Wagering has advanced over the years

Wagering has advanced over the years

September 06, 2016 3:00 AM


There comes a time, if you live long enough, when your thoughts are more of the past than the future. It’s not a watershed moment that occurred on such and such a day. It really doesn’t just happen, it’s just part of the process if we live long enough.

Thoughts of handicapping and handicappers stay fresh in my memories. Somehow winning and losing was more personal a couple decades ago than now. When you had to scrounge for information and stats before compiling it by hand in your own personal format, a win just might mean more to you than clicking onto a website today and having it done for you. Same with losing, now a loss can be rationalized away by “it was someone else’s faulty work.”

Did you ever have to wait on the morning paper for a score, especially in college baskets, then squeeze it out letter by letter, number by number? How about trying to avoid hearing a score so you could watch the NBA game tape delayed on TV at 11:30 after the late news? Somehow winning was a bit more satisfying and losing was a bit more aggravating than the easier, sterile atmosphere we’re blessed with today.

Today’s race and sportsbooks show hundreds of games and races on TV. Stats and predictions are ready made and thrown at us till we bet like zombies. That’s not a bad thing. As I always quote, “Times change, either change with them or get out of the way.”

What about the other side? The bookie, “our man” who we’d settle with every Tuesday. Call in mid-week and he’d make you check your figure. When it’s in his favor he responds, “on the nuts my friend.” When it’s your way he responds “check.” Today, bet in a Vegas race and sportsbook and your winnings are paid immediately if you want or need them. Again, not a bad thing.

The most striking difference to me is the evolution of race and sportsbook personnel. Thanks to computers there is no sports bookmaking knowledge required for the front lines. Us old goats had to be fluent in Bookmaking 1 & 2. We had to keep track of the line and changes, know how to figure odds and payouts in our minds and handle cash accordingly.

No computers to do it for us. Bosses had to change numbers on their own. Every position required skill. Today, MacDonald’s is a good breakin job for a race and sportsbook front line, counter position. Good or bad? Today’s use of personnel is physically more efficient but nostalgia-wise maybe not so much.

Most wagers today are not made behind our own work and knowledge. What will never change though is we still have to pick the winning side and 11 is bigger than 10. We still give our money to the bookmaker then try to win it back. Some things never change and that’s a good thing I suppose.

Where am I in this evolution process? Right in the middle. I look back with fondness and yearning while still looking ahead. Take care.