When a Bloomington author realized his name wasn’t going to sell copies of his first book, he decided he was better off writing under a pseudonym.
And with that, “Mr. Lucky” was born. For the most part, the name is ironic.
“I thought it would be funny,” author Scott Cumberland said of the handle by which he refers to himself in the pages of “Loser.” The book chronicles the Bloomington resident’s experiences and observations during years spent as a recreational gambler at local casinos.
“It’s a collection of humorous stories and anecdotes from years of going to casinos,” he said
At times, Cumberland portrays Mr. Lucky as an idiot, and that’s exactly what he intended when describing books Mr. Lucky has purchased, books that promise to provide inside information and strategies for casino gambling success. Mr. Lucky is quick to refute the wisdom and strategy behind the books, loathing the success of those who produce the books while secretly wishing he could find a way to cash in by doing the same thing.
Mr. Lucky has also been known to help out a down-and-out gambler occasionally. He once gave $5 to a guy who said he was a veteran, lost his bankroll and wanted to enjoy a beer while waiting an hour for his casino bus to take him home. Mr. Lucky gave the guy $5, only to be hit up by the same guy an hour later, telling the same story.
There are plenty of tales of tough luck, as well. Mr. Lucky has given up trying to win at a slot machine, moved to another machine and watched a new player hit a big payout on Mr. Lucky’s former machine within minutes. “I’m the most unlucky person in the world,” according to Cumberland.
The book, however, is not simply tales of woe. He recounts the many odd characters and circumstances he has witnessed during his trips to local casinos, and acknowledges that he occasionally walks away a winner. It’s a rare day when a video poker player hits the big payoff, a royal flush, and Mr. Lucky once made a royal flush twice in the same night. Of course he hasn’t seen a royal flush in the years since that night, Cumberland noted. His tales and observations are the types of things casino regulars, particularly employees, can relate to, Cumberland said. And for those who don’t frequent a casino, Cumberland paints a vivid picture of the personalities that are drawn to the 24-hour world of casino gambling.
Most of the stories originate from Minnesota casinos. He has visited Las Vegas occasionally, but it has never been a regular destination. He doesn’t identify any one casino in chronicling Mr. Lucky’s exploits, as the location generally has no relevance to the stories he recounts, he explained.
Cumberland is a retired payroll employee of the U.S. Postal Service. He estimates that during many weeks of his life during the past three decades, he has visited a casino twice per week.
Two years ago he was reflecting upon the crazy moments he has witnessed during his casino visits and surmised he had enough content for a book. He jotted down every idea he had on a note card, then grouped the ideas and began writing the stories behind the cards in each group. He started the book prior to the coronavirus pandemic, during which he took a hiatus from his casino visits, he noted.
The end result wasn’t as robust as he anticipated, and he avoided writing multi-page dissertations on morality and personal choices. His stories read like a gambling blog, except within the cover of a book.
Never having written a book, Cumberland began researching avenues to turn his writing into a published product. He researched literary agents and submitted his draft to 10 agents. He received an acknowledgment, and pass, from four of them, which is four more responses than he expected.
He found book publishers through classified advertising, and published the book through Dorrance Publishing, a Pittsburgh company. Cumberland paid for editing, design, printing and distribution services, and receives a commission for books sold, both print editions and e-books.
The finished product was available in May. Unlike self-published books, where the author receives cases of product to sell, Cumberland received a small quantity for personal and promotional use. But much like a self-published book, he has responsibility for reaching out to audiences who would be interested in his stories, he explained.
Much like the publishing process, promotion is a new world for Cumberland, as well, and one he began navigating this summer, he noted.
Beyond promoting Mr. Lucky, Cumberland has ideas for a follow-up book. Anyone who visits a casino with some regularity has their own wild and wacky stories and observations, and Cumberland would like to edit those into a similar book. He provides an address to send such stories at the end of his book, promising to pay $50 per story that sees print.
The book is available through Amazon, and can be found online at tr.im/mrlucky.
Follow Bloomington community editor Mike Hanks on Twitter at @suncurrent and on Facebook at suncurrentcentral.