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Some bookies in this gambling city are hoping Banker is right. They’re the unlucky ones who were hit with sizeable wagers late in the regular season when the Giants were struggling and the odds were as high as 100-1 that they would win the Super Bowl.

They won’t be run out of business, of course. Bookies always recover, because there are always more squares with money in their pockets who think they know more than the guys across the counter who have the point spread thing down to a science. Casinos have lost money only once on the Super Bowl in the last 10 years, taking a beating in 2008 when the Giants _ who were 13-point underdogs _ beat New England, 17-14.

And this could be one of the highest bet Super Bowls ever, rivaling the $94.5 million wagered in Nevada _ and untold millions elsewhere _ on the Steelers-Seahawks game in 2006.

“It’s probably the best matchup there could be,” said Jimmy Vaccaro, a longtime bookmaker who helps run sports books in several casinos for Lucky’s Race & Sports Book. “The general public rules these events and they like these teams.”

Banker won’t be wagering that much himself. He never did make huge bets, preferring to make his money on volume instead.

And it’s not like the old days when he had runners in different cities finding the best lines from bookmakers to lay his action on. Certainly not like the time he took a Minneapolis bookmaker for $30,000, only to be told he wasn’t going to get paid. He got the money the next day, after asking a friend with, shall we say, connections, to look into the matter.

“There wasn’t a bookmaker dead or alive that I didn’t beat,” Banker said. “I had runners everywhere, in New York, Miami, Chicago, all seeing different numbers. But now it’s all the same numbers everywhere.”

Computers and corporations have replaced pencils and candy store bookmakers. Online betting will dwarf anything even Las Vegas takes in on the game.

It’s enough to make an aging gambler yearn for the days he once knew.

“It’s very, very tough now,” Banker said. “If I had to do it all again, I couldn’t do it. I’d be driving a taxi.”


Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at) or follow at