Host Ira Glass and producer Robyn Semien get a blackjack lesson from Andy Bloch, who played for the MIT blackjack team. He teaches them the basics of card-counting, the technique that gives players an advantage against the house — enough of an advantage that most casinos will ask you to leave if they catch you doing it.
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Jack Hitt tells the story of the Christian card counting team featured in the documentary Holy Rollers, and why they see no contradiction in being devout Christians who spend their days in casinos. Jack is the author of the book Bunch of Amateurs.
Ira and Robyn go to the casino to try out their newfound card counting skills.
TAL producer Sarah Koenig tells the story of a woman who sued the casino where she lost her inheritance, saying that it was to blame, not her. The story was inspired by a chapter in The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg.
This American Life producer Alex Blumberg talks with Ed Ugel, who had a very unusual dream job: He bought jackpots from lottery winners. When you win the lottery, your prize is often paid out in yearly installments.
It was two months into the tour. Katie Else and the rest of the Riverdance cast had been performing eight shows a week. They decided to pool their money for the Mega-Millions lottery.
Host Ira Glass visits Arlington Racetrack on opening day with four regulars who explain their quasi-scientific systems for winning.
A story by John Hodgman about returning to the beach after a very bad year.
Ira travels to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker, gets hooked, and tries to figure out what it would mean if he'd ditch his job in radio to become a professional card player. What he learns: A professional gambler can suffer two heartbreaking losses back-to-back, costing him over $100,000, and moments later, at the casino bar, calculate the million-to-one odds of his unlikely losses...in his head.
Todd Powell won $27 million dollars from the Florida State lottery. The windfall ended his marriage.
Alix Spiegel reports on an entire community that's turned its back on easy money—for now. Nine years ago a native American community in Minnesota—the Mille Lacs band of Ojibwe—built a casino.
Ira with "The Hens," a group of nine middle-aged women who've known each other since girlhood. They play recordings of their recent three-day road trip from Chicago to a casino in a cotton field in Mississippi.
Host Ira Glass with Jan Tomare, who spent three years in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
We told Chicago playwright Jeff Dorchen about what the three boys in Act One said, and he created a brief original radio play picking up where they left off.
The Golden Peacock. Playwright Jeff Dorchen creates an original radio play inspired by the musings of the three boys in the previous story.