How I survived computer onset

Oct 24, 2006 7:41 AM

Colts +3 versus Bronocs: Colts can’t be underdogs to anybody except maybe at New England. The great defense of Denver can’t match the great offense of Manning. I’ll take the plus 3.

49ers +17 versus Bears: I can’t resist a big time number like this in the NFL, especially when it’s being played in Chicago, where there may be a remote possibility of some inclement weather. After all, it is the last Sunday in October.

Packers -2½ versus Cardinals: Who do you want throwing for you? Leinart or Favre? May I remind you that the Cardinals were defeated by the mighty Raiders 22-9. Even Dennis Green flipped out! Amazing!

For those of you may not remember, the Computer Age for sports books began in the 1980s. Prior to that, all tickets on race and sports were hand-written in triplicate. The process was slow, cumbersome and worst of all, it was almost impossible to accurately gauge your business on each contest.

So we all loved the day CBS brought us our new machines. I personally felt that we could make an impact in volume for the Edgewater Hotel in Laughlin. We began advertising a Friday afternoon special from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in which the player got a point off on the totals of games and a half point off on the teams. You could go either way, except if a game was a 3 in the pros it was untouchable for obvious reasons.

We had previously applied and were granted phone betting privileges, so we were ready to go. At 1:05 p.m. on the first Friday my phone man received a call from my best customer, Gene Mayday. Gene was a man who had great character and integrity, which I was aware of from many prior dealings. (Incidentally, he would get my first vote for the Bookmaker’s Hall of Fame in Las Vegas.)

Gene owned a small casino across the street from the Dunes called Little Caesar’s. In our circles he was probably best known for taking a $1 million Super Bowl bet from Bob Stupak, the owner of the Vegas World Hotel, which became the Stratosphere. Gene’s innovations included a $1 million dollar parlay card, teasing games including totals, and many more that created much conversation amongst the players.

Gene had a healthy balance in cash with us and he was ready to test our promotion. I took the phone, read him the limits, and set up his account on the computer. He started firing all maximum bets on games and totals.

In the beginning I was putting the plays in the computer. But, not being a computer guy, I started to fall behind. So as not to slow the process, I started writing his plays on my sheet instead. The month was December, and we not only had all of the NFL games, but we included all of the Bowl Games through January 1.

Well, Gene didn’t miss a game, and he bet the limit on all totals and sides. Finally, we got finished in what seemed like an eternity, and after a complete read back, we finally hung up. The phone didn’t stop ringing until 3 p.m., at which time we stopped accepting the half/whole point deal. We were so behind that two of us were working until 10 p.m. putting in all of the bets in the computer.

The next morning, as I was gloating about our tremendous surge in volume to all who would listen, I noticed on Gene’s account a minus sign in front of $38,000 in the computer. What could this mean? I called CBS, and they told me he had bet $38,000 over and above his balance.

I knew we didn’t have a license to give credit, so I began perspiring profusely. Fortunately, the accounting department head didn’t work on the weekends, so I decided to let it go and hopefully he’d catch up with his Saturday and Sunday selections — nobody would ever know. Of the four games on Saturday, Gene didn’t win any sides or totals. When Sunday morning came I was rooting for his teams more I’m sure than he was, but to no avail as he had a disastrous weekend. After the morning games concluded without any victories I called Gene and told him of my dilemma. As classy a guy ever was, he sent a man down to Laughlin that night with $38,000 and indeed saved my job. We kept the promotion on for years after that, but I swear I never saw a minus sign again.