Blimey, a lot has changed since I first had my £1 win or 10p each-way yankee in the bookies in Tiverton, incidentally just voted in the top 10 of most miserable places to live in the UK.
I don’t know about the town being miserable, but I often was when I traipsed out of the William Shop on a Friday afternoon, potless after losing my wages on the horses.
It was an easy thing to do though, you walked in there like John Wayne, if you had the cash you had the bet. The pitiful look from the cashier when you had your last 50p on a no-hoper in the concluding bumper was optional. Of course, some days, not many, you walked out like John Wayne, no doubt directly to the pub, pockets full of cash.
When I joined the Army I discovered that I could have a credit account, or several as it turned out, with the likes of Guntrip, PTS and Mecca. All you had to do was ring up and ask for a bet, if the bet was below your credit limit, you got the bet. You either most often, got an invoice and an invitation to send them a cheque in the pre-paid envelope provided or you got a cheque if you won. Those cheques were often quite flash despite the modest winning sum that never reached the spaces reserved for thousands or tens of thousands, or often even the hundred for that matter.
When I worked on course, it was all readies, the cash came flying in before the race and paid out after the race. Which was more dependent on the result. Having said that, if it was a day when the bookmakers were ‘betting well’ Jack Lynn would win every race and call ‘come on all of you’ as the third jolly of the day bolted up, but most bookmakers would lose if the favourite won, the second in would either take the book or win a round of drinks.
Did I say all readies? Well, it wasn’t exactly. One of the thrills of working on the floor was being able to call in over the heads of the punters and bet ‘with a ring’. A ring around a bet in the ledger denoted a credit bet, you drew or squared up afterwards. There were also some punters that bet ‘with a ring’ too. This wasn’t quite so straight forward, because after a while they didn’t all pay.
Quite a few knocked when they ran out of money and bravado. Shithouses most of them, the hope was that the bookmaker had got his whack from them before they decided not to settle their debts. Some vanished without trace but others just avoided the books they owed and had their wagers down at the other end of the ring.
That state of affairs carried on for a while, bets on the nod were still offered to some but was a risky process. It was the off course bookmakers that called time on credit first, with the advent of debit cards, it was time to pay on Sir if you didn’t mind. That wasn’t a bad thing, to be honest. I turned in all my credit accounts after getting in too deep when I got out of the army, it was much easier to have a couple of lunchtime pints then call Victor Chandler account 3301 and say ‘£100 win double the two odds-on shots’ than it was to pull it up when they got beaten.
It’s funny that none of those memories include getting knocked back for a bet. Mind you, no bookmaker in their right mind would refuse me a bet, I was that bad. That’s not to say it didn’t happen to other people. I do remember a few bookmakers who really utilised the phrase ‘Leave me out’ or ‘I’ve just laid it’ or ‘You can have it win only’ when a beard asked for £2000 – £360 each-way opposing the odds on shot, but to normal punters, I never heard of anyone not getting the bet they asked for, maybe it was just the losing company I kept.
I had the pleasure of interviewing a professional punter this week, a very amiable chap who was telling me how he’d been knocked for several grand by a bookmaker. Of course, the bookmakers don’t call it ‘knocked’ they call it because of an infringement of one of a myriad of clauses and rules that if enacted appear to be able to nullify most winning wagers. He went to IBAS, the bookie came out on top and kept his cash.
Fast forward to me, I only have a few accounts and one with an exchange. The pro-punter whose company I had the pleasure of for a couple of hours gave me a tip for a horse running that afternoon. I had a few quid in the exchange account so had it on. The horse returned favourite and won. Happy Days.
Reality bit this morning when I got a message from the bank to tell me that I was overdrawn, my mortgage having sneaked up post-Christmas and ambushed me. It was OK though, I could withdraw the £134.89 I copped and make up the shortfall with enough to buy some records too. Aye Aye.
Except, the horror, when I opened my app to draw my cash, my account had been closed, not suspended or anything so tame, closed and my funds vanished. On further investigation, it appeared that it had been closed because I had ‘duplicate accounts’. Duplicate accounts? I hardly used this one, I was going to have to put that straight, it must have been a computer gone mad. The trouble is these days, you can only talk to a bloody computer.
After getting in touch at around 7am, I was still sending photos of debit cards when I had to take Monty to school then looked like I was getting somewhere on my return then telephonic interruptions sent me back to square one. I gave up. I couldn’t for long though, there was a carpet in there and I wanted it back.
Blimey, did just having a pub lunch with a pro-punter get you shut down? Surely not. No actually it doesn’t, it was a computer glitch which was resolved mid-afternoon, and my account was reopened enabling me to knock it all out again. I hadn’t been branded a shrewdie by association. It was a time-consuming waste of a Thursday I hadn’t really anticipated when following in the tip. If that’s the sort of thing good punters have to deal with to get paid, or even not get paid, there’s no wonder the beards are back betting on the racecourses. Paying on though, of course.
Oh, and it gave me an idea for a blog – Aye Aye.
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.
Simon Nott is author of: Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring
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