Merry Christmas to Poker Players from All Over the World

Merry Christmas to Poker Players from All Over the World

'Scrooged,' the wild takeoff on Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Story' starring Bill Murray, is my favorite yuletide movie.

I have made a practice off watching it each year just before Christmas to put me in a mood of giving. Now admittedly sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. When you live a gambler's life, as I have for the past 30 years, sometimes you're up and sometimes, alas, you are down.

But with Christmas just two days away, I'd like to reflect on a few things that matter. I'll start with the passing of two friends, Eddie Rack, a professional golfer, and Gerald Staines, an economist and investments banker I had the pleasure of meeting on a Caribbean island.

Eddie was a friend of Arnold Palmer. He owned two golf courses and was one of the most generous men I have ever known.

He hired me to ghostwrite his life's story, 'Just Call Me Lucky: The Eddie Rack Story,' which was published in book form several years ago. The story tells about his growing up poor in Western Pennsylvania just a stone's throw from my home town and how he became a tax collector and millionaire owner of two golf courses, one in Pennsylvania and the other in Florida.

Eddie didn't live just for himself. He lived for others. He was a gambler who loved to play poker, blackjack or gin, and who took frequent trips to Las Vegas. On one trip after losing a bundle at blackjack, he was returning to his room with a friend who owned a Cadillac agency in his home town. As he passed a black porter, Eddie gave him a smile and flipped him a green $25 chip.

His friend, Lou, was perplexed. 'Eddie, what'd you do that for? You just lost $600 playing blackjack.'

Eddie smiled. 'Lou, I'm in my 90s and still walking around,' he said. 'You and I are both pretty lucky with the way life has treated us. That $25 will mean a lot to the guy. Next question, please?'

Gerald Staines was in his 80s when I met him on the island of St. Maarten. We became friends and he hired me to write his life's story. The book, unfortunately, was not published before his death, but Gerald, who had earned an estimated $30 million as a currency expert and investments banker, gave it a good try.


He wanted to publish a book that would help the average person learn how to invest. Eddie blamed the banking industry for taking advantage of poor people and wanted to give them the benefit of his knowledge of what true wealth really represented.

Our last meeting together before he returned to London, the city of his birth, was in Naples, FL. There he treated me to a scrumptious steak dinner with good wine and we discussed economics, religion and life. He died a year later, an honorable moral man who saw and understood the big picture as few people do.

Christmas is just two days away. Remember the story of Christmas past, present and future. Remember the lesson Bill Murray learned about having a generous spirit and practice it the next time you enter your favorite casino.

Remember the lesson with your family, friends and an occasional stranger. Have a merry prosperous Christmas.

“I'd like to reflect on a few things that matter”

  • Jade's comment about Eddie Rack touched me. She is right -- spontaneous giving does fill a need and should be encouraged. A more generous spirit is good for everyone.
  • Nothing more heart felt than giving of any kind. Giving your money or your time can be life changing for both giver and receiver. I loved the way Eddie Rack was such a spontaneous giver. Anytime I win, I like to spread the wealth, spontaneously, wherever or whenever the spirit moves me. I also love animals, love them dearly. During the holidays, don't forget to give to your local shelter or adopt one of these love giving, warm and furry babies, They will give back more than any of us can give with money. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all ........
  • Yes as someone who worked blue collar jobs for many years I can tell you that a nice tip from a customer could help restore a bit of your faith in the human species. In regards to giving I like to think I would be a Carnegie or Rockefeller if I had tens of millions of dollars. These men were richer than the richest men in the world real terms after inflation. Wealth is good, but after you have a sufficient amount to insure all possible material comfort and freedom from worry--insofar as money can alleviate it--and material insecurity; then why do you need all those figures on a screen under your name? Rather than holding onto those seven and eight figure numbers wouldn't it be much more satisfying to relieve the suffering of the needy and isn't it more in keeping with the big birthday boy's way of seeing and doing things? Yes it is as I interpret the book on his life anyway...Peace and Merry Christmas

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