The Phantom Gambler

Michael LaPointe’s article The Phanom Gambler starts with quite the opening paragraph:

On September 24th, 1980, a man wearing cowboy boots and carrying two brown suitcases entered Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas. One suitcase held $777,000 in cash; the other was empty. After converting the money into chips, the man approached a craps table on the casino floor and put everything on the backline. This meant he was betting against the woman rolling the dice. If she lost, he’d double his money. If she won, he’d lose everything.

Telling the incredible (and incredibly sad) story of William Lee Bergstrom, LaPointe mixes gambling lore with just a sprinkle of mythology and Nietzsche. It’s a short read, so I won’t spoil too much here – but it’s quite the fascinating tale.

I really like LaPointe’s writing style and look forward to reading more by him. And from what I saw on Twitter, this article looks to be the first in a new column for The Paris Review called Dice Roll, profiling individuals who have been shaped in some way by gambling.

The High Is Always the Pain and the Pain Is Always the High
The Man Who Broke Atlantic City
The Gambler Who Cracked the Horse-Racing Code
Gaming the Lottery: Math, Cash WinFall, and the Players That Can’t Lose

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