Can You Remember Slot Gambler Dr Martha Ogman?

The name may sound familiar. Writing this article I had to revisit the scene of the ‘crime’ and Louis Theroux’s entertaining Gambling In Las Vegas. Aired on BBC 2 back in 2007 he followed a selection of gamblers including ‘The Mattress King’, ‘Whale Hunter’ Rich Wilk and hapless salesmen John & Tim.

After almost two decades this 60-minute documentary is still considered a work of art. Not only well received by viewers but critics too.

Martha Ogman was an unlikely gambler with a love of slot machines. The 80-year-old, who lived within sight of the Las Vegas Hilton Casino was well-known by staff who mentioned ‘She’s one of our best members’. No surprise when she says she has been visiting the casino every day for the last 10 years. The heavy smoker, a retired doctor or dentistry, has a laid back style and seemed undisturbed by her 4M losses. She told Louis Theroux she wasn’t addicted to gambling and bet because she enjoyed it. Ogman detailed that the casino had paid for the memorial service of her late husband, Sam. ‘They didn’t charge a penny.’ The fact she had paid a heavy price for her patronage seemingly going over her head.

Sadly, her son, Seth, was the major loser of his future inheritance which was slipping away note by note into the slots. He seemed accepting of his fate that his mother wouldn’t stop gambling even though it clearly put a strain on their relationship, She simply said: ‘He’s a good boy.’ He in turn said he like to bet small money in contrast to his mother. It was a sad scene to wonder if the day would come when she lost her house.

Trying to find updates about Dr Martha, I read on Reddit that she was still going strong at the age of 92 although another said they had gone to the Hilton Casino and couldn’t see her. Ogman clearly loved her slots and she didn’t look to be going anywhere.

With a selection of odd-ball gamblers, Gambling In Las Vegas is a good watch. It’s one of a number of TV presentations by Louis Theroux’s who has the knack of getting insight, often desperate, conversation and quotes from those who take part.

His use of pretend naivety and full on sarcasm have worked wonders for his popularity.

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