Las Vegas Sun

August 24, 2019

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Gambling expert Mahl dies

Huey Mahl devoted much of his life to giving gamblers information that would improve their odds either at the race track or in the casino.

He was into computers long before they became a fad. And he loved to share stories of colorful characters like "Goldmine" Charlie who came rolling into Las Vegas with so-called systems to beat the house.

Mahl, regarded as one of the best yet most unappreciated experts on gaming probabilities, mathematics and money management, died of heart failure Tuesday at Desert Springs Hospital. He was 70.

There will be no services for the 25-year Las Vegas resident who, for the last 21 years, was a gaming analyst columnist for the Sports Form, which became Gaming Today in 1991.

A longtime smoker, the stocky Mahl often was seen with a cigarette or small plastic-tipped cigar. He long suffered from health problems, telling friends he had his first heart attack in 1972.

"Huey decided that if he was going to live the lifestyle he wanted, he was going to have to take chances," said Gaming Today Publisher Chuck DiRocco, a longtime friend.

"He had a wonderful sense of humor. If he saw you were down in the dumps, he'd rattle off 10 stories that would put a smile on your face."

Having learned the science of computers while in the Army, Mahl often scoffed at so-called modern software, noting he had used similar programs many years ago on much less sophisticated equipment.

Mahl came to Las Vegas in 1971 and first worked for John Luckman, late founder of the Gamblers Book Club, 630 S. 11th St., and a pioneer publisher of gaming books.

Mahl wrote about developing gaming systems for Luckman's national magazines "Systems & Methods" and "Casino & Sports," analyzing how gamblers could use the information to help tilt the odds a little more in their favor.

"Huey would expose the phonies who had overpriced systems that never worked -- he was very consumer oriented," said Howard Schwartz, marketing director of the Gamblers Book Club.

"He was one of the unsung heroes on behalf of gamblers in this country and internationally. A lot of his concepts were copied by others."

Mahl deciphered the Kelly Criterion -- the complicated forerunner of the money management concept -- and explained the formula to gamblers so they could better manage their bankrolls by betting in percentages rather than in set amounts.

"He did whatever he could to help the gambler's money last a little longer," DiRocco said. "Huey called it the art and understanding of money management."

Three years ago, author, psychologist and handicapper Dr. Howard Sartin said in a published story: "Huey Mahl is one of the most underrated and unappreciated self-taught geniuses of the last 20 years in regards to innovative ideas and concepts.

"He is a thinker able to find niches and spots to probe."

In the 1960s, Mahl owned a string of thoroughbreds which he raced in Mexico.

In 1975, he wrote "Beating the Bookie," a breakthrough book on sports betting. A few years later, Mahl wrote "The Race is Pace," one of the most significant books on energy levels of race horses. Both were published by the Gamblers Book Club.

Mahl, who wrote more than a dozen gaming books and is referenced in numerous others, was an original columnist for Sports Form when it opened in 1976.

In his column called "Mahl Here," he told tales of characters like low-limit gambler "Goldmine" Charlie, who carried around little statues for good luck and gave them to the friends he would make on his visits to town. He once presented a statue to Mahl, who long treasured the token.

Mahl is survived by a daughter, Pam Elyea of Glendale, Calif., and a sister, Emelen Venton of Colorado.