Posted by Wizard
Jun 09, 2017

Funeral mass for Daniel Lubin

Below is my speech for the funeral mass of Dan Lubin.

First, let me say that I'm very grateful to be asked say a few words about Daniel Lubin. My name is Michael Shackleford. Like many people in the world of eccentric world of Dan Lubin, I worked in the business of new table games. It could not be avoided that Dan I would run into each other as there is a lot of overlap in what we do, helping wide-eyed casino game inventors become the next millionaire in the feast or famine world creating new casino games. A business where a small few have made fortunes but where the vast majority gave it the old college try only to singing the blues and going back to their day jobs.

As I recall, I first got to know Dan personally in February of 2012 when I put together a motley crew to make some gambling instructional videos. At the time Dan was a member of my forum at WizardOfVegas.com and as I recall he headed my call for somebody to play the role of the dealer in the videos. Dan kindly volunteered. I explained to Dan that I didn't know how long it would take and renumeration would be based on loosely on time. He seemed to feel uncomfortable talking about money and said that whatever I felt was fair would be fine.

On the morning of the shoot I met Dan face to face for the first time. Dan seemed tired as he was squeezing this gig in between shifts at the casino but was nevertheless enthusiastic and rose to the occasion. In fact, he rose a bit too high. As soon as the cameras were on he quickly upstaged me, who was supposed to be the star. He could have been asked a simple question like how the player should make a Hard Way bet and it would turn into 15 minutes of the etiquette of making every single proposition bet.

Yes, Dan could be quite a talker. My editor must have hours of unused footage of Dan explaining the minutiae of craps, pai gow poker, three card poker, and blackjack. He truly loved to help people and delighted in explaining the details of how to play and deal almost any casino game.

Dan was not just helpful and verbous in person but also online. He was one of the most active members at my forum at WizardOfVegas.com. There, he could be found expounding all things relating to gambling. The forum was a magnet for both game inventors as well as advantage players. Dan had a very strong opinion that casino gambling was meant to be fun and recreational for which the player's ultimately paid a price through the house edge. He felt that advanced techniques to beat a game such a card counting or hole carding were cheating because they exploited information the player wasn't intended to know or remember.

Suffice it to say that pretty much nobody agreed with this position on the forum. This made him a lightning rod for criticism and often worse. Through the many arguments on such topics, Dan always kept his cool. He never made it personal. He always listened to the other side and fought fair. In his roughly 5,800 posts, only once did he break the rules with a borderline insult, and we police the forum for such rule infractions carefully.

It would be easy to say that Dan was a loyal and good friend to many. In the bizarro world of casino game inventors, Dan was friendly with just about everybody. He was quick to welcome a newcomer with advice on the getting his game from a diagram on a cocktail napkin to the casino floor. In fact, that is the subtitle of his recent book, The Essentials of Casino Game Design. Dan had to know there would probably be a limited interest in such a niche business but that wouldn't have deterred him. He truly liked helping people and appreciated the details of a well-crafted casino game.

I'm sure the many people Dan helped started out as strangers to Dan and ended up friends. As far as I know, he never charged for his services and probably disliked even talking about it. Those who Dan helped were also potential competitors, as Dan never stopped inventing casino games himself, hoping lightning would strike twice after his success with EZ Pai Gow Poker.

Dan's endless energy and enthusiasm were often the topic of jokes when he wasn't in the room. Like how he seemed to always wear the same shirt. Or how his hair always seemed messy and overdue for a haircut. Or how he smiled and tilted his head, like Groucho Marx, when finally made his point and gave someone else a chance to talk.

But, for as much talking as Dan did, he didn't talk about himself very much. For the benefit of his Vegas friends in attendance, here are the highlights of Dan's life before his moved to Las Vegas in 2005.

Dan was born in 1960 in New York City, making him 56 at the time of his death. He went to high school at the prestigious New York School of Performing Arts as an oboeist. As the father of an oboe player, I can tell you it is difficult instrument to sound good. However, Dan was always up for a challenge and I'm sure delighted in mastering one of the more obscure instruments.

Dan then went onto graduate from the Metropolitan College of New York with a degrees in accounting, business, and computer science. After this Dan worked as a high school math teach for a time. He also served in the army reserve as a mathematician. He explained to me that his job was largely to aim long range artillery to hit the desired target. However, he spent most of his pre-Vegas working career as a mainframe programmer in some obscure programming language I never heard of. When Dan's job eventually got outsourced to India, I wouldn't be surprised if Dan saw it as a blessing in disguise.

Much like myself, I don't think Dan is a cubicle kind of guy. Although I didn't know him yet, I could see him excited to move to Las Vegas to pursue his dreams creating new table games. Here he would become a character among characters. Easy to imitate but impossible to replace. While here in Vegas Dan married his wife Prapaisri in 2008. In addition to his ventures in the gaming business, he also ran a Thai massage parlor with his wife. I knew Dan for many years before he mentioned being Catholic. He evidently forgot to update his Facebook page as it lists his religious views as "infidel" and his favorite quotes are full of those by religious skeptics.

With Dan's passing we've lost a one of a kind man who left us much too soon.

I'd like to close with a quote of Dan's from his Facebook page, "The gaming industry is a great and legitimate industry of very fine people - with a lot of rudeness, fools, and cliques. Obey - but doubt - what the floorman tells you."


When I actually got up there I forgot to put on my glasses and pretty much ad-libbed it. I left out the part about what Dan did before moving to Vegas because the priest covered that earlier in the mass. Here is a video taken of my speech. Not my finest public speaking moment but it is what it is.


VladAlex1 Jun 09, 2017

Mike, thank you for the very touchable eulogy of the Daniel Lubin


odiousgambit Jun 17, 2017

I regret not getting to know Dan personally - seemed such a fine person.

Posted by Wizard
Feb 26, 2016

Ascending Mount Iztaccihuatl

I just got back from a one-week trip to Mexico. The main purpose was to climb the first and third highest mountains of Mexico. After climbing the third highest, Iztaccihuatl, I got sick, and called off the highest (Orizaba).

This video will summarize the climb pretty well.

Direct link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXxDkmsnTD8.

The extinct volcano is located about a four-hour drive from Mexico City. We spent a day near the base of the mountain to acclimate to the high altitude, which was a very good idea. At 17,159 feet, the summit is 2,659 feet higher than my previous elevation record of 14,500 at Mount Whitney.

I didn't want to mention it in the video, but my guide was sick and I think he gave me whatever gastrointestinal bug he had.

Edit: Just added a blog entry at WoO.

I welcome all comments and questions. Thank you.


Ibeatyouraces Feb 26, 2016

Zika virus?

Wizard Feb 29, 2016

I don't think that is what I had. Mosquitoes would want nothing to do with the high-altitude areas I went that trip.

Wizardofnothing Mar 07, 2016

Mike, any guess as to what those guides make per trek?

Ayecarumba Mar 08, 2016

Great story Mike! Too bad about the guide.

Did "Pantera" guy have crampons? It seems kinda crazy to run across ice fields.

Wizard Mar 10, 2016

I think those guides don't make very much. Mine was overtly said the trip was running over budget and that he was counting on a generous tip.

I doubt the Pantera guy had crampons. He only wore a small Camelback, which you can't fit much else in besides the water bag. I got through it all without needing crampons, but I should have used them. I got the impression he had raced up and down that volcano many times so was probably familiar with a safe route. Over the big ice field I saw people taking all kinds of different routes around and across it.

TwoFeathersATL Mar 18, 2016

Ahhhhhh! I found the TR, almost teased you about me not seeing it and then checked your blog first. I know, I'm slow...

1st, thanks for sharing, I liked it.

Sorry you got sick and didn't get to the other climb, Mt giberjurusti (Sp?)

May be the color settings on my monitor but it looked like you were in pink hiking boots with a matching summit pack? I will dig further in your blog to make sure I didn't miss any major announcements ;-)

You looked pretty good for an old guy, must have been favorable lighting (or make-up ;-)

Seemed there were a bunch of earthquakes during your climb, was that scary?

Thx again, thx for everything. Just 2F

Posted by Wizard
Jun 10, 2015

Ascending Mount Hood

I just wrote a full blog entry on my Odds site titled Ascending Mount Hood. Please click the link and let me know your thoughts.


TwoFeathersATL Jun 10, 2015

Thanks for sharing both the glory and the tragedy. That's a lot of emotion in a 24 hour day.

beachbumbabs Jun 10, 2015

I am glad for your sake and his that you reached out for the boy. I also would hope that the grandfather knew the risks and accepted them before the accident, and so he died as he wished to live. I'm also glad, selfishly, you did not see the actual fall.

odiousgambit Jun 11, 2015

I wonder how many fatalities are avoidable? In other words, if you have been trained some and are fit, would it be one chance in a million?

The old thing about '99.9% safe' not being good enough comes to mind. There would be 10 deaths every year at 99.9% chance you will not fall due to random unavoidable dangers that would cause death. Plus the deaths from people untrained or unfit.

Wizard Jun 11, 2015

Thank you for the comments. There are only one or two deaths a year out of about 10,000 attempts. To me that is an acceptable risk rate.

odiousgambit Jun 11, 2015

about 99.99%

Posted by Wizard
Dec 17, 2014

Australia and New Zealand

I just got back from 16 days in Sydney Australia and around Queenstown New Zealand. My favorite part of the trip was a six-day tracking trip with Ultimate Hikes.

I've got a lot to catch up on so forgive me if I don't give a whole report at this time. I did post some pictures with comments you're welcome to visit.

My question for the members of the Commonwealth are:

1. Do you prefer Vegemite or Marmite?
2. Which is your favorite Wiggle?


aladyat42 Dec 18, 2014

So England has lifted the requirement of being a felon to go to Australia ?

teddys Dec 18, 2014

Great pictures, but here is some constructive critcism: stop doing the hands folded over d*ck pose. It connotes weakness and emasculation. (Yeah, I know, right?! But that's what cognitive science says).

1BB Dec 18, 2014

Especially when you're having a Gaytime. I recognized the ice cream immediately. It's actually Golden Gaytime. Jeez, did I just make it worse? :-)

FleaStiff Dec 18, 2014

Look at some civil war era photos and men will have their hands inside their shirts to keep them from being visible to the camera.

Travel in NZ and Australia is real cheap. Hostels and guest houses abound. There are Ride Boards for most music festivals. And firms that offer Volkswagon Campers from the sixties that are still going strong. Some NZ hikes require a meeting with a ranger before being attempted but otherwise you are pretty much tramping on your own.

odiousgambit Dec 20, 2014

>hands folded over d*ck pose. It connotes weakness and emasculation

or a desire to be less boastful?

coilman Dec 21, 2014

I just forwarded this to my buddy on his 2 yr world tour..... that 7 days of hikes might be right up his alley ...he arrived down under a few days ago ... would be better than getting mugged in RIO at least


Posted by Wizard
Jun 06, 2014

In memory of Jason Been

My friend Jason Been died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. Some of you may recall his name as the guest on my radio show twice, including the first time. His appearances were on Feb 2 and June 7, 2012.

When I moved to Vegas in 2001 Jason was one of the first people to welcome and befriend me. Through the years we shared countless meals, rounds of golf, poker games, and a couple trips to Reno. He knew sports better than anybody I know. In Trivial Pursuit his knowledge of sports was uncanny. He paid particular attention to weather and other such environmental factors. He seemed to have a detailed understanding of every baseball stadium and knew exactly where the position of the sun would be at any time. Jason was known for making bets like a run to not be scored in the first inning if the sun would be in the batters eyes.

More importantly, Jason was a lot of fun to have at any gathering. If he wasn't having an in-depth discussion about sports then he was often formulating creative prop bets. As an example, once after a poker game somehow a bet was formulated that he could put all 30 backgammon chips in my pool and I couldn't get them all out in 90 seconds. More often than not Jason beat me on such bets, including that one. In that case, I got 29 of them, missing one white chip he hid on one of those steps for sticking your foot into for climbing out vertically.

I could go on and on with Jason stories. However, let me close with some pictures. Jason is the one in the blue shirt -- in all of them. He was very consistent about everything he did.


Zcore13 Jun 06, 2014

Sorry for your loss. He sounds like a very interesting and fun friend.


Mission146 Jun 06, 2014

R.I.P., indeed.

He sounds like he'd have been great fun to be around...and the sun in the batter's eyes thing is just brilliant.

Beardgoat Jun 17, 2014

Rough year for you wiz. Sorry for your loss