in the Game
Raised in the
© 2017 by Sterling Daniels
rights reserved. Published in the United States by Raised In The
part of this book may be used or reproduced in
manner whatsoever without written consent from the author, except
the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and
West State Street
D, Box 309
and bound in the United States of America.
Printing: March 2017
dedicate this book to my mother,
taught me respect, principles, integrity,
all the things I needed to mold me into the man I am today.
You, Mama. I Love You.
is said that a man’s whole life and character is the outcome
his beliefs and also the environment in which he was raised.
theological belief is merely his intellectual opinion of the
around him. If what he sees is unjust and poor treatment
others and him, he will look for a better life. This belief then
deeply in his being and heart, which molds his character
makes his whole life.
1: Mama: Growing Up in the 60s
2: Balls and Dice
3: The Roaring 70s
4: Tap Out: Learning the Gambling Game
5: West Side Margie
6: Rise of the Super Fly Macks
7: First Mistake: Stepping Over Dollars for Pennies ................
8: On My Own
9: Welcome to Brew City
10: The Big Leagues: Setting My Trap
11: Young, Black and Rich
12: Taking the Game to the Next Phase
13: The Milwaukee Railroad
14: Taking My Show on the Road
15: Learning to Make a Ho
16: Dirty Mike and A Shaky Gun
17: The Only Square that Understood
18: The Cat Catches Michael
19: When a Ho Leaves One Pimp for Another ....................... 167
of Contents, continued
20: Tap Out’s Last Big Sting
21: The Mouse Gets the Trap
22: On Top of Your Games
23: Patience Is A Virtue
24: The Blind Switch
25: Chicken, You Should Know Better
26: Betty Mea: The Black Bonnie
27: I Choose You
28: 1980 Jams
29: Taking My Game to the Next Phase
30: Expanding to Survive
31: Good-Bye, Tap
32: Life Without Tap
33: The Queen Cocaine Arrives
34: Making Moves in Kankakee
35: The Texas Sweet Roll
36: White Queen Takes Black Queen
37: Time to Get Down
38: Raw Dog
39: Doing it in West Lawn
40: Big Red
41: The Queen Strikes Again
42: The Coldest Day of My Life
am Sterling Daniels, also known as Dan the Man, S, ST, SG, and
is my life story. I was born in Cook County in 1954. As long
I can remember, my number one goal was to help my mother, broth-
and sisters out of the rat-infested ghetto. I was willing to do what-
it took. But what I didn’t know was that slavery did not end
Civil War. Unites States President Abraham Lincoln made it clear
his speeches that slavery was not the issue. The North was
while the South was still dependent on agriculture. So, it started
trade with Europe because they wanted to see the United States split.
later prohibited it in principle in 1877 at the end of the
But slavery was still in existence. It just took shape in a new and
form. Black life was effectively criminalized and sentencing was
by various means—brutal labor being the primary in the indus-
of agricultural production. This remained the case throughout the
War II was declared, and Blacks were needed again. Then post-
businesses opened the doors with added opportunities in the North.
I was growing up in the 60s, there was still clear evidence of segre-
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched for equal rights, voting
and the end of segregation as it related to military personnel in the
is a true story about me, a young man who played the street life
I saw no other way to go. It was the life I chose because it was the
life I knew and l was compelled to be the best. My great uncle Tap
taught me The Game. I was true to the game. A man of truth never
from his divine principles, which I espouse in this book. I came a
way from poverty, pain, loss of friends, and threats against my life
one of the greatest players to ever master the Three Boss Games.
was a part of one of the largest organizations in America. I allow
see and feel the way it was coming up in the 60s, 70s, and 80s with
the truth. I show that a Black man is more than all the names that
unfairly placed upon him. You will see the Black pride, principles,
and respect for The Game, which include the cons, the violence,
the games that are played in the streets.
is no difference between this and what America is doing; they
the same game, just at a higher level. You will see how I always
I was the cat catching the mouse, until the day I got caught up in
is a bigger cat; one that has no respect for principles, morals,
or anyone for that matter. This cat plays the game unfairly be-
he does not recognize any rules. He makes rules as he goes along.
is cold-blooded and vicious. He is the United States government.
the time came for them to close the door on Blacks again, it was done
a vengeance. They didn’t need Blacks anymore because domestic
was displaced with sprawling financial institutions that drained the
First, they flooded the inner cities with cocaine, making it
everyone to buy. Then, they used their money to help support the wars
CIA started. They created new laws and, in doing so, created a new
conduct. They dubbed it the “War on Drugs,” and the rapid
incarceration than followed was indication that they were winning.
city minorities were the targets. The new form of modern day slavery
prison labor in the federal, state, and local systems. To them, me,
and my organization had to be stopped by any means necessary.
Daniels is sitting in the courtroom. He is cool, calm, mellow,
never loses his composure. He understands the game because he has
it all of his life. When the trial began three months ago, he knew
the first day that the deck was set and he was in a no-win situation.
learned from the game that you had to accept the bitter with the
was now a pawn in someone else’s game.
Big Cat had tried to break him down and turn him into a rat. It is
for a man to claim that he stands on his morals and principles when
is on top, but when the trial is under way, that is when he is truly
is when it is brought to light whether he is one to cling to self or
to truth. “Don’t you ever disrespect me again. Bring it
on. Show me
you’ve got!” Sterling told the Big Cat.
judge walks into the courtroom and everyone is quiet as the man
his way to his desk. The clerk tells everyone to stand and that the
is in session. Sterling looks at his mother; he wanted so badly for
to come. She is saying her prayers. JoAnne is sitting next to her
her hand. She had begged Sterling to stop. Margie was sitting behind
with tears in her eyes. She had told Sterling that the Feds came to
asking about him. How did it come down to this?
Growing Up in the 60s
Ma Brooks was born in Marcella, Arkansas. Her mother, Arlene
was a hard-working woman who was married to Calvin Brooks. Arlene
her time raising her children—El C, Earl, Marlene, Bessie,
and Eddie Brooks. They all moved up north when they got grown, like
Blacks in the 50s, seeking better jobs and opportunity.
married Floyd Daniels and moved to Chicago in 1952. They had three
Elaine, and Kirby. She loved Floyd and thought the world of
but, like most Black men, he left her and the children and moved to
with a promise that he would come back. It was hard on her, but she
from her mother to work hard and raise her children. She later gave
Sterling, Michael, and Sandra.
in the projects was hard, and having to raise six children while
a job didn’t make it any easier, but with help from her mother
she did a very
job. She loved her children and made sure that they went to school
out of trouble. She never had men lying around the house, and always
sure that the children were eating right.
was born on June 11, 1954. Being raised by a queen without a king in
my brothers and me never knew how a king truly performs. Even though
mother did the best a woman can do, she couldn’t change the
fact that a
can’t raise a king. So I had to find a way to learn how to
become a man.
was raised out of emotions and feelings, which are a woman’s
If raised by a father, I would have had someone who could groom me to
and regulate with the firmness to hold and accept the
responsibilities of my
I would have lived by the rules instead of feelings and emotions. Be-
once a man gets caught up in his feelings and emotions, he is at his
he loses his greatest strength: his ability to hold firm. A woman is
at her best
she is arguing or making love, because those are feelings and
don’t fuss or argue. They do as they are governed by rules and
when a heated situation occurs, he is already prepared because he
takes. Men sit down and think. They discuss and reason out
when my brothers and I were shorties (young), I would take them to
in Chicago. That’s where everyone that was about something in
out. You know, in the ‘60s Blacks did not have the
opportunities we have
Like the game of chess or the game of pool, history plays a large
talking about our people as a whole. In every Black community there
households run by strong Black women, which is cool, but it is our
and not the plan of God.
in the Game
heroes in the ‘60s were Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, Wilt
so on. There were few Black lawyers, doctors, and politicians. Martin
Jr. was still marching to help us get equal rights. So coming to 47th
seeing the pimps, hoes, pickpockets, thieves and every hustler in the
something that most Black children looked up to.
I was about 10-years-old, I would sneak out of the house taking my
8-year-old brother with me. We would walk around and check out the
He and I were different from our older brothers and sisters. We were
Black families call the bad seeds. You know it’s hard for a
mother to raise
children in the inner city in the 60s. So she would send us to
every summer to stay with our first cousins and her sister Johnny
She would never let me and Michael go down south to Arkansas to visit
she always said the white folks would hurt us down there.
and I started going to the Milwaukee Boys Club, on 15th
our two cousins Larry and Ronnie. We played pool and swam, but all
kids in Milwaukee were there. So to get the respect we wanted, my
I made most of the kids from our neighborhood come to the club, so
we were the baddest cats there.
nine-years-old, I learned to shoot pool. I was so good by the age of
I won every pool tournament and had every trophy given out by the
day my mother brought me some Brogans shoes and blue jeans. I was
years of age. I told my mother I didn’t like wearing blue jeans
She said, “Boy you better get yourself a job if you want to
wear what you
That day I decided I was going to make my own money.
year was 1966 and that’s when I grew from a boy to a man. I
my brother with his paper route for two years. I also helped him with
jobs and so on. He was the oldest of my brothers, which made him the
figure in our home. We all loved our mother, but he was extra close
would give all of his earnings to her.
mother always believed in us getting a good education. So we all did
well in school and got good grades. But my brother Lloyd was getting
and other kinds of trouble, so my mother sent him to Job Corps when
fifteen. I missed him because he always kept me with a few ends to
on. At the Corps, he learned several trades so when he came home he
good job and helped mama with the bills.
was going to school every day, getting good grades, but I still kept
47th Street watching the players, hustlers, pimps, and hoes getting
They were the role models of every Black community in the sixties.
what I could tell, the dudes wanted to be players and the women want-
to be hoes. Women’s liberation was just beginning, so women
didn’t have too
opportunities to make money. They were either housewives or hoes.
streets had rules and codes that you had to follow. I stopped hanging
in the 60s
my younger brother and cousins. I told them “I’m not
going to keep fighting
gang banging because it wasn’t putting paper in my pocket. I
with the younger players and gamblers instead. I was a young pool
older players in Milwaukee were staking (betting on) me in the pool
weekend I would catch the Greyhound bus from Chicago to Milwaukee.
price then was only $11 for a round trip.
mother remarried and we moved from the low-end numbered streets to
100 South blocks, when I was 16-years-old. She sent my brother and me
Milwaukee to stay until she got settled. All of her children were now
brother Kirby went to the Navy; my older sister Elaine got married
to Milwaukee with her husband. My younger sister moved to Milwaukee
started staying with my grandmother. My mother married James Garner,
was from the west side. They knew each other from the South as kids.
was ‘69 and back then living in the 100s in Chicago was living
them the “upper tier” niggers. I didn’t want to
have nothing with living
because you had whites and blacks living together. I was glad to live
because it was right where the action was. I started getting my
was 14-years-old when I started hanging out atAuer Avenue playground
Milwaukee. I gambled and played basketball from 9 am until 9 pm. Then
go to the pool hall.Auer Avenue playground was where every young hus-
and thug came to play. My first time gambling, I was doing well and
a few ends. I didn’t know it then, but they didn’t like
That was when I met Ervin. He was the dude known for taking money.
was a nice sunny day in July, and there were about twelve guys
two different crap games. A shorty named Short Dog was on the lookout
man (cops). The winners always threw him a bone (dollar) or two. I
“four, five, six!” and it was in my bank. I had $50 in
the bank. By now,
usually kept a switchblade in my boots, but I had left it at the crib
that day. The
had been running us off the playground a lot lately. They liked
guys left behind when they were running. I didn’t want to get
were about five or six guys getting down, so it was hard for me to
everyone, so I paid Joe Mack to watch my line. I had been making a
all week. I built up my bankroll to $300. I only brought $25 with me
because there were a lot of greasy dudes hanging around hoping to
slipping. They saw my brother and me put our work in on three dudes
the basketball court, so most of them knew I didn’t mind or
would not tremble
was on a roll and I noticed the tension in the air. I got a little
a few guys eased away from the game. I looked around at Short Dog to
the man was around. I nodded to him and he nodded back. My eyes went
tall slim dude who was watching me for a while. Everybody was calling
Erv. He asked El Roy “what was up.” El Roy said
everything was cool and
him where he had been. He said he had been in the joint for a year
looking for some action.
Erv was a big robust dude. He was about my age but he looked a lot
I could tell that he had been in a lot of battles by his ancient
looking face. He
dark slacks with a colorful short-sleeved T-shirt. I could tell that
a lot. He looked at me. He had an immaculate thin mustache. “What’s
you and why are you gambling in my hood?” His voice was bulldog
a cold-hearted expression cast of cement.
didn’t know, I had to ask a nigga for permission to gamble with
was nervous because I didn’t have my blade and I was by myself.
with bouncing eyes to see if he had a piece or something, but one
in the Game
brothers always taught us was never to let anyone see fear in you. I
“Nigga, I’m not giving you a dime. So what’s up?”
moved out of the way. Big Erv rubbed his chin.
I’m going to whip the shit out of you.”
put his fists up. Mine went right up too. “Let’s go
bet he is
ass kicking wasn’t shit to me. I had four brothers that I
day. After he and I got through with this shit, I might get an ass
I got home.
Erv stopped. “Nigga, I was just trying to see if you had any
cool my man. What’s your name?”
Chi and I been kicking it off and on in Milwaukee since I was seven.”
told me he lived around the corner on 23rd and Hopkins St. He said I
come kick it because he liked my style and we could make a lot of
dapped. “What we all standing around for? Let’s get live
and get these
rolling.” I walked to Erv’s after I got finished. He
stayed in a one family
house; the block was crowded with little kids playing and families
out, smoking joints, and drinking and kicking the bobo.
St. was one of the livest areas in the Brew City. You had bars on
corner, pool halls, restaurants and Auer Ave.. playground. They had
coming through there than any outdoor spot around. I walked up to the
looked around, and saw that the grass looked like it hadn’t
been cut in
But, it was one of the few houses that even had grass. The other
were all dirt.
could hear James Brown’s I
Got the Feeling being
blasted. The smell of
was so strong that I almost got a contact high from just standing
was only one thing that was looking good in the hood, and that was
68’ Cadillac Sedan Deville, a drop-top T-Bird that looked like
maybe a 63’
in good condition.
I walked up the steps and got to the door, I rang the bell once but
responded. A woman next door, nice looking in a red miniskirt, and a
was showing a lot of skin. She had titties that would shame Pam
up baby, you looking for one of the Brushaw brothers? If so, you
to go to the back of the stairs because his old girl never answers
thanked her and strolled to the back where I saw the paint peeling
off an old
garage door. I saw the steps and at the top was a door that looked
open. I walked up the steps and knocked a couple of times. This dude,
like Erv, was sitting on a couch with a girl who looked about 12 or
“Push the door and come in,” she said.
up, is Big Erv here?” The guy on the couch told me he was in
room. I stood by until he said it was cool.
a while, he said, “Hey man, you can go in there.” I
strutted in the back
Erv sitting at a table with a blanket on it. He was playing cards
dudes. One of the cats looked like he could be a younger brother,
looked about 15 or 16, and the other one I recognized from the
name was Trent Taylor. He was dark-skinned and with a beard and a
he looked older than me. He always dressed nice too.
other one was El Roy. He dressed slick. He always wore black silk
two-toned pants—dark brown and light brown with some black
El Roy was one of the ugliest guys I had ever seen. He was
a big, wide nose to go with his big head. His skin was so bad that it
a Nestle Crunch Bar. He was tall, heavy set, and his mouthpiece was
he could sell honey to bees.
Erv looked up and said, “What’s up Sterling Daniels?”
cool. I see you kicking it.” He was just playing some $1 two-
He introduced me to El Roy, Trent, and his younger brother Franky T.
said, “That’s my man from the Chi, the dude I told ya I
met earlier today at
did he know my last name was Daniels? I
just kicked back and watched
fellows play. I could see El Roy and Erv were playing together. After
done, the players left and Erv and me kicked it. He told me that he
guys in the joint that knew my brother and me from the Boys Club
how you knew my last name.”
right, and I know you are straight and got a lot of heart. That’s
can make money together.”
found out that Erv and I had some similarities. Erv was raised
without a fa-
like most Blacks during the 60s. Erv had an older brother named Earl
sister named Josephine. He also had four younger siblings named
Jimbo, Jaime, and Sheba. Earl stayed in Rockford, IL. Josephine
east side of Milwaukee. Erv, Jimbo, Franky T., Jaime and Sheba stayed
with their mother. Erv, Jimbo and Franky T. stayed upstairs while the
ones Sheba, and Jamie, stayed downstairs. Erv’s mother worked
day and never came upstairs. Erv and Jimbo spent most of their youth
detention facilities. Nobody in their family spent time going to
told me he heard I had a good pool game. “It’s all
go to the pool hall on 25th and Hopkins.” We walked down the
I could see why Hopkins St. was so alive. I saw beautiful Cadillacs
music blasting out of every bar. We arrived at the pool hall. It was
the street from AO Smith on 27th and Hopkins. AO Smith was a big fac-
that ran from 27th and Hopkins up to 35th and Hopkins. It was the
in Milwaukee and most of the guys that worked there hung out at the
Hopkins. We walked in the small joint with three pool tables and a
an old man with a greyhound dog sitting by him; the dog looked as old
I saw this one guy that looked about 25-year-old dressed in a
shooting pool with an older guy, who was maybe in his mid 50s,
jeans and a black silk shirt.
Heard It Through the Grapevine was
playing. So Erv and
shot a few games of pool and kicked it, talking about gambling and
him I stayed with my aunt on 21st and Locust St. just for the summer
mother got settled with her husband in Chicago. We shot a few more
left the scene. When I arrived at the crib, my aunt Johnny Mae told
and me that my mother wanted us to return Chicago to get registered
1970s had arrived and the Blacks had more opportunities. Jobs were
and welfare was paying good—the more kids a woman had, the more
she got. Dr. King marched to Washington with a dream, but got killed
he saw the dream happen in the ‘70s. Blacks were living better
had in America. President Richard Nixon was in office and money was
my brother and me moved back to Chicago, my mother explained to
that we had to follow the rules that were set by our stepfather,
was dark-skinned, maybe 6-feet-tall, very fat, and a nice grade of
was also from Marcello, Arkansas and knew my mother from there.
in Marcello knew each other. He moved to Chicago in the ‘50s
the west side most of his life. He worked at a sewage company for 20
had four children—Kenny, Jimmy, Sue, and Catherine. James knew
a lot of
and in those days in Chicago, you could get what you wanted if you
the right price.
older brother Lloyd had a good job. He was working as an engineer for
Gardens Homes. Like I said, everything has a price. He got this job
The Gardens was one of the toughest projects in Chicago. It was on
in the upper 100s. James’ children stayed with their mother on
Ada St. We stayed on 113th
Wallace St. Our house was tan brown with
siding, sun porch, and a large driveway.
brick houses on the block all looked the same. Fenger High School was
the corner of 112th
Wallace St. and around the corner, on Union St., was
beautiful houses. Less than three miles away, there was a small golf
Halsted St. My mother had come a long way from the projects to living
Jeffersons in the 100s. When we walked into the house, the inside
big green plants with a couch and two chairs and a table.
entered into the living room, which was beautiful with
carpet, many pretty flowers, mirrors, and furniture that looked so
like what I had seen on TV. It had two bedrooms with a living room,
room. Then further in the house were a bathroom and the kitchen. And
the master bedroom and another lounging area sat in the back with a
chairs, tables, more plants, and a TV.
the steps, in what used to be the basement before my brother remod-
it was now another beautiful lounging area, another bathroom, shower,
large bedroom. It also had a laundry room with a washer and dryer. My
happy and it made me feel good to see my mother in this position. I
and he was a nice family guy who tried to act like he was hip.
in the Game
stepfather showed us around the house and then she took us to our
Michael got the bedroom near the dining room and I got the one that
downstairs with my older brother Lloyd. My brother Kirby had enrolled
Navy and my oldest sister Elaine married and moved to Milwaukee and
sister moved with my grandmother in Milwaukee.
couldn’t wait ‘til the morning to check out my new ‘hood.
Most of my
from the low end were in the joint. I had me a $250 bankroll so I
My brother and me kicked it with James, who was a hip square and
trying to impress us. James’ children came over. One of his
boys named Ken
about the same age as Lloyd, but had a young mindset. He had a
skin, was about 5’10” and favored Isaac Hayes with short
nappy hair. His
Susie was my age, tall, about five feet nine inches, brown skin, big
bad looking, with a big, wide flat butt.
other son Jason was brown skinned, about a year younger than Michael,
than me, about 6’5”(I was now 6’3” and a
half), and everyone said that we
alike. Jason was also a lot smarter than Kenny or Sue.
all liked me because I could kick it with anybody. I also wanted to
what was happening and since they were squares, I had to play the
Ken told me that they had a pool table at his crib, so we went by
pool, smoke weed, and drink beer. Ken and Lloyd drank that Wild
because I really wasn’t a drinker.
was all over me. While we were kicking it, she asked about going to
I told her it would be cool if we went to the movies later. But when
home, my mother was a little upset at me. She warned me about Sue
she ain’t nothing. What she didn’t understand was that I
wasn’t into her any-
She was too slow for me. I wanted a fast woman. So the next day we
the movies and kicked it about a lot of square stuff. I was bored and
wait for the movie to end. The next day, I walked through the ‘hood.
High School and nice houses everywhere. I was hoping I might come
with a woman with some money around here. It wasn’t nothing
around. Everybody was a square.
could see that my stepfather wasn’t comfortable with Michael
and me. He
complained about one thing after another.
was cool with Lloyd because Lloyd made more money than he did being
engineer at the Gardens. He said it was a lot of action there, but
it was a housing project right off the highway. They had two police
there, but the closest police station was several miles away. The
like a small town in the middle of the highway. He knew a lot of
and all the guys working as engineers carried their pistol.
brother had a .38. He had to empty his clip one day because he had to
into the basement of one of the buildings to deal with the furnace.
turn on the lights but they were out. So he fired a few shots before
to switch the lights and fix the problem. He said a few days ago one
got beat with a hammer and got his money taken.
also had a few women around there he was banging. One of his women
a card game every Friday night. He told me I could come with him and
tonk with the women. They didn’t mind me playing because I was
they figured that I didn’t know anything. It was cool, but it
was a hard grind
two of the women were playing together. My ends were getting low and
was opening from summer vacation soon. So I needed some ends to stock
asked my mother if I could go to Milwaukee to visit my aunt and
I started school. She gave me her usual speech, telling me to be
to stay out of trouble. My brother dropped me off on 95th
State St. at
El station and I rode from the El to the Greyhound and was on my way
Brew City. I heard that my uncle Jim got a restaurant. I knew it had
Uncle Jim was my grandmother’s brother. We used to call him
while my mother was pregnant with me he went to the joint for murder.
always drove black Cadillacs and changed them every five years. I was
his 1960 Cadillac because it reminded me of the bat mobile that
He had a ‘65 and it was close to ‘71, so I knew that it
was almost time for
to get a new one. I never talked about gambling with him, but I knew
of the best. The old guys who staked me shooting pool used to always
how good he was.
nickname was Tap Out because he always tapped out all the money.
was one of the three boss games in the streets, and I wanted to learn
Tap Out was one of the best in the country. The streets have a lot of
everyone is skilled, and you pay your dues learning them. You have
are petty and never advance, but then you have the professionals who
because every game has its rules and regulations. There are codes to
and the number one rule is never be a snitch and to learn to accept
with the sweet. Then you had the stickup man and so on, but the three
were gambling, pimping, and dope selling.
you master all three of them you are a Boss Player. When I was com-
up in the ‘60s, if you were Black you either worked at a
factory 9 to 5 or, if
were lucky, you could play sports, which were few because all Blacks
athletes. If you weren’t getting enough finance, however, you
the only way for me to escape the ghetto life was through the
wanted to be the best. If Blacks would have had equal opportunity
could have had other goals in life. Everything that we have to go
designed. If you have been taught for 400 years that two plus two
and if I tell you that it equals four then you will laugh at me, but
without faith is like a ship without water. That’s why people
when he built a ship and there was no water. But he knew what the
know. See, I knew I was a boy mastering the ways of a man. God gave
two ears and one mouth so that we could listen more than we speak.
only one thing that God can’t do, and that’s become lower
than man himself.
in our greatest distress, division and fragmentation we are part of
folks before knew this, and they didn’t just ride over here
had to survive in a ship like sardines. They were beaten, tortured,
families, their rituals, their mother tongue—the drum, and even
the pick we
to comb our hair was seen as a weapon. Regardless, they survived.
what, it’s clear that there is an indisputable force that
supports life. We
it God, Allah, Jehovah, Divine Order, it’s the breath of life
within each of us;
the love that’s beating in our hearts, breathing as us. It is
the created energy
present at the same time. This is the mystery of existence.
founding fathers of the United States of America designed the
and laws are similar to the Roman Empire. So when the Constitution
were made, Blacks were still slaves. So the Constitution and laws
for Blacks. In the ‘60s, when I was growing up, Whites and
were segregated. Whites in the south were more straightforward with
stuck to their old ways. Whites in the north did what my mother
throwing stones then hiding their hands behind their backs.
cities in the northern cities in America had Black families that
the inner city, which were ghettos or hellholes. The Romans did the
to the Jews, separated them and put them in a hellhole. They
them, treating them less than a man. So if you design a system to
group of poor people in one area, and discriminate against them, this
I had no role models to look up to like doctors, lawyers, or
only escape from the ghetto I could see was the streets. That is
where I took
to and wanted to be the best.
Out: Learning the Gambling Game
sun was shining when I arrived in Milwaukee at 6:45 pm. I went to the
expensive eating spot in the station and ordered a burger and fries.
was now down to $192. I called my mother to let her know I arrived
also called my sister Elaine and asked her how she was doing. She was
talkative mood and I enjoyed our conversation.
asked me to come by later. When I finished, I called my aunt Johnny
and told her to tell Larry I was there and that I would be by in
about an hour.
didn’t want to catch a cab because that would nibble more money
I called my sister back and hollered at her husband Leonard to pick
said he would be right there. Leonard was from Kansas City, Kansas.
skinned, about 6 feet and 200lbs. He was 10 years older than me and
with me, because I didn’t mind babysitting while he and my
sister went out.
night, when I was baby-sitting, he and my sister came home and got
a bad argument. It got a little physical, but I kept my cool and
didn’t want to
So I called the man (police) and they settled the situation. He
me for not overreacting. I am a very protective man when anyone
family. “You both had me on the spot, and so I had to do what I
best in that situation,” I told him.
pulled up in his ‘66 Brown Sedan Deville Cadillac, with a straw
black slacks, and a blue silk shirt. He was leaning with a joint in
jamming on a Cisco Kid eight-track tape. He loved to impress me, and
didn’t know him you would think he was a player.
put my bag in the back and got in the ride. “What’s up?
When did you come
with this slick ride?”
I finally got settlement from my car accident.”
asked me how I liked my new stepfather. I said he was cool with me
my mother was happy, and that meant a lot to me. “He’s
cheap, but you
me; I hold my own. That’s why I’m here to try to shoot a
little pool and
me a few ends to get me some clothes for school.”
passed me the joint. I pulled and coughed. “This must be some
you need is half of this and it’ll keep you high for hours,”
told him all I needed was a few pulls because I had to be straight in
into some action. So Leonard and me cruised around the city checking
women and listening to Get
WAR. We were riding down 3rd St.
is the ho stroll. I needed me a down ho and I could get rich. I
asked Leonard where uncle Jim’s restaurant was. He said the
joint was on
in the Game
and North Ave. He had been there a few times. I asked him if he could
off there because I had a few words to kick with Tap. He said that’s
had to call him at home when I was ready to leave because he had to
cruised down North Ave. and I saw a lot of businesses and bars on
must be another ho stroll. We
rode past Sears and I saw Tap Out’s
Cadillac parked by the restaurant on the corner of 25th and North
in right behind Tap’s. I got out and told Leonard that I would
and to tell Elaine to call my aunt Johnny Mae and tell her that I was
walked to the door and little did I know that this would be the day
forever change my life. I looked in the door and saw uncle Jim
counter with another dude. Jim was dressed like most players back in
pants with suspenders, brown T-shirt with a suit jacket, and black
Adams. He was dark-skinned, had a bald shiny head that matched the
of his shoes.
guy sitting next to him was about his age and brown-skinned. He had
with lots of gray, and a gray beard. He had on blue jeans, a slick
shoes. Behind the counter was a cute redbone, around 40-years-old
eyes and strong lines in her face, like her life hadn’t been
easy. The place
clean with five table and four chairs. It has red and white
the red and white curtains. The woman’s outfit was even red and
A jukebox stood in the corner, and behind the counter I could see
candy bars, and, an ice-cream freezer. The counter had about ten
it. It didn’t look like your average soul food restaurant. It
was clean, neat,
was dressed in my green knit pants, green short-sleeved shirt, with
shoes. I called this my paper chase outfit because it was all green,
money. I walked through the door and stepped onto the black and white
I walked to the counter. “How you doin’ uncle Jim?
doing fine, how are you?”
told him I was doing okay, and that I had just arrived. I let him
dropped me off. He asked about my mother and her husband and then
me to his friend Freddy as his business partner. He also introduced
to Wendy, the woman who was working behind the counter. He asked why
been coming to see him. He stood up and asked Freddy to excuse him,
going to go to the back and talk with his nephew.
got up and I followed him. I noticed that he had a slight limp, but
he looked to be in good shape. We walked to the back through the
He opened the curtains and walked through the back room where it had
room with two couches, a kitchen, and two bedrooms. There was also a
another jukebox, and a table with what looked like a pool table cloth
top of it. All of the windows had been boarded up block any light
sat down at the table and he told me, “Remember when I came by
and talked to you and your brothers? I said Lloyd was always going to
to his mother and have a good job; Kirby was going to be like his
be a bull talker; I said Michael was going to be like his father, a
I picked you out because you reminded me of myself. You don’t
blood in you. You have that Pippen blood. I believe the reason you
blood in you is because while your mother was pregnant with you, she
worried about me because I caught that murder case.”
explained to me how he caught his case. These guys were gambling with
mark. They were preying on him for the past few days. So when he came
and got in the game, the mark was real edgy and upset from losing all
He didn’t know they had been playing the mark all week or he
got in the game. While Tap was winning, the mark was raging and
he was cheating. Tap already had his .38 in hand under the table, so
mark went into his coat and showed his piece, my uncle Tap shot him
killed the mark.
though it was self-defense, Tap Out still got five years for it. I
the reason I had come to see him was because I wanted him to teach me
I want you to know that the game is not free. It is like the old
game is to be sold not told.’ You are my nephew, my blood, but
I need you
understand one thing about me, I have to charge for my lessons and
pay your dues. I live and die by the game and I don’t go for
anyone to cross
kin or not.”
running down some of the things that he had to go through, he said
biggest mistake was never going to school to learn to read and write.
of his education from the streets. He said gambling was like being an
better you act the more money you made. The game never changed, only
true game is always the same, no matter what city, state, or country.
you know the game, you can take it anywhere. And never expose a
told me, if a player gambled with me, he would take every penny in my
because I knew just enough to keep me broke. He ran it down to me
top player in Milwaukee from Grease, Big Kay, Jim Danny, Poor Percy,
the number one player Pee Wee Ferguson.
said me and my brother’s daddy was all right, but he was more
and his temper always kept him in trouble. He said he turned Pee Wee
when he was a little shorty like me. He said never give anyone
then they won’t need you anymore. So he asked me what was my
and I told him that my hustle was pool. He asked me how many balls I
in the Game
run. I told him if I busted the balls and I missed, the other person
chance to run the table or else I would win.
you shoot one round pool,” he said.
be a good hustler you got to be able to play the mark in whatever
wanted to play,” he said. “You had to be good with cards,
dice, and pool be-
then the mark can’t get away from you. You would make more
can win in every game.”
told me I dressed slick, but that when he was through schooling me,
going to want me to dress casual but always look like money. “You
slick or talk slick because you want to look like a mark with money.
Wee, but I never gave him everything. He used to watch me and his dad
uncle. We schooled him so that we could use him to catch marks that
to play us. He was only 15-years-old, so they figured he didn’t
so we put him in on the play.”
know how the game goes, once a person figures he doesn’t need
they leave. Jim told me how Pee Wee went on his own.
can be sharper than Pee Wee because you got that look and you are
When you learn to play you will use those gifts to your advantage.
have gamblers and you have hustlers. The difference is a gambler is
habit; he is going to gamble without any control or sense. A hustler
like it is a job; which it is when you’re hustling.
only bet when they have the edge, because once you learn the
you’re not getting lucky anymore. Players don’t do no
when you’re shooting pool. Always know you are better because
the money. That’s the way you will always keep a bankroll.
be greedy. Don’t try to make all the money and give to the
that is who takes care of you. Never cross your partner and never
out for small stakes because it will cost you. A square gambles hard
hard when his money is short. This is what I’m going to teach
you. It is
to be with you as long as you live.”
looked at me with an ice-cold stare and studied me. He spoke in a
tone. “Sterling, I’m going to teach you everything I
know. This is some-
that I wouldn’t do for anyone. I’m getting old and you
are coming up, but
you ever cross me, I promise it will be your last. So the deal is I’m
half of everything you make from this day on. I don’t care
where, but I want
I want my cut.”
Jim, it’s a deal.”
know you will be a fast learner because it is in your blood and you
Tap then took me downstairs and taught me the game from A to Z, and
was right; in three hours I was ready to make moves in the field. He
tonight and asked me to hang around. I called my aunt Johnny Mae and
her that uncle Jim wanted me to help him out at the restaurant and
that I was
to spend the night there. We went up front and I ordered a chicken
introduced me again to Freddy and told him I was ready to go in the
Freddy looked at me and smiled. “Tap, You got a gold mine here
if he can
He’s got that mark look.”
worked with him,” said Tap. “He catches on fast and he
has good in-
We’re going to work with him this weekend and smooth out some
and I kicked it and he put me up on how to play the marks tonight. He
that when the bars close, that’s when the crowds arrived. He
asked me what
my bank. I told him I was sitting on $150. He went in his pocket and
this bankroll. It’s $500. You need to impress the marks.
They’re going to
to play you because you are young and they feel you don’t have
have. The way to handle your average mark is to always agree with him
your average mark always wants to be right. So if you tell him that
you will be his friend. You know a square is cool because he knows
is and that makes him very easy to hustle. The worst one is the slick
thinks he is hip. He can be handled if you are able to read him
because he is
and just in the way. We sell liquor in soda cans when the bar is
the marks time to get good and high before you talk about gambling.
my lead and I’ll put you up on the victims.”
I kicked back and put some coins in the jukebox. I listened to Marvin
and Curtis Mayfield tunes until the show began. I was only
I had more knowledge in this game than some of the best in the
always been cocky and confident, so now with the skills and knowledge
given me I was ready.
crowd arrived. If an Oscar had been given for that day I would have
it. I began the night helping Wendy serve the customers. We had empty
cans that we put half-pints of liquor and beer into for the ones who
drink. I was kicking it and talking jive with some of the marks and
high I flashed the bankroll. We all went to the back and played some
stayed up front because people knew his rep. It was an older group
and over. They were loud and crazy. Every one was trying to beat me
so I was
them slowly but surely. I have never dreamed that money was this easy
make. When the night was over and the crowd thinned down, Tap,
I went to the back and counted the winnings. I counted out $1,600. It
money I had ever made in my life and I knew there was a lot more to
was on cloud nine. We split it three ways, which gave me $500. Tap
I did good, but I still needed a lot of practice. He told me to go in
and get some rest and he’d talk with me in the morning. My legs
standing all night, so I slowly walked to the back and toward the
in the Game