THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist

  • Stay tuned for THIEF! book signings, media interviews and other THIEF! events
  • Media Reviews posted periodically
  • Mobwriter comments on true crime events and books

THIEF! character, Vince Eli

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Borders Books CEO Congratulates Slick

Who should pop into Borders while Slick (with the help of our hardworking publicist Tony Montana) was signing books? None other than CEO and chairman, George L. Jones straight from their Ann Arbor, Michigan headquarters. So astounded was Mr. Jones to learn through the store manager that THIEF has sold over 800 copies at Borders McCarran, that he invited Slick to autograph THIEF during the grand opening of the new Town Center Borders in March 2008.

Naturally, we'll keep you posted.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Cracking the Chicago Outfit - Operation Family Secrets

I won't waste space here watering down what Joe Batterz does so well on his popular blogsite Check it out to read the aftermath to one of most important Chicago Outfit trials in history.

Friday, September 28, 2007


Jury convicts three aging mobsters in 10 murders

Chicago - A federal jury held three aging mobsters responsible for 10 murders Thursday after an extraordinary trial that included colorful witnesses who exposed the seedy inner workings of organized crime in Chicago.

Jurors deadlocked on blame for eight other murders after eight days of deliberations in one of the biggest mob trials in the city's history.

Frank Calabrese, Sr., 70; Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, 78; and James Marcello, 65, were held responsible for murder, raising the maximum sentence each faces to life. Jurors deadlocked on a fourth defendant, Paul Shiro, 70.

Associated Press

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


The jury is still out to decide the fate of convicted mobsters in the Chicago Outfit trial dubbed Family Secrets. "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, Frank Calabrese, Sr. and others could get life in prison for, among other crimes, multiple murders. In this case "greatest hits" doesn't refer to songs topping the music charts.

Stay tuned for the final verdict due out any time.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Las Vegas THEN & NOW

Then: The Thunderbird Casino on the Strip had a quarter-horse racetrack on it’s grounds in the 1950s. It had two things going against it: July & August. The owners sold the track and after another renaming as the Silverbird, the casino became the El Rancho.
Now: The site is home to the luxury Turnberry Place and a London-themed casino.

Then: During the mid-1950s, you could catch Old Blue Eyes in a lounge act for the price of a 75-cent drink and still have a quarter left for the tip.
Now: The cost to see a headliner starts at about $50 and goes up.

Then: You could buy the Stardust in 1954 for around $15 million.
Now: Steve Wynn’s Bellagio opened in 1998. Cost: $1.8 billion. Don’t even ask about Wynn Las Vegas. You could buy several small countries for the cost of construction.

Then: If you worked in a Las Vegas casino in the 1970s and a co-worker asked for a ride home, you automatically said yes because very few places were more than a 10-minute car ride.
Now: If a co-worker asks you for a lift today, you better get out a map and gauge the distance. It could take up to an hour or more of your time.

Then: A little more than 7 years ago, poker was all but dead in the U.S. The few poker rooms that still spread games were frequented mostly by older men who had been playing since dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Now: It’s hard to keep track of the new poker rooms springing up on the Strip and elsewhere due mostly to the phenomenal success of TV poker.

Slick Going Gangbusters... Borders Books McCarran Airport location in Las Vegas.

Sales of THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist have surged well above the 500 mark at this key Borders store.

Don't miss Slick's regular Monday afternoon booksignings at the store. He'll tell you stories that don't appear in the book.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


This true story of Slick's just goes to show that if you live long enough, some things really do change.

Slick: A police car stopped me. In the past, that always meant there was gonna be some sort of trouble. This time the cop asked me, "Are you advertising to be a thief?"

No I'm not that stupid," I tell him and show him the book THIEF that I always carry with me. Don't you know, he buys it for the full retail price.

That's the first time I was stopped by the police where they paid me instead of the other way around. Here's the photo that made him wonder.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Definition: In a H.O.R.S.E. poker game or tournament, the kind of poker played each round varies. There are five:
H = Hold'em
O = Omaha
R = Razz
S = Seven-card Stud
E = Seven-card Stud high/low Eight or better

If you're playing a H.O.R.S.E. rotation game, the game would change every time the dealer button made a full round. In tournaments, the game changes at the end of each round, or after a set and predetermined amount of time.

In 2006, the World Series of Poker introduced a $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. event and rotated games after each hour-long round, until the final table, when they switched to no-limit Hold'em until the end.

(Full explanation by Toby Bochan, Your Guide to Poker)

Monday, August 6, 2007


Anyone interested in an intimate, personal tour of Northern Italy with best selling novelist/screenwriter, James Dalessandro? Renowned NY literary agent and Hollywood producer, Peter Miller, asked me to post the following info regarding this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I told him I'd be more than happy to pass on the word. Below are Mr. Miller's comments:

Hello Friends,

Many of you know about James Dalessandro, one of my writing clients and dear friends. James is the author of the best selling novel 1906 and screenwriter of the upcoming Warner Brothers film, which will be directed by Brad Bird. James is also fluent in Italian, has spent a lot of time in Northern Italy, and is leading a small group (24 people max.) to Northern Italy.

This is an extraordinary tour: 3 days in the Cingue Terre (the "Five Lands on the Italian Riviera), 4 days in a Villa near Florence (built in 1427) and 3 nights on Lago Maggiore (the Big Lake near Milan). Several of James' San Francisco screen writing students are going, so James invited me for 5 nights to meet and speak with them about their writing and the book and film business.

I am sending this to you to see if anyone might be interested in joining us. We'll be taking boat rides on the Mediterranean, visiting the Uffizi Museum in Florence, and staying in marvelous accommodations. I am completely excited about this trip.

Click on to James' web site at and see "ITALY WITH JAMES DALESSANDRO."

Also note:
Click here: JV PIXAR News: Updated: Brad Bird Reconfirms That He Is Directing 1906 Next! But Is He Doing It For Pixar? Please join us, there are about 6 slots left in this small group.

All the best,

Peter Miller

Peter Miller, President
45 West 21st Street - 4th Floor
New York, NY 10010
212-929-1222, FAX 212-206-0238

Sunday, August 5, 2007


I was in the Stratosphere poker room today and couldn’t help thinking how things have changed in such a short time. Not too many years ago, if you saw someone under 50 in a poker room he was lost. It was always a fight for the poker room manager to convince the casino manager to keep the room open with attendance dicey at best. You needed shills or proposition players just to start a game. And Seven Card Stud was the bread-and-butter game in all poker rooms.

If you’re under 50, I probably lost you in the first paragraph. It’s likely you don’t know what shills or prop. players are, either, as few rooms use them anymore. Now there are waiting lines to get in a game and the casino manager is the poker room manager’s friend. (At least he’s usually not the enemy.) The big turnaround came with the popularity of Internet gambling and Texas Holdem that's creating an army of new players = $$$$$$ for the casino.

Now there’s a tournament called HORSE. If you know what it means, email the answer below under comments. I’ll post the answer Tuesday, August 7.


Saturday, July 28, 2007


Here are some basic tips that professional poker players use all the time, some players have forgotten and others never knew...

1. It almost goes without saying that if you have a small bankroll, stick to the low-limit games.

2. The term “ring in your nose” means you’re hooked on gambling and your addiction will lead you around till you go bust. The minute you no longer have control is when you stand to lose everything. When in doubt, run to the nearest exit.

3. People get in trouble when they “double up” on their bets after losing. Nothing could be worse. When the tide is going out with your luck, minimize further loses and leave.

4. In poker, always bluff on a potential “made hand,” but never with lousy cards unless you have a very weak opponent.

5. Never tip the floorman or pit boss. They make more than you could possibly imagine!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Surprise! A new post...

So much happening these days it's hard to find blogging time.

I have a poker tip directly from Slick who says,
"This common poker tip actually does beginning players more harm than good:

Many experts advise opening with at least a face card and a ten or something similar. Damon Runyon once observed that the race doesn't always go to the fastest horse. But that's the best way to bet because the odds are in favor of the fastest horse winning.

In other words, 2 aces won't always win, but those are the favorite odds. In my experience, 2 aces are the best openers and that's the combination I wait for...even better if you're behind the button as you get to see all the other bets before making your decision. Playing tournaments calls for differents actions which I'll talk about in the next tip.

You experienced card players who have a lot of games under your belt probably have your own way of dealing with this question, but that comes after many years of learning through mistakes--both yours and the other guy's.

If you're a new player, when in doubt...wait for the best odds. Being called "a rock" is better than going home with lint in your pockets!"

In other news:

The Chicago Outfit trial is geering up to begin tomorrow. Look for regular updates here on Mobspeak and also news about Slick's upcoming live appearance on the Geroge Knapp Show.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


For Immediate Release
Contact: Carole Stuart

Former Chicago Mob associate William “Slick” Hanner
denounces mobster Frank Cullotta re upcoming Outfit
trial dubbed “Operation Family Secrets.”

May 2007, Las Vegas - William “Slick” Hanner, co-author of THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist, 2006, was a key informant interviewed by KLAS-TV Eyewitness News investigative reporter, George Knapp. The subject of Knapp’s special 2-part I-team report was the upcoming Chicago Outfit trial, “Operation Family Secrets,” due to begin in June 2007.

In an excerpt from the Knapp newscasts, as seen on, Knapp says:

Cullotta is expected to testify that his boss, Spilotro, reported to longtime reputed outfit kingpin Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, the best known of the fourteen defendants in the Operation Family Secrets case. Two other mobsters, Frank and Nick Calabrese, are ready to tell what they know about the other defendants. Lombardo's lawyer thinks those two will be tough witnesses, but he sounds like he will be ready for Cullotta.

Hanner gives George Knapp his take on Frank Cullotta:

Another Cullotta critic is former Chicago hoodlum William "Slick" Hanner, who grew up in the same Chicago neighborhoods, ran with the same crowd, but even before Cullotta.

Former mob associate, William "Slick" Hanner said, "What can he [Cullotta] say that they
don't know?"

Hanner said, "I ain't saying I'm better than him. I'm not a killer, but I don't embellish things.
He said Tony sent for him. Tony never sent for him. He came out here to put a girl to work. She was a prostitute. Then he went to Tony and said he's gonna bring his crew out."

Hanner, who ended up working in licensed casinos despite his long criminal record, has written his own book about the bad old days, entitled "Thief." He admits to being a participant in skimming millions from the mob-tainted Stardust casino but feels Cullotta is exaggerating his own importance.

"I would have never given him witness protection, never. He's as bad as the ones he's testifying against," Hanner continued.

"Slick" Hanner said, "The reason they [Tony and Michael Spilotro] got killed was because they were going back to Chicago to take over The Outfit. He [Tony] was telling his crew we're going back to Chicago."

George Knapp plans to interview Hanner again live once the Outfit trial gets underway.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chicago's own William 'Slick' Hanner a major player in the upcoming Chicago Outfit trial

As you've read on Mob Speak recently, esteemed investigative reporter for Eyewitness News, Las Vegas, George Knapp, has interviewed Slick extensively in connection with the upcoming mob trial dubbed, "Family Secrets." Mr. Knapp added in an e-mail to me that he wants to have Slick back live on his show once the trial begins.

For the most up-to-date info on events surrounding the trial, check out Joe Batterz web site: It saves me the trouble of posting it again here and gives Joe some well-deserved exposure.

Anybody out there have an opinion about this stuff? Let us know!


Thursday, May 17, 2007


The following excerpt appeared today on Mr. Batterz informative website The story from George Knapp's I-Team investigative report on KLAS-TV, Las Vegas is causing quite a stir. Check out for more info. The Chicago Outfit trial is slated to begin in a few weeks. Stay tuned for updates.

Thanks again, Joe!

Read on:

Slick Hanner Challenges Frank Cullotta's Credibility on Family Secrets

Friends of ours: Frank Cullotta, Tony Spilotro, Joseph "Joey the Clown" Lombardo, Nick Calabrese

Friends of mine: William "Slick" Hanner, Michael Spilotro, Frank Calabrese Jr.

Chicago's still powerful Mafia family, known as "The Outfit," is about to be pummeled by Operation Family Secrets, an FBI probe aimed at fourteen top mobsters.The Outfit once had considerable control of casinos and street rackets in Las Vegas. Now, the remaining bosses will be prosecuted for eighteen unsolved murders. Among the witnesses will be former mob soldiers, including one time Las Vegas hitman Frank Cullotta.

Will Cullotta be credible when he takes the stand? Other "wiseguys" aren't so sure.Frank Cullotta told Chief I-Team Reporter George Knapp, "I would think it's the end. I don't think it will ever be as strong or as organized as it was."Admitted hitman and thief Frank Cullotta was raised on the mean streets of Chicago. He robbed people, boosted cars, and ran with a bad crowd, including his future boss, tough Tony Spilotro. In the late '70s, Cullotta joined Spilotro in Las Vegas as part of a burglary ring known as The Hole in the Wall Gang.

Cullotta committed at least one murder on orders from Spilotro, eventually joined the witness protection program and testified against Spilotro and other former associates. Now, he is listed as a likely witness in the prosecution of what remains of the Chicago outfit -- 14 alleged mobsters charged with 18 murders -- including those of Spilotro and his brother Michael. "There's guys who killed guys that have been killed for murders. Jesus, there's a lot of guys," Cullotta said.

Defense attorneys found out what Cullotta might say in court by obtaining a preview copy of his soon-to-be released book about his life of crime. A former federal prosecutor who helped turn Cullotta thinks he's a credible witness.

Don Campbell explained, "Certainly Frank knew what was going on in Chicago. How intimate his knowledge might have been on any particular crime, it depends on the crime. Clearly he was in the loop on an awful lot of criminal activity."

But others, including Spilotro's defense attorney, now Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, have complained for years that Cullotta isn't believable. Oscar Goodman said, "He's a liar, he's a pimp, he's a thief."

Another Cullotta critic, former mob associate, William "Slick" Hanner said, "What can he say that they don't know?"

Hanner, who grew up in the same Chicago neighborhoods, ran with the same crowd, but even before Cullotta. Hanner said, "I ain't saying I'm better than him. I'm not a killer, but I don't embellish things. He said Tony sent for him. Tony never sent for him. He came out here to put a girl to work. She was a prostitute. Then he went to Tony and said he's gonna bring his crew out."

Hanner, who ended up working in licensed casinos despite his long criminal record, has written his own book about the bad old days, entitled "Thief." He admits to being a participant in skimming millions from the mob-tainted Stardust casino but feels Cullotta is exaggerating his own importance "I would have never given him witness protection, never. He's as bad as the ones he's testifying against," Hanner continued.

Cullotta is expected to testify that his boss, Spilotro, reported to longtime reputed outfit kingpin Joey "The Clown" Lombardo, the best known of the fourteen defendants in the Operation Family Secrets case. Two other mobsters, Frank and Nick Calabrese, are ready to tell what they know about the other defendants. Lombardo's lawyer thinks those two will be tough witnesses, but he sounds like he will be ready for Cullotta.

Rick Halprin, Lombardo's defense attorney, said, "Even though I've seen tapes of Cullotta, I don't know what he's gonna be like until I see him on the stand. I don't think he'll be what I've seen on the tapes. I really don't."Anyone who's seen the movie "Casino" probably believes the Spilotro brothers were murdered in a cornfield. Not so.Thanks to George Knapp

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

George Knapp gives Slick and Thief major air time

Curious to see what Slick revealed on George Knapp's 2-part investigative reports on the Chicago Outfit? Check out and see the shows in their entirety as shown on KLAS-TV Las Vegas, May 15 & 16. It's all about the Chicago Outfit, Tony Spilotro and key prosecution witness, Frank Cullotta. This isn't the same old stuff rehashed. Mr. Knapp has a knack for extracting the fresh and new, particularly when it's controvertial and sensational.

George Knapp gets Slick's in-depth take on the mob, from Slick's years of living at Chicago Outfit headquarters in Chicago to Las Vegas, bilking casinos and suckers out of thousands of dollars under the watchful eye of Tony Spilotro.

We'd love your feedback on the shows or anything else you'd care to contribute.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Slick & Cherie at Borders McCarran

Thanks to everyone who turned out for our hugely successful book signing, Mon. May 7 at McCarran Airport Borders Books in Las Vegas.

Sorry we couldn't post all of the photos.

Monday, May 14, 2007


If you live in the Las Vegas area you won't want to miss George Knapp's interview with Slick regarding the upcoming Chicago Outfit trial. Slick mentions facts never before revealed like who really killed Marilyn Monroe.

Here's what Mr. Knapp said on KLAS-TV's website today:

"And Tuesday at 5, the I-Team will hear more from witness Frank Cullotta, and from another wise guy who thinks Cullotta is full of it."

I think we all know who the wise guy is that thinks Cullotta is full of it. His name starts with an "S."

What: George Knapp's I-Team investigative special report
Who: George Knapp interviews Slick in depth about the mob
Where: KLAS-TV, Channel 8
When: Tues. May 15 & Wed. May 16 at 5:00 p.m. Las Vegas time.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Joe Batterz...What a prince!

I nearly fell off my chair when I visited Joe Batterz blog, today. Very close to the top was a special promotion of our book THIEF! Thanks a million, Joe.

The Chicago Syndicate blogspot is an absolute must if you want the latest on what's going on mobwise in the Windy City and elsewhere. Joe does a first rate job!

While we're on the subject, most everyone knows about another great site, Rick Porrello's Do yourself a big favor if you haven't checked it out.

I believe these are the 2 greatest sites for mob info...period!

Details on Slick's upcoming big media appearance soon. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Slickster Adds More on Mobster Ken Eto

"For the record," says Slick. "Ken Eto was only referred to as 'Tokyo Joe' by outsiders--the press and people who read the name in the newspapers. Insiders called him 'Joe the Jap.' You always knew someone was fibbing if they said they knew 'Tokyo Joe.'

Thursday, April 12, 2007


"Toyko Joe," as he was known, was one of the most colorful, well-known characters of Chicago mob lore, a gambling boss who ran a $200,000 a week bolita empire.

"He was a trusted moneymaker, he'd been around for a long time and actually had kind of a reputation as a violent sort of person," said Elaine smith, former FBI agent.

Elaine Smith worked Ken Eto cases for the FBI in Chicago for more than 20 years. ABC7ChicagoTV interviewed her a few years ago before she retired and Eto died. In a business not known for longevity, the fact that Tokyo Joe lived to age 84 was remarkable. He was supposed to have died in an alleyway on February 10, 1983, a few weeks before sentencing on gambling-related charges.

Outfit bosses, fearing Eto might spill mob secrets to avoid prison, ordered him killed. Hitman Jasper Campise and Cook County Deputy Sheriff John Gattuso were deployed to carry out the murder. But somehow, three .22 caliber bullets ricocheted off Eto's skull and he survived. A few months later, the bungling assassins were themselves killed.

Eto opted to become a government informant and special agent smith interrogated him for months, then helped prepare him for federal prosecutions that put away police officials and mob bosses.

During his cooperation, Smith says Eto admitted to a role in four murders. "He didn't participate in these murders, he set the people up," Smith said.

Eto lived out his days in the federal witness security program under the assumed name Joe Tanaka from Iowa. But on January 23, 2004, he died, a mobster at heart.

"Imagine what it would be like on a day-to-day basis and always show respect and always do what they said to do, unquestioning, with people that are dumb, immoral, selfish, corrupt individuals," Smith said.

Elaine Smith attended a memorial service for Eto after he passed at his Georgia home in 2004. Even at that service, the dearly departed was known as Joe Tanaka, restaurateur.
But by whatever name, Tokyo Joe left behind six children, most of them still carrying the Eto name, a name that their father couldn't live with for the last portion of his life.

The above appeared in a transcription of a news report on ABC7 Chicago TV, June 7, 2006.

Why the interest in Eto on our Mobspeak blog? Well, William "Slick" Hanner and Tony Montana, thanks to the efforts of con artist exposer, George Joseph, landed on a Japanese movie shoot last week in Las Vegas. The subject was Chicago mobster, Ken 'Tokyo Joe' Eto. Tony in particular knew Eto well and gave his account of Eto with the Chicago Outfit. Slick backed Tony up saying he knew the guys close to Eto when Slick lived at Chicago Outfit headquarters.

I've been in touch with one of the Japanese production people, Mariko Ikehara, who said Tony and Slick's contributions will prove invaluable. She added that she will keep me informed regarding release dates, title, etc. when the movie hits theatres. Naturally, yours truly will keep you informed.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Vacation's Over!'s time to get back to work and rev up the blog engines once again.

THIEF! is enjoying some amazing book sales. Consider the following:

McCarran Airport Borders Books in Las Vegas reports that
  • THIEF! sales have outperformed all other books except Secrets last week
  • THIEF! is No. 1 in sales for true crime books in the store last week
  • Sixty % of THIEF! buyers are women
  • Slick sold about 27 copies during his regular Sunday gig at Borders, McCarran (Average booksigning sales are 10 copies)
  • Borders manager, Anna Chapman, says THIEF! sells about 5-10 books when Slick isn't there, far above average for an unknown author
  • Borders at McCarran ordered 40 books today to accommodate anticipated sales
  • Brisk hard cover THIEF! sales defy the normal shopping trend to purchase only paperback books at airport locations which are less bulky to carry

And in that second hotbed of THIEF! activity, Cherie sold out Books-A-Million, Fort Myers, FL inventory of 20 books in under 2 hours last Saturday.

Needless-to-say, both Slick and I are invited to return to these bookstores as often as possible.

Monday, March 12, 2007

WOW! Slick does it again!

Exact sales figures aren't available yet from Slick's McCarran Airport signing at Borders yesterday, but they're over the 40 mark once again! An important celebrity dropped by, one of the most famous card cheating authorities, George Joseph. You can almost make out Slick and George holding up each other's books. (Tony we love you but HELP! We need a new event photographer. E-mail us here on the site if you're interested in the job.)

Anyway, the two main guys had a lot to the KC card company, makers of marked decks and loaded dice. Plus Slick told George about meeting Billy Morgan, one of the biggest crossroader's in the business who Slick talks about in THIEF! George is the genuine article. The two authors exchanged books. You need to check out his Website at You can even order George's hot book titled, Why Shouldn't a Woman Wear Red in a Casino? on his site. You'll never guess the answer.

Also, a couple of gondoliers lost their way. They were looking for the Grand Canal. Slick steered them in the right direction. They were so thrilled, they bought a book.

Friday, March 9, 2007

THIEF! Events

Book Signing
McCarran Airport Borders Books
Sunday, March 11
Noon - ?
Slick will be back by popular demand.
Books run out quickly!

Fort Myers Beach Public Library
2755 Estero Blvd.
Fort Myers Beach, FL
Monday, March 12
10:30 a.m.
"How I wrote my blackjack teacher's biography,
a guy who hung out the the mob" by Cherie Rohn
45 minute talk followed by a Q & A

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A Regular Gig Every Sunday

Well, mob readers. Slick's book signing at McCarran Airport Borders Books in Las Vegas was such a success on Sunday, that store manager, Anna Chapman wants Slick there every Sunday she has books in stock. Slick sold 42 copies of THIEF!

Anna said it's really remarkable considering the fact that people don't buy many hard cover books at airports. Too bulky. But that didn't stop 42 people from buying THIEF!

If you missed last Sunday, you can catch up with former thief Slick Hanner at Borders again:

Borders Books
McCarran Airport, Las Vegas
Sunday, March 11
Noon - ?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Q & A ANSWER Felons and Las Vegas

Question: Can you work in a casino if you have a felony conviction?

Answer: Right now, it appears only Nevada allows a convicted felon to work in a casino, depending on the discretion of the casino, but it’s getting increasingly rare, as competition for jobs is tough. All key casino employees in Las Vegas have been required to carry a sheriff's card since 1947. If the background check reveals the applicant has a record of repeated criminal activities, that person is denied a sheriff's card and cannot work in the casinos.

Other states conduct at least a 10-year background check which takes, on average, 3 months. If they discover you have a felony, you’re fired. Some casinos also spring unannounced drug screenings on their employees, literally escorting them from work to the bathroom to “pee in a cup.”

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Q & A QUESTION? Felons and Las Vegas

Question: Can you work in a casino if you have a felony conviction?

Check back in a few days for the answer.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mandalay Bay Las Vegas Book Signing a Success!

The Reading Room's manager at Mandalay Place, Debra Belcoff (top; center), deemed the signing such a success, she invited Slick back after his interview with George Knapp! If you missed the event, THIEF! is still available at the Reading room.


Visit Slick today, Sunday, at the Borders Book Store in the Meadows Mall. Slick is signing THIEF! at 2:00 p.m.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Just a reminder. Slick signs THIEF! at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Check out the giant LED signs on the Strip and highway for Slick's photo and details of the event!

Place: The Reading Room at Mandalay Place, Las Vegas
Date: Saturday, February 17
Time: 2:00 p.m. - ?

If you can't make that date, visit Slick at the Meadows Mall, Las Vegas
Sunday, February 18 at 2:00 p.m.

Be sure to get your signed copy of THIEF! before Slick's interview with multi award-winning reporter, George Knapp!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Back-to-Back Book Signings!

This is THIEF's most important book signing to date. Look for Slick's photo on Mandalay Bay's giant LED signs on the Strip and highway locations announcing the event.

Place: The Reading Room at Mandalay Place, Las Vegas
Date: Saturday, February 17
Time: 2:00 p.m. till books run out. (Better arrive early!)

If you just can't make that date, you have another chance the very next day to have Slick sign your copy of THIEF!

Place: Borders Book Store in the Meadows Mall, Las Vegas
Date: Sunday, February 18
Time: 2:00 p.m.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Exclusive Interview!

Yours truly reveals what it was like working with Slick, a guy who lived life in the fast lane while everyone else was still looking for the on-ramp, in an interview with Women on Writing magazine editor, Angela Mackintosh. Check it out:

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Las Vegas THEN & NOW

Then: In 1905 Las Vegas prostitution moved to the red light district, or Block 16 as it was called, catering mostly to railroad employees. But sex for sale had already been around for at least fifty years in Nevada.

Now: Legal prostitution (note emphasis) was outlawed in Clark County, the home of Las Vegas, since 1971. In a bold move to lock out all competitors to the casinos, the state legislature outlawed prostitution in every county with a population exceeding 250,000. That meant Las Veas became off limits.

It’s still legal to peddle sex in nearby counties such as Nye where the world famous Chicken Ranch and Sheri’s Ranch, a half-mile up the road, run a brisk trade.

(Check out THIEF! for Slick's inside scoop on The Chicken Ranch and Sheri's Ranch.)

Monday, January 29, 2007

THIEF! Excerpt: Texas Hold 'em Con at Vegas World

One night after Vince’s shift, we went over to see an old friend of ours from Chicago named Tony Montana who tended bar at the famous Villa D’Est. The restaurant, also known as Joe Pignatello’s place, catered to entertainers and mob guys like Sinatra, Sam Giancana and Sam’s main squeeze, Phyllis Maguire. She could have had any guy in the world, but she settled on that ugly thug. There’s no accounting for taste. The three of us guys were rehashing old times when in walked Tony Spilotro. Few people knew that Tony Spilotro was Joe Pig’s silent partner.

Tony greeted everyone, turned to me and said, “So, Slick. Are you working?”

“No. Not yet.”

“Here’s what you do,” Tony said. “Go to Vegas World. They just leased the poker room to a friend of mine by the name of Pete Keller. Tell him I sent you.”

I recognized Keller's name. He was a high limit poker player who always carried a gun in his cowboy boot. I heard you didn’t want to mess with him. At that time, it was legal for anyone with enough money to lease a poker room.

The next day I introduced myself to Pete Keller. When he found out Tony sent me, Keller got right down to business, as if he’d been waiting for me to show up. He hired me as his swing shift boss at $125 a day, no interview, no nothing.

“Your real job is to put our card mechanic dealer in any game where there’s a high-rolling sucker and bring in the cold deck with the set up. For every cold deck you bring in, I’ll give you $500 on top of your salary.” That sounded better.

Now Keller took me over to meet Bob Stupak who owned Vegas World. Geez, here was this chain-smoking, creepy-looking guy who needed a bath in the worst way. Without looking up, Stupak told me to find the casino manager and get myself processed so I could start work right away. First, there had been Bob Stupak’s World Famous Million Dollar Historic Gambling Museum and Casino. I guess someone had a thing against long names, because the place burned down. Stupak took the insurance money and built Vegas World.

Huckster Stupak attracted folks with any gimmick he could muster, including a No Limit Texas Hold'em game meant to draw in high rollers. The exciting new game, featuring universal cards dealt face-up, descended on Las Vegas like a desert storm. Within days, the high stakes grabbed the attention of Keller and his crew, well-known World Series of Poker winners. But Keller and his boys didn’t stop at honest gambling. They unleashed an arsenal of cheating tactics tailor-made to bust the heavy hitters. Everyone including me and the dealer had their roll to play—everyone, that is, except for Stupak and the mooch-of-the-moment. Tony Spilotro got a piece of Keller's action and that’s how I entered the picture.

Not long after I started working there, who should sit down but Bob Stupak himself. Keller figured just because Stupak owned the joint didn’t entitle him to immunity. Nothing would go wrong because all the other players at the table were in on the con. I brought in the cold or doctored deck with the 2-deck setup, just like always. The dealer spread the normal deck, shuffled and began dealing.

After a while, a player said he detected a crimped card and asked for the other deck. The cold deck was pre-set to give one of our guys the nuts and Stupak the second best hand.

Now here’s where the dealer’s world-class card mechanic skills plus the crew’s timing came into play. The dealer picked up the cold deck and acted like he was going to spread it face up. That would have been a dead give-away, so it was up to one of the players to distract Stupak. Ironically, Stupak’s Greek bodyguard bumped Stupak’s glass. The Greek was hired to alert Stupak of any funny business, but was actually part of Keller's crew. Stupak grabbed the glass so it wouldn’t tip. By the time Stupak looked up, he thought the dealer had already spread the deck. After all, his Greek friend acted like everything was on the up-and-up. Then the dealer false shuffled and went right into dealing. The pot topped thirty grand. On the turn, it became a showdown between Stupak and the guy with the nuts. When the river came up, of course, Stupak lost.

Bob Stupak never wised up. In fact, after Keller's gang hustled a very sharp female player out of considerable money, she sued Stupak for cheating her. The court ruled in Stupak’s favor for lack of evidence. To this day, I don’t think Stupak guessed who was behind the swindle.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

SW Florida Booksigning

Cherie Rohn, co-author of THIEF!, signs books in Port Charlotte, Florida.

Date: Saturday, January 27
Time: 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Place: Books-A-Million
1825 Tamiami Trail
Port Charlotte, FL 33948

If you're in the area, come by and see me. I'll be happy to answer your questions.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

McCarran Airport Photos

It was short but sweet at McCarran today. Slick informs us that he sold the store's entire inventory of 15 copies in half an hour! The Border's store manager said they're still waiting for 75 copies to arrive. When they do, Slick will be back. We'll keep you posted.

Our man, Tony Montana, was on hand to photograph the event. It's a good thing you tended bar all those years, Tony. I don't think you would make it as a photographer. But thanks for all the hard work, guys.

McCarran Airport THIEF! signing today

Slick just called to tell me he's already signed a number of books and he's only started. A terrific couple who bought a signed copy will have their photo posted on this blog as soon as I receive it.

If you're in the area, stop by and have your photo taken with Slick!

THIEF! Newspaper Story, hot off the press

Piece appeared in the News-Press, Fort Myers, FL.
Sunday, January 21, 2007

Fort Myers author tells tale of crime, from bottom up
Jay MacDonald

It's strange that our fascination with the mob centers so on top bananas like Lucky Luciano, Carlo Gambino and John Gotti when, as any crime beat reporter will tell you, the most incredible stories always involve madcap misfires by the lowliest flunkies, the truly clueless nostra.

Fort Myers author Cherie Rohn ran into just such a lovable screwball more than a decade ago in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when, after losing her job as a TV station manager, she enrolled in a casino dealer's school. One of her instructors was a well-traveled man of action named William "Slick" Hanner.

"He was walking around with his notebook of 20 hand-scrawled pages in his third-grade-educated hand of his life story, looking for somebody to write it," Rohn recalls. "No money, of course, but I looked at it and it was like an electric shock went through my body. Something about this guy grabbed me and I vowed to write his story."

A decade in the writing, "THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist" (Barricade, $22) is the laugh-out-loud misadventures of a savvy Chicago street kid who managed to partake in the profitable mob Trifecta of booze, gambling and prostitution without ever actually becoming a made guy.

Like some street-smart version of Forrest Gump, Slick went from rags to riches while drifting through America's hottest post-war entertainment scenes. Whether he was fleecing poker players aboard his yacht the Knot Guilty in Miami Beach, driving a limo for Nevada's infamous Chicken Ranch, serving as Jerry Lewis' bodyguard or managing the poker room at the Landmark Casino in Las Vegas, Slick was where the action was for the last half of the 20th century.

"He was an interesting kind of a screw-up adrenaline junkie con artist who goes through life like a speeding freight train about to derail at any minute," Rohn says of her colorful collaborator.

The project was no mere samba down memory lane. Hanner's third-grade education was one obstacle, but Rohn had her challenges as well.

"Aside from a couple lurid love letters, I hadn't written anything," she says. "So I had three tasks: I had to learn to write, I had to learn to write as a guy, and I had to learn to write as a guy who hung with the mob."

Rohn does a wonderful job at all three, telling Slick's first-person tale with all the swagger and latter-day slang of a high-rolling con artist of the day. "We filled it out very slowly," she says. "I actually had to put words into his mouth."

She also found that time was of the essence if she hoped to interview Slick's running mates. "Through the nine agonizing years of writing this story, a lot of people died, mostly from unnatural causes," he quips.

At 74, Slick is still doing what he does best, playing poker and consulting with Las Vegas casinos on how to thwart card sharks.

Does the guy who knows where the bodies are buried fear that some associates may take offense at his candid biography? What are you nuts?

"We had a few death threats," Rohn admits. "I'm not going to tell you where they came from but they were real. Slick isn't one to worry. His attitude is, "Hey, if that happens, we can sell a few more books!"

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Slick signs THIEF! at Borders Books in Las Vegas

Date: Sunday (tomorrow), January 21, 2007
Time: Noon - ?
Location: Borders Books at McCarran Airport

Here's your chance to ask Slick for poker tips and info about the mob.

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Different Way to Market Books

This really happened to me.

Yesterday I walked into a police sub-station armed with our THIEF business cards (that have a poker card pattern on one side) plus a couple of THIEF books. I politely but energetically asked the sergeant at the desk if maybe he was interested in reading a true story I'd written about the mob, prostitution and gambling? I gave him several of our cards. He seemed curious and asked to see the book. Intrigued by the blurbs and jacket copy, he called over a few of his co-workers. In the end, I sold 6 copies on the spot. Gave my e-mail address at their request in case others were interested.

It just goes to show what a little ingenuity can do to help sell your book! Try something new.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Q: What's the hardest casino game to learn?

A: Craps. Just think 7 you win...7 you lose. You get round chips, they tell you to stack ‘em. And square dice you roll. How simple can that be?

Seriously, craps has complicated bets and payouts making it very hard to learn. Also, hard to learn how to deal this game for the same reasons.

(Slick answered this question. Sorry folks. I didn't make the 48-hour deadline.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Slick signs books in Las Vegas at McCarran Airport Borders.

That's Sunday, January 21, from Noon till ?

See you there!

Monday, January 15, 2007


Q: What’s the hardest casino game to learn?

Check for the answer within 48 hours.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

THIEF! Tony Spilotro Excerpt

Excerpt from THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist by William "Slick" Hanner & Cherie Rohn, released by Barricade Books in Oct. 2006

Las Vegas, around 1985—It all started when this Outfit messenger, Guido, tracked me [Slick] down to the Aladdin poker room about 4:00 a.m. I sat out the next few hands since I was losing anyway. In the coffee shop, Guido opened up.

“Slick, I gotta see Tony [Spilotro]. It’s very important.”

“Okay, Guido. You wait for me here and I’ll see what I can do.”

I didn’t have Tony’s phone number on me but I knew he lived at 4675 Balfour, a regular middle-class neighborhood. In fact, Tony’s house looked exactly like all the other ones on his block, just the opposite of Lefty’s sprawling ranch house on the Desert Inn Golf Course. I’d driven Tony home a couple of times because he didn’t like to drive. He figured you made an easier target in the driver's seat. Here’s my chance to help Tony out, I thought, listening to the doorbell ring inside the house.

A long five minutes later, Tony answered the door dressed in his pajamas. “Oh, it’s you,” he said, a little surprised to find me on his doorstep at such an early hour. “What are you doing here?”

“This Guido from Chicago collared me at the Aladdin just now. He says he has something very important to tell couldn’t wait. So I came right over.”

Very calmly, Tony asked, “Was it important for him, or important for me?”

I stood there with my mouth open like a fish caught in a net. My mind raced for an answer, but none came. Tony quietly closed the door.

Tony nailed it. Who was it important for? Every time I was around that guy I learned something the fact that whenever Tony invited a guy to his house, Tony would say, “I’m going into the Jacuzzi, what size bathing suit do you wear?” He’d glance at the guy’s waist and shout, “Nancy, get him a 38.” If the guy refused, Tony figured he had a wire on and the guy was in deep shit. Only a few people knew this about Tony... I decided to skip the Aladdin.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Slick signs THIEF! at McCarran Airport, Las Vegas

Slick signs THIEF! at McCarran Airport's Borders Books

Date: Sun., January 21, 2007
Time: Noon - ?

Meet Slick and get some free Hold 'Em tips! Mark your calendar.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Q: What's Las Vegas Throat?

A: It's a throat condition singers and other performers aquire in Las Vegas from the desert dryness.

Drink lots of liquids when you're visiting Las Vegas to lubricate your tonsils...preferably non-alcoholic.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007


Q: Okay. What's Las Vegas throat?
(It has nothing to do with sex.)

Check back for the answer in 48 hours.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

THIEF! Fight excerpt

Jack "Doc" Kearns was one of the most famous fight promoters in the world. He rubbed elbows with presidents, heads of state, actors, name it. Slick's boyhood friend, Jack Kearns, Jr., figures prominently in THIEF!

Photo l. to r.: Mickey Walker & son, Jack Kearns, Jr. & Jack "Doc" Kearns, Sr. circa 1934. (Courtesy of Jack Kearns, Jr.)

Slick and Jack are about 9 years old in the following excerpt:

Speaking of tough, one of our gang was Jack Kearns whose world-famous father promoted and managed Jack Dempsey in bout after moneymaking bout during Dempsey’s heyday. “Doc” Kearns also handled guys like Mickey Walker and Joey Maxim to round out a card that read like a who’s who of boxing. It was a well-known fact that Kearns was the biggest fight promoter in the entire country. He was the kind of guy who made a million dollars, went broke, made another million, went broke, and so on. Someone said Doc was like one of those inflated shmoo dolls with a weighted base. It kept popping up no matter how hard you punched it.

Young Jack was a natural bullshitter just like his old man. When it came to fighting, Jack took a lot and gave a lot. He was as fearless as a male lion defending his harem.

One lucky Thursday—a day seared into my memory—Jack invited our gang over to Helsing’s to meet his father. It was the first time I set eyes on a hundred dollar bill. Doc threw money around the table like he minted it in his basement. I got a knot in my stomach the size of a man’s fist just eyeballing all that cash. If a working stiff took home a hundred bucks a month, I guarantee, he was President of the United States.

Not only did Doc treat us guys to lunch, he casually peeled off a ten spot for each of us— fifty bucks just like that. My hand shook as I reached for mine. That was more than my father made in a week. It was funny Doc Kearns was so free with his money because, rumor had it, he was in one of his broke spells. After that meeting, Jack never lost a fight.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Don't Miss Important THIEF! events

Check out the mob speak blog for upcoming THIEF! booksignings, especially if you live in Las Vegas. My spies tell me THIEF! is flying off the shelves in "Sin City." That's to be expected considering the fact that a good part of the book takes place in the mobbed-up Las Vegas from the 1940s - 1980s.

Stay tuned!

Then and Now

Then: During the mob's heyday in Las Vegas, (1960s-1980s) casinos hired poker dealers by how many chips they could snatch from the pot without getting caught.

Now: Poker dealing is completely above board as are all casino games. Dealers are more likely to be hired by how many hands they can get out in an hour and how good their dealing skills are.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

For serious gamblers...

Slick and I were discussing all the weird gamblers he's noticed during his 40+ years spent working legit jobs and playing poker in casinos. He said, "The best way to gamble if you’re serious about increasing your odds is to watch how others are betting, keep your mouth shut and leave the table when you’re on a losing streak."

And when I was a blackjack and roulette dealer and poker room floor supervisor, I watched plenty of folks throw good money after bad...keep betting til they bust.

We can’t emphasize enough that casinos make their money by

a. capitalizing on their sizable house advantage
b. keeping you at a table long enough for the house advantage to kick in

So hit and run. Grab your winnings and head for the nearest exit. Fight the natural greedy inclination to sit there hoping for more.

May the dice roll your way, all your cards come up winners and your chips multiply!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007


Q: What's the house advantage in blackjack?

A: Slick just called to remind me that I forgot the most important part: The player is always in the position to go bust before the dealer, which gives the house its edge or advantage.

Also, according to John Scarne, world-renowned gambling authority, the house edge is 5.9%. But that figure can change due to several variables such as:

  • The number of decks in play
  • Whether the dealer must hit or stand on a soft 17
  • Whether a blackjack pays at 2/3 or 5/6

and other house rules that make the house advantage or edge fluctuate. Check out to figure more exact odds.

Good luck!

Check regularly for more Questions and Answers.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Q & A

Every week we'll be posting a new question about gambling, the mob, prostitution or another equally fascinating topic such as the one below. Check for the answer within 48 hours.

Happy blogging!

Your host,


Q. What’s the house advantage in blackjack?