Are you a gambling man?” Vera asks me. She hands an envelope to a bartender at the Meatpacking District as she sips on a whiskey and ginger ale. The envelope includes cash for one. Vera’s a bookie and also a runner, and to be clear, Vera’s not her name.
She’s a small-time bookie, or even a bookmaker, a person who takes bets and makes commission off them. She publications soccer tickets and collects them out of pubs, theater stagehands, workers at job sites, 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 same time, she’s a”runner,” another slang term to describe someone who delivers cash or spread numbers to a boss. Typically bookies are men, not women, and it’s as though she’s on the pursuit for new blood, looking for young gamblers to enlist. The paper world of football betting has sunk in the surface of the wildly popular, embattled daily fantasy sites like FanDuel or DraftKings.
“Business is down due to FanDuel, DraftKings,” Vera says. “Guy bet $32 and won 2 million. That’s a load of shit. I want to meet him” There’s a nostalgic feel to circling the numbers of a soccer spread. The tickets have what seem like hints of rust on the edges. The faculty season has finished, and she did not do so bad this year, Vera states. What’s left, however, are swimming pool bets for the Super Bowl.
Vera started running back numbers when she was two years old in a snack bar where she worked as a waitress. The chef called in on a telephone in the hallway and she would deliver his stakes 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 at the beginning,’I will use you. Just so you know,”’ she says, recalling a deceased supervisor. “`You go into the bar, bullshit with the boys. You can talk soccer with a man, you are able to pull them in, and then they are yours. ”’ Jimmy died of a brain hemorrhage. Her second boss died of cancer. Vera says she beat breast cancer herself, even though she still smokes. She underwent radioactive treatment and refused chemo.
Dead bosses left behind clients to run and she would oversee them. Other runners despised her in the beginning. They couldn’t understand why she’d have more clientele . “And they would say,’who the fuck is the donkey, coming over here taking my job? ”’ she states just like the guys are throwing their dead weight about. On occasion the other runners tricked her, for example a runner we will call”Tommy” kept winnings that he was supposed to hand off to her for himself. “Tommy liked to place coke up his nose, and play cards, and he liked the girls in Atlantic City. He would go and give Sam $7,000 and fuck off with the other $3,000. He tells the supervisor,’Go tell the broad.’ And I says, ‘Fuck you. It’s like I am just a fucking wide to you. I really don’t count. ”’ It is obviously forbidden to get a runner to spend cash or winnings intended for customers on private vices. But fellow runners and gaming policemen trust . 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 closed” that is why she’s be a runner for nearly 25 decades.
When she pays clients, she buys in person, never leaving envelopes of cash behind toilets or under sinks in tavern bathrooms. Over the years, however, she’s lost around $25,000 from guys not paying their losses. “There’s a lot of losers out there,” she explained,”just brazen.” For the football tickets, she capital her very own”bank” that is self-generated, almost informally, by building her worth on the achievement of this school season’s first couple of weeks of bets in the fall.
“I ai not giving you no amounts,” Vera says and beverages from her black stripes. Ice cubes turn the whiskey to some lighter tan. She reaches her cigarettes and zips her coat. She questions the recent alterations in the spread for the weekend’s Super Bowl between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos and squints in her beverage and pays the bartender. Her moves lumber, as her thoughts do. The favorability of the Panthers has shifted from three to four 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 bet to be a victory, and forecasts Cam Newton will direct them to some double-digit win over Peyton Manning.
Outside, she lights a cigarette before going to a new pub. Someone she didn’t want to see had sat in the first one. She says there’s a guy there who tends to frighten her. She continues farther north.
At the second pub, a poster tacked to the wall past the counter shows a 100-square Super Bowl grid or”boxes” “Are you running any Super Bowls?” Vera asks.
To acquire a Super Bowl box, in the conclusion of every quarter, the final digit of either of the groups’ scores need to match the number of your selected box in the grid. The bartender hands Vera the grid. The bar lights brighten. Vera traces her finger across its own outline, explaining that when the score is Broncos, 24, and Panthers, 27, by the third quarter, that’s row 4 and column . Prize money varies each quarter, and the pool just works properly if bar patrons purchase out all of 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. All the Bills knelt and prayed for this area goal. “Cops from the 20th Precinct won. It was 0 9,” she says, describing the box numbers that matched 0 and 9. However, her deceased boss squandered the $50,000 pool within the course of this entire year, spending it on rent, gas and smokes. Bettors had paid installments through the year for $500 boxes. Nobody got paid. There was a”contract in his own 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 twists it into a beer that seems flat to give it foam.
“For the first bookie I worked for, my title was’Ice,’ long until Ice-T,” she says, holding out her hand, rubbing where the ring with her codename would fit. “He got me a ring, which I lost. 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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