Bookies and Bookmaking

photo of NY c.1910 horse parlor
A rare photo of a NY betting establishment around 1910
photo of bookie apartment
Bookie layoff apartment protected by "cheese box" technology, c.1943
photo of bookie joint
High-tech bookie operations in the late 1930s
photo of bookie joint
More 1930s high-tech bookie equipment
including [possibly] a "Cheese Box" switcher

photo of bookie joint
Police surveillance of bookie joint, c.1950
photo of bookie joint
Telephone switching center
for bookie operation in 1938

photo of bookie joint
Police raid interrupts a popular bookie joint, c.1937
photo of bookie joint
Telephone "nerve center" for bookie operations, 1943


Bookie or Bookmaker:
A Turf Accountant. A professional bettor. One who analyzes, determines, or simply posts the betting odds in games, especially horse racing and team sports, receives and records wagers from a number of people on a regular basis, collects from losers, and pays off winners. Bookmaking started around 1780 at Richard Tattersall's horse auction business. In fact, his name is immortalized at English racetracks today by bookmakers who set up their stands at the "Tattersall Enclosure." The term, bookie, originated with the activity of "making book" or keeping a notebook of wagers. In the early days bookmakers were involved in handicapping. However, chaos prevailed both at the track and in betting shops throughout London until the tradition of the "honest bookmaker." A bookie's reputation of honesty was and is--very important for the success of the business, and apparently originated with the reputations of two famous bookmakers, Fred Swindell and Leviathan Davies. Around 1850, Davis also created "lists of odds" that were posted throughout London, which made off-track betting possible. In 1866 the first American bookmaking business was established in Philadelphia.

-- Link to Wikipedia for an extended definition --

Print titled Billy

Print titled:
Billy, The Bookie

c.1890





Print titled Lady Bookie

Print titled:
Lady Bookie

c.1900





Joe Elvin tobacco card

Tobacco card
titled:
Joe Elvin,
Comedian,
As
The
Cycling
Bookie

1901




Photo of Crockford Club entrance lamp

Lantern
at
entrance
of
London's
Crockford
Club

c.1828

Bookmaking Bibliography
---with a few key essays, articles and book chapters by or about bookies, handicappers and handicapping
[Anonymous], SECRETS OF A BOOKIE: DISCLOSING A METHOD OF BETTING THAT BOOKIES ARE DEATHLY AFRAID OF AND WILL NOT HANDLE, c.1951, 58pp.

Shirley Abbott, THE BOOKMAKER'S DAUGHTER -- A MEMORY UNBOUND, NY: Ticknor & Fields, 1991, 290pp.

Heather Abraham, THE BOOKIE'S DAUGHTER -- A MEMOIR OF GROWING UP IN A CRAZY, CRIME-RIDDEN FAMILY, NY: SagisBooks, 2012, 316pp.

Michael J. Agovino, THE BOOKMAKER -- A MEMOIR..., NY: Harper Collins, 2008, 353pp.

Peter Alson, CONFESSIONS OF AN IVY LEAGUE BOOKIE, New York: Crown, 1996, 228pp.

Thomas Armstrong, PILLING ALWAYS PAYS [novel], London: William Collins Sons & Co., 1954,1977, 447pp.

Cathal Bellingham, CONFESSIONS OF A TURF CROOK -- TOLD BY HIMSELF [biography], London: Philip Allan & Co., 1924, 179pp.

Tony Betts, ACROSS THE BOARD, New York, Citadel Press, 1956, 320pp., glossary, illus.

Alex Bird, ALEX BIRD, THE LIFE AND SECRETS OF A PROFESSIONAL PUNTER, London: Queen Anne Press, 1985, 255pp., illus., index.

Kier Boyd, GAMBLING TECHNOLOGY, Washington, DC: FBI Laboratory, 1981, 62pp., illus.

Malcolm Boyle, THE ART OF BOOKMAKING: HOW TO COMPILE ODDS FOR ANY SPORTING EVENT, London: High Stakes Publishing, 2006, 176pp., illus.

Joe Brinton, HOW TO MURDER YOUR BOOKMAKER, Chicago, Henry Regnery Company, 1972, 220pp., index

Harry Brolaski, EASY MONEY OR FISHING FOR SUCKERS, [emphasis on racetrack gambling scams] Cleveland, Ohio: Searchlight Press, 1911, 328pp., illus.

Earl Brown, "The Racing Racket," [major article in LIFE, May 5, 1947, pgs: 112-126]

Fred Buck, HORSE RACE BETTING, NY: Greenberg, 1946 (1st Ed.), 149pp. illus. (2nd Ed: 1962, 236pp.)(4th ed., 1978, 236pp.)

Phil Bull, HOW TO MAKE A BOOK, London: Morrison & Gibb Ltd., 1948, 160pp.

Christopher Bush, THE CASE OF THE BENEVOLENT BOOKIE [novel], New York: Macmillan Company, 1956, 222pp.

J.T. Chenery, THE LAW AND PRACTICE OF BOOKMAKING, BETTING, GAMING & LOTTERIES, London: Street & Maxwell, 1961, (2nd. ed: 1963 390pp., index.)

Carl Chinn, BETTER BETTING WITH A DECENT FELLER -- A SOCIAL HISTORY OF BOOKMAKING, London: Aurum Press, 2004 [revised 1991 ed.], 380pp., footnotes, illus., biblio., index

Donald Clarke, IN THE REIGN OF ROTHSTEIN, New York: Vanguard Press, 1929, 306pp.

A. J. Conroy, BOOKMAKING, CLERKING AND PUNTING 'A TO X,' Randwick, Australia: Telvent, c.1966, 86pp., charts

Clarence L. Cullen, TAKING CHANCES, NY: G. W. Dillingham, 1900, 269pp.

Tony "Sonny" Daniels, THE WISE-GUY'S BIBLE, North Shore Press, 1993, 326pp., glossary, illus.

Richard O. Davies and Richard G. Abram, BETTING THE LINE -- SPORTS WAGERING IN AMERICAN LIFE, OH: Ohio State University Press, 2001, 212pp., footnotes, biblio., index

Elizabeth Dawson, MOTHER MADE A BOOK, London, Geoffrey Bles, 1962, 182pp.

Thomas Henry Dey, LEAVES FROM A BOOKMAKER'S BOOK, London: Hutchinson & Co., c.1931, 384pp., illus, index

Andrew Dowdy, NEVER TAKE A SHORT PRICE [novel], New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1972 209pp.

Druid (or Dixon) THE POST AND THE PADDOCK WITH RECOLLECTIONS OF GEORGE IV, SAM CHIFNEY, AND OTHER TURF CELEBRITIES [especially: Chap. 3: "The Betting Ring"], London: Rogerson & Tuxford, 1856 (3rd ed: The Hunting Edition, 1857, 376pp.)

John Drzazga, WHEELS OF FORTUNE [especially: Chaps 3 & 4: Bookmaking & Pari-Mutuel Betting], 1963, Ill: Charles C. Thomas Pub., 369pp., notes, biblio. index.

Capt. Frederick W. Egen, NYCPD (retired), PLAINSLOTHESMAN -- A HANDBOOK OF VICE AND GAMBLING INVESTIGATION, 1952, 1959 (rev.), NY: Arco Publishing Co., Inc., 230pp., illus., glossary, index

Richard Epstein, THE THEORY OF GAMBLING AND STATISTICAL LOGIC, San Diego: Academic Press, 1967, index, (2nd ed: 1997, 449pp., index)

Josiah Flynt, "The Pool-Room Spider and the Gambling Fly," [article in THE COSMOPOLITAN, March 1907, pgs: 513-521]

Josiah Flynt, "The Men Behind the Pool Rooms," [article in THE COSMOPOLITAN, April 1907, pgs: 636-645]

Bob and Barbara Freeman, WANTA BET, A STUDY OF PARI-MUTUAL SYSTEM, Freeman Mutuels Management, 1982, 302pp., illus., glossary, index.

Milt Gaines, THE TOTE BOARD IS ALIVE AND WELL, Las Vegas: Gaines, 1981, 182pp., glossary.

Nichola Garvey, BEATING THE ODDS, Australia: HarperCollins, 2011, 359pp., illus., biblio.

Linda Gaze and Grantley Bernard, BRUCE THE BOOKIE, Australia: Wilkinson Publishing Pty. Ltd., 2009, 182pp.

Andrew Goldstein, THE BOOKIE'S SON, Boston: Sixoneseven Books, 2012, 248pp., illus.

Roy Granville, BAXTER VS. THE BOOKIES, Hayes Press, Hayes, England, 2004, 151pp., illus.

Arthur Hagan, THE DAY THE BOOKIES TOOK A BATH [novel], Los Angeles: Sherbourne Press, 1971, 288pp.

Hugh Hawkins, THE ROOKIE BOOKIE, Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2008, 676pp.

Christopher Hill, HORSE POWER: THE POLITICS OF THE TURF, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988, 283pp., index.

Joe Ward Hill, THE BETTING MAN -- A RACING BIOGRAPHY OF WILLIAM HILL, THE KING OF THE BOOKIES, Wilshire: Elcott Books, 1993, 136pp., illus.

James Jeffries, Charles Oliver, THE BOOK ON BOOKIES -- AN INSIDE LOOK AT A SUCCESSFUL SPORTS GAMBLING OPERATION, Colorado: Paladin Press, 2000, Glossary, 152pp.

Leo Katcher, THE BIG BANKROLL: LIFE & TIMES OF ARNOLD ROTHSTEIN, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1959, 369pp., illus., biblio., index

Richard Kaye, THE LADBROKES STORY, London: Pelham, 1969, 304pp., illus., index.

Kevin Kinnee, PRACTICAL GAMBLING INVESTIGATION TECHNIQUES, Indianapolis: Elseiver Science Publishing Co., 1992, 228pp., illus., Graphs/Charts, biblio., index.

Michael Konik, SMART MONEY: HOW THE WORLDS BEST SPORTS BETTORS BEAT THE BOOKIES OUT OF MILLIONS, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006, 360pp.

Arne Lang, SPORTS BETTING 101, MAKING SENSE OF THE BOOKIE BUSINESS AND THE BUSINESS OF BEATING THE BOOKIE, Las Vegas: GBC Press, 1992, 193pp. biblio.

Bob Litwin & Chip Silverman, THE LAST BOOKMAKER [novel], New Hampshire: Borderlands Press, 2000, 267pp.

Bernard Livingston, THEIR TURF, New York: Arbor House, 1973, 302pp., illus., index

Art Manteris, SUPERBOOKIE, INSIDE LAS VEGAS SPORTS GAMBLING, Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1991, 234pp.

Joseph Freeman Marsten, "The Maelstrom of the Betting-Ring," [article in MUNSEY'S MAGAZINE, 1903, pgs: 705-711]

Gary Mayer, BOOKIE: MY LIFE IN DISORGANIZED CRIME, Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher, 1974, 258pp., glossary

John McCririck, WORLD OF BETTING, DOUBLE CARPET AND ALL THAT!, London: Stanley Paul, 1991, 192pp., illus., index

Paul Meskil, CHEESEBOX [life of Gerard Callahan], New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1974, 281pp.

Chad Millman, THE ODDS -- ONE SEASON, THREE GAMBLERS, AND THE DEATH OF THEIR LAS VEGAS, NY: Public Affairs, 2001, 260pp., index

Dan Moldea, INTERFERENCE -- HOW ORGANIZED CRIME INFLUENCES PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL, NY: William Morrow & Co., 512pp., notes, index.

Ralph Nevill, SPORT OF KINGS [especially: Chap. 3: "Bookmaking and Bookmakers"], London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1926, 247pp., illus., index

W.H. Norris, THE BOOKMAKER'S CLERK'S GUIDE. BETTING SIMPLIFIED OR THE ART OF BOOKMAKING, London: Edmund Seale, 1896 (2nd ed: 64pp.)

Sidney Offit, MEMOIR OF THE BOOKIE'S SON, NY: St. Martin's Press, 1996, 165pp.

James O'Hara, THE "SURE THING" BOYS OR WHAT YOUR BOOKIE DOESN'T KNOW WILL HURT HIM [novel about past-posting scam], New York: Vantage Press, 1972, 173pp.

Mort Olshan, WINNING THEORIES OF SPORTS HANDICAPPING, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1975, 253pp., Graphs/Charts

Joe E. Palmer, LOVE ME, LOVE MY BOOKIE [novel], Beverly Hills, Remlap Publishing Co., 1989, 257pp.

David Graham Phillips, "The Delusion of the Race-Track," [article in THE COSMOPOLITAN, January 1905, pgs: 251-262]

Herb Phipps, BILL KYNE OF BAY MEADOWS, New Jersey: A. S. Barnes, 1978, 174pp., illus., index

John Prendergast, EDGE UP -- MEMOIRS OF A GLASGOW STREET BOOKMAKER, Glasgow, England: Prendergast Publications, 1992, 249pp.

Ronald Probstein, HONEST SID: MEMOIR OF A GAMBLING MAN, Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2009, 209pp.

John Philip Quinn, FOOLS OF FORTUNE OR GAMBLING AND GAMBLERS..., [especially: Part III, Chap. 1: "The Turf"], Chicago: The Anti-Gambling Association, 1895, 640pp. illus.

Beth Raymer, LAY THE FAVORITE -- A MEMOIR OF GAMBLING, NY: Spiegel & Grau, 2010, 228pp.

Jamie Reid, A LICENCE TO PRINT MONEY -- A JOURNEY THROUGH THE GAMBLING AND BOOKMAKING WORLD, London: Macmillan Ltd., 1992, 294pp., glossary, index

Sonny Reizner, SPORTS BETTING WITH SONNY REIZNER, Las Vegas: GBC Press, 1983, 166pp., illus., glossary, biblio.

Harry Robinson, THE BOOKIE BOOK, Australia: John Fairfax Marketing, 1984, 1985 (rev. ed.), 176pp., illus.

Frede Rombola, THE BOOK ON BOOKMAKING, California: Romford Press, 1984, 147pp.

Charley Rosen, SCANDALS OF '51 -- HOW GAMBLERS ALMOST KILLED COLLEGE BASKETBALL, NY: Seven Stories Press, 1978, (reprint: 1999), 263pp., illus.

Hon. Admiral Rous, ON THE LAWS AND PRACTICE OF HORSE RACING, ETC., ETC. [perhaps the first book on bookmaking--especially: Chap. 5: "On the Rules of Betting," and in the appendix: "Betting Cases"], London: A. H. Baily & Co., 1866, 166pp., Charts.

Michael Roxborough, RACE & SPORTS BOOK MANAGEMENT, Las Vegas: Roxborough, 1991, 128pp., glossary.

John Samuels, DOWN THE BOOKIES: THE FIRST 50 YEARS OF BETTING SHOPS, Australia: Racingform, 2011, 256pp.

Richard Sasuly, BOOKIES & BETTORS: 200 YEARS OF GAMBLING, 1982, 266pp., biblio., index

John C. Schmidt, WIN PLACE SHOW, A BIOGRAPHY OF HARRY STRAUS, THE MAN WHO GAVE AMERICA THE TOTE, Maryland: Schmidt, 1988, 137pp.

Anthony Serritella, BOOK JOINT FOR SALE: MEMOIRS OF A BOOKIE, Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse, 2011, 227pp.

Charles Sidney, THE ART OF LEGGING, London: Maxline International, 1976, 227pp., illus., biblio., index

Jimmy Snyder, JIMMY THE GREEK BY HIMSELF, Chicago: Playboy Press, 1975, 247pp., illus.

Trixie, COUNTERPAIN, REFLECTIONS ON LIFE AS A BOOKIE'S CASHIER, Aesculus Press, Shropshire, England, 1994, 61pp., illus.

Joe Ullman, WHAT'S THE ODDS -- STORIES OF THE TURF, NY: Metropolitan Printing Co., 1903, 159pp., illus.

US Congress Senate Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce., THIRD INTERIM REPORT OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE ORGANIZED CRIME IN INTERSTATE COMMERCE (KEFAUVER CRIME REPORT), NY: ARCO Publishing Co., 1951, 188pp.

US Congress Senate Committee on Government Operations, GAMBLING AND ORGANIZED CRIME HEARINGS . . ., Washington, DC: USGPO, 1961, 3 Vols., 809pp., illus., maps, index.

Bill Waterhouse, WHAT ARE THE ODDS?: THE BILL WATERHOUSE STORY [memoir], Australia: Random House, 2010, 519pp.

Percy White, THE GRIP OF THE BOOKMAKER [novel], New York: R. F. Fenno & Company, 1901, 349pp.

Robert Wood, HOW TO BECOME A BOOKMAKER, London: Postlib Pubs., c.1955, 39pp., illus.

Richard Woolley, THE COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO BETTING AND BOOKMAKING -- SETTLING AND BETTING SHOP MANAGEMENT, Yorkshire, England: The Securi-Pen Co., 1976, 146pp., Graphs, Charts, ads

William Ziemba, DR. Z'S BEAT THE RACE-TRACK, NY: William Morrow & Co., 1984, 392pp. (rev: 1987, 524pp.), Graphs/Charts, biblio., index.

related websites
The Essential Guide to Horse Racing
Gaming Studies Research Center @ UNLV
GBC: Gambler's Book Shop [the world's largest!]
"Hall Of Fame Handicappers" by Frank Rosenthal
Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation
Totalisator History


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updated January 2013