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It’s episode 127 of Wise Kracks and we’re ending the year on a high note with a very special guest-centric show!
Your hosts Bill Krackomberger and Jon Orlando are joined by Anthony Curtis, a renowned blackjack player, author, and publisher. He founded and began publishing the Las Vegas Advisor in 1983, a newsletter that has been a cornerstone of the Vegas scene since its inception. As a part of the Huntington Press, he has also aided in publishing several best-selling books on gambling and casino games.
Anthony chats with the guys about publishing in the digital age, how he found his love for blackjack, his best sellers, and how he became Mattress Mack’s, right-hand man. All of this and more on this week’s episode of Wise Kracks!
“I’m very excited to have this man on, the Las Vegas Advisor has been like my bible for most of my betting career!”
Bill can’t contain himself as Anthony Curtis sits across from him. As the owner and publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor, Anthony’s guidance has helped Bill navigate the Vegas gambling scene for years, “I used to get the Advisor around 1992… my now wife used to get it for me every Christmas!”
Luckily for Bill’s wife, this year she doesn’t have to. Anthony pulls out a newsletter and hands it to Bill, “This here is the final printed edition of the Las Vegas Advisor.” Bill’s eyes light up as Jon chimes in, “It’s nice to have something physical, something to hold and touch.”
With the climate for physical publications, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the printed edition of the newsletter is coming to an end. Anthony addresses the move to making it strictly digital, and although it’s a somber occasion, he expresses his optimism, “People don’t like change, but it’s going to be cool… with digital layouts you don’t have to be put in a box.”
What isn’t and hasn’t changed for years, is that the coupons included in the publication still pay for the subscription itself. Bill explains, “There’s a buy one lobster dinner, get one free… that’s an insane deal, and it’s a win-win because these companies are making money off of this!”
For Anthony, a career revolving around gambling was a no-brainer from a very young age, “I come from a Polish family of game players… I would sit at the pinochle table and by the time I was 5 or 6, I could play some hands!”
Anthony was all about games involving odds, “I was even mathematical with games like Monopoly.” From then on out, he knew this was something he could do with his life, and went to college on an athletic scholarship. He laughs, “I went to my classes, but I was also studying blackjack!”
When he was 21, he dropped out of college and made his way to Vegas. Even with his dad being a university professor, he understood Anthony’s choices. His dad was also into statistics, and when Anthony explained that he could also pursue publishing, he approved. This came full circle once Anthony was able to publish his dad’s own work!
Although that’s likely Anthony’s favorite achievement, Huntington Press has published some of the best-selling and most noteworthy gambling books there are out there. Anthony rattles a couple off, “Our biggest seller was The Frugal Gambler by Jean Scott, along with publications from video poker expert Bob Dancer.“ The list goes on and on!
For Anthony, it’s all about finding authors that are resourceful, “I have guys that are better than me bring me their stuff. Often times it doesn’t even need to be edited!”
“People think that blackjack card counting is harder than it is.”
Bill makes it known, “You can learn what I know with a couple of lessons from the internet!” Although there are systems that can become complicated, Bill takes a basic high-low approach for the value. With 1,2, and 3 level counts, Anthony acknowledges that it gets complicated, but that, “It’s also ego.”
When viewed overall, card counting in blackjack is typically frowned upon by casinos, but Bill doesn’t understand why, “I don’t think they should throw you out, they’re more scared of it than they should be… it’s a 1% edge, it’s nothing.” Anthony backs Bill up, “If you’re a smart guy when you go to a casino, you act scared even if you aren’t!”
When talking games back in the day, Anthony had a system called the “information conduit”. This was when avid gamers would contact one another and notify people of profitable games around town.
Although Bill admits he would always jump on an opportunity, Anthony explains his approach to these situations, especially for blackjack, “All you have to do to do well is be disciplined, have a good feel for probability, and know your algebra.”
Jon has a question, “What are your thoughts on free-bet blackjack?” Anthony thinks, “It’s a good game… for the casino. It’s not a game you can walk in and just beat.” Not the average player himself, Anthony explains that the average player will walk in with negative expectations, so any winnings are always exciting.
Moving back to frowned-upon casino behavior, Anthony mentions “ethical cheating”; that is when the dealer does something he shouldn’t have that you as a player can take advantage of. Anthony explains, “Sometimes the dealer will put the cards right in my face without knowing… I can take advantage of that. All the casino can do is come and fix this guy!” For Anthony, paying attention to minor slips like this or being overpaid is part of the game strategy.
“Working with Mattress Mack was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.”
We’ve all heard of Mattress Mack: a die-hard Houston Astros fan that has placed massive bets on them year after year for a few seasons now. If you followed the MLB World Series this year, you know the results had Mack winning big.
Anthony has had the pleasure of being a part of his journey, “In 2019, the Astros lost on the way to the World Series, so we had to figure out what that meant for Mattress Mack’s bets.” In most instances, bettors of Mack’s caliber would typically get insurance, but he couldn’t get it at a good price. Anthony continues, “I got a call from someone who represented a businessman from Texas with a $20M liability.”
Anthony thought this was an interesting call, and then it became even more so, “He then asked if I wanted to come on to help out Mack, for pay.” It was an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Him and his friend Frank had to put down countless amounts of money in 43 days in order to get Mack completely hedged as the odds got shorter and shorter. In the end, Anthony was able to get it done, “When he lost that bet in 2019, he got the same profit he would’ve gotten had they won!”
Of course, Mattress Mack just took home the biggest sports bet winnings ever, and this is history that could’ve never taken place if not for Anthony’s involvement.
Welcome to Wise Kracks, your one-stop-shop for all things betting, pop culture, tips & more! Your hosts Jon Orlando and Bill Krackomberger take a look at the NHL, NBA, MLB, & the NFL, while never missing a chance to laugh.
A new guest joins the show every week to share great stories from the world of sports and entertainment. Wise Kracks wants to make you better bettor, and Bill is the man to take you there. Catch a new episode of Wise Kracks by tuning into the WSN YouTube channel every Thursday!
Billy “Krackman” Krackomberger has made his living as a professional sports gambler for nearly three decades. You have seen him on ESPN, Gaming Today, and SiriusXM. His connections in the sports gambling industry run all the way to the top. His bets move the lines and regularly have him banned from books for being too sharp. Email: [email protected]More info on Bill Krackomberger
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