Mark Blumenthal

Another Tale of Hustling


Around 1970 the high stakes game played in Philadelphia’s Cavendish Club was three man auction pinochle. Bob Jordan dominated the game. I would say a night in which he won a thousand dollars might be disappointing to him. Norman Kay would play in it occasionally, but I think he preferred partnership pinoche which is very much like bridge.


For a while a man in his fifties whose name I don’t rember played in the game and also lost, of course. I’ll call him Phl. One ne night we happened to go out to dinner. He told me in the fifties he had lost a small fortune to John Crawford in bridge, pinochle and gin rummy. Crawford had been considered one of the best bridge players in the country at that time.Until he married a rich woman he made a living hustling.

One day Phil and Crawford were driving in the same car and passed a tennis court. Crawford suggested they hit a few balls. Unknown to Crawford Phil was a very good tennis player. As they vollied Phil told me he could tell Crawford was intentionally playing badly. For once, Phil, who had always been a mark, decided to hustle him and didn’t reveal how good he was. He let Crawford keep increasing creasing the stakes until they played for ten thousand dollars a game which Phil won In spite of that win Phil told me he lost a lot of money to Crawford.






Judy Kay-WolffNovember 27th, 2008 at 1:09 am

Mark — You have touched upon one of the most colorful bridge legends of this era. Johnny’s gambling was his forte and his suave manner and dapper persona were his trademark. Norman’s description of Crawford’s ‘habit’ left an indelible mark in my memory. Simply said — and straight to the point: “Crawford would bet on two cockroaches going across the floor.”

Karen AllisonDecember 2nd, 2009 at 1:08 am

Unfortunately in his last years, Crawford got his beautiful wife addicted to all the drugs he used and she died too young and no longer beautiful.

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