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

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THIEF! character, Vince Eli

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Black Gangsters of Chicago: GREAT READ!

I guarantee you will be hooked by author Ron Chepsiuk's riveting, journalistic style in his book, Black Gangsters of Chicago.
You can read all about it here:

Ron comes with some big chops.'s a lot of reading below, but Ron hasn't been sitting on his hands during these many years. Here are some facts straight from his bio (bold is mine):

"Ron Chepesiuk is a freelance journalist and film producer based in Rock Hill and Surfside Beach, South Carolina. A native of Thunder Bay, Canada, Ron worked as a Fulbright Scholar to Bangladesh in 2003 and is currently a Visiting Professor of Journalism at Chittagong University in Bangladesh. He is also an adjunct journalism instructor in the Extension Division, Journalism Department, UCLA, where he teaches courses on investigative journalism, feature writing and news writing. Ron is currently serving as an expert consultant to the History Channel's forthcoming series tentatively titled 'Gangland.'

Ron holds a B.A. degree in history and political science from Minnesota State University Moorhead, a Master’s degree in library science from Atlanta Clark University and a post graduate diploma in archival science from the National University of Ireland, University College Dublin. Prior to becoming a full-time freelance writer, he was a professor of library science at Winthrop University in Rock Hill.

Ron's latest completed media project is a co-authored book and co-produced documentary both of which are titled Superfly: The, True Untold Story of Frank Lucas, American Gangster ( The projects examine the myths Hollywood has created about the main characters played by Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe in the recent movie, ¨Ă„merican Gangster¨. For background, go to (my article) and (my interview)

The book and documentary are the first completed projects of Street Certified Entertainment LLC (, a new media company Ron co-founded and co-owns. Street CertifIed will produce true crime books, films and new media products. This month, they began work on thier second project, Black Caesar: The Rise and Disappearance of Frank Matthews, Gangster Legend ( Ron's profile of Matthews can be read at, and you can view the trailer for the forthcoming documentary at

In addition Ron has signed a contract to do a biography of Leslie Ike Atkinson, a major drug trafficker of the late 1960s and 1970s who pioneered the Asian heroin connection to the U.S.

In all, he has published 24 books and about 4,000 original articles in FHM, USA Today, Black Enterprise, Woman's World, Modern Maturity, The Rotarian, New York Times Syndicate, the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Collier´s Encyclopedia, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the New York Daily News and more than 400 other print publications. He also published original articles on 60 plus web sites, including, Crime Magazine, the, Global Politician and the New Criminologist. Given the viral nature of the Internet, his articles have been published at least 10,000 plus times. He has served a contributing editor and writer to more than 30 magazines and newspapers, including Asian Week, Rolls Royce Magazine, the Year in Computing, Irrigation and Green Industry, Crime Beat and Environmental Health Perspectives. His articles have covered every topic except gardening.

Ron's book, Drug Lords: The Rise and Fall of the Cali Cartel (Milo Books), originally publisher in hardback by Praeger Publishing as The Bullet or the Bribe, is an investigation of history's most powerful drug trafficking mafia. A new and expanded edition was published this past August. Ron's books on Black organized crime include Gangsters of Harlem: The Gritty Underworld of New York City's Most Famous Neighborhood (Barricade Books,, which came out Britain as American Gangster, and Black Gangsters of Chicago (Barricade Books, http://www.blackgangstersofchicago/).

Ron is a former writing instructor in the Writer’s Digest School and has taught journalism classes at Winthrop University, Coastal Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte. He has also taught workshops for Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists and for The Daily Star, Holiday, The New Age and other newspapers in Bangladesh.

Ron has received several awards, including the OCLC-Bogle-Forrest Press Award in 1999 for “significant contribution to international librarianship,” an award from South Carolina Commission on the Status of Women in 1989 for promoting status of women in South Carolina, a 2003 DEA Watch web site Honorary Drug Enforcement Administration Agent of the Year award for his book, The Bullet or the Bribe, and several writing awards for the Florida Freelance Writers Association.

He has also received grants from the Kaltenborn Foundation to study the media in Hong Kong and Colombia, from the Fund for Investigative Journalism to study working conditions of women garment workers in South Asia, and from the South Carolina Committee for the Humanities to produce a television series on “women leaders in South Carolina for ETV (Educational Television). He is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors, the National Writer’s Union, the International Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association and the International Association for the Study of Organized Crime.

Ron’s wife, Magdalena, is a native of Colombia, South America."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Gambler's Book Shop: Comes up Aces

If you haven't heard about the Gambler's Book Shop in Las Vegas, who bill themselves as "The largest selection of gambling books, videotapes and software in the world!" you've missed out on a priceless treasure. Howard Schwartz longtime owner, is one of Las Vegas's most colorful and savvy denizens. It's worth a trip to the store just to meet Howard whose years in the biz make him an expert on gambling. (my words, not his.) Here's Howard's bio right off the Gambler's Book Shop Website:

Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," is the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he has held since 1979. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

It's easy to subscribe to the Gambler's Book Shop online free monthly newsletter with none of the hassles. Just go to their Website at

By the way, Slick's been invited to a Gambler's Book Shop event where he'll be featured on a radio interview.

Date: Thursday, April 24, 2008
Time : 2:00 p.m. (Las Vegas time)
place: The Gambler's Book Shop
630 S. 11th Street
Las Vegas, NV 89101

If you're in the area on the 24th, drop by and talk with Slick and Howard Schwartz and Mark Matthews from the store.

Monday, April 14, 2008

NEW YORK POST--Cherie's Second Review

This review appeared Sunday, April 13, 2008 and will run for a week:


April 13, 2008 -- "McCall, who had quietly moved behind Hickok, pulled a gun from under his jacket and shot him, crying out, 'Damn you, take that.' The bullet drilled a hole in Hickok's head and went on to hit Massie in the wrist. Hickok died instantly and fell silently to the floor."

The lesson? Never hold aces and eights. And, according to New Zealand author Des Wilson, who recreates the demise of Wild Bill Hickok during that famous poker game, know that "the key to [poker's] popularity is its history."

"The players, even the youngest, know it comes from the back alley, the gangster's den, the Western saloon," Wilson writes. "They know there was a time when there were guns in the game . . . they know there are ghosts at the table."

Wilson's history is divided into four ages: the old frontier, the road gamblers, Las Vegas and the modern poker explosion. He scoured the archives and crisscrossed the country exploring the places where poker legends plied their trade from dusty, remote Tombstone and Dodge City, the stomping grounds of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday; to the Mississippi riverboats where you didn't lose at poker, you were robbed or worse; to the Texan road gamblers like Johnny Moss, Sailor Roberts and Amarillo Slim who "faded the white line" driving from game to game. The object was to leave with the money they'd won, keep it and stay alive long enough to enjoy it. "It's these poker people who give the game its special aura," Wilson says.

Wilson identifies poker's special characters and dispels some of the more fanciful fabrications. In a game that has largely remained illegal, whose rich stories were passed on by word of mouth, it's no wonder the line between myth and reality fuzzes over.

Such is the case with Benny Binion, who established the World Series of Poker at the Horseshoe in Las Vegas and nurtured it for 35 years. While building a fortune running the Horseshoe, Binion said, "If you want to get rich, make little people feel big." But as Wilson explains, "every now and then the mask would drop and Benny's ruthlessness would emerge." Binion's now famous words after a Mafia hit man claimed Binion hired him were "I'm capable of doing my own killing."

Wilson has no qualms asking former World Series of Poker director Eric Drache about the cheating and rumors of collusion that went on during the early days of the World Series and "fixing" the main event in 1972. Nor is Wilson afraid to call a spade a spade when he describes major hitters like Stu Unger, who Mike Sexton called "the greatest no-limit poker player ever to have played the game." Unger blew it all over cocaine, dead by 45.

Ultimately, it's the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas that takes center stage. This battle of the titans has grown from a handful of players in 1970 with a major prize of $100,000 to an international field of 54,000 in 2007 with a staggering $60 million main event prize.

As the World Series ratchets up the stakes, it also attracts a new breed of Internet poker whiz kids to its ranks who give the old guard a run for their money. As evidence, Wilson observed during the 2007 World Series "four of the final table are either Internet professionals or play most of their poker online." Perhaps more important, he adds that "the world's most popular game is in good shape."

Cherie Rohn co-authored Thief! The Gutsy True Story of an Ex-Con Artist.

Ghosts at the Table
A History of Poker
by Des Wilson
Da Capo Press

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Then: In 1947 there were only 3 casino/hotels on the Las Vegas Strip (named after another famous strip—Sunset Strip in L.A.) They were the El Rancho Vegas, the Last Frontier, and Bugsy Siegel’s infamous Flamingo. The Flamingo boasted a 200-room capacity at a cost of $6 million and Bugsy Siegel’s life.

Now: With more than 38 million visitors descending annually on Las Vegas, the choices of Strip casino/hotels exceeds 27 multi-million and billion dollar establishments.