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A Wiseguy's Odyssey
Part 6 - Here We Go Again!
We started working for the Poker Players a few weeks before the all-star break during the '95 baseball season. Baseball was their specialty and they were a class act. A few things were different this time. First, we now had a bankroll at our disposal. Second, we had an extremely early call from the originators of the play, as opposed to followers.
This put us in the enviable position of being able to beat our bookies to the move by a considerable amount of time. No longer did we have to break our heads to get a play in at the requested line. It was such a difference feeling the palpable discomfort of our bookies trying to anticipate which way we were going to go and moving their lines the wrong way as often as not.
These same bookies who had always had the upper hand prior to our joining forces with this elite group. The last major difference in our working conditions from past experience was that we were finally on a commission basis - 10% of net winnings at end of season.
We started out working with the one local out that we had played baskets and hockey into. He was giving us up to $4,000 on a side and $2,000 on totals. I was naturally preoccupied with establishing other solid bookies since the Poker Players had made it clear to us that they would be happy to get down up to $10,000 a play through us.
I approached the biggest local bookie in my city. I had heard a lot about his operation. He had a scary reputation in a "don't even think of trying to screw me" way and was known to have a wicked temper and fear no one. On the other hand though he had a rep of always paying his debts and even accepting layoffs from other local books.
My first contact was with two of his phone guys. They seemed interested but had to clear it with the boss. When they got back to me they gave me the number of Vince, the top phone guy who was a partner in the business and no one to fool around with in his own right.
My first impression of Vince was that of a smooth operator. He had a definite presence - calm and intelligent. He gave me the run around, but I was persistent. After a few calls, he finally said to me "why do you want to play into us?" , "nobody beats us". I responded "why don't you take my action for a week or two, if you don't like it we can go our separate ways". He and his partner decided to try us out. By now it was after the all-star break and to be honest the plays had been mediocre at best to this point.
But our fortune was about change. The first week we played into Vince was sheer poetry. He was taking $4,000 on sides and $2,000 on totals. The plays were very strong that week and to make matters worse, every play Vince didn't want was a loser, the rest were in the money. We ended the week winning close to $30,000.
I was to meet Vince at a sports cafe to collect a few days later. This was our first face to face meeting. I arrived at the cafe, entered and asked at the bar for Vince. The guy told me Vince would arrive soon. He came in a little while later with a somber looking friend and we introduced ourselves. He asked me to come downstairs. Needless to say, this was an intimidating environment and it was getting to me, but I worked hard not to show my fear.
We went downstairs to a cement cellar and his friend accompanied him. He started asking who else I was playing into and where the plays were coming from. His friend joined into the conversation. I turned to his friend and with a brave face said "I don't know you, I'm dealing with Vince".
He introduced himself and I continued to talk to Vince. The guy really seemed to be getting aggravated and decided to end the charade and reveal his real identity. He was the boss - Domenic. My heart was pounding a mile a minute by now as I remembered all I had heard about him. He wanted me to play soley into him.
He had been impressed enough by the plays in the first week to want to play them out for himself. I told him I would have to talk to my partners to buy some time and he plunked down wads of cash on a table. I took the cash and made my escape. We made our deal with Vince and Domenic that we would play only into them and the one other local out we already were established at.
We also agreed to call Vince first with each play on his special line that was never busy. The plays continued strong and we started to play them for ourselves as well. I started researching the offshore sports books also. After sifting through internet news groups and sites like Oddswiz (now bettorsworld) I decided to try a few sports books out, to get more action down, especially during hours when the local guys close.
I was also interested in having a variety of lines at my disposal. Particularly I was looking for middle opportunities and occasions when we could fill an order for our associates and pocket the difference in the case of us getting a better line.
My partner Rob was also instrumental in the middling strategy and many other plans. I decided to open with SAI (now Bowman International), Rich's and SI (Sports International). I sent between $6,000 and $10,000 to each and reaped the 10% deposit bonus from Rich's. Once we had our new bookies firing on all pistons, combined with our existing ones, we were starting to turn in some serious numbers to our American counterparts.
It didn't take long before our original bankroll had grown to over $100,000. These were heady times and the myriad ways we could make money were becoming more and more apparent. Our season-end commission tally was getting juicier by the day, our portion on each play was reaping dividends, our skims on the lines were paying off, there was the 10% deposit bonus, whenever we differed on our figure the Americans gave us the benefit of the doubt and we got down the occasional middle.
This is what we had dreamed about and it was about to get better. Vince and Domenic decided to offer us the board of favorites at a 10 - 20 cent discount depending on the line. We could play the dog offshore on a 10 cent line and have a 5 - 15 cent overlap. This was an extremely profitable opportunity. We could get down $2,000 per game on pretty much the board and on any given day make between $100 and a $1,000 with no risk using our associates cash for our benefit.
Believe me this made for some busy baseball sessions and bookkeeping. When it seemed that things couldn't get better our other local out offered us the same deal. We could now double our profit from the middling aspect alone! At the very height of the season I even lent out some of the money at shylock rates and had that cash coming in too on a regular basis. One week alone I collected $50,000 in cash from our original local out! It was mostly in twenties and filled a good part of a large paper grocery bag. We had finally reached the big time and it felt like heaven!
Next in the series: Part 7 - Winding Down Baseball / Here Comes Baskets, Football & Hockey!