Ep06 - The House Always Wins?
It was a book of undesirables of cheats, slim. I meet people that rob each other, and I was the centerfold in this undesirable book. Welcome to bench the podcast, that brings you the inspiring harrowing, and sometimes absurd stories that are just sitting on the sidelines of sports. I'm Charlie Webster. I'm a broadcaster. And I'll be your host for this episode. Today, we're talking to a woman who broke through the glass ceiling of a world that from the outside appears, glamorous and exciting. But from the inside is just an old boys club like any other the world or professional gambling cats Hobart is being called the best female gambler on earth. And during her decades, long career she played at the highest level of Chuck, I'm poker in casinos around the world today retired from the professional game. She tells us the story of how she wears away up to the top. I'm what she makes of Hawaii's word looking back. I was twenty one when I got into my Honda drove cross country ran into the biggest snowstorm that Ohio as ever experienced got laid up in a hotel with a laze truck driver putting late life, and he said, oh, you're going to Las Vegas because you don't have the legs to be a cocktail waitress and I was thinking, why would you assume that and you're right? I don't have the lakes to be a cocktail right spot. I'm very pretty. Yeah. It's almost the assumptions that were made about you. So when you first arrived in Vegas, what was the reaction to you. What did you I do in Vegas? I got a job as a blackjack dealer. And so. So I said, oh, good. I got my first job right away because I'm almost broke. And then the person said, in my boss said, let put you on the big six which is a game that all you have to do is spin. And let this big wheel clicking clicking clicking clip. It was so boring. Now the numbers have different payoffs on the wheel and the biggest payoff was twenty to one. So I started practicing to learn how to hit a particular number. And when I am because they're so superstitious casinos are so superstitious I started getting twenty two one all the time. So I was a losing wheel of fortune dealer. So they put me on. Blackjack has where I wanted to be I ran into a series of players that were coming in one, one day one, and I go they have some kind of method of winning. I can see that they bet small that small and then won a big bet comes out, they get a check. So I asked the person right at the table, I go, what is your system, and he looked at me? Like what is this Bobo dealer? Asking me about systems, because no one knew their worst systems in the casino, personnel, and very few players knew at that time. And he said, meet me after your shift, and then we went for coffee and his Mensa card. He had his Mensa card fall on co this he looked like Sonny Bono, and his pants were pulled up to his nipples, but I never was attracted to men because they were attractive. I wanted their knowledge and their brilliance. That's what attracted and unfortunately, it was also comes with that arrogance a new that you call it involved in the cod, counting gang the Czechoslovakians as they were known. What do you think about yourself back, then I wanted to be a player not a Bimbo on their arm that can play another hand which increases the win rate and they would not. Even test me. There's certain tests, you gotta go through to be a card counter. You have to count the cards and you divide fractions think very quickly. They would not allow because I am woman to even take that test. I just kept pushing through that it wasn't it was me because I've been in that idea. I know men think women are inferior. I've lived with this, my whole life. Some men, some women at this point. Go will I've never had no man. Treat me like that. Well, then you're lucky, but I think you don't understand the way men think I have spent my whole life trying to figure out how those different gender, think, as I region Lee, you treated in your words, as a Bemba, and we put the table as it as a distraction, or in the European casinos, it's very valuable to have a square to bed. It on. So if I was occupying chair that the main, the, the man could bet for me and increase his win rate. But actually, I was sitting there, I was a chair, but I practiced all the time, you know, just persistence while I was sitting there learning out count, and eventually, they realize, wow, this is really valuable to have her skill set, and they gave me a chance to work on my own, which was course a lot more profitable because you were not call counting gang which even though you were allowed to play. They still didn't agree with it. So how long did you stay with the Czechoslovakians and, and how did your relationship and it just kind of disintegrated away? And then I joined another team there. Many high valuable teams it's easier to work on a team because you all pool your money, but you really have to trust one another it'd be. Oh, so easy to pilfer money off the top. But we really trusted one another and I met the highest quality people of my life, that I mostly still associated with. But in poker, that's scum of the earth. There wasn't one day, some Bom wouldn't try to borrow money and get angry if I said, no and the methods, they would use wouldn't be helpful to them. One guy came up to me and said, wow, you're hairless terrible today, 'cause I've never seen her Ehrlich so bad can I borrow four hundred dollars and at the beginning of my poker career, I would loan money. I don't know why did that because I obsess about it when I don't get it back. But there weren't you've loan, it people to not feel they have to pay it back, and that's a lesson. You learn over and over again into life to me, jogs berry Muffin Monte colon counting hands. The call counting and poco much more less emotional. You are the better because you had to keep your mind clear, and count very fast and not have the people in the casino understand what you were doing now in my case. I was a woman, no woman bet up to the stakes that I did it drew a lot of attention. Like the male leaders of the team thought, oh, this will be ingenious. We'll have a woman. They'll never suspect. A woman can card count. You missive Sadat like a cell phone. I did, and all of a sudden because card counting goes, you bet Smalley about small because you're keeping track of the high cards versus the low cards. And when you know there is a conglomeration of aces and high carts left. You scoop your bed up to as much as you can without getting thrown out, and because of my aggressiveness, I would bet twenty five dollars twenty five dollars, and then put out two thousand and like, and you get a gallery of people watching you would be able to go. She just bat, but there were also the chauvinism even in the gallery because people would say, wow. And she is a woman look she's betting more than the men. How can this be and chauvinism at the table, I had one man suggest. I was spending my children's Melk money I was standing behind it table or that actually betting watching the cards because I was just going to come in the middle of the shoe and bet and he said to me, Honey. If you want to come over and sit by me, you can do that. I'll make sure you don't get thrown out, and I had a fistful of five hundred dollar chips. I, I, I think I can sit anywhere. I want. Did you ever get thrown out, then I got thrown out all the time for war for trespassing. Once they know you have an advantage over the casino that can trespass. You out of the casino and one of. I met the Hilton casino. I'm betting small, and they're all of a sudden the pit boss, and scurity guard come over point. It means said deal pass that girl. So they scurity guards pick me up under the arms and take me over to the craps table and stuck my head in the crap stable said, you want to play craps look real. You can play grabs and we went through the relent stick my hand. The roulette wheel, oh, I did not know what was going to happen in this post dragged me physically to the front of the casino and shoved me out the door sales. Stumble stumble fall down. How old are you? Then twenty six say he was still so young for somebody to do that to you. I was young, what was your reaction, fierce nece? I, I will get you. I will get you and your little dog too. I decided to come back into the casino as a man. And I went to. Theatrical place where they set me up with a beard showed me how to use. My hands me had a walk and a male costume, and well, then I went right back into the Hilton dressed as a man spotted immediately. I just felt flat that go, we know who you are, and I go, this is going to be so embarrassing to get arrested as a man. You know go into the police station. Of them realize. Well, are you a transvestite you know, actually what are you doing here? I think it gives off in your hands your hands this way to make hands. Look, really masculine. But we'll Manley. And was that then almost what led to go, because I know then you went onto slot machines before you went to poco. So is it the fact that you were almost blacklisted? I was blacklisted. They have a book called the Griffin, detective agency, book, it was a book of undesirables of cheats army people that rob each other. And I was the centerfold in that book. I was certain of it. That's when I went to Macau beans, Macau Macau was very interesting because culture, so different. But the owner called me and after a few weeks and said you're not allowed to play at Caesar's palace. A why would you think you're allowed to play ear did not ever get on top of you mentally the everybody was almost against, you know, I got arrested numerous times for trespassing and take into a holding cell, and, you know, meeting some new friends there. So it's a tough environment and women don't seek out being arrested in back roomed back room is where the security take you and just like put you in a room, that's really stark, and there's a chair with handcuffs on it, and they grill you and interrogate you and try to get you emit doing something that they perceive is unethical or illegal. But all you're doing is using your. Mind because it's not illegal is it to count cards? No, it's not illegal. It's not illegal, but they feel anyone that says depth did a method to beat the casino is an undesirable. He went onto the laws and then you went into polka. So how did you find poker? And how, how did you start off? Did you know how to play poker? No. And I had such a big ego because I was so successful blackjack, it was most fun playing with a high limit players, because they were the most clever and seductive in trying to keep me in the game because I played very high limit and I kept losing, and losing ACA. Oh, no. It was very humid, only I come maybe not as brilliant as I thought, and then really knocked myself silly and went down to a very low limit fortunate again, to find some of the best poker teachers that would partake their knowledge to get me, stronger and stronger. But because blackjack was just a mechanical intelligence game poker has an emotional quality that omos occupy. Pies fifty sixty percent of the game keeping your emotions under control, and because I'm bipolar. I've always fought with that keeping my emotions under control and not getting in fights get an a lot of fights. My success, major money making success came from playing against Middle Eastern men. They had such a problem with me because I have a big vocabulary, but they believed at that time that women do not even play games. Backgammon was their big game and women weren't even allowed to go into a backgammon parlor. So now you have a woman at the table almost the only woman in the poker room, who is reacting to you aggressively. You know, you bet I raise he raises possibly have nothing and usually did. I would re raise and it was so emasculating. It was so infuriating to them that they could not fold. So that all I had to do is really have a good hand and just call it down take the money and they then they would go motionlessly on tilt. I don't know if explanation on till this kind of self ex. Yeah. Because I suppose in, you need to be emotionally stable in us at trae shin, right? A position being emotional is a disadvantage. It's amazing that I was able to be so successful because I'm very emotional. So how did you control in polka? How did your bipolar diagnosis Hindu? I think why people that are very smart and have a bankroll and everything turned into losers is because you can't take the losing. I can take a lot of emotional mental pain, and you can go as the best player in. The game for a long, long time and just lose every day. And it just deteriorates your spirit, I would just go back in and try again. So I guess, and then I realize I'm never gonna win it this game if I don't control my emotions, I would occasionally get into an argument the worst one I ever got into as people I love my animals pretty much more than any human. I to akitas and they were in their Enda stage life. And people would ask me other animal loving people how're they Keita's doing one day. Someone asked me and another player goes I wish those FM dogs would die. I would eat them in them Stu that night just to hear people stop talking about your dogs. I went right across the table across the Polk table. Cross the tamp was ships in the middle of the pot. So God knows what happened to them and started to strangle, this person that believes dogs can be eaten. Now you can get barred from a casino. You can get barred at different levels barred for week month, two months, and I was thinking well just tried to strangle, somebody going to get barred for a long. But the person that got Bard was the person that made that remark to me because the manager of the casino was a woman and an animal lover and it was just easy. Nobody was going to contradict her throw the guy out that was the biggest confrontation, I had is interesting. You're saying because polka is about about judgment on abou- calling a blow for catching a of think is in your teams and also volume the people's weaknesses. How, how did you find that later in my life, I go, what a way to make living. You sit down in your mmediately say about each person at the table. What are their weaknesses if you need to use this in combat, you will know right off the bat, what they are what somebody is vain about. And you just if somebody has short money you kinda catalog it in your mind. And later in life. I go that's is not a very nice thing to do other people and a lot of people I started to evaluate. They're just not very nice people. It became down. I get worn down from people whining and complaining in that point of my life. I found it very interesting. Although women were selected as the weaker set. Men wind and complained all the time. And irrational way, you know, I lost a hand. I had Bakdal your forty percent. Acis. So women were also the women of my day were also very tough minded, and then as time progressed and poker exploded on the television seen it was very dispiriting define women start to act like men with a lot of whining and complaining, and I was going, oh. Really as bad in my lifetime. I feel like I was early feminist before the word was even established because I've fought to break into an area that was all male dominated. The is changed a lot from when you play Jack in the seventies and poker in the nineties, but it is also changing technology space. Did you play online poker for a while after poker? And how, how did that affect things for you? I was very bad online player. I liked because they were completely anonymous, you could act in ways you would never act in the casino and you had a chat box so quickly. Right. Very clever things. And I became obsessed with doing that. And I came up szeswith playing multiple games at the same time because that's a higher Drennan rush. I would play higher and higher to get a bigger rush. I would play. All the time. I get up and morning sit on the computer. I'd find myself. Be three AM stuck need a few hours sleep people would come to the house. Get away from the house, they'd want to do an intervention. All you're doing is play and online poker. I go, it's my life. So it was very destructive. Would you say you became addicted, you think there's a fine line between the Gumbo on you would doing? And then the passion you hot. If I went back and turn on the computer, downloaded a addicted all over get it's just like cigarette smoking, it was so addicted. And I believe that all gambling, even as special, they are addicted, a lot of people get in a fierce argument about this. So was it hard to leave behind then? Oh, yes. That's really hard just you talking about it. It's like oh God sooner you hang up. I gotta go. Really does it make you feel that, that you won't to go back into it? I'd say this, like people that are cocaine addicted, and they watch those anti cocaine commercials on TV and they use the razor blade to cut up the coke. What the commercials accomplishing is people start thinking in their mind. God, I remember the days I'd like to do that. And so the commercials anti the purpose so you just talking about it. Makes me kinda go better go shopping. Instead, using nother addiction. Do you have any regrets, then because you've been such a I don't know? Such incredible bomohs at sentence for women penetrating a male dominated world lie. But then I hear this negatives like you said around the addiction, since I've had Steph, society's cancer. I've done a lot of thinking. And when I was told you have three months to live, I rarely go. Well, at least my life is substantial and I have no regrets. I have one regret. Is that I didn't learn how to ski because the first time I went downhill, I didn't know how to Kern and fell on some ice and broke lake. Mmediately and I think skiing would have been very, your fork from me because I love being in the woods. That's my only regret like adrenaline is all I do. I do. Just blew my mind, absolutely fascinating. Feel like I could have spoken two hours and hours. Well, that's it for benched. Thanks, but union in this episode was produced by Jake tie, which theme music hooks. Lii and editing by Matt's hill. If you want to hear more podcast, like this won't inspiring the harrowing and the absurd stories that sitting on the sidelines in the world of sports checkout benched in IT all wherever you get you podcasts. That's all for me. Charlie webster. Thanks for listening.