I apologize to those of you who have been looking for my column the past couple of weeks and couldn’t find it. As some of you may have heard by now, my mother (and wife of Lenny Frome), passed away two weeks ago.
After the funeral, my brother recounted a story to me that I had never heard before.
When my father passed away in 1998, my brother was the first one who headed out to Las Vegas to be with our mom. It took a day or two before all the arrangements were made for them to come back East for my dad’s funeral. Yet, of course, they still had to eat.
My brother asked my mom where she wanted to go to dinner and she responded with Hugo’s Cellar at the Four Queens. My family had already made that a regular dinner spot when anyone came to town – and it is a tradition that carries through until today.
As they walked through the casino from the parking garage to the restaurant, they passed by two women playing video poker. They were each holding a copy of one of my dad’s books. My brother said he could not have staged it any better if he tried. This was clearly a sign. My father’s impact on the industry would continue long after he was gone.
My father was informally called “the Godfather of Video Poker” by many in the industry. To be sure, he played NO part in the invention of the game. At the same time, no one can deny the impact he had on popularizing it.
Even if you are not a video poker expert, or even a regular, I can’t help but imagine your play isn’t just a tiny bit better from having read his articles – or any of the numerous writers who came after him – including me!
Would video poker have had the staying power if there wasn’t someone telling the early players how to play it? Would video poker have eaten up as large a percentage of the casino floor as it does today?
Of course, my father could just have easily been called “the Godfather of Proprietary Table Games.” He had a hand in the development of Let It Ride, Three Card Poker, Spanish 21 and Caribbean Stud Poker.
At their respective peaks, there must have been a combined 2,500 to 3,000 of these tables. As I consider myself an extension of my father’s work, we can add on Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Mississippi Stud and a host of smaller games to the total. This brings the total to perhaps as high as 4,000 proprietary tables that my father directly or indirectly had a hand in.
Imagine the casino floor without any of these games.
While my father was the public face of everything that went on, everyone who knew them (both personally and professionally) was aware that my parents were always together.
My dad brought my mom to business meetings to size up the potential client. My mother was the proofreader for all of my dad’s books and booklets. She was responsible for shipping orders and for the accounting. In fact, it was my mother who was always listed as the “President” of their company.
With the help of Catherine Jaeger, the editor of Midwest Gaming and Travel, we have launched a campaign to get my father into the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) Gaming Hall of Fame in 2012.
No disrespect to Blue Man Group (one of the inductees for this past year), but I truly believe Lenny Frome’s impact on the industry has been far greater. To this end, we are asking people to write to the AGA and urge them to induct my father in 2012.
Mail it to:
American Gaming Association
Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., President/CEO
1299 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 1175
Washington, DC 20004
For those preferring the online way.
Brian Lehman/Communications Manager-AGA
Over this Thanksgiving weekend, my family and I will again dine at Hugo’s Cellar. This time, for the first time, we will toast the memory of both my father and my mother. My dad may have been the “Godfather of Video Poker”, but most importantly, my parents were the “Father/Mother and Grandfather/Grandmother of the Frome family.”
Once again, they are “always together.”