In the long history of pinball machines, a new golden age of pinball was started with the introduction of player-controlled electronic flippers, first seen in 1947 in D. Gottlieb & Co's Humpty Dumpty. Unfortunately, this was five years after the start of the War on Pinball, ushered in by New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and others who saw pinball machines simply as another form of coin-machine gambling (PDF) and source of moral decline. Following New York, pinball bans spread throughout the United States (PDF) and Canada, with fears escalating to the point that some in criminal law looked to alternative solutions to the Pinball Problem (PDF). Even though a bold "Babe Ruth" move by Roger Sharpe in New York City in May of 1976 overturned the local ban and other cities again followed suit, some local pinball bans have only recently recently been lifted, after people discovered such laws were still in place. See also: Pinball: From Illegal Gambling Game to American Obsession (VICE short documentary).
Renowned independent game designer (and landscaper-turned-amateur-lawyer) Jason Rohrer launches his twelfth game, an occult themed online strategy game played for real money, Cordial Minuet. (CM previously, Jason previously, Jason's games previously) [more inside]
The betting market in Las Vegas isn’t much different from Wall Street. Fed by rumor, speculation and greed, teams, like investments, can grow hot or cold for no good reason. Moving lines is remarkably similar to market bubbles. Walters insists that “[b]etting on a ball game is identical to betting on Wall Street.” Walters even claims that he has lost a lot of money in the markets and thinks the Wall Street “hustle” is far more dangerous than that in Las Vegas. It should be no surprise then that many Wall Streeters have gambling histories, most prominently Ed Thorp. For more information, read Scott Patterson’s excellent book, The Quants. I even know a few.Gaming The System by Robert P. Seawright [more inside]
A Life On The Line: For four decades, other gamblers have tried to be Billy Walters while investigators have tried to bring him down. And for four decades, the world's most successful sports bettor has outrun them all.
For 38-year-old Rubalcada, being at the M is a pleasing trip down memory lane, a visit to his primary workplace throughout 2010 and 2011. Back then, he had nearly $1 million in his account at the M. Dressed in slacks and a sport coat, he would saunter in and bet six figures a week on NFL and college games. He was, M Resort staffers say, one of the sportsbook's "bigger guys" -- a high roller who could afford to bet very, very big.[more inside]
But he wasn't that at all.
In fact, Rubalcada was a faceless grunt in the most successful gambling enterprise of all time.
"Wonder why Atlantic City is failing? The better question, the one asked by people who know the town: Why did anyone think it would ever succeed?"
Cordial Minuet is a video game being developed by Jason Rohrer (Previously, previously, previously). It is played for money, and is designed with the intent to remove chance from the outcome.
"It involved four international teams and an empty stadium, no ticket sales and yet the game was (open) for betting," Steans explains. "I sat and watched match fixers with a briefcase full of cash to pay the referees."
Bloodletters and Bad Actors Mefi's Own Max Sparber looks at the early days of Omaha theater, back when it was a frontier town, its amusements were questionable, and vice was rampant, with occasional forays into more recent performing arts misbehavior. [via mefi projects]
Getting relevant data first is a gambling advantage. Thus the controversial practice of courtsiding.
The hottest poker room in the US is at Maryland Live, a casino just Southwest of Baltimore. The reason is that the poker rooms are well stocked with fish, amateurs that regularly lose large sums at poker, but keep coming back to lose again. The sharks are enjoying the feast.
This is what a dying sport looks like. For decades, the Miami fronton was known as the “Yankee Stadium of jai alai,” a temple to the game, the site of the largest jai alai crowds in American history. Since the 1920s, the best players in the world have gathered here every winter. Jai alai used to be a very popular spectator sport in this country, with frontons up and down the Eastern seaboard. Presidents watched jai alai with their wives. Ernest Hemingway bragged about getting to hang out with jai alai players. In fact, during World War II he concocted a scheme in which jai alai players would somehow lob grenades down the open hatches of unsuspecting German U-boats. Now, the sport seems like a relic, a vision into the past. It’s vestigial, like an appendix.
There was a time when professional bowlers reigned supreme. In the "golden era" of the 1960s and 70s, they made twice as much money as NFL stars, signed million dollar contracts, and were heralded as international celebrities. After each match, they’d be flanked by beautiful women who’d seen them bowl on television, or had read about them in Sports Illustrated. [more inside]
Cleveland Scene takes a look at the paranoid and obsessive life of a mid-level bookie.
"There are six bookmakers, one more is on its way, and five loan shops. Even if you are on JSA you can borrow money from Speedy Cash. It's the main business around here.Take dole, turn it into weed, sell them, take your profits and put them into the machines. If you win, you are quids in. If you lose, you get cash from the money shops to cover your losses. Back to dole and buying drugs. There's nothing else around here to do." -- How betting machines help small time drug dealers launder their profits and how this is about the only economic activity keeping the poorest local economies in Britain going. [more inside]
In New York, there are at least six data centers you need to collocate in to be competitive in equities. An in-depth look at the insanity behind modern high-frequency trading, where the speed of light is the only limit.
Loved by some but often ignored, passed on by Spielberg, peppered with famous poker player cameos, the boldly painted, logorrheic portrait of real gambling life, California Split might be the quintessential Altman film. [more inside]
Saltybet.com is a ridiculous unending tournament of pirate Mugen (previously) characters from across a wide spectrum of games (and fan-made creations as well) duking it out while thousands of onlookers bet fake money. [more inside]
“What would happen if some of those ‘priests’ in white robes started chasing you at 60 miles an hour?” Frank asked. “What would you do?” And Sammy answered, “Seventy.” The Moulin Rouge: The Vegas Hotspot That Broke All The Rules. Smithsonian Magazine on the brief life but long-lasting legacy of Las Vegas' first racially integrated casino.
When We Held Kings: The oral history of the 2003 World Series of Poker, in which an amateur named Moneymaker turned $39 into $2.5 million and the poker boom was born.
The thrill and rush of possibly winning started to wear off after about the twentieth losing ticket. Each card had a couple of “Life” symbols on them, and every time you got a second you just dreamed of seeing the third one under the remaining graphite. However it never appeared and never will and it just kind of turned depressing. How could people put themselves through this humiliation and teasing every day of their lives?
The classic criticism of the lottery is that the people who play are the ones who can least afford to lose; that the lottery is a sink of money, draining wealth from those who most need it. Some lottery advocates . . . have tried to defend lottery-ticket buying as a rational purchase of fantasy—paying a dollar for a day's worth of pleasant anticipation, imagining yourself as a millionaire. But consider exactly what this implies. It would mean that you're occupying your valuable brain with a fantasy whose real probability is nearly zero—a tiny line of likelihood which you, yourself, can do nothing to realize. . . . Which makes the lottery another kind of sink: a sink of emotional energy. [via]
With sincere regret we must inform you that due to circumstances recently discovered we must immediately cease trading activity on www.intrade.com. InTrade is apparently shutting down completely, at least for a while. Previously.
Meet The World's Foremost Quantitative NBA Sports Bettor: Raconteur and humorous tweeter Haralabos Voulgaris
Super Bowl Prop Bets! Neatly organized based on how you think the game will play out, with a few non-football bets at the end. The Las Vegas Sun weighs in with some picks of their own.
"Las Vegas bookmakers make their money by balancing their risk, but sometimes they simply come out on the wrong side of too many bets." With the regular 2012 NFL season now over and the playoffs about to begin, please take a moment and shed a tear -- or more likely, raise your beer -- as you consider the terrible beating Las Vegas sports books absorbed in 2012. (LAT link, so potentially behind a paywall depending on your number of previous visits in last 30 days.) [more inside]
Popular “prediction market” Intrade is shutting its doors to US Customers, following a suit (filed post-election fortunately) by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. Some see this as inevitable, given their history of dissembling to regulators. Other (predictably) see it as another restriction of internet freedom. [more inside]
With a new baby and wife to support, out-of-work filmmaker Matt Gallagher tries his hand - and some would say “luck” - at playing poker for a living. Grinders is the director’s inside journey into the unconventional, often bizarre, underground world of illegal poker clubs.
Gambling For Kids: A How To Guide - a discussion of claw games, Panini sticker books, and in-app purchases in free-to-play games for kids.
For the first time since 1874, the Travers Stakes ended in a dead heat (tie) when Golden Ticket and Alpha finished together. Unlike 138 years ago, however, there was no run-off following the races, and both horses got a turn in the winner's circle this year. Video of the race (SLYT) [more inside]
The Powerball Simulator lets you play two tickets a week for as long as you like, and keeps track of how much money you've lost at it.
Beating the system: The Boston Globe reports how a group of MIT students beat the Massachusetts state lottery by working out that you were almost guaranteed to get a return on the game Cash Win Fall at certain times, and only buying tickets at that point. It's reckoned that they made $48m on a $40m stake over several years, that other syndicates were also involved, and the state 'bent and broke' the rules by allowing them to buy tickets in bulk. The game was closed down after the Globe started to investigate. [more inside]
"Several executives involved in the transaction have either abruptly decided to retire or been sacked."
Last month, JP Morgan Chase announced it had lost $2 billion dollars in a 'hedging' maneuver. Today, Jamie Dimon, Morgan's chairman and CEO, testified before the Senate banking committee. [more inside]
The Las Vegas Sands Corporation, headed by multibillionaire and notorious supporter of right-wing causes Sheldon Adelson, is considering building an enormous gambling resort in crisis-stricken Spain: Euro Vegas [more inside]
"I never go looking for a sucker. I look for a Champion and make a sucker of of him." - Thomas Austin Preston Jr, aka Amarillo Slim, poker's first celebrity, has died at age 83. [more inside]
Finally, Gilbert Arenas reveals the whole story behind the infamous Washington Wizards guns in the locker room incident.
The files of the God of Gamblers case can be read as a string of accidents, good and bad: Siu’s run at the baccarat table; Wong’s luck to be assigned an assassin with a conscience; Adelson’s misfortune that reporters noticed an obscure murder plot involving his casino. But the tale, viewed another way, depends as little on luck as a casino does. It is, rather, about the fierce collision of self-interests. If Las Vegas is a burlesque of America—the “ethos of our time run amok,” as Hal Rothman, the historian, put it—then Macau is a caricature of China’s boom, its opportunities and rackets, its erratic sorting of winners and losers.Evan Osnos on a real-life "God of Gamblers" and the rise of Macau, The New Yorker
The Man Who Broke Atlantic City Don Johnson (no, not that one) won nearly $6 million playing blackjack in one night, single-handedly decimating the monthly revenue of Atlantic City’s Tropicana casino. Not long before that, he’d taken the Borgata for $5 million and Caesars for $4 million. Here’s how he did it.
David Hill is a gambler. Each column will tell the story of a single bet that he made and examine what that bet reveals about life in America. The most recent is $5 Chess Game, Best of 3, Zuccotti Park.
Unlike other forms of match fixing, spot fixing does not affect the final result, only specific events within a game. Last year, in a cricket match at Lord's between England and Pakistan, three Pakistani cricketers and one agent 'conspired to cheat'. Following the decision [PDF] at Southwark Crown Court today, all four men will face prison time ranging from six to 32 months. It is the first time this charge, brought in under the Gambling Act 2005, has led to a sportsperson's conviction. [more inside]
The Last Act of the Notorious Howie Spira. The conventional shorthand for what George Steinbrenner did wrong, in press accounts of the mudslinging-and-extortion scandal, is this: The Yankees owner had an "association with Howard Spira." It made Spira sound menacing—this known gambler, this criminal element. He was the embodiment of the Yankees owner's dark side: Steinbrenner the Nixon bagman, the convicted-and-pardoned felon. Under questioning in court, Steinbrenner described their relationship in ominous terms. Did Spira "destroy" him? "As far as baseball is concerned, yes," Steinbrenner said. "He did a very good job."
Internet Sweepstakes Cafes have opened in strip malls and retail areas throughout United States of America in the 2000s to become a $10 to $15 billion industry. [more inside]
U.S. Alleges Full Tilt Poker was Ponzi Scheme. The Justice Department has filed suite against popular online poker site Full Tilt Poker, asserting that money players believed to be stored in their accounts was actually diverted to the site's owners, with money from new players being used to pay off bets when necessary. Reaction from the poker community when the site was first shut down in April. Reaction now. Always good for a contrarian spin, Deadspin says the Ponzi scheme is really all the Justice Department's fault.
Cash WinFall, or how to turn the lottey into a real moneymaker. In Massachusetts, one state-sponsored lottery has become a game you can't lose....if you know the trick. A tale of math, grinding and grifting in the Boston Globe.
Holy Rollers (the documentary) Card-Counting Christians.
Online Poker Doomsday. Feds indicted eleven executives at PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker. They face charges of bank fraud and money laundering. Prosecutors also want $3 billion in civil money laundering penalties. Poker players panic. [more inside]
"In life you often look around for someone or something to compare yourself favourably with. The games dealers and supervisors in a casino whose souls are troubled can look to the poker machines and say, well at least we provide entertainment (we’re in the hospitality industry, don’t you know!). But in reality, that was just bullshit we told ourselves. The machines blinked and made music while they took the money; we smiled and chatted aimlessly while we took it." Former casino worker Greg Jericho has written an exhaustive article about the human and economic costs of poker machines. It comes in the middle of an anti-pokies campaign by Independent Senator Nick Xenophon that is being bitterly opposed by the Australian Hotels Association.