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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 3)

CA: Where do you get your lines?

Pete: Well, they usually come out of Las Vegas. But they come out of the Dominican Republic, too. Today, everybody has about the same prices.

CA: OK. But do you have one specific source for your line? Newspapers, for instance, will say their line is Sheridan or some name.

Pete: We never use the newspaper. Never. We use reputable linemakers, people whose business it is to make lines. Does the newspaper take a bet?

CA: What happens if you're coming up on the Super Bowl and you check four primary sources and there's a disparity in the lines? What if one line is minus six and the other is minus nine?

Pete: They are all usually very, very close. You start with a reputable line that you've done business with for years. You let your money dictate the price. If you start getting money on team A, you just move the price up, you encourage people to take side B.

CA: Is your goal as a bookmaker to have even money on both sides?

Pete: Absolutely.

CA: What happens when you're operating out of, let's say for argument's sake, Dallas. So you have a lot more fans that are rooting for and betting on Dallas. They are playing the Giants in New Jersey, and your book is, you have $50,000 on one side and $10,000 on the other side? What do you do? How do you even your book so that you don't have great exposure if Dallas wins?

Pete: I don't know of anybody who really gives anything away anymore to balance off. Everybody just holds what they have. In your scenario, it might be possible that this could happen in Dallas, because they are pretty educated bettors there. And they follow the services of some experts, the 800-telephone services. There's so much information available to the betting public, which is pretty accurate, so even if you are in Dallas, it doesn't mean that they are all going to bet on Dallas. The price dictates if they're going to bet on the home team. It's the same in California, New York, Atlanta.

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