It is hard to believe that nearly sixteen years have passed since I was a sophomore at university. My freshman year was primarily spent pledging a fraternity, chasing skirts, and figuring out how to balance studying with an exceptionally demanding social life. I survived that first year and somehow managed to dodge academic probation by a tenth of a point. Now I just needed to figure out how to boost my GPA and make some extra cash to help towards my student loan and sustain my extracurricular activities over the school year. Lucky for me, I had some older brothers help show me a way.
Our frat house boasted eleven bedrooms and the biggest party room on campus. My sophomore year we had over 20 guys move into the house, which hadn’t been that populated since the late 80’s. Things were hopping and football season was kicking off.
Some older brothers a year ahead of me had begun taking bets from guys, as well as other frats around campus the previous year. It started as a modest endeavor of about eight to ten players, but soon that had tripled. These guys were not known for saving their duckets, or their smarts for that matter, but they did know practically everybody that was anybody on campus.
The favorites, such as Michigan, Tennessee, Nebraska, Florida, Florida St. and Kansas St that year were covering like it was their business over the first two weeks of the season. In the gambling world, if the favorites keep winning and covering the spread, then this is bad for the bookie since most gamblers don’t bet the underdogs.
Kansas St, especially, will be forever etched in my mind. Hell, I’d never even heard of the University before. My two bros took a big hit those first couple of weeks and were desperate to find a cash injection, in order to keep the operation afloat. Lucky for them, I had spent the entire summer busting my arse making some cash at construction jobs.
Needless to say, they approached me about investing with them a couple of thousand for a third of the business. I knew next to nothing about gambling, and much less about parlays and spreads, but I had witnessed them going out gallivanting practically every night the previous year. So, I figured whatever they were doing was plenty lucrative and something I wanted a part of.
Classic way to take bets
In those days, hardly anybody owned their own laptops and even fewer walked around with personal cell phones. We would literally get our spreads from the sports section of daily copy of the US Today rag. We would normally take lines from the Thursday edition and run with them. Guys would call us up and we would jot their plays down on a page of notebook paper.
Similarly, we would keep a tally of each player’s wins and losses over a week. We charged 10% juice on losses and pushes, as well as 15% juice on parlays and futures. For most players, we would cap their plays at $300 per bet, but most of our clientele would average around $25 per bet. After the weekend and Monday Night Football, we would try to collect from players with losses exceeding $100, so that we could pay out the following Thursday to those that had surpassed $100 in winnings.
After a few more weeks, the outcomes began regressing to the mean and dogs started winning more so than favorites. We grew to around 40 plus active players and the profits were coming in. Everything was peachy with the exception of bumping into the occasional snapper head that owed you money, but didn’t let it prevent his buying booze and party favors at the local watering holes.
It still strikes me as funny how guys will ask to be paid out winnings on a Sunday or Monday, but have a hell of time coming up with the funds to pay us on our regular Tuesday collection day. I suppose banking institutions and the like have similar thoughts on the matter.
That fall and football season was a blast. Basketball started to kick off in October, which is one of my dearest sports and generally favorite times of year for sport after having grown up in ACC country. I never took into account how many games and nights basketball games took place prior to this venture.
At least back then, we were able to transfer calls to each other, so I wasn’t always stuck picking up the phone. Before I knew it, basketball season had ended and I was sitting so pretty that I didn’t have to work another construction job that following summer.
Instead, I picked up a part time contract job that paid similar, and bought myself some used DJ equipment. The DJ’ing complemented my primary occupation as well, except for the after downtown late night parties on Fridays and Saturdays during the football season. Again, cell phones were not common, so the boys would have to call in their action prior to hitting the course, or whatever the hell they were up to that day. This is when I decided to bring in one of my pledge brothers, and one of the most active players in our network.
That next fall semester rolled around and we were back in business. All seemed to be going well and we were over fifty players. Even some of the star football players were calling us, although we only allowed them to lay down on NFL and basketball games. About half way through this semester, my original partners came to me saying they wanted out. I was somewhat shocked by this development, but didn’t even give it much thought. They were seniors with serious girlfriends, pets, and perhaps settling down intentions. Scratch that, they were absolutely shifting into settling down mode.
So, now we are a two man show going forward. We still had more student players than anybody else in town. I was tickled pink with Jay, my new partner. He would handle the phones almost every single evening during the week, which routinely freed me up to hit the bar circuit.
I handled most of the collecting still, since I was more centrally located. All was going great, until Jay started taking action from a more established book in town. At first we engaged these guys, because we needed somewhere to lay off heavy action on some of the big games that everybody jumped on. This was my idea, since I was happy to make most of our earnings off of the juice. Somewhere along the way, Jay began letting some these guys lay with us. Next thing I know, we were taking plays of $500 or more.
It was all fun and games until we had a really bad stretch of consecutive weekends, where we sank into a $10k plus hole. Jay was really stressing and so was I to be honest. We knew that if we took another hit as bad, then we would be in way over our heads.
I told Jay we must start capping these big fish types on their plays, plus lay off whatever excesses on the big games like we did in the past. Luckily, we were able to mitigate some of our losses the following weekend and eventually had a stretch of two good weekends.
Jay went on to graduate that summer. I decided to keep the show going on my own for my senior year, which was a bitch since I was taking a full load and trying to graduate on time. I hired one of my buddies to help me with fielding calls and collecting from time to time.
By this point we had our own cell phones and computers, which facilitated a lot of the operation. I played things more conservative this time around. Profits were not quite as large as they had been with Jay, but in the long run I was happy to not have too many of those sleepless nights where you have no fucking idea how you will come up with the payouts.
The year past me by before I knew it and I actually achieved my goal of graduating on time, although I would later come to regret if after realizing a massive university life hangover while working my first job back in my hometown.
It didn’t help that my first job as a management trainee for a local bank was not nearly as exciting as my previous life as a student and entrepreneur. I imagine that is how the boys feel that go off to fight in the Middle East with the lack of stimulation that being back home provides.
Overall, being a bookie in University afforded me a lifestyle that most students dream about. I was able to go out to the bars whenever I wanted, buy clothes, shoes and even a new car. Not to mention the number of chicks that came with all those perks I had going for me.
The best part taking bets in college though was it helped me to pay off some of my student loans when I graduated since jobs I had were modest in salary.
Being out of school didn’t stop many of the guys from calling me up and wanting to gamble, despite that there were guys that filled my void at University, as well as the increasingly popular betting sites operating out of Central America.
So, I maintained a steady group of 15 players, who admirably supplemented my meager manager trainee income. I went on like this for years taking action from anywhere to 10 to 25 guys. Football season was always the most active, however, baseball and tennis suddenly became a popular play much to my surprise.
As I moved up within the bank, I found myself with less and less time to handle the day to day operations of my book. A good contact of mine living down in Costa Rica had mentioned to me this new concept called “pay per head”. For those of you still reading that are not familiar, pay per head is essentially a way to offshore all of your inbound calls, line setting, recording of plays, balances of accounts, and customer service in general. I only have to pay $10 per player, per week and they take care of all of these aspects.
It doesn’t matter how many bets a player makes in a week, I only pay $10 per player and besides offering thousands of sports betting odds, they also offer a live and virtual casino for this price.
I wish something like this was around when I was in college since we would have been 20 times larger and but do much less work.
The pay per head shops have state of the art software, expert lines makers, call centers and robust IT infrastructure with airtight network security systems in place. If you are an agent or small book operator college or just a regular bookie, then I cannot stress enough how beneficial this service has been to me.
Profits are up and my workload is down to a manageable amount. These guys have substantially reduced my operating costs, while freeing me up to do what I like best: collecting my winnings!
Basically, the only thing I do now is meet up with my players each week to either pay or collect. The pay per head service does the rest.