SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 101: Gambling The Right Way

From time to time, I’ve spoken of my birthplace, London, England. And though my family migrated to the United States in 1961, me being age one, my blood runs Brit. Love my Roast Beef and Yorkshire pud, balancing my peas on the back of the fork and any form of dry wit.

My first year on American soil was spent in Los Angeles, and upon finding work as a tailor, my father relocated the family to Las Vegas in 1962, a story in itself, one that I will some day reveal in a screen play that I’m working on.

So in a way, I am a Vegas guy, but in no way subscribe to the Las Vegas hype of, “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.”

I’ll admit, “I had a studio there in the late 80’s, even lived the life and became a big fish in the city for a while.”

But my hey day was short-lived, and ultimately came crashing down in the early 90’s… another screenplay in itself. After that, I relocated to Los Angeles. Sort of reversing my father’s LA to LV path.

No regrets in leaving Las Vegas, my campaign headline, “What’s Raised in Las Vegas, Leaves Las Vegas.”

There was a time that I said, “Lot’s of memories, but no future.” Farthest from the truth, life is great and Los Angeles has been very good to me.

Why do I share this history? I feel I have to in introducing our new friend of day 101, Daniel. His trade, Professional Gambler.

“Ah? The Las Vegas connection? We get it!”

Hollywood has done us wrong with its interpretation in the sex appeal of gambling and its caricature of excitement of endless nightlife. And, I’m sure many of us have seen the darkness of its addiction; with friends, or perhaps even ourselves falling paralyzed, or worst, destroyed by seductive allure of high stake nightlife.

I myself have walked the edge of the Scene, experiencing it from both the sides of the coin (no pun intended). I’ve walked with Casino executives and stood by the side of many a gambler. Fortunately for me, I dodged the snare of the gaming trap, but I wholly know the players of the game.

So to meet a pro gambler in a very suburban part of the San Fernando Valley hits me as both sublime and powerful.

Why sublime? Daniel is a regular guy, living a regular life, in a regular neighborhood, working a regular workweek.

He is not garbed in bling, wears no Armani, and is not clenching fists of greed earned money. Like I said, a regular guy, doing regular things on a regular Sunday.

I sight Daniel as he is raking leaves in his front yard. It’s a scene out of Mayberry RFD, and one that I can in no way pass on as I drive by him this day.

In my first meeting of Daniel, he is warm, welcoming and obviously doing his best to take care of his home. His yard is well-groomed; no pomp and not filled with hot cars, just a comfortable home, and yes, in a regular neighborhood.

Daniel is a shining example of balance. This is where I sense the aforementioned sublime irony of meeting a professional gambler living by modest means and an equally honest lifestyle.

He holds no punches in telling his story. “I’ve overcome a lot, drinking, hard drugs, the loss of a business (a sports bar) and a failed marriage.”

I ask Daniel if he is happy. “I am,” he tells me, elaborating, “I’ve never been focused on material things. I’ve learned that life has peaks and valleys; you just have to roll with them and not let them get to you. What is important is appreciating every moment in life as opportunity for learning.”

Earlier I used the word powerful in introducing Daniel. I know we can all agree on his above philosophy, one in which many of us are subscribing to in reading the various interviews of 365.

What is fascinating is the variety of means, and life experiences, many have shared with us in defining their personal outlooks. From courageous life changes to humble acceptance, self concern to concern for others and from wealthy to homeless, one message is coming to the surface in shining colors. We as a whole are not that different. We just need to look past the surface.

Daniel: Powerful?

It takes character to self evaluate and to grow stronger from doing so. And, growth is what Daniel is all about. He credits his rebirth to the Dalai Lama.

“I read a book that changed my life. I was angry at the world, and it controlled my life. His book healed me, and for that, I will forever be a better man.”

Daniel is a testament to self-control and thoughtfulness for others. “You have to use every moment as a test to master yourself. Its like… if a person cuts you off on the freeway, and they are raging. Don’t judge that person, just use the moment for positive. Don’t get mad or react. That way you contribute a positive message to the world, and in turn overcome your weaknesses.”

I start to realize the depth of Daniel and his advice.

He continues, “In Vegas casinos, I can be intimidating, I’m all tatted and look like a skin head. But really, I’m just going bald. Sometimes people are scared of me.” I lift my hat, relating to him on the balding issue, the scared of me… no so sure?

“From the way people view me I have learned to be patient and I treat all people the way I want to be treated… with tolerance.” Daniel sums up as he reveals the course of his life’s change.

“I did have an anger management problem, I paid the price, but all is in check now. Life is good, I’m re-married, happy, have freedom of mind and time to do what a love doing.”

Daniel, thanks for showing us how to gamble the right way.