South Point's Michael Gaughan gets his guy in Chris Andrews

South Point's Michael Gaughan gets his guy in Chris Andrews

July 12, 2016 3:01 AM
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Chris Andrews is back where he belongs, behind the counter, booking bets.

Andrews had spent much of the last seven years on the other side, including most recently selling picks on a website, before getting a call a few months ago from South Point owner Michael Gaughan with an offer to replace Bert Osborne as sportsbook director.

“The business (AgainstTheNumber.com, which he recently sold) was going good,” Andrews said. “We weren’t desperate. But once he (Gaughan) mentioned the figure, it was a no-brainer.”

Andrews said he also had missed being part of the daily sportsbook scene. His uncle is Jack Franzi, a legendary Las Vegas oddsmaker going back to the 1970s who is best known as “Pittsburgh Jack.” Art Manteris, vice president in charge of Station Casinos’ race and sports operations, is one of Andrews’ cousins.

After graduating from Robert Morris College with a degree in business management, Andrews moved from Pittsburgh to Las Vegas in 1979 and was running a sportsbook up in Reno, Club Cal Neva, by the age of 25.

It’s just who he is.

“Once you get this in your blood, it’s hard to do anything else,” said Andrews, who hosted a radio show during his sportsbook hiatus and also had plans for a wealth management fund destroyed in 2008 by the financial crisis. “I like the daily knowing how you did. At the end of the night, you win, you lose.

“There’s a certain amount that’s out of your control, no doubt. But there’s a certain amount that’s in your control. We’re not doing that great in baseball, but I kind of know I’m cutting my losses as much as I can just by maneuvering the numbers. Other days where we do real well, I figure I kind of maximized profit. That’s what I’m getting paid to do.”

He learned it all by being around some of the best at a young age.

“Uncle Jack would take me to lunch or dinner, him and a bunch of his friends,” Andrews said. “I knew to keep my mouth shut and listen to as much as I could.”

Andrews, 60, quickly made a statement in mid-May that he’s going to be out front and take an aggressive approach in booking bets.

South Point not only put up season win totals for all 128 FBS college football teams, but Andrews was also the first with lines on each of the opening week college games, along with more than 100 other key games throughout the season.

Jimmy Vaccaro, the legendary oddsmaker who helps market the South Point book, encouraged Andrews to get his numbers out early.

It certainly stole the spotlight from one of Andrews’ former employers, the Golden Nugget, which had prided itself on being the first to put up college lines in recent years.

“I didn’t do it just to stick it to the Golden Nugget,” Andrews said, “but that was like a nice little added bonus.”

While running a sportsbook can be totally consuming, Andrews will try to get away from it all every once in a while, especially during the slower months between the end of basketball and beginning of football.

He and his wife, Pam, who is still recovering from a brain tumor that left her hospitalized for four months about a decade ago, recently celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary.

“She’s doing OK,” Andrews said. “She’ll never be back to where she was. She knows that. It sucks, but everybody has tragedies in their life. What do you do? You just live through it.

“She and I love to go to movies. We like to see the quirky, independent movies that are a little bit outside the mainstream.”

His other escape these days is reading books, and not just sports books.

“I read a lot of other stuff, just to kind of vacate my mind a little bit from the sports,” Andrews said.

Such as?

“I’m reading a very weird book right now, ‘Titus Groan,’” Andrews said, referring a gothic fantasy novel by Mervyn Peake. “It’s a very odd book. It’s like a work of literature. Believe me, that’s about as far away from sports as you can possibly get, but I enjoy reading that and it does take me away.”

The rest of the time, he’s glad to be back in the middle of the action and all those sports bets.

“I was very lucky to fall into a great spot,” Andrews said. “Now we’ve just got to starting winning a little bit.”

Check out the South Point Sports Book.