first_img[dropcap]P[/dropcap]lease note that the bookmakers I give my opinion on, are bookmakers that I have had dealings with, on greyhound tracks, all in the south of England.I am sure that you will all have your own favourites. Please accept my apologies in advance.3. John (the Viking) PowerI first came across John and his brother Tom at Wimbledon.Why John the Viking? It was because of his hair. It was blonde and was down to his shoulders.They were partners with a bookmaker named Arthur Nichols.They also had a good following of punters, they were well know for laying large bets and allowing punters credit, most of them not paying their debts, which at times made their cash flow a little weak.John being the flamboyant one (also a bit of a rebel) made the book. I remember going to the big Goodwood race meeting, (I think in those days they only raced one week a year). When John walked in wearing his tennis outfit, shorts, tee shirt, trainers and carrying his tennis racquet, stopping and asking ‘anyone for tennis’. He then stood up on his rails pitch and started to bet, not really the done thing but that was John.My vivid memory was when he was betting in the main ring at Walthamstow.John was without doubt was the best bookmaker there, he was also very good with knowing his percentages.Other bookmakers had a problem with him (there were four other bookmakers), he constantly changed his odds, and it was a effort to keep up with him.In the race I am writing about John, as normal, started to change the odds on all the six dogs. All the others bookmakers followed. No sooner had they followed he changed the odds again, once again they followed and yet again he changed all the odds and yet again they all followed.By this time the percentages were in the favour of the punter, I think it was 3%. John jumped off his stool and asked the four bookmakers can I back all the six dogs to win a thousand pounds.None of the bookmakers gave him a bet.If any of them would have given the bet, no matter what won they would have lost £30.Not too sure what happened to John. I was told that he operates from somewhere in Africa. Tom is still around, he places bets in betting shops for a well known bookmaker.4. Roger (the Rucker) Kent-BartonI know Roger from betting at Romford, it was in the 1980s. At that time we were in the small enclosure but even then Roger was taking big bets.Roger is also know as the bastard of Billingsgate where he runs a large wholesale fish business.But why the bastard?Well it’s because of the way he treats his customers. You may be a customer buying off of him five days a week, spending thousands of pounds but if you ever say that the fish was not that good he would tell you to fuck off and take your business elsewhere.Back to Roger at Romford where he now makes a book in the big ring.By todays standard on dog tracks, he is a very big bookmaker. He is the only bookmaker I know that will give you a bet that you can win £10,000.If you want to have a really big bet you must go to Roger.Over the last ten years he has taken on all-comers at Romford.There was one punter, known as Robert the Pole. He with two or three Polish minders would come to Romford every night that racing took place.Robert was in the import business, bringing in millions of cigarettes in lorries every day. You did not have to see Robert to know he was there because after two or three races the only money in circulation was £10 and £20 notes in Scottish currency.He would bet in every race, Roger loved it.When he first came to the track his bet was a monkey (£500) on a dog. It was quite funny to hear him ask for a bet with his Polish accent.After coming for a short while his wagers increased and he would shout out his bet to Roger, a thousand trap two.When he was losing his gambling got heavier and heavier and it was not uncommon for him to lose £15,000 to £25,000 in a night. He also had some very big wins.On one occasion he was losing £15,000 going in to the last race. He placed a bet on a dog whose odds were 14/1. It won, his bet was £2,000 so he won £28,000 on the race. It is the only time I have seen Roger where he was unable to speak.Coming back to Rroger he is he best winning bookmaker that I ever knew, also the worst losing bookmaker.If he had a losing race he would hold a post mortem with his clerk (Mac). Roger’s knowledge of percentages was not as good as my top three, by a long way.“Mac why did you not tell me, that the percentages were not that good” then abuse him in front off everybody.It only happened on losing races.Even today Roger has a punter know as the Irishman who has bets of three or four thousand pounds in nearly every race, Roger loves it.He still has a problem with his punters, if you back two or three winners with him he will tell you to fuck off and take your business elsewhere.Two weeks later he will put his arm round you and ask why you are not betting with him !5. Phil EarlPhil had the number one pitch at White City.It was in the heyday of gambling on dog tracks, late 1950’s early 1960’s.1 was working for my father who made a book in the small ring at the time. I was also placing bets for three or four punters (more about them in another chapter).He stood on his stool from the minute he started betting on the first race until after the last race. The main reason was that he had a wooden leg, funny the things you remember nearly sixty years ago.Over all the time that I placed bets with him I can’t remember him refusing me a bet.The other thing about him and all his staff was that at no time could you have a laugh or a joke with them. It was a business where a lot of money changed hands.Finally, he always paid with a thank you.Most important he gave me £2 a night for my business, win or lose.last_img read more