My fate sealed at 13

May 25, 2004 5:53 AM

I have been making baseball wagers almost all my life, and can still remember my first.

I was 13 living on the North End in Steubenville, Ohio. Back in those days there was a cigar store on every corner. You actually could purchase cigars and cigs and go to the back of the joint to wager on anything from sports to numbers. My first bet was a 4-team baseball parlay for 50 cents.

The worst thing that could happen was that I won it and collected $11 dollars and change. If I would have lost, there’s no telling where I’d be now. It’s strange how little things in life alters our path.

There has been a lot written lately about the value of the dime line for betting purposes. I agree that there is value, but it’s really to the big bettor. The little guy that just wants action and wagers $10 and $20 parlays will most likely never notice or care. All we want is cashing a ticket.

The biggest value in a dime lime was to the wise guys, who were tying to scalp five cents on a game. Just a few years ago when Vegas still had wise guys betting baseball, there were games that would move 30 and 40 cents. If you bet a game at —110 and it went to —140, you could buy your bet back and have a shot at making 20 cents on the dollar if the dog won. If the favorite won, you didn’t lose anything.

Some guys would just by a piece of their bet back, giving them a small profit no matter what team won. When betting $5,000 a game (the limit in most places) they could win a lot of money. There were also those beting so much money that they would move the lines 20 and 30 cents, not looking to take back.

When I was behind the counter there was a group called the "kosher kids" who would come in and just pound games. They had good streaks and bad, but the book always managed to win its share.

At the Stardust, we had a guy come in every Monday carrying a plastic bag just plum full of hundreds. He was very courteous, would walk up to the counter and start betting. The guy would lay the game $5,000 a clip and each time the line would move. He just keep betting until the bag was empty or the line got too high.

This man would count out his money, leave the writer $100 tip and say see you later. The cashiers and board men would receive a two-spot so they rooted for him.

These days are gone for good in Vegas but the value of the dime line will continue. My answer is that if you bet a winning ticket it likely won’t change your life. Unless you are 13 making your first bet and happen to hit.

Some tidbits

What about the 0 from Jason Kidd? I have heard people actually mention him in the same breath with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Do you think they would have been blanked in a game like that. Pretty darn amazing!

With Belmont coming up June 5, there has been chatter about a new drug that some trainers possess called snail venom. It’s undetectable and supposed to move a horse way up”¦Also, I have been following that horse system that I put in my column a few weeks ago and there have been some really nice winners.