Fri, 30 December 2011
Author Jim Gentile likes to gamble. It’s in his genes, thanks to his father. As a teenager, an $88 Quinella at Arlington Park hooked him. Since then, he has had many a lucky day. He parlayed his passion for “playing the horses” into a thirty-year career working at seven Chicago-area tracks. This book provides a peek behind the gate of the horseracing industry. It’s a humorous account of Jim’s experiences in the trenches as a teller, ticket room clerk, cashier, manager, and senior auditor, with plenty of opportunity to hone his skills as a bettor: “ On Wednesdays — payday — there were three lines at the in-town tracks: one line to get your check, another line to cash your check, and the third line was to pay back your gambling losses. If you only went to line one, you were way ahead of the game.”
An odd cast of characters is woven throughout these memorable stories. You’ll meet, among others:Gravelly-voiced Aunt Flo who blew her husband’s entire savings at the racetrack while he was on a WWII Navy ship. “Uncle Dick thought he was returning home to a comfortable nest egg, only to find out that Aunt Flo did not understand the nest egg concept — she had gambled away every cent. To his credit, as the story was told to me, Uncle Dick went on a four-day bender and Aunt Flo lived to tell the tale.”
Two overly eager co-workers whose wily wagers cost them their jobs: “By the last race Howie was in the box for over $76,000! With only one race left, his only hope was to hit the Trifecta. Hey, what’s another $24,000 when you are already stuck 76 large.” “Louie’s eyes were glued to the television, as the lead horse was ahead by 3 lengths on the backstretch. He quickly punched in $200 to win, the maximum bet the machine would allow, punched the number of the horse on the lead, and started hitting the repeat button. This feature allowed clerks to issue multiple tickets rapidly and Louie was working that machine like a construction worker holding a jackhammer.”
Tommy and his plan to rule roulette: “When the ball bounced around it landed on red, but only momentarily before it leaped into a black slot like a poisonous frog.” Tommy had fallen prey to a common condition called “Gambler’s Fallacy”. Simply stated, this is the “incorrect belief that the likelihood of a random event can be affected or predicted from other independent events.” The “law of averages” is one phrase that gamblers should strike from their vocabulary.”
Avid gamblers as well as non-gamblers will be highly entertained by a myriad of sagas, which also include sports betting, dog racing, and poker. By the end of the book, like the author, readers will end up asking themselves, “Is today going to be my lucky day?” You betcha!