In praise of Anthony Curtis
I haven’t written a “tribute column” in quite some time. It’s not that some great folks in our industry don’t deserve one, it’s just that, well, heck, OK, no excuses. I aim to fix that beginning in 2015.
And there is no one who deserves to be praised more for what he’s done for the gaming industry than Anthony Curtis of Huntington Press and the Las Vegas Advisor.
I have known Anthony for nearly 30 years, and am proud to call him a friend. But I regret that others in our industry have other names for Anthony such as “sharpie,” “advantage player,” “scuffler,” and my personal favorite, “hubcap salesman.” These are just a few of the pejoratives for Anthony that I have heard from (otherwise) intelligent executives in our industry.
Anthony Curtis is a prolific card counter and advantage player. Yes, more than anyone, he knows who is out there “getting the money” from casinos. And yes, he publishes information that helps both “regular Joe” casino customers and wannabe professional gamblers squeeze the most value from casinos.
But let me share a few things about Anthony and why he deserves our utmost praise, and not our thoughtless scorn. Anthony Curtis, along with his dad, Art Flowers, a former professor and university consultant, published the seminal gaming industry classic, The Art of Gambling, a beautiful coffee table masterpiece depicting almost every work of art in recorded history that had gambling as its theme. The foreword was written by LeRoy Neiman.
Anthony Curtis has spoken freely at numerous gaming conferences (in front of usually skeptical gaming audiences) and made passionate pleas for our industry to offer more value to our customers—through signature promotions, food deals, loss leaders, liberal slots, coupons, and anything else that casino customers value and will get them off their sofas and into the casino.
Anthony and his stable of gaming authors have labored long and honestly to share real information on the mathematics and strategies of better gambling methods. This “tell it like it is” information benefits gamblers (not all of whom listen to it) by making their gambling dollars stretch further, by giving them more winning sessions and turning them into more confident gamblers who will play more often.
Anthony has appeared on numerous national TV shows on Las Vegas or on gambling. He has consulted on movies having gambling as a central theme. He was a central character on Bar Rescue, helping a struggling Las Vegas bar succeed by having a better video poker offering. And in all cases, he represented the gaming industry honestly, insightfully, and with a laser-like customer focus.
You may not know Anthony Curtis, or if you do, may not share my opinion on him. That’s fine, but that is your loss.
The only things that Anthony Curtis may be guilty of are being passionate about gambling, being totally dedicated to showing gamblers how to get more value from their gambling experience, and being smarter than 99 percent of the executives in our industry.
And for all of that, he deserves to be praised, not scorned.
To Anthony, I can only say “thank you” for all that you have taught everyone in the gaming industry who would listen to your wisdom. And I apologize for the many slings and arrows that you have endured from some of my colleagues who wouldn’t.
And to my fellow gaming industry executives, I can only say that you should take Anthony Curtis out for a Heineken and truly listen when he talks about the need to create more value for your gaming customers.
And in that way, you and Anthony are on the same page. Or at least you should be.