Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cheating at Poker: Abraham Gray/ Poker Cheating sparks 3 Killings/ Nuts Poker Top 10 Safe Online Poker Room

POKER PRO ABRAHAM GRAY is the current leader for “Highest Cash Percentage,” finishing in the WPT money 57.14 percent of the time. Nice job, Abe. You may recall, however, that Not-So-Honest Abe was the dude reportedly arrested in October 2006 by the Nevada Gaming Control Board at the Wynn poker tables for allegedly marking cards. Rumors had Gaming Enforcement officers descending over a high-limit game in the Wynn's poker room to arrest and take him off to jail. He was alleged to have been cheating by marking the cards in the game he was playing, a felony offense in Nevada. Does anybody know whatever became of those cheating charges, or were they just rumors?


Florida Man Charged with Killing Three Over Poker Game

A Florida man was charged with three counts of first degree murder in the deaths of three men last weekend. According to the Putnam County Sheriffs Office, after believing that he had been cheated during a high stakes private poker game, Duane Demaris Crittenden, 28, apparently returned to the scene on Saturday morning and shot three of the game's participants to death. Jerome Anthony Henry, 48, and Richard David Smith, 50, were both shot once. Robert Erwin Ford, 50, had been shot twice and stabbed.

"We understand that he felt that they were cheating, and he went back apparently to confront them about that," Sheriff's Office spokesman Major Keith Riddick said. Officers also recovered some money from Crittenden that he had allegedly stolen from the scene. Although the total amount of money removed from the game was not known, deputies estimated that it was somewhere between $2,000 and $9,000.

Crittenden has 18 prior non-violent felony convictions in Florida and Georgia, some related to illegal gambling. All three victims also had prior criminal histories. Sounds to me like these were poker murders waiting to happen. Officers were still working with Crittenden to piece together the details of what happened inside the former bar which was reportedly used to house the "high stakes" poker game. Crittenden's arraignment has been scheduled for March 19th, and he is being held without bond.

This brings the total of poker murders during the last six months to six--that I know of. They all happened at private home games, in one case in an office building in New York City. Is private poker becoming dangerous?

NUTS POKER: Top 10 Safe Online Poker Room

To see current rankings, click here.

NUTS POKER is a new and promising poker room launched in 2007, and is still in the process of fine tuning their promotional offers. But things are looking good, and if the early signs are any indication--an attractive sign-up bonus, great sit-and-go jackpots and a generous offering of guaranteed tournaments--there are lots of good stuff on the horizon for poker players. I have not seen any evidence of serious cheating since I've been monitoring this site. Both collusion and bot play have been well below the industry average, and Nuts Poker has never appeared on my list of unsafe sites. For my complete review of Nuts Poker, click here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

How to Cheat at Poker How to Cheat at Online Poker / Mansion Poker Top 10 Safest Online Poker Site

HOW TO CHEAT AT ONLINE POKER. HOW TO CHEAT AT POKER. Have you ever seen these search engine tag lines on Google? Have you ever come across them accidentally while searching something with similar words but different meanings; like "cheating at poker" or "poker cheating?" I imagine you have, as they protrude ubiquitously from the "sponsored links" columns. You were probably looking for information on how to protect yourself from becoming a cheating victim but instead landed on a tag line for a site that promises to make you a successful cheater. I also imagine that you've clicked through out of curiosity and seen all kinds of guarantees such as "Guaranteed To Make $25,000 a Month Cheating Online!" or the annual version "$300,000 Profits per Year Poker Cheating!" Did you ever stumble upon those sites that claim to be able to provide you the software enabling you to see your online poker opponents' hole cards? And then you wonder, Is there any truth to these claims? Are these websites for real? Or are they complete frauds like Nigerian Jackpot Claim scams asking you to pay tax money up front so that you can claim your huge windfalls without government interference?

I'm sure the answers to these questions are the ones you're expecting...Yes, these sites ARE telling the truth and can really teach you how to cheat your way to riches!...Wait!...I'm only kidding! Really, forgive me, I'm just in a humorous mood. The real truth is that every single one of these sites claiming they can show you how to cheat your way to profits at online poker is full of crap. What they do is prey upon your fears about being cheated by bots and hackers and then psychologically attempt to convince you that cheating back is the only way to protect yourself. It's simply a "cheat the cheaters" pitch that misses home plate by a mile. DON'T SUBSCRIBE TO ANY OF THESE WEBSITES!

MANSION POKER: Top 10 Safe Online Poker Room. To see current rankings, click here.

MANSION POKER is a recently launched online poker room which offers a huge 100% deposit bonus. Other promotions, such as freerolls and a chance to play at the site's own Poker Dome really add up to the excitement at the tables, and their remarkable software is key to their success. Although being independent, the room is accumulating traffic with lightning speed due to their extremely successful advertising and exceptional offers. There are great bonuses, huge traffic, impressive software and crowdy tournaments, plus lots of prizes and promotions. I have not seen any evidence of serious cheating since I've been monitoring this site. Both collusion and bot play have been well below the industry average, and Mansion Poker has never appeared on my list of unsafe sites. For my complete review of Mansion Poker, click here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

How to Cheat Casinos and Slots according to casino / Kiwi Poker is Top 10 Safe

How to cheat the casino and slot machines even when you're innocent. Here's what happened in Australia's Sky City casino:

Factory worker Jens Peter Dragon thought his luck had changed when he won $22,000 at Adelaide's Sky City casino - but he never got to enjoy the money.

Within days of his gaming machine win, Mr Dragon, of Paradise, was branded a cheat by casino management and left facing a 10-year jail term. Instead of living the good life, the 44-year-old had to use his winnings to fund an 18-month campaign to prove his innocence.

"They tried to put me in jail for winning something," he told newspapers yesterday.
"It seemed as if Lady Luck embraced me for a two-day affair, but she turned out to be a harlot who'd been around the block a few times."

In the Adelaide Magistrates Court yesterday, prosecutors dropped allegations that his good fortune came from a malfunction in the machine. Mr Dragon was awarded $2000 in costs, but said he was considering lodging a lawsuit against Sky City.

"The whole experience was shocking," he said. "I could never have enjoyed the money with the case hanging over my head. Now it is gone, and I had to take out loans to cover everything. I'll think about whether I'll pursue a claim for civil damages, losses and compensation for these unjust allegations, which have now been shown to be groundless."

In July 2006, Mr Dragon played the Sega Royal Ascot horse racing gaming machine at Sky City. The machine allows up to 12 people to bet on six model horses and jockeys as they race around a track. Players can bet for a horse to win or place bets on the quinella - the first two horses to finish. Mr Dragon received $22,000, but the casino claimed he had done so because of a malfunction. He was charged with taking advantage of a machine malfunction to secure a benefit--an offense that carries a maximum jail term of 10 years.

Yesterday, prosecutors formally tendered no evidence. Mr Dragon said he was happy, but the matter was not over. "I've instructed a legal representative to issue a letter of demand against the casino," he said. "If they fail to give me a satisfactory response, I'll take matters much further."

A Sky City spokeswoman yesterday said the company had not been notified of any legal proceedings against it. "If the civil claim relates to the same set of circumstances which gave rise to the criminal charge, it would be inappropriate for Sky City to comment on the matter," she said.

Mr Dragon is one of several people worldwide who have found their winnings in jeopardy when a casino has claimed a machine malfunctioned.

KIWI POKER: Top 10 Safe Online Poker Room. To see current rankings, click here.

KIWI POKER has been stable and well run since its inception. It is owned an operated by New Zealand`s finest land based casino, Christchurch Casino. The player base is quite substantial, and the overwhelming majority are loose. Micro-limit table stakes are available, which contributes to this loose play. This makes it a great place for a tight, aggressive player who knows a bit about hand odds. A further aid is the ability to see statistics on other players' playing history. I have not seen any evidence of serious cheating since I've been monitoring this site. Both collusion and bot play have been well below the industry average, and Kiwi Poker has never appeared on my list of unsafe sites. For my complete review of Kiwi Poker, click here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

CD Poker is Top 10 Safe / Another Tennis Betting--Cheating Scandal! / French Tennis Authorities Sue Online Betting Sites Over Tennis Betting Scandals

CD POKER: Top 10 Safe Online Poker Room. To see current rankings, click here.

CD POKER has been stable and well run since its inception. It has become one of the most popular rooms on the iPoker network, still offering relatively loose games with lots of casino players, great sit-and-go jackpots and excellent high-value promotions. For sit-and-go players, CD Poker is a virtual Mecca, hosting one of the widest arrays of tournaments in the online poker world, including the Limitless Jackpot promotion. I have not seen any evidence of serious cheating since I've been monitoring this site. Both collusion and bot play have been well below the industry average, and CD Poker has never appeared on my list of unsafe sites. For my complete review of CD Poker, click here.


For those of you who read Bluff Magazine or follow this blog, you have seen my writings about tennis scandals and the possibility of current and ex-professional tennis players being involved in professional poker cheating, both online and in brick and mortar poker rooms. Yesterday yet another tennis pro was implicated in a betting scandal and suspended and fined. I haven't heard his name come up (yet) in any poker cheating insinuations, but I wouldn't be surprised if it does. The player, Giorgio Galimberti, is strongly suspected of even betting on his own matches, which could only mean he's suspected of throwing those he bet on. This also does not surprise me; after all, he's ranked 1,009 in the world! Not about to win Wimbledon anytime soon! Here's the article:

A day after the ATP Tour suspended Italian player Giorgio Galimberti for betting on the sport, a tour spokesman told ESPN that Galimberti was found to have bet on his own matches 14 times, including once to lose, as part of "combination bets" involving multiple matches. The one time Galimberti backed an opponent, according to the ATP, he hedged his bets, betting for and against himself, and ended up winning the match.

Giorgio Galimberti, who was fined $35,000 and suspended 100 days for betting on tennis, hinted that he also bet on his own matches.

ATP spokesman Kris Dent said its investigation found Galimberti had wagered 401 times on 1,796 tennis matches between June 2003 and January 2006. Of these, 13 were combination bets (in which a bettor picks winners of multiple matches to form one single bet) on himself and one was a combination bet on his opponent. The combination bet on his opponent was one of nine matches in a single bet for five euros ($7.36). Galimberti also placed two other combined bets on the same match to win, won the match and lost all three of the combination bets involving that match.

Galimberti, who received a 100-day suspension and $35,000 fine from the ATP, told ESPN in the first of two phone interviews Tuesday, "I never bet on myself losing." Once the 115th-ranked singles player in the world, he added, "That doesn't mean I didn't bet on me winning," but he declined to elaborate.

Dent said the ATP found no evidence of any attempt by Galimberti to affect the outcome of any tennis match, a conclusion shared by an independent hearing officer, who ruled that an offense under the anti-corruption program had occurred and determined the suspension and fine.

"They [ATP officials] have the right to say what they want," Galimberti said later Tuesday. "I don't feel like saying anything about it. I don't confirm anything. I believe this is still part of my privacy, which in my opinion has been compromised."

Galimberti said he is "kind of disgusted at the way the ATP has acted" in issuing penalties against him and three other Italian players, Potito Starace, Daniele Bracciali and Alessio Di Mauro, who were previously suspended by the ATP for gambling on the sport.

"The ATP is using our story to make people think they're doing something against match-fixing," he said. "What is bad is match-fixing. What we did was nothing. It doesn't compare."

Starace was suspended in December for six weeks and fined $30,000; Bracciali was banned for three months and fined $20,000; and Di Mauro drew a nine-month suspension and $60,000 fine in November.

Italian Tennis Federation spokesman Giancarlo Baccini drew a distinction between the Galimberti matter and the other three, saying the federation's president had been hard on the ATP in earlier instances.

The four Italian players are the only ones to receive suspensions and fines under the ATP's regulations against gambling.

"I have no idea," Galimberti said when asked why only Italians have been disciplined. He said he knows players from other countries who have also placed bets on tennis using the Internet. Baccini said he has no explanation, either.

Dent, the ATP spokesman, called it "a coincidence."

Galimberti said he considers his penalties "a victory," as an independent hearing officer did not uphold the penalties the ATP was seeking of a suspension of 18 months and fine of $75,000. But he said he and his lawyers are considering going to court to challenge the ATP's sanction.

One source close to the investigation told ESPN that the stiffer penalty was sought by the ATP because Galimberti was known to have bet on his own matches.

Galimberti, now ranked below the top 1,000, said that all of his bets were small, perhaps averaging about 40 euros ($55), and were always "for fun." He said he has never been involved "in any kind of fraud" and has never been approached to fix a match.

Galimberti, 31, said that even before Monday's ATP announcement, shoulder injuries had him thinking of ending his tennis career. Now, he said, he's seriously considering it. A Davis Cup player for Italy from 2001-06, Galimberti attained a world ranking of No. 65 in doubles.

The ATP, according to Galimberti, faces a legitimate challenge, but he said he's not part of the problem.

"I believe there's a problem with match-fixing in any sport, especially in a one-on-one sport," he said.


French Open organizers taking online betting companies to court over gambling

French Open organizers have filed a lawsuit in a bid to ban online gambling companies from offering bets on the Grand Slam tournament.

The complaint filed Friday in courts in Liege in eastern Belgium and in Paris claims that Internet betting companies stain the reputation of the clay-court championship at Roland Garros.

"There is urgency to act because sporting ethic is at risk," Jean-Francois Vilotte, director general of the French tennis federation, told The Associated Press. "It is an issue as important as the fight against doping."

The issue of integrity in tennis came to the fore in August, when an online betting site - Betfair - voided all wagers on a match in Poland between fifth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko and 87th-ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello because of irregular betting patterns. Davydenko withdrew from the match in the third set, citing a foot injury.

The French federation is suing three companies - Betfair, Bwin and Ladbrokes - with a court injunction to stop them from taking bets on the French Open. It seeks a fine of C$75,000 a day for any violations, said Vilotte's lawyer, Jean-Louis Dupont.

Dupont said the federation's case is built on two tenets: that the betting companies are tainting the reputation of the French Open and unfairly using the tournament as a way of making money.

If a match-fixing scandal hit the French Open, it would undermine the value of the tournament, which had a 2007 revenue $175 million and attracted 450,000 fans to Roland Garros and a potential 3 billion viewers worldwide, Dupont said.

"Targeting the only betting operator which is completely transparent and, where needed, shares all its betting information with the ITF and ATP would be just plain bizarre," Betfair managing director Mark Davies wrote in an e-mail. "I would be astonished if any sensible regulator wanted to go down this route or believed it could help protect the integrity of its sport when it so obviously does the opposite."

Vienna-based Bwin said it was confident it would be able to stave off the legal challenge.

"We offer a service. To explain what happens, we have to use the name of Roland Garros," Bwin spokesman Antoine Costanzo said. "We don't cause the problem. We warn them there is a problem. We help organizers find those who are guilty."

With soccer and horse racing, tennis is among the most popular sports to bet on.

When Vilotte monitored the ATP Masters Series tournament in Paris, which the French federation also organizes, he said bets over the weeklong event totalled between $750 million and $1.5 billion.

"You can imagine that for Roland Garros, the totals would be much higher," he said.

The federation says the betting companies manage to avoid being stuck with the fallout when there is suspicion of match fixing.

"They purely scrap the bets on the event in question and by doing that generate a scandal that the organization and players have to deal with. It can give them a lifelong ugly reputation," Dupont said.

The ATP opened an investigation into the Davydenko match, interviewing him and his wife and reviewing telephone records. No findings have been announced.

Since the match, several players have come forward to say they have been approached with offers to fix matches.

Late last year, three Italian pros - Potito Starace, Daniele Bracciali and Alessio Di Mauro - were suspended for betting on tennis matches involving other players.

According to Betfair and Bwin, attacking the official betting companies would only make the situation worse.

"Targeting EU-licensed companies, which are highly regulated, to leave punters (bettors) betting only with unlicensed operators across the web, would completely miss the point," Davies said.

Bwin agreed.

"We are a legal company quoted on the Vienna exchange," Costanzo said. "The problem is not companies like us, but the black market, which exist in all countries without strict regulation."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Safest Online Poker Sites

In each of my posts for the next 10 days, I will include a paragraph about one of the 10 safest online poker sites, which I have determined through accumulated data including player reporting since I began keeping track in November, 2006. Although you can see the exact order of these top 10 sites on my Safety Ratings Page, the difference in relative degree of safety between them is very small, which is to say that they all are very safe sites, and in my opinion distance themselves from the rest of the sites I have not ranked. You can see my overall reviews of these sites on my Reviews Page.

The bottom line is that if you play poker online, I suggest that you play on these sites.


Titan Poker has been stable and well run since its inception. It is the leading poker room in the iPoker network, developed by the top software firm PlayTech. Like everyone else, the network suffered a loss in volume with the new U.S. gaming regulations, but it is recovering fast and is back to being one of the leaders in the online industry. I have not seen any evidence of serious cheating since I've been monitoring this site. Both collusion and bot play have been well below the industry average, and Titan Poker has never appeared on my list of unsafe sites. For my complete review of Titan Poker, click here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Poker and Casino Movies Cheating Theatergoers

Some poker and casino movies are so bad, they're actually cheating the audience. With the much anticipated Kevin Spacey film "21" due out next month, conversation will again abound about gambling movies. Spacey's film is the story of the MIT Blackjack Card-Counting Team, and although I find both the book and the team's purported earnings highly exaggerated, I haven't seen the film so I can't yet criticize the screening of Ben Mezrich's book "Bringing Down the House."

There is however, a worst gambling movie of all time, and it really did cheat the public because its entire premise is nothing but hogwash. I am talking about the movie "The Cooler" with Alec Baldwin and William H. Macy. The plot in a nutshell is this:

Bernie (Macy) is a troubled gambler with markers all over town, including a big tab at the Shangri-La casino run by his friend Shelly Kaplow (Baldwin). When the debts go bad Shelly saves Bernie’s life by covering them, then puts Bernie on the floor of the Shangri-La, where he will pay off his debt day by day by being Shelly's "Cooler."

Shelly had recognized that Bernie’s luck was so bad it was contagious, so he made Bernie the casino’s weapon to cool off all winning streaks going against the casino. All it takes, Shelly decides, is Bernie’s mere presence at a hot table to kill the winning streak. If he should so much as touch the dice, you’re looking at the Las Vegas version of a nuclear winter.

Then when Bernie is just days away from fulfilling his debt to Shelly, he meets Natalie (Maria Bello), a new cocktail waitress at the Shangri-La. Natalie sweeps Bernie off his feet, and after a night of much-needed raucous sex Bernie is in love.
When Natalie starts to love him back, Bernie’s luck starts to change. Feeling good for the first time in years, Bernie can’t wait to leave Las Vegas and move on with his life with the woman of his dreams.

But Shelly can’t afford to lose Bernie, especially since the partners in the Shangri-La have sent in Larry Sokolov (Ron Livingston) to shake up the place. Just itching to take over, Sokolov sees the hidden potential in Shangri-La. He envisions a new, slick palace with three floors of gaming, an entertainment center and a roller coaster – everything Shelly’s beloved “old school” casino is not.

Under increasing pressure from Sokolov and fearful that his beloved hotel and his old ways are about to be history, Shelly becomes willing to do anything to keep Bernie and his cooling abilities, which have really gone on the fritz since Natalie opened her heart to him. One night, the Shangri-La loses close to a million dollars because of Bernie’s newfound happiness.


Well, come on! Believing that a "cooler" can walk around a craps table and make winning crap shooters lose just because of his presence is about as believable as believing that both Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds never took a performance enhancing drug. In casino terms, that would be tantamount to a person being able to see through the backs of legitimate playing cards to ascertain their values. And then of course comes the big plot twist: Bernie falls so hotly in love that he can't cool off Shelly's players anymore. If that's not enough, how 'bout the name of Shelly's casino, Shangri-La? Whatever that lacks in originality is made up for by sheer stupidity.

So next time "The Cooler" pops up on cable, do yourself a favor and go see Spacey's "21," or rent some other film that has nothing to do with poker or gambling.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Poker Cheats and Casino Cheats Working Riverboats Can Really Take a Bath!

I mean literally, not in terms of simply losing their money. There are still several riverboat casinos in the US that sail because of territorial laws associated with gambling. I've heard that some professional poker and casino cheats have been working them, probably lesser-skilled teams that figure the surveillance and security teams aboard these riverboats are easier to get over on than in the bigger, more sophisticated land based casinos. Generally, this is a good assumption, however, working the boats can sometimes lead to some very "drenching" problems. To get a good idea of what I'm talking about, let me relate a story that happened to my casino cheating team on one of these sailing riverboats back in the early 90s. My teammates at the time were Pat and Balls and we were on a Midwest casino cheating tour.

I was never too thrilled about working riverboats because of the obvious problems with escape. Even when docked, it was a long way from the boat down at the dock to the parking lot usually up a hill—and there was always only one way on or off the boat, a narrow gangway in which you'd have no room to maneuver when being chased. Despite my concerns, Pat and Balls wanted to go aboard, and they overruled me two to one.
The best riverboat at the time was the Empress, about an hour outside Chicago near Joliet. It was a "sailer" and presented all the usual riverboat problems. We arrived just as it was getting dark at about 8:30 P.M. We cased the Empress while she was still docked. We observed heavy action with a lot of purple and yellow chips in play. However, I was still leery about working it, but both Pat and Balls figured I was being too cautious.
"You can never be too cautious," I said to them at the entranceway to the boat, indicating the narrow gangway leading to the terminal above. "Even if we work her when she's docked, look what we're up against if we gotta escape...What the hell do we do if we take steam in the middle of the fucking river?"
"Jump," Pat said.
"Be serious, will you! They got holding tanks on these shit heaps. If somebody rats us out or something, there's no way out. They stick you in the tank until the boat docks, then turn you over to the cops on land.
"If we stick with the blackjacks, it's pretty safe," Balls said.
He was right about that. Rarely did we have a rat on blackjack tables, especially since Balls was always asking the person next to the mechanic what time it was. But what if we did? "You guys really think it's worth the risk just to pick up a couple of grand?"
"We're already here," Pat said. "Let me do the blackjacks...We'll be alright."
I let myself be convinced, and Pat did the first blackjack move at a table on the upper deck when we were about fifteen minutes into the cruise. Before you could say "overboard," we had our rat. A young girl wearing an Empress windbreaker who appeared to be barely of gambling age had come up behind Pat at the last second to read the posted table-limits plaque sitting on the layout to Pat's left. I saw her coming but it was too late to call off the move. Just as Pat was claiming, the girl cried in a terrible, screechy voice, "He switched the chips! Look in his pocket! He put some chips in his pocket!"
She had seen everything.
I got sick looking at that girl, who was thinking that she’d done such a good deed. I think the ignorance of people ratting us out riled me up more than anything else about the business.
Pat was sick from looking at her too—and he told her so. He grabbed his chips as he got up from the table, stuck his head right in her face and screamed, "You motherfucking scumbag cunt!...I hope you die!" It was so ferocious that I thought he really might kill her. The only comparable outburst I'd ever heard was when Joe went off on the witnesses in the back room of the California Club, threatening to kill anyone who testified against him. Pat then sped away from the table toward the door leading onto the outside deck, heading I didn't know where. The rat was crying from fear.
I said to Balls fatalistically, "We're done now." Extremely rare were the occasions when I said to someone, "I told you so." But that's exactly what I said to Balls.
General pandemonium broke out on the top deck of the Empress. Uniformed security officers were running around everywhere, several out the same door that Pat had just raced through. Balls and I watched the developing circus, and when the same security officers walked back inside the cabin through the same door—without Pat—we looked at each other and realized we were both thinking the same thing.
It was a security guard’s radio that confirmed it. Amidst the crackling voices the two words "he jumped" were clearly audible. I hadn't taken Pat seriously when he'd said he'd do just that if necessary, but as that thought swam around in my head Pat Mallery was swimming fully clothed somewhere in the dark, murky waters of the Chicago River.
"I knew he was gonna do it," Balls said with a laugh.
I nodded. "I should have known he was gonna do it."
For this kind of emergency situation we had what was called the emergency-emergency meeting place, that was not a place but a telephone voice-mail depot. Since we had not yet checked into a motel, it was not possible for Pat to contact us directly, nor was it possible for us to know where he would end up. Back in Las Vegas, we had secured a voice mailbox for which all three of us had the code to pick up the messages. If and whenever we got separated while on the road, the message phone in Las Vegas was our sole means of communication.
Balls and I hurriedly debarked the Empress once she was docked, got into the car and drove to the nearest restaurant. Once there, we ordered soft drinks and checked the voice mail in Vegas every fifteen minutes, hoping to hear from Pat as soon as possible. Neither one of us was worried that he might have drowned; the river was not very wide at the point where he'd jumped. There was the much more distinct possibility that he could have been picked up by the police harbor patrol, assuming that the Empress security staff had surely alerted whatever authority was charged with capturing swimming criminals.
The message I received with relief on the fourth call was, "Yeah, it's me, Johnny. My little dip in the drink is over. I'm in the lobby of the Holiday Inn in a town called...yeah, what's it called?...yeah...Harvey...that's Harvey Wallbanger. You should've seen the look the desk clerk gave me when I walked in. I told him it was hot outside and that I sweat a lot...Okay, Johnny, see you soon."
We picked up Pat at the Harvey Holiday Inn, which took us forty-five minutes by car. Pat recounted his adventure: He swam a mile which was more like two because of the current—and because he was holding the chips in his right hand as he alternated between the backstroke and crawl. He'd been afraid that they would drift out of his pocket in the water. He finally ended up on shore near a marshy industrial area that smelt like shit. He walked a half mile and luckily came across a phone booth from where he was able to call with a credit card. Knowing it would be difficult to convince a cab company to send one of their cars to an out-of-the-way industrial zone at that time of night, he fabricated a story over the phone that he had worked late and his car refused to start. When the cabbie arrived, suspicious as hell when he saw Pat sopping wet in a suit, Pat gave him a soggy hundred-dollar bill and told him to keep his mouth shut and drive. Pat did stink a little when we picked him up at the Holiday Inn, so he took out a T-shirt and shorts from the trunk of the car, went into the lobby men's room, washed up and changed, leaving the suit and mud-caked shoes behind in one of the stalls. We got back on the highway and drove toward the Empress. We checked into the motel closest to the riverboat, and the next morning Balls and I re-boarded to cash out the chips. Then we headed to Indiana and another riverboat.
The experience aboard the Empress taught us one thing: Like in the movies, a great escape is always possible.