In an industry where it’s supposed to be all about the customer, sometimes, you have to do something for yourself.
Chris Andrews has always considered himself the giving type. Whether it was to his family or his profession, the 63-year-old Pittsburgh native never saw himself as selfish.
The sportsbook director at the South Point has spent virtually his entire adult life in the bookmaking business. He had seen so many things over the decades, met so many interesting people, he decided to write a book.
“Then One Day … 40 years of bookmaking in Nevada” has been well received since it come out a few weeks ago. It is a 238-page history lesson, comedy show, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and a working tribute to those sportsbook directors who preceded Andrews, not the least of whom was his uncle, Jack Franzi, who recently died at age 91.
“It’s something I always wanted to do,” said Andrews, who came to Las Vegas in 1979. “I always thought I was a pretty decent writer. And once I finished it, I knew it was good and people would like it.
“I’m glad my Uncle Jack was still alive to see it. His son read it to him and he liked it.”
Andrews has been fighting his own battle. Two years ago, he was diagnosed with a form of blood cancer — Myelodysplastic syndrome. It has been an up-and-down struggle and lately, Andrews admitted it has been tough. He is scheduled to undergo a bone marrow transplant on July 6 at USC Medical Center in Los Angeles. He doesn’t know the donor. But he has faith in his doctors that the transplant will work and he’ll eventually beat his MDS.
“I’m getting worse all the time,” Andrews said. “I’m praying this works.”
His support team, led by his wife Pam, his five children and a slew of friends and co-workers, have been with him throughout his ordeal. South Point owner Michael Gaughan has told Andrews don’t worry about work or bills. Just focus on beating the cancer.
Andrews said writing the book has been somewhat cathartic. When he talks about “Then One Day …” it gets his mind off his battle momentarily.
But the truth is he always was going to do this.
“When the book came out, I looked at it and said, ‘Holy s—, I’m a published author,’” he said. “I actually have a second book that I’ve pretty much written. It’s a novel about these two Greek guys who try to fix a football game. I’m hoping to get that published next year.”
There’s plenty of funny stories. Like the one where the sportsbook manager at the Comstock in Reno decided it would be a good idea to put hockey games on a teaser card and promptly lost his shirt and, eventually, his job.
There was a trip to Australia and a job possibility of running an outfit from Down Under’s American sportsbook venture. But the CEO decided not to hire Andrews and his friend who had accompanied him on the trip. It didn’t stop the guy from berating Andrews for deciding to cut short what was now a meaningless trip and head back to the States. The guy threatened to leave Andrews for dead in the Outback but Andrews got a friendly airport agent to change his ticket and he made it back .
Andrews said the stories, all true incidentally, were from years and years of dinner conversations, poker games and other gatherings. The book is a breezy read, easy to navigate as Andrews goes seamlessly from one story to the next and doesn’t hold back any punches.
Hey, the guy’s battling cancer. Do you honestly think he’s worried about offending someone?
“I had a vision,” he said. “And Anthony (Curtis) and Deke (Castleman) of Huntington Press helped make it a reality.”
As for his health battle, Andrews was fortunate years ago to develop a lifestyle that didn’t have him looking too far down the road.
“For the last 20, 25 years, I’ve tried to live my life one day at a time,” he said. “I try not to get too up and not too down.
“My wife survived a brain tumor. We’ve taken care of each other. We’ve been through quite a lot.
“But there’s a lot to fight for. I have an 18-month old grandson and I want to see him grow up. And of course, my wife and kids. I’m not sure I would have survived without her.”
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