Movies – The Gambler

Movies - The Gambler Not to be confused with the 2014 remake, the original 1974 version of ‘The Gambler’ is crime drama film directed by Karel Reisz and starring James Caan, Paul Sorvino and Lauren Hutton. The orginal screenplay, written by James Toback, was described by the author as ‘blatantly biographical’; by his own admission, Toback gambled ‘recklessly, obsessively and secretly’ while teaching literature at the City College of New York.

In the film adaptation, Axel Freed (Caan) is a young, handsome and highly successful college professor, whose otherwise diverse life is dominated by a gambling addiction. Indebted to his bookmaker, Hips (Paul Sorvino), to the tune of $44,000 after an all-night gambling session, Freed borrows the money from his mother, Naomi (Jacqueline Brooks), a successful medical doctor.

However, rather than repaying his debt, Freed instead travels with his girlfriend Billie (Lauren Hutton) to Las Vegas, where he continues gambling. Predictably, he loses everything on a series of ill-conceived basketball bets. As the loan sharks, including the polite, but ominous, Carmine (Burt Young), start to circle, Freed bribes one of students, college basketball star Spencer Lewis, to deliberating limit, or ‘shave’, points in his next game.

His criminality pays off, leaving him ‘in the clear’ but, after leaving the gynasium, walks to a nearby black ghetto, where he deliberately starts a fight with a pimp (Antonio Fargas), only to be brutally slashed across the face by a prostitute. In the final frames, Freed catches sight of his reflection in a mirror and smiles, enigmatically, at the cut on his face.

Lockdown Shmockdown – I’m Going to the (Online) Casino!

Lockdown Shmockdown – I'm Going to the (Online) Casino! In these solitary, locked down days, a knock on the door from a grocery delivery driver can start to feel like a much anticipated visit from a long lost relative. Add rain into the mix and life starts to feel like some kind of perverse yet boring reality TV show. At times like this we need stimulation. Finally getting around to watching that backlog of movies you’d been meaning to, dusting off a few books, DIY, cleaning your shower curtain for no reason (again). Life can get dull. The one shining light though – the trump card of the modern age – is Internet access. All of the genuinely fun stuff we love on the outside, such as casino games, is available at the click of a button.

Just weeks before our usually mile a minute world decided to put its feet up for a bit, I was at one of my favourite Grosvenor Casinos on the coast. I’m not a regular, so for me and my accompanying family members it was a bit of a treat to be up close and personal with the “big hitters” with no shortage of casino games such as roulette, poker, and of course slots to choose from. When at home I’d typically be going spins crazy on the likes of the games at Slot Strike Casino (check out Rocket Men :-D), but in a bricks and mortar establishment I tend to feel the place out and see which slots offerings are drawing people in. I can often be spotted hovering around near someone on a losing run, waiting to pounce!

It’s not uncommon for me to have good fortune on my side as I’m spinning those wheels, and I’ve had and witnessed a few memorable wins on that other casino wheel, the roulette wheel too. An improbable time where my brother got a single number up three times in a row, a Nostradamus style run while choosing between red and black. Fun times to look back on. So, at this bore-tastic moment in time, I’ll be loading up my web browser and recreating some of those treasured casino memories in the comfort of my own home. Of all of the casino games, online slots and roulette are often the most faithful to their real life counterparts, and so let’s hope my trademark casino good fortune sticks with me online as well as off.

Horse Racing Hijinks and Casino Chaos (Memories Of)

Horse Racing Hijinks and Casino Chaos (Memories Of) We live in strange times. I can count of one hand the number of occasions I’ve ever seriously talked to anyone about a pandemic, in fact I’ve likely had more conversations about Pantene. Yet here we are, doused in 70% alcohol gel and now all finger wagging experts in the field.

Life on lockdown in a bundle of both good and bad with us performing a balancing act of isolation and contemplation during this difficult time. Hesitant though we are, we’re now all the more aware and appreciative of what we have and of what we may have taken for granted. And in looking to the future, we revisit memories from the past.

It can’t have been a month before the world was turned upside down, that my brothers and I accompanied by our characterful cousins had a break down the coast. It’s something of a family tradition really when we used to go with our Dad decades back. A break away where we leave life’s problems behind, stay in a cheap hotel reminiscent of something Del Boy might stumble upon on a Jolly Boys Outing, and hit the local horse racing track followed by the casino. My brothers,  a decade older than me, have been into horse racing since I popped out of the womb so it’s always good to make memories at the racecourse.

Our local racecourse is in Great Yarmouth and I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve been there over the years.  Yarmouth has seen better days, but there’s something to be said for places that are a bit (or a lot) rough around the edges. The racecourse is the jewel in the Yarmouth crown if you will, the hub, and also exactly what you might expect. Exorbitant entry prices, chips and a pint, the Alan Partidge-like commentary of Derek Thompson (who also judges the ‘Ladies Day’ competition… with excessive enthusiasm!) and top class racing. Rituals that make up the day like watching the horses go around the paddock to spot the real contenders, and trying to find the best spot to watch a race, really do add to the day.

We’ve all had decent wins at Yarmouth races over the years, and sometimes on big priced horses too which is always a bonus. If you’ve done your homework and have answers to questions that certainly doesn’t hurt your win rate. My biggest ever win there though, was luck more than skill. An outsider in the final race of the day, the roulette equivalent of a lucky spin of the wheel. The bookmaker was in two mind about even taking the bet as a waltzed up with seconds to spare, but clearly thought it was free money courtesy of a horse had no hope. Of course when I was making my way back towards him minutes later to collect my winnings he may well have been reconsidering his stance. Cheered on by family, these are the memories that stay with you.

The racecourse has a tie-in with the local Grosvenor Casino, a very attractive venue, which was once frequented by royals. You can use your wildly priced racecourse entry ticket for a free bet on the roulette wheel, but more about that in part two…

Las Vegas Strip to reopen in May?

Las Vegas Strip to reopen in May? If you’ve ever been to Nevada, you’ll know that there’s nothing quite like seeing the bright lights and bustling crowds in Las Vegas. Home of box office busting sporting events and casinos as far as the eye can see, it’s the kid in a candy store gambling equivalent for those who like their entertainment  faced paced and with an element of risk. Of course that’s all changed for now though, due to covid-19. While the lights may still shine bright, the crowds are absent and it’s a world on pause. A place once full of life, now replaced by an eerie and unfamiliar silence.

How long this will continue for is anyone’s guess, but Matt Maddox, the CEO of Wynn Resorts is calling for the Las Vegas Strip to begin reopening as early as May with certain restrictions in place. Mirroring a gradual return that will likely also be seen in other sectors, Maddox foresees measures such as reduced occupancy, increased testing  and a requirement to wear masks put in place. He has his eye on mid to late May for this process to begin. This is no doubt music to President Trump’s ears as he’s more than eager to get the economy up and running again.

“I understand that if we incrementally reopen we might have to pull back if a spike in cases occurs that jeopardizes our health care system capacity. However, the only way to cross this river is one stone at a time, and we need to put our feet in the water before it is too late,” Maddox wrote.

Credit to Wynn Resorts as they’re currently still paying all part and full-time employees. A move that the CEO says is costing the company an eye watering $3,000,000 per day. In these unprecedented and unpredictable times, who knows when we’ll find ourselves returning to some semblance of normality where we feel safe in busy environments. I certainly welcome a time when we do though.

Movies – The Sting

Movies - The Sting Featuring an all-star cast, headed by Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw, ‘The Sting’ is a stylish, meticulously detailed crime drama film, released by Universal Pictures in 1973. Set in Depression-era Illinois, principally Chicago, ‘The Sting’ was directed by George Roy Hill,who had previously directed Newman and Redford in ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ four years earlier.

Seeking to avenge the murder of his partner Luther Coleman (Robert Earl Jones), petty swindler Johnny Hooker (Redford) heads to Chicago to seek out fellow grifter Henry Gondorff (Newman). Together, they perpetrate an elaborate hoax – the ‘big con’ – with the intention of financially ruining

criminal overlord Doyle Lonnegan, whose henchmen were responsible for the death of Luther Coleman.

Resurrecting an obsolete scam, known as ‘The Wire’, and aided and abetted by a cast of characters, not least bogus tipster Kid Twist (Harold Gould), Gondorrf and Hooker create a fake betting parlour and convince Lonnegan to bet $500,000 on a horse called Lucky Dan to win. Just before the supposed ‘off’, Twist informs Lonnegan that Lucky Dan will finish second and, as he attempts to retrieve his money, FBI agents raid the betting parlour.

Agent Polk (Dana Elcar) – who, unbeknown to the audience, is part of the con – tells Hooker he can leave and Gondorff, apparently betrayed by his partner in crime, shoots Hooker in the back. Polk shoots Gondorff and, in the commotion, Agent Synder (Charles Durning), a real FBI agent who has been pursuing Hooker since early in the film, ushers Lonnegan from the building. Once the coast is clear, Hooker and Gondorff rise, unharmed and smiling, to their feet and riotous celebrations begin.