Are you a gambling man?” Vera asks me. She hands on an envelope to a bartender at the Meatpacking District as she sips on a whiskey and ginger ale. The envelope contains money for one of its own clients. Vera’s a bookie and also a runner, and also to be apparent, Vera’s not her real name.
She’s a small-time bookie, or a bookmaker, one who takes bets and makes commission off them. She publications soccer tickets and collects them out of bars, theater stagehands, workers at job sites, and at times building supers. Printed on the tickets that are the size of a grocery receipt are spreads for college football and NFL games. At the same time, she’s a”runner,” another slang term to describe somebody who delivers cash or spread amounts to some boss. Typically bookies are men, not women, and it is as though she’s on the chase for new blood, searching for young gamblers to enlist. The paper world of soccer betting has sunk in the surface of the exceptionally popular, embattled daily fantasy sites like FanDuel or DraftKings.
“Business is down due to FanDuel, DraftKings,” Vera says. “Guy bet $32 and won two million. That’s a load of shit. I wish to meet him.” There is a nostalgic sense to circling the amounts of a soccer spread. The tickets have what look like traces of rust on the edges. The college season has finished, and she didn’t do so bad this year, Vera says. What is left, however, are pool stakes for the Super Bowl.
Vera started running back numbers when she was two years old in a snack bar where she was employed as a waitress. The chef called on a phone in the hallway and she’d deliver his bets to bookies for horse races. It leant an allure of young defiance. The same was true when she first bartended in the’80s. “Jimmy said at the beginning,’I will use you. Just so you know,”’ she says, remembering a deceased boss. “`You go into the bar, bullshit together with the boys. You’re able to talk soccer with a man, you can pull them , and then they’re yours. ”’ Jimmy died of a brain hemorrhage. Her next boss died of brain cancer. Vera says she overcome breast cancer herself, although she smokes. She underwent radioactive treatment and refused chemo.
Dead managers left behind customers to run and she would oversee them. Other runners despised her at first. They couldn’t understand why she’d have more clientele . “And they’d say,’who the fuck is this donkey, coming here taking my occupation? ”’ she says like the guys are throwing their dead weight around. On occasion the other runners tricked her, for instance a runner we’ll call”Tommy” maintained winnings that he was likely to hand off to her . “Tommy liked to put coke up his nose, and play cards, and he enjoyed the girls in Atlantic City. He’d go and provide Sam $7,000 and fuck off with another $3,000. He informs the supervisor,’Go tell the broad.’ And I says, ‘Fuck you. It’s like I’m just a fucking wide to you. I don’t count. ”’ It is obviously prohibited for a runner to spend cash or winnings intended for customers on personal vices. But fellow runners and gaming policemen trust . She never speaks bad about them, their figures, winnings, or names. She never whines if she doesn’t make commission. She says she can”keep her mouth closed” which is why she’s be a runner for nearly 25 decades.
When she pays customers, she buys in person, never secretly leaving envelopes of cash behind bathrooms or beneath sinks in tavern bathrooms. Over the years, though, she’s lost up to $25,000 from guys not paying their losses. “There is a great deal of losers out there,” she said,”just brazen.” For the football tickets, she funds her own”bank” that’s self-generated, nearly informally, by establishing her worth on the achievement of this school year’s first couple of weeks of stakes in the autumn.
“I ain’t giving you no figures,” Vera says and beverages from her black straw. Ice cubes turn the whiskey into some lighter tan. She reaches her smokes and zips her coat. She questions the recent alterations in the spread for this weekend’s Super Bowl between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos and squints at her drink and overlooks the bartender. Her moves lumber, as her thoughts do. The favorability of the Panthers has shifted from three to four-and-a-half to five fast in the past week. She wants the Panthers to win six or seven in order for her bet for a success, and predicts Cam Newton will lead them to a double-digit win over Peyton Manning.
Outside, she lights a cigarette before going to a new bar. Someone she didn’t need to see had sat in the first one. She says there is a guy there who will harass her. She continues further north.
In the next pub, a poster tacked to the wall past the counter indicates a 100-square Super Bowl grid “boxes” “Are you running any Super Bowls?” Vera asks.
To win a Super Bowl box, at the conclusion of each quarter, the final digit of either of the teams’ scores need to coordinate with the number of your chosen box in the grid. The bartender hands Vera the grid. The pub lights brighten. Vera traces her finger throughout its outline, explaining that when the score is Broncos, 24, and Panthers, 27, by the next quarter, that is row 4 and column . Prize money changes each quarter, and the pool only works properly if bar patrons purchase out all the squares.
Vera recalls a pool in 1990, the Giants-Buffalo Super Bowl XXV. Buffalo dropped 19 to 20 after missing a field goal from 47 yards. Each of the Bills knelt and prayed for that field goal. “Cops from the 20th Precinct won. It had been 0 9,” she says, describing the box amounts that matched 0 and 9. However, her deceased boss wasted the $50,000 pool over the course of the entire year, spending it on rent, gas and cigarettes. Bettors had paid installments throughout the entire year for $500 boxes. Nobody got paid. There was a”contract on his life.”
The bartender stows a white envelope of cash before pouring an apricot-honey mix for Jell-O shots. Vera rolls up a napkin and twists it into a beer which seems flat to give it foam.
“For the first bookie I worked , my title was’Ice,’ long before Ice-T,” she says, holding out her hands, rubbing at which the ring along with her codename would fit. “He got me a ring, which I dropped. Twenty-one diamonds, made’ICE. ”’ The bookie told her he had it inscribed ICE since she was”a cold-hearted bitch.”
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