Synopses & Reviews
An eye-popping and hilarious joyride through the underworld of sports betting
Beth Raymer arrived in Las Vegas in 2001, hoping to land a job as a cocktail waitress at one of the big casinos. In the meantime, she lived in a $17-a-night motel with her dog, Otis, and waited tables at a low-rent Thai restaurant. One day, one of her regular customers told her about a job she thought Beth would be perfect for and sent her to see Dink, of Dink Inc. Dink was a professional sports gambler—one of the biggest in Vegas. He was looking for a right-hand man—someone who would show up on time, who had a head for numbers, and who didn’t steal. She got the job.
Lay the Favorite is the story of Beth Raymer’s years in the high-stakes, high-anxiety world of sports betting—a period that saw the fall of the local bookie and the rise of the freewheeling, unregulated offshore sports book, and with it the elevation of sports betting in popular culture. As the business explodes, Beth rises—from assistant to expert, trusted and seasoned enough to open an offshore booking office in the Caribbean with a few associates, men who leave their families up north to make a quick killing, while donning new tropical personas fueled by abundant drugs and local girlfriends, and who one by one succumb to their vices. They lie, cheat, steal, and run, until Beth is the last man standing.
Beth Raymer is a natural storyteller: funny, charming, and fully awake to the ironies around her. But she is also a keen and compassionate observer of the adrenaline-addicted, rougish types who become her mentors, her enemies, her family. Raymer brings to life a world that teems with pathos and ecstasy in this wild picaresque that also tells the story of a young woman’s crazy, sexy, most unlikely coming-of-age.
"It's hard not to like the breezy, ingenuous voice of this plucky protagonist who proves she's game for any kind of new experience. Hailing from Ohio, Raymer eventually made her way to Las Vegas when she was 24 and found a lucrative position assisting a Queens-born, Stuyvesant High School-educated gambling operator, Dink Heimowitz. The lovable, irascible, big-bellied Dinky had shucked life as a bookmaker back in New York, having run into trouble, for professional sports gambling; he put Raymer and the other motley staff on the phones setting up bets for all kinds of sports matchups (baseball, football, horse racing, hockey) in order to 'find a line that gave him an edge.' Dinky referred Raymer to a high-flying bookie on Long Island, Bernard Rose, who had his own offshore network. As 'girl Friday' Raymer fetched doughnuts, placed calls, and acted as a runner, making wads of dough, but mostly Raymer cherished working among the assortment of gambling types, the low-end hustlers and misfits she chronicles with evident tenderness. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Enormously entertaining and fast-paced, this memoir is set in the underworld of sports betting and viewed through the eyes of a young woman seduced by the Las Vegas gambler's life.
About the Author
Beth Raymer has an MFA from Columbia University. In 2007 she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship. She lives in New York City.