informative treatise. It is clear that his avowed enjoyment of reading has led to a zeal for writing. While building on high humor at nearly every juncture, his composition shows well-considered organization and a subtly infused array of verifiable materials. He shows the gambling “addiction” from many angles, recalling the numerous times that a losing streak seemed to him, and doubtless to many others, to be an incentive to keep playing for the chance of breaking it with a big win. He states in his introduction that he hopes his energetic revelations concerning the mysterious casino realm will reach both those who seek its pleasures and those who consider such establishments to be “Satan’s Dens of Evil.” The author’s unusual subject matter, his delightful way with wit, and his open-minded perspective have the power to transform conventional thinking and leave readers smiling, even laughing out loud, to the final page.

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