Our last blog post told you pretty much how I got involved in this crazy career I’m into. Like Frank Sinatra said, “I did it My Way” and wouldn’t change much of anything to be honest. Oh maybe a few things could have been started sooner, like money management and learning it’s best to wait for a good wagering opportunity instead of chasing wagers. But the good thing is I learned and boy did I. But it really all came to together when I met my bookmaker, or “bookie” as they are called today.
You’ll hear me often call a bookmaker or bookie your “neighborhood friend”. The guy you may meet a few days a week at the bowling alley or pool hall. Sometimes at the local shopping mall. If you are serious about this business he’s one guy you need to have in your speed dial contact list and let me tell you why.
Simply put, you can wager on credit. Now to many people this probably isn’t a good thing. Some gamblers don’t know how to manage a bankroll and will chase bad bets. But if you are a seasoned veteran, you’ll need one. I will not and refuse to open an on-line account unless it’s an absolute necessity. Why? Because I don’t want any government agency having any of my banking information and wagering history in their hands. Too many offshore accounts have been shut down by our beloved federal government overnight and cash seized and all records seized. No thanks. Don’t need that headache, don’t want it. Now I’m not saying that simply put offshore accounts will get seized but it has happened and I don’t want to take that risk.
So lets back track about 40 years.
I met my first bookie through a little league baseball coach. Yup. No kidding. You see, I was already into wagering on the horses and as I entered my mid-teens I was pretty much all in. I mean, I was buying a DRF everyday and was addicted to the daily doubles and exactas. I often found myself not able to get to the track and way too many times I missed out on chances to make a few bucks. Remember, when I grew up you either wagered at the track or you didn’t.
One weekend, a friend of the family’s was up at our local little league park and I would often hang out there as several of my friends and family members would often go watch games and see other teams play. One day, I pulled out my DRF and was standing by a chain link fence. My friends dad came by and said lets take a look. He read my copy for about 10 minutes and then told me he’d be back. A quick visit to the snack bar pay phone and he was back telling me he had just bet a $5 exacta box in the fifth and needed a 1-3 finish. What you talking about I asked? How did you get that in from here? He smiled and said, “I called my book.”
Another thing needed on these leisurely Saturday’s at the little league park was a transistor radio. You see, back in the day, the stretch calls were broadcast by KNX-1070 every thirty minutes during the sports broadcasts. Whoever was doing the sports scores would blurt out “the results of the fourth race from Santa Anita are now in and for the call here’s track announcer Harry Henson.” Things have changed haven’t they?
If you were lucky you would hear your horses named called as the calls were pretty short. They would give the official order of finish and the prices. Well you guessed it, my friends dad hit his exacta and won some cash. Okay, now I just had to know. What’s a book?
As the saying goes I was on him the rest of the day like white on rice. How did you do that? I want to be able to do that I pleaded with him. “You’re too young for that he told me. Plus your parents would kill me. Besides, you can’t mess with these people Eddie you’ll get in trouble if you can’t pay them.” I didn’t want to hear any of that though. I now wanted to have a “book” even though I had little idea of what one was and how it all worked.
My friends dad wasn’t talking. While he thought he was protecting me, it just made matters worse knowing I was missing out on something. So while I stopped asking, I listened very carefully and soon discovered the bookie I was missing out on was actually a rival pony league coach. This man who I’ll call Mr. X didn’t have the best reputation in the league. His kids were a few years older than I was and Mr. X drove a nice car and was often involved in shady draft deals with his pony league teams and was often involved in protested games.
So one afternoon I got up the courage to ask Mr. X following a baseball game. “Mr. X, can I start wagering with you? I heard you take bets.” I wish I could describe the look on his face, utter disbelief that one of his son’s friends was asking about his bookmaking job.
“What do you know about what I do”? he asked. I took out my copy of that days DRF and said “I need a way to get my wagers in.” I can’t really remember the rest of my conversation with Mr. X but I do know I left the ball park that afternoon with a way to get my wagers in and a “small credit line.” I felt like I had hit it big.
I couldn’t wait. The next race day I was on the phone, a mid-teenage something kid with a bookie.
This is “1612” I said as the person who answered the phone bellowed out, “ya”. I have you at “zero” for the week he said. After I confirmed my total, I jumped right in with a few daily double plays and never looked back.
Next week we’ll talk about my new job as a runner … distributing football cards for my new employer.