By Sam Vaughn
Sammy Vaughn is a long-time successful tournament player who finished first and won a million dollars in the Las Vegas Hilton Million Dollar Blackjack Tournament. In his column, Sammy reminisces about some of the interesting characters that he had the pleasure to meet during the many tournaments heís played.
What if you spied on a group of people that included:
1. A twenty-something, young, hard bodied blond.
2. A 75-year old lech, who always has a young, beautiful
girl on his arm.
3. An athlete that nearly competed in the Olympics
for the good ole U.S.A.
4. A seat holder on the stock exchange.
5. A tenured University Professor, who is a model Professor
for all higher education in the western world.
6. A physician.
7. A former governor of the New York stock exchange.
Where would you expect this group to be gathering? You are so clever if you guessed a blackjack tournament (after all, this is a newsletter for blackjack players). Brilliant!
If you had waited an hour in line and you were the next person to sign-up for this fine tournament and was told that there was only one table left, would you feel screwed? But why in the world would you be upset?
With only two players signed-up for this table, the only reason you should be miffed is that both of these players are exceedingly tough players. In fact these two players have the characteristics I listed above (#1 though #7).
Player #1 is Nancy Kubasek, the twenty-something, young, hard bodied blond (#1 above) who nearly competed in the Olympics (#3) and is a tenured University Professor (#5). Logic tells me she must be over thirty, but it is hard to fathom that she is not. My "hard-bodied blond" statement, well thatís self-evident when you meet her in person. You see, she competed as a distance runner, and still does so with a passion. Sometimes she runs farther and even faster than I do on my morning "workouts" (Yeahh, right).
Although it would be insulting for me to tell you where the pillar of all Western education is located, I will anyway for the few unwashed among you. Of course, it is in "Bowling Green, KY." (Now donít tell me you didnít know that.) Let me tell you that students that canít cut it in Kentucky reluctantly go to MIT or Harvard or Stanford and other Universities like that (tsk, tsk, tsk).
The poor penniless fellow with characteristics #2, 4, 6, and 7 listed above is none other than medical Doctor Richard Jerecki. What an amazing man, and what an unbelievable career he had. As far as my penniless comment, if you donít know the $ value of a seat on the NY stock exchange, ask the good doc yourself. I can barely imagine being elected to an important position in an institution that rattles the entire financial world (N.Y. Stock Exchange).
Dr. Jericki is back on the Las Vegas scene after a very long absence. To add another facet to this truly unique man, let me tell you about some of his accomplishments in the Ď80s and early Ď90s. Dr. J. won tournaments in craps, when I knew him, and I believe also blackjack. Few outside our small circle at that time ever heard of Richard. We called him Mr. Anonymous because he refused to have his name or picture revealed by the casino.
At one dice tournament, where he once again bested me and won, the casino pulled out the permission paper we are always forced to sign, and threatened him with it. RJ. stalled them long enough to go out and buy a new workout suit and one of those masks with the big nose, glasses, and eyebrows to cover his whole face. He then argued that the permission paper did not prohibit tournament players from wearing masks so they let him play and guess what? He won the tournament (again). What a guy.
At the recent Imperial Palace blackjack tournament, I once again had the pleasure of sitting adjacent to the classy Nancy Kubasek. We had a little time to chat before the tournament started and then she beat me like a step child even though she was seated to my right. She then proceeded to win the whole tournament. During my conversation with her, she reminded me that her running mate of many years, a Mr. Neal Brown, won his first of many tournaments at this same casino in the early Ď80s.
The first time I heard the question asked about how many times you should expect to make the finals of a tournament, and how many of those you should expect to win, they used Neal Brownís sensational early records as the benchmark. What a joke because he was such a great tournament player. Ask Neal about the exact figures, but to my memory the %s were unreachable by a mortal player. Thankfully, his amazing dominance in winning tournaments finally came back to earth, which gave the rest of us a chance.
Dr. Neal Brown, yes, yet another Ph.D. among us, is also a teacher and writer at Bowling Green University. He has written several books, his latest is titled, "Ethics in Business." It is a real page turner and I could barely put it down until I finished reading it. I wonít spoil the ending for you, but let me say this: if I were a student paying $59.00 for this textbook, I would love Dr. Brown (yea right).
This story is so compelling I would like to write a screenplay based on the book. We could do the entire production within our blackjack community. Jerek Markowiak (the Polish bridge champ and tournament pro I wrote about in the August 2006 issue of BJI) is the frustrated director. We have a heroine in Nancy K. We have dastardly villains that are constantly on the make for knowledge, both math and carnal, to take advantage of lil nan. Of course, I refer to Ken Smith and J. Ressman, two notorious advantage takers. Our hero will be a natural because in real life he is dedicated to protecting any and all women. His motto is the same as the L.A. PD: Protect and service, women mostly, but he would protect your money in the same fashion if you get careless. Of course I mean "Large" Charles (you know who I mean) in his first non porn, starring role. Large could do for the blackjack business, what Don King does for boxing.
You may ask of my bono fides for writing on some of the above subjects. I like to write what I know. In the field of education we have grads from the MITs, The Stanfords, Medical Schools, Law Schools, and many other fine disciplines. On the other hand, I have studied in fine schools in parts of five decades, countíem five. I enrolled in the finest City, Community, and Correspondence schools that would accept me. In the early Ď90s "The Famous Artists School" rejected my application, but they did send my nsf check back (for those that donít know, nsf means non sufficient funds). Later that same year "the Famous Writers School" also rejected me (what fools they were). But even they admitted that I rote gooder than some, but they cast a cloud on my GED credentials. Everyone knows that a Ď50s GED from a Junior High school is worth more than todayís High School diploma. Well, having lost all hope for a meaningful sheepskin, I just naturally took up blackjack tournaments as my avocation.
When I write about someoneís love hate relationship with the demon alcoholic Rum, I want you to be aware that I have experience with that battle. In 1978, I faked my way to walking papers from the wino ward of St. Lukeís Hospital in Phoenix, AZ. This saved my job for a short while. In í79, my employer, none other than the Post Office, again insisted that I attend a 30-day rehab center. This time the dude ranch for drunks was in Wickenburg, AZ. I rode into the sunset from there, retired from the PO in1992, and been riding sober ever since. Not a brag, just more background on my life for you dear readers.
Until next time,
I came-I saw-I stuck to it.
PS: When you see stuff in round brackets in my masterpieces, it is always the efforts of the Godly Editor. They feel itís their calling to show how superior they are to both readers and 'arthers' like me.
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