Jean Scott is one of the most recognised names in gambling, specialising in developing strategies for frugal gamblers to keep having fun. Scott’s story is unique among her peers; she didn’t start gambling or even understand the construction of a standard deck of cards until her 30s.
Jean Scott’s father was a minister who strictly forbade gambling of all types. Other board games, though, were permitted and played very competitively in her home. Scott states that this is where she gained her competitive spirit.
Before her career officially began in gambling, she played small games at the Indianapolis Moose Lodge. Despite the hands being small, she outclassed her fellow players by such a great amount of skill that she ultimately was able to buy a condo in the city with the winnings alone.
Scott met her husband at the Lodge, and together they improved one another’s skills and continued to challenge one another. Scott’s core belief has always been that skill trumps luck in all things, so her work and play have both focused on building strategies that tip the odds in her favor.
Scott’s first visit to Las Vegas happened in 1984 as a purely recreational vacation with her husband. At this point, she had yet to develop any strategies for blackjack and simply focused on having a good time on the trip. Despite spending over $1k on the trip, Scott was pleased with her first venture into Vegas, and the city seems to have set its hooks in her.
Shortly after her trip, Scott was solicited with a partial comp offer in which a Vegas casino would give her three nights’ free stay with food included. She didn’t have the cash to handle another $1k loss, so she decided to lean into to mastering basic strategies before returning to Vegas. Scott took books from a public library on gambling, focusing on blackjack which was largely purported as the most strategic of the Vegas casino games.
Her second trip to Vegas was much more financially viable than the first trip. Using basic strategies, she was able to break even without even knowing how to count cards at the time. After returning from her second trip, she met a junket representative who sponsored a blackjack learning system for them and successfully convinced them to begin going on junket trips.
Despite being low spenders individually, the fact that Scott and her husband both played blackjack meant they were frequently offered benefits by major casinos. On these trips, Scott and her husband only focused on breaking even while enjoying incredible comp offers. Essentially, she was traveling and staying at the world’s best casinos for free.
At the cusp of the 90s, her husband retired from his long-time federal government position. Scott’s husband’s retirement allowed them to devote more time to gambling. A number of events caused them to pivot from blackjack to a game that was rising in popularity in the early 90s: video poker.
Junkets for blackjack were becoming less popular, and casinos were becoming more aggressive towards suspected card-counters. Scott claims that the deciding moment was a day in which her husband wandered away from an active game of blackjack without her realizing it until more than a half-hour later.
When she finally found him again, he was playing poker at the video machines, excited by how much more fun he was having than when playing high-pressure blackjack tables.
In the following days, Scott and her husband played video poker at the neighboring casino. Enjoying their time as complete beginners to a new format and game, Jean Scott continued her tradition of learning everything she could about her new game of choice.
She discovered a number of writers claiming that video poker could be strategically played. She dug into these writers’ works, walking to a Vegas bookstore to get her hands on the information. Using the strategies in a book by an author by the name of Lenny Frome, Scott began to play video poker strategically.
It was her husband who had the first win, reading the book on her suggestion while she took a break in her hotel room. He won with his first royal flush that day. They each won another royal flush for huge prizes the following years.
By the end of the 90s, Scott had 47 winning royal flushes and her husband had 94. Through the 90s and 00s, Scott’s husband played much more than her as she took on a more strategic and organizational role in their gambling careers.
During this time, they were spending months at a time for free in Las Vegas, and they decided the best option was to purchase a property in Vegas so that they could play casino properties with a strategy that prioritized cash winnings instead of comp offers.
In the years after their move to Vegas, they never had a year of losses playing video poker. They were always making money, sometimes in the range of five figures just in video poker winnings. According to Jean Scott, their winnings calculations never included the seemingly countless comp deals they received which included food, rooms, and even luxury gift items.
Scott does not identify herself as a professional gambler, since she makes most of her income from her books and her husband makes most of his income from his pension.
Scott has written multiple books in her Frugal Gambling series, including guides to effectively handling taxes, gameplay, and choice of casino. Despite not identifying as a professional gambler herself, she is considered to be one of the most experienced and knowledgeable voices on video poker in the United States.