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What's Luck Got to Do with It? by Joseph Mazur

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Introduction

Everything that happens just happens becauseeverything in the world just happened.—Uncle Herman

When I was a child, my uncles would gather every Saturday at my grandparents’ house to sit at a long dining room table telling jokes while accounting their week’s gambling wins and losses. My grandfather Morris would retire to a musty back room, crank up his red-brown mahogany Victrola, lie diagonally across a double bed with his eyes closed and his feet off to one side, and listen to the distant voice of the velvety soprano Amelita Galli-Curci sing Gilda’s arias from Rigoletto.

Gambling was the family pastime. During those moments when my grandfather was half asleep on the bed next door, my uncles were eager to hook me onto horse racing. ...

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