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The Smart Money [Paperback]

Michael Konik
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

26 July 2007
A riveting inside look at the lucrative world of professional high-stakes sports betting by a journalist who lived a secret life as a key operative in the world's most successful sports gambling ring. When journalist Michael Konik landed an interview with Rick "Big Daddy" Matthews, the largest bet he'd placed on a sporting event was $200. Konik, an expert blackjack and poker player, was no stranger to Vegas. But Matthews was in a different league: the man was rumored to be the world's smartest sports bettor, the mastermind behind "the Brain Trust," a shadowy group of gamblers known for their expertise in beating the Vegas line. Konik had heard the word on the street -- that Matthews was a snake, a conniver who would do anything to gain an edge. But he was also brilliant, cunning, and charming. And when he asked Konik if he'd like to "make a little money" during the football season, the writer found himself seduced . . . So began Michael Konik's wild ride as an operative of the elite Brain Trust. In The Smart Money, Konik takes readers behind the veil of secrecy shrouding the most successful sports betting operation in America, bypassing the myths and the rumors, going all the way to its innermost sanctum. He reveals how they -- and he -- got rich by beating the Vegas lines and, ultimately, the multimillion-dollar offshore betting circuit. He details the excesses and the betrayals, the horse-trading and the paranoia, that are the perks and perils of a lifestyle in which staking inordinate sums of money on the outcome of a single event -- sometimes as much as $1 million on a football game -- is a normal part of doing business.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: High Stakes Publishing (26 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843440385
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843440383
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 924,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Read 26 Mar 2008
By J. Kidd
Anyone who has even the slightest passing interest in gambling should read this book. Michael Konik had the lifestyle most of us would give our right arm for, he was put up in the top Vegas hotels and everything was 'comped'.
His 'work' was to get the bets on at the various bookmakers, he worked for an organisation known as The Brain Trust, they knew how to beat the bookies, therefore the problem for them was not what to bet on but how to get the money on ($25k,$35k,45k...etc). This is where they employed people like Michael, he had to try and pass as a highrolling 'mug punter'.
Easily the best gambling book I've read by far.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  91 reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real-life "Ocean's Eleven" 18 May 2007
By David Rubin - Published on Amazon.com
This book deserves an immediate place - alongside "The Eudaemonic Pie" and "Bringing Down the House" - in the pantheon of greatest "Geniuses beat Las Vegas" stories ever written. "The Smart Money" is a true, first-hand account of how one of the biggest, most successful, sports-betting syndicates in history beat the Las Vegas sportsbooks out of millions. It turns out that having a math and computer genius crunch every stat imaginable to find algorithms that successfully predict the outcome of sporting events is only half the battle. The other half is actually getting your bets down, in amounts that will make the biggest vegas sportsbooks cringe, and you and your partners wealthy beyond belief. That's where the author, Michael Konick, came in. Michael was hired by the syndicate to place large bets for them, using his professional status as a Hollywood-based, highly successful author and journalist as cover. At first it worked perfectly: with a little help from Michael's acting skills, sportsbooks managers initially thought they had hooked a "whale," a rich sucker with no clue, who would blow a fortune backing his hunches. But when Michael began consistently beating them for huge money they began viewing him with more suspicion, and the game got a lot tougher. Michael's account of his adventures cajoling and conning the Las Vegas sportsbooks into booking his syndicate's bets, while at the same time exploring some of the other pleasures "Sin City" has on offer, makes compelling reading. I highly recommend it.
40 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exciting but uninformative 13 Jan 2007
By Konrad Baumeister - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed Konik's writing on gambling topics for many years, and after all the good I had heard about this book, I was looking forward to a great read about the workings of top sports handicappers and syndicates. Well, he tells an interesting and unusual story, that's for sure, but we learn very very little about how it was all done.

Konik is invited into the Brain Trust, but as a runner, a guy impersonating a high roller playing his own money, placing bets as big as he can get down anywhere where he can get it down. He is not a handicapper, nor was he involved in the money decisions (until very late and then on his own), and for as long as he was associated with the big boys they seem to have done a great job of keeping him out of the real loop.

The story itself is still interesting, and I think is pretty well told. First he tries to get down with various Vegas casino books, for a while successfully, but as his rep spreads, and wise casino people connect him with Big Daddy, he has to find new places to place serious bets. This leads him eventually to a variety of outlets online and in the Caribbean, and his adventures with these folks, full of love while he's losing but ready to stiff him the instant he scores. Getting the money back isn't easy, and the universe of potential outlets to get his bets down shrinks quickly, shortly endangering his career as a gambler. It's a constant game of cat and mouse with the books, with Big Daddy considering how to keep the heat on Konik low, and of course still beating the spread over the course of a couple of years, playing for hair-raising amounts of cash.

Konik eventually meets up with an old college chum, a math genius, who develops a new handicapping program, and so now Konik feels he doesn't have to front for Big Daddy, he can (with the aid of some Hollywood actors who fancy themselves gamblers) compete with him. It works for a few weeks. Then it all falls apart is a pretty ugly way, and Konik wisely decides to retire from sports betting. Konik's description of the stresses involved, and all it cost him in non-financial ways, is instructive.

The story has lots of stuff on the comped meals he ate, about his hot swinger girlfriend, and lots and lots on virtually every bet he made, which tends to become repetitive after a while. The material on the unusual personalities is of greater interest. There is NO material on handicapping, because he doesn't know anything about it. In other words, it's popcorn for the mind, goes down quick and you like it while you read it, but once done you're vaguely disappointed. There will be lots of used copies of this up shortly; if you're still interested in reading the book wait for them and save some money.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get a piece of the action! 6 Aug 2007
By dansam - Published on Amazon.com
An exciting tale of the transformation of a humble author into a major "player" in the alien world of multi-million dollar sports betting. As the author's situations became more surreal and as the money grew to eye-popping amounts, I felt my pulse quicken and palms begin to sweat. I don't know how Michael Konik did it! Just READING about the pressure, money & fear made me dizzy & nauseous (in a good way)!

I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in gambling, sports, probability or (let's face it) money! ;-)
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gambling Rollercoaster Ride 10 Dec 2006
By Deke Castleman - Published on Amazon.com
The Smart Money is a detailed, accurate, and surprisingly sensitive look deep within the arcane world -- complex, changeable, cutthroat -- of high-stakes sports betting.

The bookies are well aware of the vulnerability of the odds they offer on sporting events and they're hypersensitive to the big money, which can seriously hurt them. Thus, to try to exploit the weakness of those odds, the high rollers have to go to extraordinary lengths. Konik, in his initial capacity as an operative for a heavily financed sports-betting syndicate, and his later capacity as the head of his own syndicate, dives headfirst into this great cat-and-mouse game with guts, gusto, and a glibness so convincing that for four long years, he manages to bluff and outwit some of the most suspicious people on Earth.

The blow-by-blow of game after game is gripping and Konik's writing imparts all the sensations he experiences -- plumbing the depths of defeat and scaling the heights of triumph, along the way making a fortune, losing a girlfriend, being lied to, cheated, and stolen from, and scamming the scammers in return.

The ending, given who Konik portrays himself to be, isn't a surprise. But it does make The Smart Money not only enlightening and entertaining, but life-affirming as well. By the time you've finished reading this book -- and you should -- you'll see sports betting in a whole new light.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC Read - From someone once on the inside!! 22 Mar 2007
By BookieGal - Published on Amazon.com
I saw this book on the new release table at Barnes and Noble, and snatched it up immediately. I once worked in the exciting and shady world of offshore sports betting and new many of the characters in Mr. Konik's book. It was absolutely fascinating to hear the story from his side of the table....I can honestly say that all the offshores spent a lot of time fretting about Mr. Matthews and his clan. Mr. Konik's experience isn't exaggerated at all - it is a true-to-life, accurate depiction of that world and its dangers and allure. A true must read!!
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