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A Wiseguy's Odyssey
Part 3 - Setting Up Shop
Just before boarding the plane home I attended to the first necessary order of business. I called the mutual fund company where my retirement savings were held. We would need a bankroll to allow us to shadow the sharp plays and at this point pretty much any other cash I had been able to gather was lent out. This includes about $20,000 in credit, my thinking being why not borrow cheap and lend expensive? I asked the agent to redeem the $30,000 I had painstakingly accumulated over the years. This provided $20,000 to work with after one third was withheld for taxes.
That taken care of our next task was to establish accounts with the local bookies. Spiro knew many of them but due to his prior escapades was not welcome at any. We decided he would refer me to two solid books as one of his former players. The first guy I was to meet was Mike. I was nervous since I didn't know squat about sports betting and feared being exposed as a fraud. We scheduled our rendezvous in the parking lot of a local landmark restaurant.
It was winter so the place was quite desolate. Mike drove up, noticed me and parked alongside. He joined me in my car. We shook hands and he asked what sports I bet and how much. I told him I bet pretty much everything for anywhere between a nickel and two dimes a play. Luckily I had picked up a bit of the lingo from hanging around Spiro and Rob. Mike brought me up to speed with the various rules of his book such as pay and collect intervals and on what day the week ended. I assured him of my integrity as we talked a little more and he gave me the telephone number to place wagers at. As we went our separate ways I felt relieved to have pulled it off without any problem. Mike was a good guy.
Next account to set up was with Chan. I called the number Spiro gave me and went through the same procedure with him. He was pretty easy going and didn't feel it was necessary to meet face to face. We were now hooked up and I was anxious to start. Barry had driven home to me just how profitable this business could be. Our next task was to choose a place to work from. We decided to rent a small office in a centrally located building.
I signed the lease and contacted the phone company to install three lines. The office landlord agreed to provide a desk, two tables and three chairs. After picking up some office supplies, we were ready to roll. I had explained to our bookies that I worked with a partner and that we would both use the account. Since Spiro had "referred" me to them, it wouldn't make sense for him to be affiliated with me. So he couldn't call the bookies. I still didn't have a clue. So I couldn't be the phone guy.
That left Rob. As my associates started to move, we realized having only one guy to call two bookies wasn't efficient. Spiro would receive the call from Barry or Wes on one phone and announce the play to Rob, who would already be speed dialing an out on another phone. By the time Rob reached the second out, the line had often moved. To solve this problem and because of previous commitments he had made, Spiro suggested we take on a fourth partner - Tom. Spiro had worked with Tom in the past. In fact they had already moved for Wes and Barry successfully for a while.
Spiro had brought me in for my ability to "back" the operation since Tom had no loot to speak of. In fact while we were in Vegas, Wes would go on and on about how he trusted Tom and less so Spiro. It was Tom this and Tom that to the point that Spiro, normally very mild mannered, reached his boiling point. His now famous line "Fuck Tom" was his final retort to Wes' umpteenth Tom reference. Spiro said it was only fair to include Tom since he had already worked with the sharpies and had aspired to making a career out of it. He also said Tom was excellent on the phone and had tons of experience betting, booking and with sports in general. Rob was against bringing Tom into the fold at first. He said Tom had a degenerate past much like Spiro's.
Eventually after meeting Tom and with Spiro's constant assurances, Rob and I relented. Tom took his place at the helm. He sat at the desk and I must say he was very at ease and quite impressive. Now Spiro would receive the sharp play and both Rob and Tom would instantly dial an out each. They would relay to Spiro the amounts that they had respectfully got down and Spiro would "turn in" to Barry or Wes. We had a well oiled machine going now. The first week was a good one. We had won around $12,000 from Chan and $3,500 from Mike. Chan was a player's dream. If the week finished Monday, Chan paid you on Tuesday.
I met him at a Dunkin Donuts. He immediately informed me that he knew our action was sharp. I played coy and managed to get through the meeting with a little small talk and the assurance that if it had been the other way around, I would have brought him the wad. He was pretty cordial and paid cash in full. I had rarely handled big money up to this time and it felt great. That's probably one of my greatest vulnerabilities - my love of the green stuff. The same went for Mike, whom I met later in the week. He paid me full and with a smile.
This project had promise. Unfortunately, the next week we lost big to Chan although we made some with Mike. We often middled hockey between the two. That accounts for the differing results as well as not getting the same plays in with each out when the line moved. Tuesday came along and wanting to appear strong I raised the cash in a hurry to pay Chan as promptly as he had paid me. Tom came in with me at Dunkin's and met Chan so that someone who knew what he was talking about was present. I remember telling Chan: "Look the bottom line is do you want my action or not. If you don't, let me know and we'll go our separate ways".
Things continued pretty much along these lines for a couple of weeks. Spiro started regularly faxing our local sports lottery card to Barry for his assessment. If Barry found a weak card he would have us bet a few thousand on a three or four game parlay. The amazing thing was these parlays were hitting with surprising frequency. I think they connected on 3 out of 4 of their first parlays. I couldn't complain. I had my competent associates working every angle they could think of, sharpies providing promising plays and money coming in from loans.
Next in the series: Part 4 - The Shit Hits The Fan