Con artists are intriguing. Swindlers fascinate us.
Witnessing a crime where the tools of the trade consist of pure intellect and brass balls is infinitely more entertaining than watching a petty stick up. Alas, if the pen is mightier than the sword, then shrewdness is mightier still.
My phone rang Wednesday morning at 7:30 am. An ungodly hour.
“I’ve got his baseball plays,” the voice on the other end said. It was Peter Falcone. “He’s got seven plays today. How many can you take?”
A weary-eyed shuffle over to the computer ensued. I could easily get down $3,000 a game. Even better, since Pinnacle was one of my offshore betting sites, I could save Falcone’s jeweler contact a hundred or two a game on losses, due to their reduced vig. Most middlemen would have dicked the unsuspecting sap on the betting end. But that’s no way to do business — especially with an effortless upside guaranteed already.
“Oh wow, he’s going to love you for that! He’s going to be very excited when he hears the prices he’s getting is better than he’s expecting and are in his favor!”
A short tutorial on sports betting is needed here. Most baseball books deal what’s called a 20-cent line. That means two opposing teams which are listed at “pick ‘em” are lined at the price of $11o to win $100. If you add the difference between the two numbers, that’s 20 cents, thus the term “20 cent line.” However, a game that might have Cleveland -140 / Kansas City +120 elsewhere would be lined at Pinnacle at a discounted vig price — perhaps at Cleveland -136 / Kansas City +129.
Well, with Pinnacle, I was sometimes getting close to a 10-cent line. That meant the jeweler was getting the best price on the planet. A few cents a game might not seem like a big deal. But it is. Multiply a hundred losses by an extra $150 in vig on each game, and that’s fifteen grand over the course of a baseball season.
“He’s going to love you!” Falcone shouted.
The plays were posted. Without much of a forethought, I’d fired about $21,000 worth of betting action. I hung up the phone and went back to bed totally oblivious to the fact that my sports betting ship had just blasted into an iceberg. And here I was, dozing away inside the cabin totally unaware I’d soon be in need of a lifeboat. No one could possibly foresee the disaster about to come.
Later that night, I logged into my Pinnacle account. I was delighted to see I was ahead something like $11,800 on the day. The New York jeweler had gone 5-2, and made a quick 12 dimes. Talk about easy money. If only I continued what I was doing and the man broke even from this point forward until Sunday, I’d collect my share which was $1,000 — plus ten percent of the profit. Theoretically, I was up $2,180 which was my cut alone. And I hadn’t done a fucking thing.
Goddamn, this was sweet.
I was tempted to ask Falcone if he knew of any more New York jewelers.