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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 18)

CA: I always wondered why you don't just move the line up or down a half a point, so somebody has to win and somebody has to lose?
Pete: Well, because there are certain numbers that you don't want to fool around with, because we could get something we call middled or sided. The numbers 3, 7 or 10 are very dominant in football the way the scoring works. So, if the game opens up at where 7 or 3 is the top number, you don't want to fool around with it, because usually a lot of games come down to the field goal. And you don't want to fool with that number because if you use a 3 and they laid the 3 and then you move it to 3 1/2 and then they take the 3 1/2, if the spread falls on 3, we don't collect from the push. And we pay. That's called siding. You could also go higher and get middled. Middled is when you pay both parties. You move your line so high, that you have people laying it and people taking it. They don't care. But I care, I care very much, because we're not in business to lose on both sides.

CA: Is there one oddsmaker in Vegas or elsewhere that is considered the top guy in the field?
Pete: There used to be a fellow called Bob Martin, and everybody respected him. Today there's Roxy Roxburough.

CA: What happened to Bob Martin?
Pete: You know I really don't know. He either retired or died, or...

CA: Or he gave a bad line. [Laughter]
Pete: No. When he made a bet, that line moved two points when he bet on the game.

CA: He was a bookmaker?
Pete: He was an oddsmaker, but he also played, and when he bet, two points automatic.

CA: Do you know who the major players are every weekend and how much they are betting?
Pete: Absolutely. There are certain crews that go around. But I don't want to mention their names.

CA: How much does a major hitter bet on a weekend?
Pete: Well, there are certain crews that bet $200,000 a game.

CA: What do you mean, "crews"?
Pete: They call them crews; they are groups of guys. I don't know if they have computerized material, which I think everybody does today, and they have an insight that the public doesn't have.

CA: You mentioned the Dominican Republic. It's become a major gambling center, hasn't it?
Pete: Absolutely, and it's completely legitimate. But it's a mask also for doing business outside the United States. It's legal. You can call from the United States, and the legal system can't do anything about it. But I've heard--now this is hearsay--that they've complained to the authorities, and the authorities went to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court said, "Listen, we have enough problems."

CA: In Cigar Aficionado we have ads periodically from guys who are overseas who allow you to use credit cards to bet, and they'll give you odds in football, basketball or whatever?
Pete: That's correct. The odds are coming out of Las Vegas; they use the same odds, same structure as Las Vegas. It's completely legal, completely legitimate.

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