Detroit Swag-o-mania

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  1. #1
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    Default Obscure mob cases-illegal gambling joints

    Back in the early nineties I used to pass by a spot called the Tiger Club just south of 8 Mile on Schaefer. It's funny because I had a feeling that it was a private-social club that had some sort of gambling (lots of nice cars in the early morning hours) and sure enough the spot was raided. If I remember correctly Jackie 'the kid' Giacalone was connected to the games-cards and dice The newspaper article described free flowing alcohol and naughty women as having been provided for the players. A Chaldean gangster figure nicknamed 'pimp' because of a flashy dress style was described.....can anyone provide a link or info on the case?

    Also there was a gambling-racing form place on Gratiot just south of 8 mile that was mob run and or paying street tax to Detroit mobsters and was raided a couple of years back. Many of the spots documented (Carelton House,houses cited in Motor City Mafia book,and,the places I mentioned are located on the periphery of the city or in Eastern market) I witnessed a small dice game in action once, and knew a guy that whacked-shot three robbers who tried sticking up his card game ,and watched a guy in Highland Park play his number with a runner....never much of a gambler myself,yet I find illegal gambling operations fascinating. One of my co-workers mentioned placing a bookie bet through a friend, would love to try that once, or know someone involved in bookmaking.

    So have any of you played the street lottery or placed a bookie bet?

  2. #2
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    Yeah, do it all the time. Of course, as you know, I live in Las Vegas where it's legal. And taxed. Just think what that could do for Michigan if they legalized it.

    In my DPD days, I spent a few months on vice detail, usually busting numbers runners. Now the state does it 'legally'. Only thing is the numbers people returned 60% of the take. The state returns 50%. On the other hand, when a popular number 'hit' in the old days, the mob would usually change the number. No one knew but them.

    Back then, the daily number was a combination of race results that only a mathemetician could figure out. That made changing the number easy.

    By the way: my heart is with the Pack. My money is on the Steelers and the points.

  3. #3
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    I have no personal experience with illegal gambling but also find it fascinating.

    A good thick book that covers the subject and many others is Scarne's New Complete Guide To Gambling. It's pretty much obsolete now but it's a valuable comprehensive historical reference on gambling.

    E.g., he documents the origin of the Don't Pass bet in Craps invented by the ironically named John Winn:
    ... Winn also improved the banking layout of Bank Craps.... He drew a space on the layout "just a little piece off on one side," and lettered in the words Don't Pass. This was done in Philadelphia, to which Winn used to commute weekends, and the layout came to be famous as the "Philadelphia layout," the first Bank Craps layout to give the players an opportunity to bet the dice to lose....
    The genius of this was that it reduced the amount of cash the operator had to have on hand because the losses of players betting on Don't Pass would now help him pay off the winners betting on Pass (and vice versa).

    Scarne also thoroughly documents how carnival games are rigged. This is where I learned the darker secrets of the High Striker. One of my ancestors manufactured these machines locally.

  4. #4
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    Sounds like fun Ray! Ever hit it big? Just curious, didnt you mention in a post that while at court for some union business you crossed paths with Anthony Giacalone?

    Great link, looks like an informative book Jimaz.
    Last edited by terryh; February-04-11 at 09:25 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Tiger Club

    The Tiger club was run by Charles "Stash" Maloney and Imad "Skinney Eddie" Samona. Freddie Salem was also involved. They were well known at horse tracks as frequent winners of large purses that would roll over from prior days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steveb78 View Post
    The Tiger club was run by Charles "Stash" Maloney and Imad "Skinney Eddie" Samona. Freddie Salem was also involved. They were well known at horse tracks as frequent winners of large purses that would roll over from prior days.
    BAMM! Thats the info! Didnt know Freddie Salem was involved....

    I also vaguely recall a nationwide bookmaking ring in early to mid-nineties in which the reporter reported about an eightyish man in Las Vegas who happened to be a former Purple Gangster (David Feldman)?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by terryh View Post
    Sounds like fun Ray! Ever hit it big? Just curious, didnt you mention in a post that while at court for some union business you crossed paths with Anthony Giacalone?
    .
    I hit for 10k on a keno machine back in '84, and I've had my share of W2-G forms for lesser amounts.

    Yes, I was in Federal Court when I was Secretary of the Lts. & Sgts. Ass'n. on a labor matter. Tony Jack happened to have a trial going at that same time, and we passed each other in the hallway. I never saw such a hard look of hate on any face other than him. Given other surroundings, frankly, he'd of scared the piss out of me. Would have been about 1978.

  8. #8
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    Hey Ray, out of curiosity did you ever run into a bookie named John the Arm? He owned the Anchor Bar downtown briefly in the 70's or 80's. He was part of a big bust in Eastern Market in the mid 80's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray1936 View Post
    I hit for 10k on a keno machine back in '84, and I've had my share of W2-G forms for lesser amounts.

    Yes, I was in Federal Court when I was Secretary of the Lts. & Sgts. Ass'n. on a labor matter. Tony Jack happened to have a trial going at that same time, and we passed each other in the hallway. I never saw such a hard look of hate on any face other than him. Given other surroundings, frankly, he'd of scared the piss out of me. Would have been about 1978.
    Lol.....An old Italian barber told me about the time that, I think it was in a barber shop, Tony Jack was wearing a crisp-clean white suit, and when Joe said "you look nice man" Tony Jack gave him a dirty look....I heard Tony and Vito used to loiter in Greektown-scowling at passersby.

    Out of curiosity Ray where did you bust numbers runners? Which precinct-streets-crossroads?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by scubashelley View Post
    Hey Ray, out of curiosity did you ever run into a bookie named John the Arm? He owned the Anchor Bar downtown briefly in the 70's or 80's. He was part of a big bust in Eastern Market in the mid 80's.
    He must have been associated with Sol Shindel who 'worked' out of the Anchor Bar. Wonder how he got the nickname the Arm? Did you know hime scubashelley?

  11. #11
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    Yeah, it's because he was Armenian and his "bodyguard" was a guy named Bonecrusher, I don't think he had a lot of unpaid debts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray1936 View Post
    I hit for 10k on a keno machine back in '84, and I've had my share of W2-G forms for lesser amounts.

    Yes, I was in Federal Court when I was Secretary of the Lts. & Sgts. Ass'n. on a labor matter. Tony Jack happened to have a trial going at that same time, and we passed each other in the hallway. I never saw such a hard look of hate on any face other than him. Given other surroundings, frankly, he'd of scared the piss out of me. Would have been about 1978.
    There was a health club at theTravelers Towers building in Southfiled that I used to go to for a while, it was back in the mid to late 70's. I would see Tony Jack there quite often in the steam room or the locker areas He was usually alone. He was totally unfriendly, If you said hello or try and engage in conversation he would ignore you.

  13. #13
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    "Out of curiosity Ray where did you bust numbers runners? Which precinct-streets-crossroads? "

    Two locations: Buchanan, up around 23rd or so, and W. Warren, between Lawton and the Boulevard. We knew of a couple of drops and would get the runners in the area of them. However, us precinct guys left the drops for the Vice Bureau crews. In other words, we got the nickle and dime stuff. Was okay with me. In view of how things turned out with the legal lottery and all that, I wish I hadn't wasted my time on it at all.

    Never did like any part of working precinct cleanup (vice details). Was interesting to find a still once in a while, though. I don't suppose those are even in existence any more. Given way to meth labs, probably.

  14. #14
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    I worked at WWJ when the Feds had a wiretap at the Anchor Bar and quite a few of the
    radio personalities got "stung". Then the newspapers went on strike and I never knew what happened to everyone.

  15. #15
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    Do they still have "numbers" these days. A friend says it still goes on but I have my doubts.

    Ray, did you know Jim Reed from your DPD days. Just a friend of mine.

    Theres also an officer known on the streets just as Sarge. He often was on a police bike (Harley), When in a patrol car he was always alone. Worked the East side near Chene a lot. Late 50s white guy. I really liked him. I never caught his real name.

    I know of several gambling joints, one very close to me on the East Side. The funniest one was a little shack set up in a field on the corner of Chene and Ferry (SW corner) It was made of scrapped plywood and a guy ran a dice game on a door converted to a table complete with sides so the dice could be banked off the walls and wouldnt fall to the floor. I was dying to take pics but I didnt have the guts to ask, I knew what the answer would have been anyway. .

  16. #16
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    No, sorry to say the name Jim Reed doesn't strike a bell. But then, my memory is not as sharp as it once was.

    Not to thread hijack, but I just picked up a list of proposition bets on the Super Bowl from my local casino. Some strange bets being offered. But dream a little......

    Pittsburgh's final score: 2 2000 to 1
    Pittsburgh's final score: 4 2000 to 1
    Pittsburgh's final score: 5 1000 to 1

    Wouldn't you like to have a five dollar bill on one of those and have it happen????

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Django View Post
    I know of several gambling joints, one very close to me on the East Side. The funniest one was a little shack set up in a field on the corner of Chene and Ferry (SW corner) It was made of scrapped plywood and a guy ran a dice game on a door converted to a table complete with sides so the dice could be banked off the walls and wouldnt fall to the floor. I was dying to take pics but I didnt have the guts to ask, I knew what the answer would have been anyway.
    Now there's some initiative. I have a smallish baize with a craps layout on one side and blackjack on the other. Hmm.

  18. #18

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    During my Sears delivery driver days, the game was football cards. They were sold each week by one of the drivers who had a Sicilian name which I shall omit. The cards had ten games with spreads on them and you just picked your teams for ten games, paid as much as you wanted to bet and, IIRC, started winning money with seven or more correct picks. Ten got you a very nice return maybe something like 50X.They always looks deceptively easy to pick, but weren't.

    The card seller was a really sweet guy that everybody liked, so he never had to worry about getting outed. His son, who was my age and just as nice as his old man, got hired on but soon left to become a full time bookie. I think he made his papa proud.

    A lot of these games got demonized for being mob run etc. but, at ground level, they were just some guy making a few extra bucks for his family and filling a need that the state outlawed.They weren't thugs and it was all very personal. He would even invite his top customers to his house every year for a nice super bowl party as a thank you gesture.

    The only Giacalone I knew was a third brother Charlie who was an aging but good handball player at the old downtown YMCA when I started the game. The story was that he was not in the family 'business' but did well as a union leader for the riggers at Cobo Hall.

  19. #19
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    Brings back memories, Lowell. I helped pay my college tuition pushing football cards in the dorms. Got paid cash for selling whatever I had to sell. Or I could take X number of paid up cards and take my chance on winning. I always took the cash because I paid off very few winners - VERY few. The guys that set the spreads really knew what they were doing.

    I have friend down here who had $96,000 of W2-G income last year. I asked what his losses were. He said - "not $96,000." I believe him, except he was probably shading his winnings on the low side; he takes a couple of employees with him to the Indian casinos across the line in OK and I saw him win $8500 one night and he had one of his guys (in a MUCH lower tax bracket) claim the cash and take the W2-G.

  20. #20
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    Does anyone recall the Lebanese-American Repbublican Heritage Club? Vito Giacalone ran a gaming table there and the place was frequently raided by Detroit Police for gambling violations. According to Detroit Scope magazine fomer Mayor Jerome Cavanaugh accused the police of anti-Lebanese immigrant brutality....where was the place located?

  21. #21
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    That is curious.

    I know a few older black gentlemen who admit to running numbers back in the day...at Buchanan and 23rd...or within a few blocks of there.

    Wouldn't THAT be a reunion?! LOL

    Next time you're through town, Ray...

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by softailrider View Post
    There was a health club at theTravelers Towers building in Southfiled that I used to go to for a while, it was back in the mid to late 70's. I would see Tony Jack there quite often in the steam room or the locker areas He was usually alone. He was totally unfriendly, If you said hello or try and engage in conversation he would ignore you.
    That was the Southfield Athletic Club, Tony Jack's alibi in the Hoffa disappearance. During the hours when Hoffa disappeared from the Machus Red Fox (where he was reportedly supposed to meet Tony Jack), Tony Jack was at the Southfield Athletic Club, where he signed in and out to document his presence. Then he went to visit his lawyer who had an office in the Travelers Tower, for several hours. I read that while he was at the club that day, he was unusually talkative, presumably so there would be more witnesses who would remember he was there. This fits in exactly with Softrailrider's experience that Tony Jack was usually totally unfriendly and would ignore people who tried to talk to him.

  23. #23
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    Nobody mentioned the numbers game at the plants. I worked at the Dearborn Engine Plant in 1994 when I was fresh out of college. There was a guy who rode a bicycle from station to station all day. He took down numbers on a white pad of paper. Had purple carbon paper and he'd write the person's number, fold over one sheet, tear off the other sheet and move to the next guy.

    I was told that the State Lottery paid $5000 for the 4-digit straight whereas the plant lottery paid $8000. There were guys who'd put $20 a day on their number. I never heard of anybody hitting it big. I was told the protocol was that the money would be there in cash the next morning. The winner would give some money to his friends, some to his foreman and some to the numbers guy. He'd then split for the day or else people might be waiting to knock him over the head later in the afternoon. I was told there was a numbers guy for every plant.

    My next job was at NBD. One of the tellers said her family collected some of the plant money. She said they were computerized and when one number was played too much then they would hedge it by playing the state lottery.

  24. #24
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    Too many moons for my memory to be succinctly clear....in the early 70's I used to meader down Wight going west from Meldrum.....I'm gonna guess we got down to around McDougall....cannot remember if we were still right off Wight or we went a block or two east or west.

    There was an old lady who ran a little lunch counter/soda shop....she had the old wire twisted chairs circa 1890's, and this was in a pretty old building.
    Either right next door, or a couple doors down there was a catering truck depot that filled their trucks up for the road.

    At any rate, that old lady used to take in a lot of book in those days......my work partner went there every morning without fail to put his 4 bits on his number of the day.

    If anyone knew exactly where this was or what I'm talking about, I'd be tickled, because this is certainly gone to the ages from my memory bank.

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