You Make the Call

In sports there are definitely “bad calls.”

By Luke Robinson


You have all seen the ads. The relentless commercials or magazine placements showcasing various prognosticators’ talents.

“Call this number today and get your free winners on a recorded message! That’s right–free winners from legendary handicapper Jackie ‘Two Legs’ McGee!”

As long as there have been sports, there has been gambling. As long as there has been sports gambling, there have been services selling their ability to help you win more money at sports gambling.

Some of you have probably used a few of them. Come on—admit it. It’s OK. I have, too. If you have ever placed just a few bets on a football game, how could you not? When you are down money for the week, those tout services’ sales pitches are like the siren songs of a buxom mermaid during a turbulent sea storm.

“Do you want to beat your man this weekend?” screams the advertisement.

“Yes, I do!” you tacitly reply.  (“Your man” means “your bookie” to the gambl-ocially challenged.)

“Then call me…‘Dangerous’ Dan Tatourri! I have a sparkling 72-17 record ATS over the last six years!”

“OK, I will!” you think.  (BTW, FWIW, and FYI, “ATS” means “Against the Spread.”)

Of course, anyone who has ever bet on sports makes fun of these guys. It’s hard not to. With their heavy Yankee accents, yellow sunglasses, and Kangol hats, they make pretty easy targets.

The best part is usually their made up statistics in their sales jobs, though: “This week, I am releasing my 22 Star Mountain West Conference Thursday night lock of the year…for the week! Call me on my 1-877 number and if I lose this game, you get the rest of my Thursday night contests…for free!

Sooooo, you’re saying if I call you and you give me a bad gambling tip then you will allow me to call you again to get more bad gambling tips? For free? Where…do…I…sign!

The kicker is if you ever do call one of these services, they get your phone number. They, in turn, sell that number to every scheister with a cheap camel hair coat and a shiny “Golex” watch. You will never stop getting phone calls from people named “Vinny the Bookie Slayer” or “James ‘Cashmoney’ Honey.”

Many moons ago, when I was in college, that very scenario happened to a friend of mine (for anonymity’s sake, I will call him Jake.) He had seen a placement in a magazine pitching some sleazy tout service featuring a guy with a porn mustache and tinted green visor. The ad was for “Manny Lox’s Betting Service” (or something like that), and it promised three free winners that weekend.

Jake looked at the ad (complete with the picture of Manny Lox) and thought, “There is no way a guy dressed that badly cannot be good at football handicapping.” A call to this service was placed immediately as my buddy needed a Saturday afternoon bailout.

“Manny Lox betting service,” the voice answered.

“Yes…ummm…I am calling about the picks…the free winners?” Jake responded.

“OK…ol’ on….” (silence for a minute and when someone returns, it’s a new, raspier voice). “Yeah, dis is Manny. You ready ta win ova dare?”

From that point on, Manny went on and on about his services and how talented he was. He never lost and the NFL had him on some sort of black list, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Eventually, Jake just demanded his free winners as the ad promised, and Manny obliged, but on one condition: If Manny won all of his three picks, Jake had to buy his service for the rest of the year ($300 worth). Jake agreed to those terms as he was down far more than $300.

Saturday came and went. Miraculously, Manny’s first two picks won convincingly, but his third ties the spread, making Jake 2-0-1. The next morning, Mr. Lox called Jake.

“Hey Jakey…How about those picks dare…Purdy good, huh?…So, let’s get ya credit card numbers and get ya signed up fer da year like we’s  agreed on….”

Jake says, “ Umm, you only won 2 of the 3 picks man….You pushed that other pick. I ain’t paying you a dime!”

Manny didn’t take that news too kindly. “Hey! You coulda bought da half and won dat game….You gimme dat credit card numbah—Now!”

Jake, not in the mood to argue with some random handicapper on a Sunday morning, simply hung up.

Manny was not amused. He called back immediately and got Jake’s answering machine as Jake knew better than to pick up. The handicapper obviously hadn’t read a lot of books on garnering repeat business, because his voice mail was pretty rough. He yelled into the recorder, “Hey…HEY! Pick up da phone you little (bleep) I know yer in dare! Ya hear meh?… Ahhhhh…To hells with ya.”

I am pretty sure Jake never called Manny again. I am also pretty sure Manny died mysteriously. Probably by shooting himself in the back three times or falling up a flight of stairs.

Regardless, the point of this story…well, there really is no point. I just think stories about bookies are funny as long as it isn’t my thumbs they are breaking.

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