Usually we use the term “pack-mule” as a reference to drug smugglers crossing the border, but here in Las Vegas we have our own version of a “pack-mule,” one who attempts to run bets deceptively to sports books all over the city.
This is a tale about a businessman and his Vegas pack-mules. No names will be mentioned, just to protect all involved, but this tale is based on very true and current events happening within the small community of Las Vegas sports books.
A certain well-known, somewhat controversial Mr. Big-like businessman in Las Vegas is using various athletes and personalities from the sports world to make his high-stakes bets.
These celebrities, who already have ties to casinos with their high-end gambling in various games, have been lured into the web of this tricky spider because of their own inability to win consistently in sports.
It’s not unusual for some of the sharpest gambling minds in the world to be the worst sports bettors. Former World Series of Poker Champion Stu Unger had one of the best mental calculators to play favorable hands at most casino games, but the one area he couldn’t calculate correctly was sports betting, and he lost a lot of money trying to chase because he refused to believe he couldn’t beat the game.
In this new age of deception, the businessman who has been a prominent force in the Vegas betting world for decades with great success, has now got himself a couple of celebrities that have forced upper management to balance the pros and cons of keeping the stars happy for fear of negative publicity or do what’s right for the stock holders who wouldn’t be too happy knowing certain individuals were turning their heads as they were essentially getting taken to the cleaners nightly.
In a trade-off for making the businessman’s bets, the celebrity gets in on the action himself, and satisfies his high-stakes thrill of gambling, winning like never before in sports.
The old scenario by this businessman was to get regular associates/runners to play heavy in the slot machines or table games so they could get an “in” with a casino host, who would battle with the general manager of a casino, against the Sports Book Directors’ wishes, to get this particular player higher limits in the sports book.
After losing possibly a few hundred thousand dollars under this arrangement, the GM would then see that he was set up and then cut the players limits back down to normal limits, assuming they allowed them to continue playing at all.
On other occasions, the businessman, who has ties throughout the city because of all his ventures – let’s just say golf courses – would be upset that one of his runners was thrown out and call the president or CEO of the company and cause a stir.
Most casino executives don’t understand how the sports betting world works, but they do understand and love ideas to create more revenue and that’s what they’re sold on in most instances.
Many folks who don’t understand the process say, “Just take the bets, it will all wash out in the end,” or “He can’t win all the time, take the bets.”
Yes, he CAN win all the time and usually does, and it doesn’t wash out in the end. The only thing cleaned in the washing process are the sports books.
The businessman has a highly-sophisticated sports betting operation that in many cases has better formulas to create their own lines than the book has itself. The sports book offers side and totals wagering options to every game.
During the NBA or baseball season, there are up to 60 betting options a day offered by the books. The businessman’s goal is to find the five or six bad lines, those that deviate from his own, and pound them for as much as he can.
Some sports books will not even take his action. For one, he’s just too good and can’t be beat.
But other instances have him using deceptive moves to try and fool a book into getting more action on a game, such as sending two of his guys to multiple books under the same umbrella and synchronizing wagers on the same game at two different places. The hope is that the book’s manager will think it was merely a coincidence.
Should the book director throw out the runners, barring them from playing at any of their books, then the flood of calls come into the director’s bosses with an attempt to make the director look like he’s throwing away money, that he’s hot headed, and that word of mouth through the businessman’s vast network of friends is going to harm future business.
In some cases, through a series of phone calls, the two runners who had just deceived and attempted to circumvent limits will be back in the same book, mocking the director, a person who was initially best thought of to run the book operation with the goal of making money and protecting the house.
It’s a slap in the face to the director and it also shows who’s running the show, even though this businessman is not even affiliated with the company.
As more casinos merged throughout Las Vegas, it became harder to bully the executives. There are only a few sports books that are the originator, or hub, of lines with several books underneath using the same line that have no control of the hub’s line movement. It also became much harder for the businessman to infiltrate, but he still gets his money out there, just not as much as he wanted.
That’s where the celebrities come into play. Certain well-known names, particularly in the sports world, have some of the highest lines of credit in the casinos and their play is coveted because they have seemingly unlimited resources.
The businessman has used his schmoozing tactics and perks to create a nice relationship with these people. Because of their play in the casino, they can bet just about anything in the book they want. In past instances, they have played heavily in the book, but their play never carried weight despite the large wagers because they bet poor lines, lost much more than they bet and set a profile of being “square.”
Last year all of a sudden, these players were now betting the moves before they happened and always getting the best of the line, and they were winning and winning Big!
After a long string of wagers, their new profile indicated affiliation with the businessman because the same plays were made by other known associates/runners of Mr. Big.
Just about every book is wise to the situation and most have terminated the relationship. However, there are still a few that are somewhat forced to take the action because of upper-management and can’t do anything about it, despite knowing the consequences, which are often times big losses.
Losing is always part of the game in the sports book world, but under-handed, strong-arm tactics to circumvent the system that forces a book to lose is a hard pill to swallow, especially when it’s upper-management that’s washing it down.