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Secret Life of an Old-School New York Bookie

Are you a gambling man?" Vera asks me. She hands an envelope to a bartender at the Meatpacking District because she sips on a whiskey and ginger ale. The envelope contains money for one of her customers. Vera’s a bookie and a runner, and to be apparent, Vera’s not her real name.
She’s a small-time bookie, or even a bookmaker, a person who takes bets and leaves commission off them. She books soccer tickets and collects them from pubs, theater stagehands, employees at job sites, and sometimes building supers. Printed on the tickets which are the size of a grocery receipt are spreads for college football and NFL games. At the exact same time, she’s a"runner," another slang term to describe someone who delivers cash or spread amounts to a 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 football betting has sunk in the surface of the wildly popular, embattled daily dream sites like FanDuel or DraftKings.
“Business is down due to FanDuel, DraftKings," Vera says. “Guy wager $32 and won two million. That’s a load of shit. I wish to meet him." There is a nostalgic feel to circling the amounts of a football spread. The tickets have what seem like traces of rust on the borders. The faculty season has finished, and she didn’t do that bad this season, Vera says. What is left, though, are pool stakes for the Super Bowl.
Vera started running numbers back when she was fourteen years old in a snack bar where she worked as a waitress. The chef called in on a phone in the hallway and she’d deliver his stakes to bookies for horse races. It leant an allure of young defiance. The same was true when she bartended from the’80s. “Jimmy said in the start,’I will use you. Just so that 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 guy, 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 beat breast cancer herself, although she smokes. She failed radioactive treatment and denied chemo.
Dead bosses left behind customers to conduct and she would oversee them. Other runners despised her at first. They could not understand why she’d have more clientele . “And they would say,’who the fuck is this donkey, coming here carrying my job? “‘ she states like the guys are throwing their dead weight about. On occasion the other runners tricked her, for instance a runner we will call"Tommy" maintained winnings he was supposed to hand off to her . “Tommy liked to put coke up his nose, and play cards, and he liked the girls in Atlantic City. He’d go and give Sam $7,000 and fuck off using the other $3,000. He tells the supervisor,’Go tell the wide.’ And I says, ‘Fuck you. It’s like I’m just a fucking wide to you. I really don’t count. “‘ It’s obviously forbidden to get a runner to devote cash or winnings meant for clients on private vices. But fellow runners and gambling policemen trust her. She never speaks bad about them, their figures, winnings, or titles. She whines if she doesn’t make commission. She says she can"keep her mouth closed" which is why she is a runner for almost 25 decades.
When she pays customers, she exchanges in person, never leaving envelopes of money behind toilets or under sinks in tavern bathrooms. Through the years, however, she has lost around $25,000 from men not paying their losses. “There’s a great deal of losers out there," she said,"just brazen." For the soccer tickets, she capital her very own"bank" that’s self-generated, nearly informally, by establishing her worth on the success of this school season’s first few weeks of stakes in the autumn.
“I ai not giving you no amounts," Vera says and beverages from her black stripes. Ice cubes turn the whiskey into some lighter tan. She reaches for her smokes and zips her coat. She questions the recent alterations in the spread with the weekend’s Super Bowl between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos and squints at her drink and overlooks the bartender. Her moves timber, as her ideas do. The favorability of the Panthers has shifted from three to four-and-a-half to five quickly from the past week. She needs the Panthers to win six or seven in order for her wager to be a victory, and forecasts 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 did not want to see had sat in the first one. She says there is a man there who tends to frighten her. She continues farther north.
In the next pub, a poster tacked to the wall beyond the counter shows a 100-square Super Bowl grid or"boxes" “Are you running any Super Bowls?" Vera asks.
To win a Super Bowl box, at the end of each quarter, the last digit of the teams’ scores need to coordinate with the amount of your selected box in the grid. The bartender hands Vera the grid. The bar lights brighten. Vera traces her finger across its outline, explaining that when the score is Broncos, 24, and Panthers, 27, from the third quarter, that is row 4 and column . Prize money varies each quarter, along with the pool just works properly if bar patrons buy 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. All the Bills knelt and prayed for this area goal. “Cops in the 20th Precinct won. It was 0 9," she says, describing the box amounts that matched 0 and 9. However, her deceased boss wasted the $50,000 pool within the course of this entire year, spending it on lease, gas and smokes. Bettors had paid installments throughout the year for $500 boxes. Nobody got paid. There was a"contract on his life."
The bartender stows a white envelope of money before attaching an apricot-honey mix for Jell-O shots. Vera rolls up a napkin and spins it in a beer which looks flat to provide it foam.
“For the very first bookie I worked for, my name was’Ice,’ long until Ice-T," she says, holding out her hands, 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 had been"a cold-hearted bitch."

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