"TIMING IS EVERYTHING!" That has always been John "Bennett" Buonantony’s marching song.
"Chuck," he often reminded me, "never try to put the bite on a guy when he’s hungry. A meal will make him warm and fuzzy. That’s when you fire from the hip."
Timing. Knowing when to hold and when to fold. When to move the line on a game, when to take a big bet, when to just sit tight.
Timing. It’s a wonderful thing. And the key to good timing? Knowledge. Information.
"Chuck," JB would opine, "if you want to stay ahead of the pack, you have to know today what the other guy won’t know until tomorrow."
Across the years and across the board John has been my favorite friend. If there is any single person I could credit for the success of this newspaper, JB is it. He gave me hope in the early days when it was hard to come by. And his words of wisdom did not fall on deaf ears.
When I pulled into town 28 years ago John Bennett was running the Rose Bowl ”” the infamous betting parlor that once graced the Las Vegas Strip at the corner of Spring Mountain Rd. He handled plenty of action on behalf of the owners and he always wanted to make sure he had the best of it when it was time to protect the house. Information was his hole card.
JB loved this newspaper and when I delivered a stack to his sports book each week (in those days I wore many hats) he often stopped me for a chat. We discovered that we shared a love of news and information. One day I lamented that the local papers had little in the way of good news and the availability of out-of-town papers was almost non-existent. What I wouldn’t give for a New York Post or a Philadelphia Inquirer.
JB smiled. He reached under the counter, pulled out a newspaper and handed it to me. It was that morning’s Inquirer.
Delighted and amazed are the feelings I remember as I scanned the headlines of an old friend I hadn’t seen in many months.
"I get lots of newspapers every morning," Jay told me. "Stop by in the afternoon and you can have the whole lot. I just throw them out after I’ve read them."
I took JB up on his offer and I soon discovered what he already knew. The Eastern papers not only reported more news, they reported it sooner. It was not unusual to read about an injury or other event that could affect a game up to three days before seeing it mentioned in area papers.
But what impressed me more than the newspapers themselves was the ingenuity JB used to get them. He hired a few assistants to meet incoming flights from the East Coast as they arrived at McCarran airport each day. After all the passengers unloaded, Jay’s crew went onboard and picked up any newspapers left behind. It gave him the ability to be a step in front of other bookmakers and two steps in front of the bettors.
It was timing.
Timing. That’s probably what prompted the phone call from JB this week.
"Chuck," he told me, "I’m going to hang it up. I won’t be writing any more."
Those were not words I wanted to hear, but I understood. After all, JB is 81. Getting around is not as easy as it used to be. And, with all the new security rules, getting those newspapers is not just difficult; it’s impossible.
We’ve added a few handicappers over the years so our readers will still be getting news you can bet on. But the pages of GamingToday are going to be just a little bit duller without the insightful musings of John Bennett.
That’s a wrap, my friend. Now let’s go get a meatball sandwich and talk over old times.