[ From the Archives of 365 ]
“I’ve overcome a lot, drinking, hard drugs, the loss of a business (a sports bar), and a failed marriage.”
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 still 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.
In a way, I am a Vegas guy, but in no way subscribe to the Las Vegas hype, “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.”
I’ll admit, I had a studio there in the late 80s, even lived the all-nighter life when I became a big fish in the city.
But my heyday was short-lived, and it all came crashing down in the early 90s. After that, I relocated to Los Angeles. Sort of reversing my father’s LA to LV path.
No regrets about leaving Las Vegas, my campaign headline, “What’s Raised in Las Vegas, Leaves Las Vegas.”
There was a time when I said, “Lots of memories, but no future.” Farthest from the truth, Los Angeles has been very good to me.
So, 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 of the sex appeal in gambling and the 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 worse, destroyed by the seductive allure of the big win.
I have walked the edge of the Scene, experiencing it from both sides of the coin (no pun intended). I’ve worked with Casino executives and cheered on many gamblers. Fortunately for me, I dodged the snare of the gaming trap, but I know the players and 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 residing in a regular neighborhood. A person with a regular life, and yes, a regular workweek. He has no 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 run into Daniel as he rakes leaves in his front yard. It’s a scene that I can, in no way, pass on as I drive by him this day.
In my first meeting with Daniel, he is warm, welcoming, and doing his best to take care of his home. His yard is well-groomed; has no pomp, and is not filled with hot cars– just a comfortable home in a regular neighborhood.
A shining example of balance, Daniel is. But the irony of it all, he is a professional gambler living by modest means, and an equally modest 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.”
“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, a concept to which many of us are subscribing, as proven by the numerous interviews of 365.
What is fascinating is the variety of means, and life experiences, many have shared with us in defining their 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.
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. It’s 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 skinhead. But really, I’m just going bald. Sometimes people are scared of me.”
I lift my hat, relating to him on the balding issue.
“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, and have freedom of mind and time to do what a love doing.”
Daniel, thanks for showing us how to gamble the right way.