I woke up this morning feeling old! I started reading my emails from readers who were not around in the 80’s and wanted to know what the Stardust lottery was all about and who were the bettors taking part in it.
I had readers come to me in the race books around town and ask me the same questions as they just didn’t get it. The reason is that in today’s market we are caught in the high tech world of computers, hand held devices, cell phones, which you can get anything in the world on.
In the 80’s we had nothing of the kind. We were still writing tickets by hand. We didn’t even have a fax machine. I remember when they brought in our first copy machine and we all had to take a class on how to use it. Yes, I am feeling very old.
So who were the bettors that got in line every Sunday evening at 6 at the good ole Stardust? Usually, we had between 70 and 80 who would draw for their position in one of our seven ticket stations. We would put seven Aces (one for each window), seven 2’s, seven 3’s, etc., into a bowl. Then the players each drew a card.
If you drew an Ace you would be No. 1 at window 1. A 2 meant you were number 2 in line. The next person to draw an Ace would be No. 1 at window 2 and so forth until all the bettors had taken their positions.
Once in a line we allowed no talking back and forth, no passing money from one bettor to the other. If spotted doing that you were tossed out of line by the ruthless Syl Valella. No one wanted to be tossed out by Syl!
Now, the bettors were comprised of several crews (between 5 or 6 bettors) working for one operation. They all had their lines on the games given to them by the person they were working for. If New England is -2 or -2½ bet them, if not pass and so forth.
Most of these crews had top bettors like Tommy George making their own lines, which for the most part were better than the ones we were getting. When knowing his crew was betting a certain game we would move a little faster.
We had crews just looking for good middle numbers. They most likely got some “outlaw lines” out of New York and were fading their numbers if able to lay -2½ and take +3½. We just had plain bettors like Alan Boston and Kenny White’s father, Pete, who was one of my favorite bettors from the old days, especially in college hoops. He once bet 18 games on a Saturday morning and went 18-0 ATS. Now that was some kind of handicapping!
We had “Crazy Jim,” who bet his own games, but we had to toss him out of the casino for pulling his snub-nose .38 on someone who got in front of him in line. That was a little scary. In fact, Pete White held the record for being tossed out of line – his temper would sometimes get the best of him.
We had Mr. Middle himself, Sam Brown, who was as legendary back then as Jimmy the Greek. Sam had more outs than any bettor I knew. He was on the pay phone from morning until night and got at least 50 pages a day.
Something we never have here in the casinos any more is paging. Yep, I am feeling very old.
Moving on, I did pick a few winners in the preseason last week and want to keep it going.
Thursday, Aug. 15
Lions +3 at Browns (38.5): Lions have gone 10-2 SU in their last 12 preseason games and have the backup QBs to get the job done. LIONS.
Falcons +3 at Ravens (39): Not sold on Baltimore. Have gone 1-5 SU off a double digit win in preseason. FALCONS.
Chargers +4 at Bears: Lem Banker told me Chicago would be lousy this year. San Diego has gone 9-1 in preseason when facing a team under .500. Bears are 0-1. CHARGERS.
Friday, Aug. 16
Vikings +3 at Bills (38½): Don’t let the Bills’ win at Indy fool you; they come back on just five days of rest. In the past, they have gone 0-5 as a favorite off a double digit win in preseason. Buffalo 2-8 at home when playing a foe off a double digit loss. VIKINGS.
Sat., Aug. 17
Happy 66th birthday to me.
Dolphins +3½ at Texans (38): I usually win on my birthday but I am feeling old so I hope this game is right on. Texans 4-0 the last four times they were -3 or higher in preseason and 6-1 off a double digit win. TEXANS.
Packers PK at Rams (38½): The Pack was lousy last week and look to bounce back. If the past is right they have a big shot, going 6-1 the last seven times in preseason on the road off a double digit loss. PACKERS.
Broncos +4 at Seahawks (40): If I’m stuck this will be my get out game. Broncos 0-5 away when coming off of a double digit win in preseason. Seahawks 6-0 SU and ATS in their last six preseason games. SEAHAWKS.
Monday, Aug. 19
Steelers +2½ at Redskins (39): As I get ready to head out to Del Mar, I will need some extra cash. Hope to get it on this game. Pittsburgh 1-8-1 ATS in their last 10 preseason road openers. Skins have won their last four home openers. REDSKINS.
Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GamingToday’s horse racing and sports handicapper. Follow Richard on Twitter @SabesBet. Contact Richard at [email protected].