Read earlier installments here from the Sportsbook Consigliere (@sportsbkconsig), who’s been working in sportsbooks for over 20 years. Various roles, various places, making numbers, taking bets and everything else in between.
Sports have unwritten rules. In baseball, you don’t bunt to break up a no-hitter. And you definitely don’t “pimp” a home run. If you do, it’s understood you (or your innocent teammate behind you) will get one up and in or right at your ass. In hockey, the code is that if you touch the goalie, you get a face wash. If you run a star player, you will get run and will probably have to drop the gloves.
The sportsbook has its own set of unwritten rules. Most of the time, unsuspecting, novice bettors find out the hard way that they have violated one or more of these rules. Whether it’s from the crusty, veteran ticket writer or one of the “know it all” regulars, the outcome can be nasty. I’ve seen a few that turned into heated shouting matches, and I have even seen a few get physical.
Look, I welcome confrontation when necessary, but it can be avoided easily. So, here are a few things to do when you go to the window at a sportsbook near you.
Don’t violate the shot clock
Imagine going to the grocery store and standing behind someone ringing up a full shopping cart item by item. I have used the line “Would you pay for apples one by one?” Of course not. Get all your tickets done and pay at the end. The tickets will come out of the machine one by one, and, amazingly, the computer will keep a running total.
The writer will hand you all of them at the end AFTER you pay. And have the money ready. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had a customer start digging in pockets, a purse or a wallet, only to come up short. Or the dreaded “I must have left my money in my room.”
Really? You just made like $250 in bets, and you ain’t got no cash? No, we don’t take cards. And no, we aren’t holding the tickets until you come back. I’ve had guys come up and go “give me a straight bet, 242, minus the 4, for $3300.” PRINT. Hand me a stack of Benjamin’s.
Guy knows what he’s doing. Then, I count the money, it’s $2800. “Sir, you are light a nickel.”
Shocking. “Are you sure? Count it again.”
Go slow and count it again. Still short. Son of a…
Clear shot clock violation. If I had a trap door at the counter, you’d be gone. Don’t be that guy.
Have your game numbers ready
It’s not hard. You look at the sheets, circle or write down the game numbers. Call them out to the writer by bet type, number, specify money line, over/under, then the amount. For example, “I’ll take a parlay with 256, 267 over and 281 money line for $50.” And continue in that fashion. It will ensure accuracy, and it shows the writer you actually may have a clue. Nobody likes an unprepared “number hunter” who searches for games like he’s gazing at the stars.
It’s an enjoyable experience for both parties. Don’t be the guy who comes up and says “I want to do an 8 game parlay” and start rattling off team names. New books even have a “build your bet” option, which I haven’t seen in person yet but I’m 100% sure it has to help. Use it.
Mind your own business
Everybody has their own bets and their own bankroll. The money is relative. Guy in front of you may be betting 5 dimes or 5 dollars. It doesn’t concern you. Nobody cares. Let them do their thing.
There is a Vegas legend who has been around for 40 years. He has more money buried in coffee cans than most people will see in their lives. Every Vegas sportsbook employee has had a run in with him at least once, but he saves his most vicious vitriol for the poor schmuck just trying to get his $10 bets in. David is his name, and he is a a gem.
David will stand behind people and yell things like “You must be a Republican” to get them to hurry up. He is 79 years old, has all the money in the world, and he has been tossed out of books all over town.
One time, David went after another regular, Marty, for betting $100 on a game. “Seriously, Marty, what are you doing? You must really like that one if you are playing it for a whole hundred bucks. Big spender, huh?”
Marty is probably 70 and a nice, soft spoken guy. Never bothered anybody.
“F*ck you, David. I’ll kick your ass.”
Oh, shit. This could get ugly. I quickly yelled “Guys, settle down.”
They walked away from the counter, barking at each other. Deep down, all of us wanted to see somebody give David what he had coming.
Marty went for the choke hold. Dave leaned to the side to avoid Marty’s outstretched arms. They held each other like bad dance partners. Then, Marty threw the slowest right hook I’ve ever seen, slightly grazing Dave’s left cheek.
We didn’t even call security. It was the saddest “fight” I’ve ever seen. The supervisor went out and told Dave to leave. We got Marty some water and hoped he didn’t have a heart attack. All over nothing.
Next day, we made a line for the fight. Marty -120, mostly cause he was younger. And we wanted him to win. Plus, Dave violated the unwritten rule in the book and had to “drop the gloves.”
Sportsbook lesson 101: Don’t be that guy.