A Gaggle of Gamblers

by Ed Meyer

posted on August 5, 2015 in Blogroll, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | No Comments >>

There is more than just one flavor of ice cream, and if everyone liked the same color, it would be a pretty drab world. – Believe it or not, there are as many types of gamblers as Baskin Robbins has ice cream. – Yep, you heard it right here, and it is true as the sky is blue. Only a person who has worked in gaming / gambling would have a true read on the many different types. – Now that’s not going to get me World Series tickets, but it does give me a perspective. I like to float among all, and experience the whole culture. Gamblers are a special group unto themselves, and you would learn a great deal about yourself by spending a day in the race book, casino, or racino. – I promise, it won’t disappoint. – So without further delay, here are a few groups of folks you would see on any given day.

1. – The Shouter = This is the big mouth fella in the back of the room who is shouting at the top of his lungs; ” Come on Johnny, drop over to the rail, shoot the gap, go wide, or use the whip.” – Notice I said fella, that is because even the most excited lady gambler would never make an ass  of herself. – He always has the horse coming to mow them down, or holds off the late charging closer. By my accounts, Wall Street should have him on as the handicapper of the week, and stop investing and just follow him to windows. – Oh, and about the windows. You’ll never see him near the self-bet machine or windows, he just wants to be known as the “man with the plan.”

2. – The Program Whip = This player is the brother to the above mentioned crazy person, and  uses his tightly rolled program to smack his hip and “smooch” to the horses as a jockey would. He wanted to be a jockey, but out grew that in 3rd grade. – But he knows when to use the stick, and what “chirps” the horse will respond to. – He is crazier than a rat in a coffee can.

3. – The Dumpster Diver = A one-of-a-kind cheapskate who gives the game a bad name. If you leave your program at your seat to make a bet, it will be gone ! – If they can’t find one to grab, they will be seen with their feet hanging out of trash cans searching for a program. – I have seen on many occasions the former Mayor of a large metropolitan city going through the cans, a doctor ( I hope he scrubs before surgery), and an 80-yr-old man who dug so deep he turned the can over and couldn’t get up without help. – Always fun to watch.

4. – Casino Crazy Bumper Cars = Now before you start thinking about a ride at Coney Island, these are the folks who weave in and out of the machines. They will dart right into your path and toss care to the wind. – These folks boggle my noggin. What in the hell are they thinking ? – I’m a big fella, and in my bag is a computer and handicapping info. Needless to say it is a little heavy, and I keep it close to my side like a football. The “bumper cars” have this dazed look in their eyes and come rolling right at you. My only guess is they think you’re going to jump on the Wizard of Oz slot machine, and their going to beat you to it.

5. – The Mojo Player = I see this more on casino floors, but they are alive and well in the race book as well. They love to be near when you have a big score, or sometimes they’ll come up and cheer you on and rub your shoulder for that “good luck” mojo. – They are harmless, but don’t have a slot machine going crazy on a payout, or they’ll be about two feet behind you hoping you’ll get up for one second so they can jump in.

As with ice cream, there are plenty of flavors just like gamblers. It wouldn’t be right if I only told you some of the horror stories without the ones that would make you tear at the eyes.

6. – Lucky = This guy is one of the nicest folks. He used to be the first one in the doors of the race book rain or shine. He would bring in a box of donuts for the clerks who arrived early, have home made cookies his wife sent in a decorative box, or a large bag of candy he would share if you were anywhere near his seat. – He used to play $2 a race, and maybe it would go as high as $5 if he had a hunch. – When the track had a pick-six carryover, he made his $5 hunch bet with a handful of quick picks. – Well, the next day when Lucky arrived with his donuts and candy. He had a ticket in his top pocket. Lucky had won the pick-six for over $300,000, and gave each of the clerks a $100 bill. – Good guy, you can see him at the track to this day.


7. – The Coffee Man = Tom would come in everyday and have a large double thermos. These things would hold about 100 oz. each. – His daughter owned a coffee and cake store, and they had the best fresh brewed coffee. He had cups in a sleeve box, and would go up and down the aisles asking fellow gamblers if they would like a cup of the world’s best coffee. – If they liked it he would tell them all about his daughter and son-in-law, and what a great place it is visit.


8. – The Dream House = This went back many moons as the track was giving away a new  home from “X-Y-Z Builders.” – It was advertised and promoted, and the track was full to the brim. I was just a kid in the parking lot, and we had to shut the gates as every spot was gone. – When they drew out three names, you could have heard a pin drop. – The first was for a dinner for four in the clubhouse, the second for a $500 betting voucher, and the grand prize was the new home. – The joint was so packed they ran out of hot dogs and programs, and that was an old tell tale sign of the crowd size. – I was standing on the bottom floor of the old track just people watching and handicapping the next race. – When the final name was called, an older lady started jumping up and down yelling ” I won $500 !” – It was only after her son calmed her down and took her to the drawing area that she was the winner of the new owner of the home. – Her house had burned to the ground from a Christmas tree malfunction earlier that year, and she was living with her son. – It was a once in a lifetime experience to see a person break down with tears of joy. She was happy to win $500, but the house was something the Wagering Gods must have sent her way.


Meeting a million people with ten million stories, I consider myself rich. I won’t be on Forbes list this year, but how rare it is to work in an environment you love. No matter how I do at the windows, I count myself lucky.


9. – The Regular = This player enjoys the races, follows the sport, and loves the action. There are small timers and big fish, but you can set your watch by their arrival. They have kept the lights on for years, and they are the unsung heroes of keeping the game alive.


10 – The $2 Molly = You can see and hear this player having fun always. They sit in groups and put up $10 or so and make place and show bets. Nobody has more fun than this group, and they always support the track. – The only arguing you’ll ever hear is the low rumble of betting the grey, the one with a short tail, or after the race the popular words of ” I told you he was going to win.’ – I call them the “Mollies” as my Mom used to tell me of her Aunt Molly going to the track. No matter who won, she would always come back saying ” I told you we should have bet that one.”


11 – The Bus Groups = There used to be a whole parking area devoted to the 30 or so busses that would park together. Players from all walks would come in with friends and family, or their cohorts from work. – Winning a million wasn’t important, and they were there for the fun atmosphere. – Most were drunk as Cooter Brown, and they would always share their beer with the guys in the parking lot.


12 – The Hard Core Player = They don’t like to be bothered as they would rather spend time handicapping. This player is serious and makes only a handful of wagers. You won’t know if their winning or losing as they never have a word to say. – Hard sort to read, but they know their stuff. Over the years I got to know some of the best in the game.


13 – The Whale = This is the sought after player who used to come to the track and have everything comped. They bet so much money that it only made sense to take care of them properly. – Cagey cats they were, and only a select group was allowed to sit among them. I saw men of business, ladies with lavish jewels, and a baseball player who would “Hustle” in to make the daily double. – I watched more money spent in a race or two than I would make all year. It was best to keep your opinions to yourself if any of them ever asked who you liked. Big players tossing around money expect to win every time.  It’s not the 100 winners in a row you give them, it’s the one who ran third they’ll tell you about. – With the off-shore books offering rebates of 8-10% for these big timers. They are harder to find these days as they’re betting from home.