Albert J. Adams

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Albert J. Adams
Born 1845
Died October 1, 1906
Ansonia Hotel
Occupation Numbers game
For the Anglican vicar, see Albert James Adams.

Albert J. Adams (1845 – October 1, 1906) was known as The Policy King and the Meanest Man in New York. He ran the numbers game in New York City from around 1890 to around 1905.


He was born in Massachusetts and lived in Rhode Island before he moved to New York City in 1871 as a brakeman for the railroad. He married Isabella (1840-?) and had six children: Albert J. Adams, Jr. (1870-?); Lawrence Adams (1874-?); Louis Adams (1875-?); Walter C. Adams (1877-?); Evelyn Adams (1879-?) aka Eveline Adams, who married a Napoleon; and Ida Adams (1874-?) or Claudia P. Adams. In 1880 he was living at 236 West 38th Street in Manhattan and he listed himself as a "segar dealer".[1][2]

He was named by the Lexow Committee, and was replaced by Peter H. Matthews when he retired. The anonymous testifier at the Lexow Committee in 1894 said: "[the principal policy backers in this city are] Al Adams. 'Jake' Shipsey, Cornelius B. Parker, 'Billy' Myers, 'Ed' Hogan, [and] Charles Lindauer. ...Al has the most ... sheets, and he is the biggest man, and has the most money, and has the biggest pile. ... He is called the king of the policy dealers. ... Al Adams has from Fourteenth street up on the west side mostly." After a 1901 raid on his gambling operation by F. Norton Goddard, the police estimated that he was making more than $1 million a year, and after his conviction in 1903 it was revealed that he had been allowed to stay at the Waldorf-Astoria until he was sentenced. He was sentenced on April 21, 1903, to "not less than a year and not more than one year and nine months" in Sing-Sing.

On April 5, 1904, his application for parole was denied by the New York State Board of Parole. The board members being C. V. Collins, the Superintendent of Prisons; State Treasurer John G. Wickser and president of the New York State Prison Commission John P. Jaeckel. This meant he was to stay in prison for the maximum time of the sentence.[3]

On October 8, 1905 he wrote to the New York Times that he had quit the policy racket forever.[4]

He committed suicide at the Ansonia Hotel in 1906 after losing several million dollars by investing in a business venture with his eldest son. The funeral was held at 471 West End, he was 61 years old.[5][6] His death did not end the policy racket in New York City.[7]


  1. ^ "Albert J. Adams in the 1880 US Census in Manhattan". 1880 US Census. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 
  2. ^ "Albert J. Adams in the 1900 US Census in Manhattan". 1900 US Census. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 
  3. ^ "No Parole for "Al" Adams. State Board Decides Against ex-Policy King's Application." (PDF). New York Times. April 6, 1904. Retrieved 2008-07-23. The Board of Parole to-day denied the application of ... 
  4. ^ Albert, Adams (October 8, 1905). ""Al" Adams Has Quit. Says He's Dropped Policy Forever and Would Forget Past Troubles." (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-23. To the editor of the New York Times: My attention has been called to the fact that my name has been extensively coupled with the recent policy raids in Brooklyn. I wish to ask your indulgence in denying the truth of such allegations. Let me say once and for all time, I am absolutely and forever out of politics, gambling policy and all kinds of lotteries. 
  5. ^ "McKim, Mead, and White". New York City Architecture. Retrieved 2008-07-23. The Billsons soon left, for in October 1906 the house was the scene of the funeral of Albert J. Adams, who had committed suicide at the Ansonia Hotel at Broadway and 73rd Street. The New York Times said that Adams, who had been living at No. 471, was better known as Al Adams, the Policy King. 
  6. ^ ""Al" Adams a Suicide, Following Misfortunes; Broken By Ill-health and Money Losses, He Shoots Himself. Sage & Co. Sank $2,000,000. He Also Felt Deeply The Disgrace Of Prison Sentence. Great Fortune Made In Policy Swindle." (PDF). New York Times. October 2, 1906. Retrieved 2008-07-23. "Al" Adams, known as the "Policy King," committed suicide yesterday morning by shooting himself. Members of his family and those in the apartment house who ... Standing before a mirror in his apartment on the fifteenth floor of the Ansonia apartment hotel, "Al" Adams, known as the "Policy King," committed suicide ... 
  7. ^ "Policy Ring Chiefs Confess to Judge. "Al" Adams's Successors Say Their Capture Frees New York of That Evil. Tell of $200 A Day Profits. Three Leaders Expect Light Sentences Because of Frankness in Revelations." (PDF). New York Times. December 2, 1915. Retrieved 2008-07-23. Three of four men who pleaded guilty to policy playing before Justice Weeks in the Criminal Branch of the Supreme Court yesterday were leaders in what has been called the only policy ring able to thrive here since the collapse of "Al" Adams's regime. From the remnants of Adams's operations they developed a syndicate with wide ramifications, which yesterday's procedure, according to Justice Weeks's own statement, completely wiped out of existence. 

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Preceded by
Zachariah Simmons
Policy racket in New York City
c. 1890–1905
Succeeded by
Peter H. Matthews