The Great Tomsoni  

                                    (From My Vegas Lounge Cut Book)

 Question:  “What
do the following great magicians have in common?”

 ·
Penn & Teller
Siegfried & Roy   David Copperfield                   Criss Angel

·
Lance Burton       Matt Franco                   Fielding West        Michael
Carbonaro

 

          If you say they are the best in the business and have
performed in Las Vegas and throughout the world for years that would be
obvious. If, however, you said that at some point, each of these magic legends
and countless others have put their faith or careers into the hands of one man,
it would mean you know Johnny Thompson.

           Johnny Thompson is my brother. We have been close
friends and gone through life’s ups and downs together since we first met in
1974. I was just starting out in Las Vegas and John was headlining in the “Vive
Paris Vive” show in the Aladdin showroom. I knew almost from the start that
John and I would get along.
  A magician
who had “lifted” some of John’s material showed up in Las Vegas and came to the
weekly magic get-together. I warned the guy that John wasn’t happy about him
stealing the tricks, but the guy paid no heed. A while later, I was leaving the
bar and saw that John had met the guy in the parking lot. John had the guy by
the throat up against the wall and was “politely” explaining his dislike for
the fella. I hung around to watch, but John didn’t need my help.

           John saw me perform close-up magic in the Aladdin Sabre
Room and gave me exceptional advice about improving my act.
  When he and his wife Pam saw me sing
for the first time in the lounge, John arranged for me to get in touch with Ann
Dee, the woman who helped Johnny Mathis get started in show business. Johnny
helped me with musical arrangements for recording sessions.
  I dedicated my “Poker Cheating” book to
Johnny Thompson because of the tremendous help he’s given me over the years on
gambling and cheating scams. In 1980, John and I were partners in the first
series of card and dice cheating tutorial videotapes ever produced. More
recently, Johnny and I have collaborated on several television documentaries
entitled, “The Great Casino Scams & How They Were Done,” ten shows which
recount the major casino cheating cases I have uncovered or have been involved
in during my career.

           I’ve been fortunate in my life to surround myself with a
few near-geniuses over the years, and Johnny is one. Let me tell you when I
first saw the genius of the man. I knew that Johnny had been a musician in his
younger days. He had toured and recorded with Jerry Murad’s Harmonicats, Johnny
Puleo’s Harmonica Gang, and The Harmonica Jazz Quartet. John actually built the
Bass Harmonica instrument that he plays. (That’s not the genius part yet.)
  I went to his house one afternoon, and John
had long music scores spread across his dining room table.
 Johnny was writing full musical orchestrations
using a bass harmonica as his only instrument. That’s the genius part. (Ask
anyone who knows music.)

           John worked with his wife, Pamela Hayes, and they
were billed as The Great Tomsoni & Company.
 Pamela is a wonderful actress and really is
the heart of the comedy characters. Pam is not, however, a gambler.
  Back in the ‘70s, Pam was trying to teach me
to play backgammon. We played backstage between shows.
  It never occurred to her that I might already
know the game. We played for an imaginary $1.00 per game, which, of course,
increases dramatically with the use of the doubling cube. I would offer and
accept the most terrible doubles, driving our imaginary bets way up. Pam would
patiently and politely explain how foolish my play was, especially in light of
the board position and the doubling cube. I of course thanked her and played my
own way in spite of her wise advice. I always won, and Pam owed me an imaginary
fortune.
  She would comment to John on
how bad my play was and how foolish it was to offer and accept those doubles.

           What Pam didn’t know was that I was cheating by switching
in “Gaffed Dice” at the end game. My trick dice are known on the streets as
“Snowballs.” The dice will only roll high numbers or pairs of high numbers,
which gave me an overwhelming advantage in the end game. John, of course spotted
my move early on, but true to the code of the hustler, he said nothing. This
went on for months before I let Pam in on my little secret.

                “I love you Pamela, but don’t
take up hustling for a living!”

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