If you're going to cheat in a card game... make sure you don't do it in Sammy "The Bull" Gravano's club.
Sammy is an former American gangster who has been the Gambino crime family's underboss. Gravano played a significant role in helping the prosecution sentence John Gotti, the leader of the crime family, by offering to testify against him and other mobsters as a government witness in an arrangement in which he admitted to participation in 19 murders.
Today, I have a story to share about a club I owned on 18th avenue a while ago. I had problems with the grease balls, the zips, or whatever you want to call them. Many people say it's not a good word, but with us, I think we understand. I'm not saying it in a negative way, but back in Italy when I was with the Columbo family, I was in that same club much later, and I never had trouble with them anymore. Thank God. We ran a game, and one night, I'm in the game, and to keep it alive, we didn't have enough players. I'm exhausted. It's late, late at night, and they've been gambling. I'm up and tired, and I move down in my seat. I put my head back. I'm out of the hand, so I'm just chilling. My eyes are half-closed. I'm ready to go to sleep, really. I notice the guy directly across from me is dealing the cards because we would rotate who deals the cards. We'd go right around playing poker. So, as he's going, and my eyes are way down here, I see his finger, his pinky finger, go up, and I see the card on the bottom go out. I was tired, and I said, "What the fuck?" It happened so fast, but I said, "I think he's dealing from the bottom of the deck."
These women and guys who hung out with us were guys who heard about the game. Somebody brought them, and they came in. Two guys. So now I'm alert, and I'm watching when it gets to him dealing, and his partner is sitting over here, and he's sitting over there, and I'm right across from him like this. Now I'm looking, I see the bottom card, let's say it's an ace of spades. It was an ace. I don't know if it was clubs or spades, but let's call it the ace of spades. Sure enough, the card disappears so fast by, I could have blinked and missed it, but the guy who won over here, his partner won the hand and had that ace of spades, and it was incredible. Now that I think about it, not now, but then, I noticed every time he dealt, he won. Back then, you'd call him a mechanic. They're professional cheaters. They can shuffle the cards a certain way. They know what card is going to come out, who's going to get the card. Every time he deals, he wins, and cards disappear off the bottom, and he's got them in his hand.
Okay, so we play for a little while longer. It's down to a few guys. I said, "Listen, guys, I'm too tired. I'm not gonna play anymore. There are only like three, four guys. Let's call it a night." "Okay, okay, Sammy, yeah, all right. Boom, bop." So this guy's gonna leave, some of his capacities with that, all right? "Take care, bro. I'll talk to you." "This guy's going, 'All right, I'll see you.'" "This guy is gonna leave. No, no, no, not you. You stay." "You're gonna stay." Another guy leaves, the other guy. "You could sit down too." I called Taro's son, and I told him to bring down a friend. He knew exactly what I was talking about, and he was down no time flat.
I didn't know what to do. I sat there for a while, thinking about it. Then I decided to let him go. I said, "Listen, you got lucky tonight. You're not gonna get lucky again. You're gonna leave this club, and you're never gonna come back. You understand me?" He nodded his head and got up, still crying.
I watched him leave the club, and then I turned to Louis and Charlie. "Listen, guys, we gotta tighten up the security around here. We can't have guys like that coming in here and cheating us. And we gotta make sure we don't have any more problems with the grease balls."
Louis nodded his head. "Yeah, Sammy, you're right. We gotta be careful. But you handled it good tonight. Real good."
Charlie said, "Yeah, you scared the shit outta him. He won't be back."
I smiled. "Yeah, I think he got the message."
We sat there for a while longer, talking and laughing, and then I got up to leave. "I gotta get some sleep, guys. It's been a long night."
Louis said, "Yeah, you go get some rest. We'll see you next week."
Charlie said, "Yeah, take care, Sammy."
I walked out of the club and into the cool night air. As I got into my car and started the engine, I thought about what had happened that night. It was just another night in the life of a wiseguy, but it was a night I wouldn't forget.
I drove home, thinking about the game, the cheating, the fear in that guy's eyes. And I knew that tomorrow would be another day, another day of life in the mob. But for tonight, at least, I could put it all behind me and get some sleep.
And that's exactly what I did.