Las Vegas Madness, Stardust style

Feb 16, 2016 3:00 AM

The Stardust sportsbook basketball season, Saturday, March 5, 1988.

To those who were there for those times you know what appeared to be bedlam was, in fact, well controlled by super sharp, unrattled sports writers and supervisors. For those who never witnessed a busy day in the Stardust sportsbook think of the floor of the NYSE.

This was a typical basketball Saturday. Eighty games including NBA, NCAA regular season, a few Conference playoffs and, of course, our own Stardust Added Games.

We made over 700 line changes this Saturday. That’s why serious players never left the book; if you stay long enough the numbers you’re looking to bet on will probably come up.

What’s hard to get your head around is we did this without relying on computers. We had them but they were too slow, too cumbersome for our needs. Our supervisors Patty, Sylvester, RJ, d’Wayne and GamingToday’s own Richard Saber, our head supervisor, charted the action by hand.

Each limit bet amount and at what price was charted (written) with pencil on a one-page Stardust schedule made for this purpose. We couldn’t be going from page to page, too slow. When the action on a certain number reached our limit we changed it again by hand on our individual clipboard charts. We announced the change over a microphone heard by the customers and Luther the boardman upstairs who then changed the huge odds boards, again by hand.

A typical odds change didn’t last very long because someone was always waiting for the change and either took it or anticipated it moving further and got the number now.

For example: Clippers at Bulls -18/197 saw the -18 close at -17 before bouncing back and forth between -18, 19, 18.5, 17.5 and 17. Eleven changes in all. The -197 total changed between 197, 198, 199, 198.5, 197.5 and finally closing at 198.5. It moved 14 times within those numbers. By the way, da Bulls won, 100-76. Talk about juice!

The Pistons opened -1 at the Bullets and went up the ladder to -4 before closing -3.5. (We didn’t take games off the board). The Bullets won straight up, 101-97. We picked up everyone with a blotter on this one.

The Spurs at Jazz total opened 229 and went as high as 232 before closing 230. Thirteen changes up and down the ladder. The Jazz won, 125-106. We got middled but so what. Not one player ever said, “I won your money and I’m never making another laydown.” Just a healthier br (bankroll) to bet with.

Harvard opened -3 at Brown and went to Brown -1. Harvard lost, 103-100, must have been OT. Looks like a disaster but it wasn’t so bad. My supervisors moved it quick and in those days we got plenty of two-way action.

Injuries, love ‘em. Ohio with Ford out opens -2 at Toledo and they bet it all the way to Toledo -2. Ohio wins, 106-95. And so it goes all season. Every day was like a Final Four.

Why? We made our own numbers and weren’t afraid to take a bet, we put them up first at 8 a.m. every day (win or lose), didn’t change rules or limits, didn’t cherry pick players to limit, first to pay 24 hours (we took their money fast so why should a player have to wait to get paid?)

You must understand, if a ticket wins it’s not money you lost. That money will find its way back through betting windows somewhere. We just made it an easy call, so when a player leaves his home and has to make a choice where to bet we had virtually no downside at the Stardust, every sport every season.

We didn’t give away cheap t-shirts or bobble head dolls to get players, just simply ran the best and last real bookie joint in Las Vegas.

RIP Dust, and thanks to all my staff and every player who ever made a lay down with us.

Take care, Scotty

Scotty Schettler began his Las Vegas journey in 1968. By the time he quit the race and sports book business he had booked over $1.5 billion for different employers. He says he knows where most of the cans are buried. His book,  is available on Contact Scotty at [email protected].