Power ratings were a lot different in Old Vegas

October 27, 2015 3:00 AM by Scott Schettler

I would subscribe to five or six of the best sports pages in the country. They were days behind when reaching my house, but helped me keep accurate records.
I had official looking letterheads and envelopes made up to mimic a national college sports organization. I sent letters to sports information directors at schools asking for press guides and news releases. Most sent me team guides and in some cases updates. If a SID suspected gambling he’d pitch them. It worked even with a Vegas address.
Ray Vera, aka “the Spaniard,” was impressed with my diligence. He had a guy in New York wait by a newsstand, immediately buy and bundle all the sports pages and airmail them to him. We combined our resources and relentless hard work. We entered scores and player stats into special workbooks Ray designed to fit that purpose.
We’d redo our figures daily, those all-important power ratings. It worked. Boy did it ever! All the while, I wrote tickets during the day. I worked hard, two jobs really. I’d read my papers at the ticket window when we were slow. I went home, finished my handicapping, and usually read sports pages till I fell asleep. Then up again before dawn to talk with Ray and compare our numbers on the phone. I worked hard, was professional, and doors opened for me.
The bigger bettors, BMs and hotel/casino owners wanted in on Ray’s side of a game. But it was Tony Spilotro “the Little Guy,” who was Ray’s benefactor. Tony was the Outfits man in Vegas and he mediated numerous jackpots Ray got himself into. Ray put me square in the middle of one – basketball season 1977.
I was working at Churchill, and Ray told me he can’t get enough outs (places to bet). Being Vara meant sometimes needing a recommendation because with “the Little Guy” behind him Ray might just stiff you if he lost. I agreed to back Ray but to no more than two nickel ($500) plays. I was No. 4 and Ray was 4A on the pipes (phones).
About two weeks later, MM tells me I owe him $22,000. He said 4A came up lame (no pay), and since I vouched for him, it was my responsibility. I reminded MM about our two bet agreement and why did he put him on for that much anyway. He knew it was Vara, besides I’m a working stiff, what could he get out of me anyway? MM and “the Little Guy” had a sit down, and it was resolved. I’m off the hook. I don’t know the terms, but you can bet MM got the worst of it.
Once Ray owed a BM friend of mine $5,000. My friend asked me to get Ray to pay him. He told my friend to meet him behind JC Penny’s in the Boulevard Mall. He informed me that Ray sure did show up but just to tell him how stupid he was to think he was going to get paid.
Only Ray could get away with this outlandish behavior. He was with the Outfit. He was their guy and they kept him happy.
Ray was later sent to a federal penitentiary in Kentucky for a year. While inside, he had open-heart surgery. Ray figured he beat them since the surgery “was on their dime.”
I was privileged to absorb the work of a master handicapper. Ray’s guidance was with me through all my days in Las Vegas. He influenced every number I made or booked even though he was long gone.

Scotty Schettler began his Las Vegas journey in 1968. By the time he quit the race and sports book business he had booked over $1.5 billion for different employers. He says he knows where most of the cans are buried. His book, We Were Wise Guys and Didn't Know It is available on amazon.com. Contact Scotty atScottSchettler@GamingToday.com.