A salute to late GT publisher

Mar 30, 2004 12:14 AM

It’s so vivid in my mind that it almost seems like yesterday. I was just returning home from a month-long journey around Nevada, which was the basis and backdrop for my second book, when I was contacted by GamingToday.

I was told its publisher, Chuck Di Rocco, had picked up a copy of my first publication The Undeniable Truth About Video Poker, had enjoyed reading it, and wanted to talk to me about writing a weekly video poker column for his paper.

The first opportunity I had I was on my way back to Las Vegas. Once inside his office, I immediately knew I was meeting with a very knowledgeable and successful man. His paper was a staple in Las Vegas, well known across the country, and as I understood it ”” was the oldest gaming publication in America. My one question: With all the video poker gurus living right there in Las Vegas, why me?

Chuck was a very straightforward guy. He told me I could pet one of his French Bulldogs that was walking around the office, but not to go near the other one. I didn’t question or challenge that. He also said that he had had enough of video poker writers who time after time wrote the same monotony about math models and optimal play for his paper, and he wanted something different. I was that writer. He told me he admired my openness as I questioned the math gurus’ theories, agendas and intentions. He said he wanted me to continue the theme of my book in his paper, week after week, and to incorporate my actual play experiences as I chose to. How could I say no?

That was all three and a half years ago. The only time I’ve seen him since was at this past year’s GamingToday Christmas party, where he softly but proudly told me to "Keep up the good work Singer, you’re more well-liked than you know." Coming from anyone else in that room would have made me skeptical. But not from Chuck. When he spoke you listened, and the very short time I’ve known him only made me wish that I had had the time to know him more.

Because of how I view and approach the game, he clearly understood that my column could be among the most controversial he ever printed. But insist on my contributing he did, and he had the confidence of a bulldog in me. Almost immediately, the people around town who believe in video poker theories and fantasies complained, but one complaint is all they got. Over 175 articles later, I get more positive e-mails on my ability to extract the truth about the game than ever before. Persistence ”” a trait I know Chuck possessed in spades — is certainly the name of the game when you have common sense on your side.

Since I began this column at the start of 2001, many, many readers have contacted me to both thank me for being bold enough to step forward and take on the mathematical nonsense of the standing gurus, as well as to ask how it is that I am able to win such a high percentage (over 90%) of my sessions.

One thing I did promise was to always respond to everyone who writes, and that’s exactly what I do. I also have spent much of my free time on trips to Nevada for the sole purpose of meeting up with interested players who just want to learn a better way. And when they can’t meet my schedule, a great many of them have met me here in the Phoenix area, where I’ve taken them to any one of the area’s Indian casinos for a training session and some serious chat. Nearly every one of them discovered me in my Gaming Today column while on a visit to Las Vegas.

It wouldn’t be accurate to say that all of my readers were losers before and are now winners. What I teach them to do is not easy. When they read about my Romp-Thru-Town style of play and of all the success I’ve had with it, they’ve had to understand that it is, at times, physically and mentally draining to the unprepared player — and those who are not 100% prepared for any of my play strategies will almost always lose. I teach a combination of adequate bankroll, discipline, determination, and taking complete advantage of the times good luck shines upon the video poker player. The rest is not up to you.

Far and away, the most satisfying moments I have had as a result of people reading my column is when I receive comments telling me how refreshing it is to see someone finally come out and speak the truth about the game.

And surprisingly to me — although I do get a lot of misunderstanding from it all — many readers are thankful for seeing me write about the pitfalls of playing with a slot club card. They now realize that slot cards were only put there to grab much more money out of our wallets than we were expecting to part with. They completely understand that it is the basis of all marketing promotions — and that people who run around town chasing these promotions are simply weak-kneed gamblers who have never learned to say no. They finally understand that playing for the points and not the money is a contradiction of one’s own sense — and that those few who go into the media to blab about how sweet it all is are only into marketing themselves and whatever it is they are selling.

Yes, without Gaming Today, so many players would still be left out in the cold. Hearing both sides of the story is always good for everyone. Chuck Di Rocco noticed that about video poker before anyone else. There was no stepping out on the limb for him. He knew what he was doing was right. Many players everywhere salute his foresight — this writer/author included. Thank you, Chuck. You were a very special man.