Close the book on shady bookie

Nov 7, 2006 6:57 AM

Atlanta -7 versus Cleveland: The Browns played a great game against the Chargers, but I saw many players get hurt, and they already had key players on the injured list before this game. Vick bounces back here at home against a crippled team.

Baltimore -6½ versus Tennessee: BALTIMORE Ray Lewis and company will show no mercy for the young Titans. McNair rules.

Redskins +7 versus Eagles: This division is very competitive and seven points seems like too many.

I never met a bookmaker I didn’t like, except maybe one. In the early ’80s the town’s bookmakers were having a great deal of troubles with making a living on baseball betting. The players in town were having a field day betting and winning on baseball. A meeting was called by I think Lem Banker or maybe Gene Mayday of all the boys to discuss any alternatives we may have to help right the ship.

It became apparent that nobody in the room was making any money so we all agreed to change the juice from a ten cent line to a twenty cent line. A vote was taken and we were unanimous that we would try this new tactic. We finished our lunch and everybody was happy because if the bettors didn’t like it they would play less and we’d lose less. It made all the sense in the world to me.

In attendance that day was a representative of every legal book in town, including one Gary Austin, who owned a book on the corner of Spring Mountain Road and Las Vegas Boulevard South. As the story goes (and I know it’s true) after the meeting Gary pulled into his parking lot and a good customer approached him and made a verbal baseball bet for that night. Gary told him about the meeting he’d just been to and told him "Don’t worry, the new deal doesn’t apply to you." The story spread like wildfire and within two hours we all were back to a dime line.

I’ve always believed that consistency was an essential ingredient for successful bookmaking. Apparently Gary felt the same way as sometime later his store was allegedly robbed and Mr. Austin was out of business. For those of us who had money up on phone accounts there was no place to turn as Gary had apparently skipped town. He indeed was consistent. The only good news to come out of this was my son, Kevin, a hardworking, dynamite lawyer (I may be a little prejudiced on this subject) represented Sonny Reisner and myself in Bankruptcy Court and recovered some money for both Sonny and myself. But the town’s "Black Eye" remains to this day.

It is with a heavy heart that my long time friend Charlie Frias, who owned numerous transportation companies in Nevada, left us last week. Although short in stature, he was always a giant of a man to me and my family. Rest in peace Charlie, and thank you for being Charlie.