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The Secret Life Of A Bookie

Not All the Big Bets Are on Wall Street
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
James Woods, May/Jun 97

(continued from page 15)

CA: In your 25 years of handling bets, have there been a lot of fixes?
Pete: Very few, although they do exist.

CA: In any particular sport?
Pete: Could be anything.

CA: When was the last fix or just maybe a case where the odds were not what they should be?
Pete: That's a very good point, because the linemakers can put out a bad line and bet themselves, which the public doesn't know about.

CA: Well, sometimes you see a line, and you say, I don't understand this line based on past games.
Pete: No, no, that's not accurate. If you look at a line, you have to be able to read it. I mean, if a very strong team is a very low favorite against a very weak team, that's an indication that the other team is in the game. But mostly, when there's a fix or something, it's very close. When something goes wrong, it just goes around to everybody. They usually take the game off the board, meaning no one can bet on it. So the smart people who have it first, they make the money, but nobody else.

CA: Are there games that you won't take bets on, or will you take bets on any game that Vegas does?
Pete: Everybody uses the same schedule.

CA: Does that mean you more or less have an obligation to service your customer if he wants to bet this, that and the other?
Pete: Yeah, that's true. But some people will help you out, others won't. For instance, trotters isn't a very reputable sport today, so I don't do a lot with that.

CA: What about Belmont and the big feature races?
Pete: We get nice action on that, but only the major races.

CA: How about when Cigar was winning? Did many people bet on the races that Cigar was in?
Pete: No, because the prices are not going to pay very much. Some people don't want to put up two dollars to win 20 cents.

CA: In your 25 years, did you ever have a sure bet?
Pete: Yeah.

CA: Tell me about that.
Pete: I don't really know why, I don't know what it was about. I got a call one night, to go to a certain raceway, trotters, and bet four races. I went down there and bet every race. It looked like the parting of the Red Sea. I mean, you know it's incredible. It's just that the Red Sea parted and here comes Moses, right down the middle, and that happened for four races. They didn't pay very much, four twenty, five sixty, nothing more than six dollars.

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