Nice guys did exist in Old Vegas sportsbooks

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Two Entrys. The A Entry of Buddy Othick and Jamie Thompson were the most successful college basketball bettors I’ve ever known and two of the nicest guys ever in Vegas. If I could follow anyone in any sport, it would be them. Buddy’s sons, Matt and Trent, continue the nice guy tradition.

Jamie played basketball at Wichita State and later Buddy would coach there. Jamie once scored 36 points vs. UCLA, in a losing effort, in the 1965 Final Four semis. He was an Academic All-American in 1967.

After years of successful handicapping, with his partner and best friend Buddy, Jamie traded in his pencil for his passion – his golf clubs. Jamie, a near scratch golfer, was good enough to make his living on the golf course. He died suddenly in San Antonio in 2006 of a heart ailment no one was aware of or ready for.

Buddy is semi-retired now and enjoying his grandchildren. I see him from time to time and his opinion is still the dead nuts.

Matt played point guard for Lute Olson at Arizona and was with the San Antonio Spurs for a cup of coffee, his career cut short by an injury.

Trent produced a successful Broadway play, along with his brother Matt, starring Chazz Palminteri in “A Bronx Tale.” After four months of sellouts on Broadway they took the play on the road and it sold out in city after city. They also made a gambling-themed movie called “Yonkers Joe” with Chazz again and Christine Latti. My son Vincent is co-producer of both the play and movie.

While attending Bishop Gorman High School in Vegas, Trent was betting college baskets with a couple of equally young classmate bookmakers. He ran his BR up to five dimes and spent it on DJ equipment, gold chains, shoes and other young wiseguy stuff.

Trent and Matt got bored so they began betting baseball with those same classmate bookies. This was baseball and not the baskets they knew so well. Trent loses and doesn’t have the money to pay since he blew it on all that neat stuff.

He goes to Buddy for help (cash) and Buddy, being a good father, makes him sell all the good stuff he bought to pay part of his tab. Tough love but a good lesson on money management that would serve him well.

It was guys like Buddy and Jamie that made up for the more treacherous people we went up against.

The B Entry of Pete White and his son Kenny was equally talented and just as nice as Buddy and Jamie.

Pete and Kenny came to my rescue one basketball season. The Stardust crowd was more than capable of putting a run together, especially in basketball, and that one season, we started $300,000 losers to the colleges in the first week.

We were really in trouble. Our numbers were weak; there was no other way to put it. Our oddsmakers Roxy and Jerry “The Hat” were being asked for too much. They were making football numbers as well as basketball and hockey all at the same time.

A few of our players concentrated on college baskets and were eating our lunch. That was when I hired Kenny White, who would later take over LVSC (Las Vegas Sports Consultants) and establish himself as Las Vegas’ top oddsmaker after Roxy left.

It took two weeks but Kenny and his dad Pete shared their handicapping skills with me and helped me out of a shaky situation. I still had a job.

Pete White was way ahead of his time, a trend setter. As far back as the ‘60s, he was cataloging players’ speeds, coaches’ offensive and defensive philosophies, etc., all by hand of course. In 1971 Pete put out the first-ever in-depth, useful fact book on all college football teams and players. It was a gem of a textbook. Today we’re inundated with them.

In the early ‘70s, Pete pulled off a beautiful con just to prove he could do it. Not for money, because he exposed it as soon as he accomplished it and he kept no money.

Pete invented a phony college basketball game for a busy Saturday. He got the game entered in the schedule, got it on the betting boards, bet it, got phony scores sent over the wire, and collected on the “winner.”

He didn’t keep the money, but told the bookies how sad they were; they weren’t doing their homework.

Pete’s temper was legendary, especially in sportsbooks that were timid with limits or had rip-off payouts. Pete and I always got along and still do.

He wasn’t always pissed off though; he had compassion for the homeless, who he crusaded for. Pete also put on a benefit for his good friend Joe Jock, whose kidneys were failing.

Without Pete and Kenny, who knows what my future would have been if they hadn’t helped me out of that early jackpot? Thanks guys.

Scotty Schettler began his Las Vegas journey in 1968. By the time he quit the race and sports book business he had booked over $1.5 billion for different employers. He says he knows where most of the cans are buried. His book,  is available on amazon.com. Contact Scotty at [email protected].

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