Secret Life of an Old-School New York Bookie

Are you a gambling man?” Vera asks me. She hands an envelope to a bartender in the Meatpacking District as she sips on a whiskey and ginger ale. The envelope includes cash for one. Vera’s a bookie and also a runner, and also to be clear, Vera’s not her real name.
She is a small-time bookie, or even a bookmaker, a person who takes stakes and leaves commission off them. She publications soccer tickets and collects them out of pubs, theater stagehands, employees at job sites, and at times building supers. Printed on the tickets that are the size of a supermarket are spreads for college football and NFL games. At precisely the same time, she is a”runner,” another slang term to describe somebody who delivers cash or spread numbers to some boss. Typically bookies are men, not women, and it’s as though she is on the pursuit for new blood, searching for young gamblers to enlist. The newspaper world of football gambling has shrunk in the face of the exceptionally popular, embattled daily fantasy sites like FanDuel or DraftKings.
“Business is down due to FanDuel, DraftKings,” Vera says. “Guy wager $32 and won two million. That’s a load of shit. I wish to meet him.” There’s a nostalgic feel to circling the amounts of a football spread. The tickets have what look like hints of rust on the borders. The faculty season has finished, and she didn’t do that bad this year, Vera says. What is left, however, are pool bets for the Super Bowl.
Vera started running back numbers when she was two years old at a snack bar where she worked as a waitress. The chef called in on a phone in the hallway and she would deliver his bets to bookies for horse races. It leant an allure of youthful defiance. The same was true when she bartended in the’80s. “Jimmy said in the beginning,’I will use you. Just so you understand,”’ she says, remembering a deceased boss. “`You go into the pub, bullshit with the boys. You can talk soccer with a guy, you are able to pull them in, and then they are yours. ”’ Jimmy died of a brain hemorrhage. Her next boss died of cancer. Vera says she beat breast cancer , although she still smokes. She failed radioactive therapy and refused chemo.
Dead managers left behind customers to conduct and she would oversee them. Other runners despised her at first. They could not understand why she would have more clientele . “And they would say,’who the fuck is this donkey, coming here carrying my job? ”’ she states just like the guys are throwing their dead weight about. Sometimes the other runners tricked her, for instance a runner we’ll call”Tommy” kept winnings that he was likely to hand off to her . “Tommy liked to place coke up his noseand play cards, and he enjoyed the women in Atlantic City. He’d go and provide Sam $7,000 and fuck off using the other $3,000. He informs the boss,’Go tell the wide.’ And I says, ‘Fuck you. It is like I am just a fucking broad to you. I really don’t count. ”’ It is obviously forbidden for a runner to devote winnings or cash meant for customers on personal vices. But fellow runners and gaming policemen trust . She never speaks bad about them, their figures, winnings, or titles. She whines if she does not make commission. She says she could”keep her mouth closed” which is why she is a runner for almost 25 years.
When she pays customers, she exchanges in person, never leaving envelopes of cash behind bathrooms or beneath sinks in tavern bathrooms. Through the years, though, she’s lost around $25,000 from men not paying their losses. “There’s a great deal of losers out there,” she explained,”just brazen.” For the soccer tickets, she capital her very own”bank” that is self-generated, nearly informally, by establishing her value on the achievement of the school season’s first few weeks of stakes in the fall.
“I ai not giving you no more amounts,” Vera says and beverages from her black stripes. Ice cubes turn the whiskey to some lighter tan. She reaches her cigarettes and zips her coat. She questions the recent alterations in the spread with this weekend’s Super Bowl between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos and squints in her drink and pays the bartender. Her movements lumber, as her ideas do. The favorability of the Panthers has shifted from three to four four-and-a-half to five fast from the past week. She needs the Panthers to win six or seven to allow her bet to be a success, and predicts Cam Newton will direct them to some double-digit triumph over Peyton Manning.
External, she lights a cigarette before moving to some other pub. Someone she didn’t need to see had sat in the first one. She says there’s a man there who will frighten her. She continues farther north.
At the second bar, a poster tacked to the wall beyond the counter shows a 100-square Super Bowl grid “boxes” “Are you running any Super Bowls?” Vera asks.
To acquire a Super Bowl box, in the conclusion of every quarter, the last digit of the teams’ scores will need to match the number of your chosen box in the grid. The bartender hands Vera the grid. The pub lights brighten. Vera traces her finger across its outline, explaining that if the score is Broncos, 24, and Panthers, 27, from the next quarter, that’s row 4 and column 7. Prize money changes each quarter, along with the pool just works properly if pub patrons purchase out all of the squares.
Vera remembers a pool in 1990, the Giants-Buffalo Super Bowl XXV. Buffalo dropped 19 to 20 after missing a field goal from 47 yards. All the Bills knelt and prayed for this field goal. “Cops from the 20th Precinct won. It had been 0 and 9,” she says, describing the box numbers that matched 0 and 9. But her deceased boss squandered the $50,000 pool over the course of this entire year, spending it on rent, gas and smokes. Bettors had paid payments throughout the year for $500 boxes. Nobody got paid. There was a”contract in his own life.”
The bartender stows a white envelope of money before pouring an apricot-honey mixture for Jell-O shots. Vera rolls up a napkin and twists it in a beer that looks flat to give it foam.
“For the very first bookie I worked for, my name was’Ice,’ long before Ice-T,” she says, holding out her hand, rubbing at which the ring along with her codename would fit. “He got me a ring, which I dropped. Twenty-one diamonds, created’ICE. ”’ The bookie told her he had it inscribed ICE since she was”a cold-hearted bitch.”

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