Are you a gambling man?» Vera asks me. She hands on an envelope to a bartender in the Meatpacking District as she sips on a whiskey and ginger ale. The envelope contains money for one. Vera’s a bookie and a runner, and also to be clear, Vera’s not her name.
She is a small-time bookie, or even a bookmaker, a person who takes stakes and makes commission off them. She books football tickets and collects them out of pubs, theater stagehands, workers at job websites, and sometimes building supers. Printed on the tickets that are the size of a supermarket are spreads for college football and NFL games. At the exact same time, she is a»runner,» another slang term to describe someone who delivers spread or cash amounts to a boss. Typically bookies are men, not women, and it is as though she is on the pursuit for new blood, looking for young gamblers to enlist. The newspaper 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 wager $32 and won 2 million. That is a load of shit. I want to meet him» There’s a nostalgic sense to circling the numbers 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 states. What’s left, however, are pool bets for the Super Bowl.
Vera started running back numbers when she was fourteen years old at a snack bar where she worked as a waitress. The chef called in on a telephone in the hallway and she would deliver his bets to bookies for horse races. It leant an allure of youthful defiance. The same was true when she first bartended from the’80s. «Jimmy said in the beginning,’I’m going to use you. Just so that you know,»’ she says, remembering a deceased boss. «`You go in the pub, bullshit with the boys. You can talk soccer with a man, you are able to pull them in, and then they’re yours. »’ Jimmy died of a brain hemorrhage. Her next boss died of cancer. Vera says she overcome breast cancer , although she still smokes. She underwent radioactive therapy and refused chemo.
Dead managers left behind clients to run and she would oversee them. Other runners despised her at first. They could not understand why she would have more clientele than them. «And they’d say,’who the fuck is this donkey, coming over here carrying my job? »’ she states just like the men are throwing their dead weight around. Sometimes the other runners duped her, for example a runner we will call»Tommy» kept winnings he was likely to hand off to her for himself. «Tommy liked to put coke up his noseand play cards, and he enjoyed the women in Atlantic City. He would go and give Sam $7,000 and fuck off with another $3,000. He tells the supervisor,’Go tell the wide.’ And I says, ‘Fuck you. It is like I am just a fucking broad to you. I don’t count. »’ It is obviously prohibited for a runner to spend cash or winnings intended for customers on private vices. But fellow runners and gambling policemen trust her. She speaks bad about them, their characters, winnings, or names. She never whines if she does not make commission. She says she could»keep her mouth shut» that is why she’s be a runner for nearly 25 years.
When she pays clients, she buys in person, never secretly leaving envelopes of cash behind toilets or beneath sinks in tavern bathrooms. Over the years, however, she’s dropped up to $25,000 from men not paying their losses. «There is a lot of losers out there,» she said,»just brazen.» For the football tickets, she capital her own»bank» that is self-generated, almost informally, by building her value on the success of the school year’s first couple of weeks of stakes in the fall.
«I ain’t giving you no more figures,» Vera states and beverages from her black straw. Ice cubes turn the whiskey to a lighter tan. She reaches her cigarettes and zips her coat. She questions the current alterations in the spread with this weekend’s Super Bowl between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos and squints in her beverage and overlooks the bartender. Her movements lumber, as her ideas do. The favorability of the Panthers has changed from three to four-and-a-half to five quickly in the last week. She needs the Panthers to win by six or seven in order for her wager for a success, and predicts Cam Newton will lead them to some double-digit triumph over Peyton Manning.
Outside, she lights a cigarette before moving to a new pub. Someone she didn’t want to see had sat down in the first one. She says there’s a guy there who tends to harass her. She continues farther north.
In the second pub, a poster tacked to the wall past the counter shows a 100-square Super Bowl grid or»boxes» «Have you been running any Super Bowls?» Vera asks.
To acquire a Super Bowl box, in the conclusion of each quarter, the final digit of the teams’ scores need to match the number of your chosen box in the grid. The bartender hands Vera the grid. The pub lights brighten. Vera traces her finger across its own outline, explaining that when the score is Broncos, 24, and Panthers, 27, from the next quarter, that’s row 4 and column 7. Prize money varies 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 area goal. «Cops in the 20th Precinct won. It had been 0 9,» she says, describing the box amounts that matched 0 and 9. But her deceased boss squandered the $50,000 pool over the course of this entire year, spending it on lease, gas and smokes. Bettors had paid payments through the entire year for $500 boxes. Nobody got paid. There was a»contract on his life.»
The bartender stows a white envelope of money before pouring an apricot-honey mix for Jell-O shots. Vera rolls up a napkin and spins it into a beer which seems flat to give it foam.
«For the first bookie I worked for, my name was’Ice,’ long until Ice-T,» she says, holding out her hands, rubbing where the ring along with her codename would fit. «He got me a ring, which I dropped. Twenty-one diamonds, created’ICE. »’ The bookie told her he had it inscribed ICE since she was»a cold-hearted bitch.»
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