In Gamblers, a brand new six-part anthology sequence from The Ringer community and Spotify, we meet Gina Fiore, a lady who has spent 20 years beating casinos at their very own sport. She is a excessive curler who has travelled the world taking part in blackjack and poker, and offers in sums of cash that almost all solely dream of. This isn’t a sport for Fiore, it’s her livelihood. She gambles solely when the percentages are in her favour, which she judges by sensible card sense and a mastery of the sport of likelihood. She additionally has a way of figuring out the sellers’ playing cards, even when they’re face-down. It’s known as hole-carding, and, she claims, it isn’t dishonest.
One of the best podcasts provide home windows into worlds to which we wouldn’t normally have entry, and Gamblers, which affords hanging portraits of six playing professionals, does this masterfully. The host is the author and journalist David Hill, who, within the first episode, joins Fiore in a Las Vegas on line casino — although he can’t say which one since he’s been sworn to secrecy. Fiore does a lot of her work incognito — let’s simply say wigs are concerned. Regardless of this, she and Hill present a mesmerising glimpse into an odd and shadowy way of life. Fiore remembers scary encounters with on line casino safety, state police, and an airport incident the place DEA officers confiscated her most important device of the commerce — an enormous suitcase of money. Months later, having lastly wrestled the cash again, she determined to sue and the case went all the way in which to the Supreme Courtroom.
Elsewhere within the sequence, we meet Emily Gullikson, the tattooed and pierced racing gambler who, says our host, has a “sixth sense in the case of analysing horse races”. Hill joins her on the racetrack amid scores of corduroy-wearing, cigar-chomping males. When he asks her how a lot she considers a horse’s title earlier than betting, you’ll be able to virtually hear her eyes rolling. He additionally hangs out with Scott Frost, a pool hustler who went worldwide within the 2000s, and Michael Sall, a gin rummy specialist who went from penury to dwelling in a Manhattan penthouse.
Some could balk at the truth that Gamblers skates calmly over the ethics of the enterprise, particularly the ache that may be attributable to what, for a lot of, is an dependancy. However the perils are implicit within the storytelling. Hill is desirous about what can lead an individual to this underground life and the methods they flip it right into a enterprise. He desires to know who these individuals are and the way they reside.
It’s additionally clear how gamblers’ fortunes can activate a dime, as Fiore discovered through the 2008 monetary crash. As fascinating as how she misplaced all her cash is how she clawed it again. To the outsider, playing could look like about luck however, because the sequence reveals us, success is barely bestowed on these with wit, talent, resilience and the utmost dedication.