With good old days behind me, I’m settling for kiosks

Jul 1, 2003 4:52 AM

If you read last week’s GT, you may have seen me playing a sports kiosk or self betting terminal. When I am at the racetrack this is usually the way I bet.

Mostly, it’s because the ticket writers don’t understand my terminology when I place a wager. Though not full proof, it is a lot less confusing when I make my own bets.

In my days as a race ticket writer in Vegas during the late 1970s and early ’80s, most in the business were degenerate horse players. I could well have fallen into that group. It was perfectly normal to have your trusty Daily Racing Form next to you and write your own tickets.

If you lost, the money would either be placed in the door or settle up at the end of the shift. As we know, this really isn’t a very good idea. Some writers would try and get even only to never come back after taking lunch break, thus leaving behind a cash door filled with losing tickets.

If you don’t remember those days before the computers took over, every track had a three digit betting number. Well, this one day I just loved this horse running at Arlington Park. I made one of my bigger wagers ($10 win and place) on No. 363, wrote the ticket, put the double sawbuck in my door and waited for the result.

There were no live feeds back then and, on that day, there were no calls at AP. I just waited for the result along with some of the customers, who bet the horse on my advice. The result comes in $20.80 to win, $10.60 to place and everyone was thanking me. After my shift, I go to cash my ticket only to find out I wrote myself the wrong number.

Even with the popularity of self-betting terminals, they will never replace a good ticket writer. I love to interact with some of these true professionals, like Hugh and Wayne at Palace Station. If you need to know anything about sports, Hugh is a walking, talking gold mine. He’s an excellent writer with a top-notch opinion, someone you have to regard when he talks.

As for Wayne, I can’t remember meeting a more knowledgeable horse handicapper. Wayne is one of those utility players like the top baseball teams have. You can find him in the sports or race book writing tickets, doing the boards with his perfect penmanship, or answering questions. Good work guys and don’t fret. The machines can never match what you do. Keep up the good work.

It’s a lot like going to your favorite bar to have a drink and talk with your favorite bartender, or going to your favorite barber. We all need one another, so acting nice and making conversation is good for your body and soul.

Here are a few futures bets just in case there’s a little extra money you want to tie up.

Over and under wins in the NFL: I got this from a very good source and really believe it’s a good bet. Take the Oakland Raiders under 9½. They will be lucky to get 8!

The other is a shot, but worth a $20 play. Take Arizona State to win the 2004 Sugar Bowl at 100-1. It could happen.