Schwartz, the proprietor of the Gamblers Book Shop in Las Vegas, is a living, breathing encyclopedia of all things Vegas and gambling. He generally interviews authors and other folks from the gambling industry for his show (new episodes come out every two weeks). They record the show right there in the shop. I’ve been listening since I first found out about the show about a year ago, and I can’t remember a single episode that hasn’t been informative & entertaining.
Have to say I especially enjoyed the Jack Sheehan interview from that 12/12 show. To be honest, I wasn’t that familiar with Sheehan before hearing the interview. I was aware of one book that he edited titled The Players: The Men Who Made Vegas (1996), a book I recall leafing through, in fact, in the Gamblers Book Shop. (Now that I think about it, I believe Schwartz actually recommended it to me, which is probably why I remember it.)
I see from Sheehan’s website and hunting around elsewhere online that he’s authored about a dozen books, including a couple about golf that he co-authored with PGA pro Peter Jacobsen. He’s also written a few more Vegas-related books, including Skin City: Behind the Scenes of the Las Vegas Sex Industry (2005).
On the show, Schwartz introduced Sheehan as an important historian of Vegas, and again recommended The Players as “one of the most important references ever written” about some of the city’s most important figures. Schwartz also referred to his guest as a “humorist,” and over the course of the 35-40 minute interview, Sheehan showed that he’s indeed earned that appellation, as he had me cracking up on a few occasions.
They spent most of the first part of the interview discussing Jimmy Chagra, the infamous drug-trafficker who often played in the biggest poker games in Vegas during the 1970s. Chagra was the one who hired Woody Harrelson’s father to kill the federal judge who presided over Chagra’s 1978 drug trial. Chagra ended up spending a lot of time in prison, then was out as part of the federal witness protection program when he died in Arizona last summer.
Sheehan tells about the fascinating interview he did with Chagra in 2006. He is working on a book about Chagra and is also currently shopping a screenplay around Hollywood (called Do a Nickel) about him.
He and Schwartz also talk about Sheehan’s many other ongoing projects, touching on numerous Vegas luminaries and other behind-the-scenes stuff along the way. Sheehan also offers some interesting observations about the tribulations of freelance writing (a subject of particular interest to yr humble gumshoe).
The Clarke interview is good, too. He and Schwartz discuss his new book, Norm Clarke’s Vegas Confidential, which is drawn from his regular celebrity gossip column that appears in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. But for poker/gambling folks, the Sheehan one is particularly fun and interesting.
There’s a newer episode of the podcast up, too, featuring an interview with Gentleman Jack Newton, a long-time gambler who has a new book out titled Confessions of a Crossroad Gambler.
Haven’t heard that one yet (dated 1/9/09). But if the first 30-plus episodes are any indication, I’m guessing I’ll probably enjoy it.