View From A Gambler

by Ed Meyer

posted on October 13, 2009 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

I am the son of a horseplayer, and the grandson of a horseplayer. I have been brought up knowing how to count by rolling dice, and knowing that there are 8 eighths in a mile. I thought everybody had a local bookie, and listening to the race of the day on the radio was something that everyone did.

I was sitting next to a local from Nevada a few weeks ago, and I found out that my tradition was not just something that was in my neck of the woods.

Sammy was about 80-years-old. He was funny, and liked to talk all day… I was just making small bets and watching football, and I enjoyed the conversation. He told me of how he and his father used to go to a backroom at an ice cream store in Kansas. There would be racing info, and a wire service that would give stretch calls of every race in the country…. Life was simple, but life was good…..

Sammy raised his family, and his wife lets him come to the racebook daily. He has $50 to spend any way he likes… He even invited me back to their home for dinner, but I had a plane to catch…. He brought us back a couple of beers, and said drinks were on the winner. Funny thing, I never saw him cash one ticket all day. But the gesture was kind, and the beer was cold.

He told me tales of going into a bar with his dad, and for a nickel, you could get a beer and a ham sandwich… Man, his $50 would have lasted a lifetime back then. He told me stories of crooked races, and how his father had some inside info about a horse from New York…. The horse won, and Santa Claus brought him a train set for Christmas that year.

He loves his action, and knows everyone at the book. They all stop by and speak, and it is for sure that they will meet again the next day for early coffee. He attends every free seminar, and gets every book written known to man. He says it never helped him, and I do believe it…. Sammy was a construction owner. He even did years of work when atomic testing was conducted in that area of the country. He made his money, and said he saw things that would make your hair curl….

The long and the short of things is that from as far back as I have met people, there was some type of gambling taking place. It all has the same type of structure, and only the details change. Fathers and sons have been enjoying ballgames and horse races for years. Many of us learned to play from a father, uncle, or a friend. It is all the same story. Here, I sat next to a man 40 years my senior, and we had a great deal in common. He asked me who I liked at Santa Anita, and I gave him a winner that paid $10.40….. Five minutes later, back came two beers and a smile on Sammy’s face a mile long…..Beers were on the winner.