Your resume, please:
At-home stripper. Competitive boxer. Florida State grad. Las Vegas waitress-cum-sports gambling associate. Fulbright scholar with a Columbia University postgraduate degree.
Author of a book about to be a movie.
Accomplishments of a woman whose baby-doll giggle suggests she hasn't yet experienced her high school prom.
Beth Raymer is the baby doll (even at 34). "Lay the Favorite" is the book (Spiegel & Grau, $25), released last week and about to be adapted into a movie by Stephen Frears ("High Fidelity").
"I wanted some drama in my life," Raymer says. "Otherwise, I wouldn't have gone into these lines of work."
Hopping from Florida to New York to Vegas to the Caribbean, Raymer -- who will speak tonight at the Clark County Library -- recounts her colorfully varied life in "Lay the Favorite."
Stretching from 2001-2005, her Las Vegas tenure began as a waitress at Komol Thai restaurant in the Commercial Center (her ex-boyfriend's parents owned it).
After the breakup, a job referral sent her headlong into the sports-betting world, working for Douglas "Dink" Heimowitz at his Dink Inc. A middle-age man from Queens, N.Y., who was convicted of running an illegal bookmaking operation, Dink relocated to Las Vegas to begin anew as a pro gambler, and welcomed the delicate Raymer into what's often perceived as a shadowy, even scary world.
Of the 6-foot-4, 280-pound Dink -- who greeted Raymer with a Daily Racing Form under his armpit and a bagel in his hand piled high with lox -- she writes: "Dink was in his late-40s. ... He dressed like the mentally retarded adults I had met while volunteering at a group home. His Chicago Cubs T-shirt was two sizes too small for his expansive frame. Royal blue elasticized cotton shorts were pulled high above his belly button. White tube socks were stretched to the middle of his pale, hairless shins."
So starts her apprenticeship as a handicapper, learning how to read betting lines, place wages, make collections and seek out the greatest point spreads.
Here, Raymer offers some observations on her experiences:
Question: You were a stripper, but not at a strip club. What was that like?
Answer: I was stripping in Florida before I moved to Vegas and I'd go to a person's house and spend an hour with them. Very quickly you learn you can't take off your clothes and pick them up again in two minutes. With 58 more minutes, it becomes like a bad date.
Q: Isn't it strange going from stripper to boxer?
A: When I moved to Vegas, I started boxing at Johnny Tocco's gym. Stripping and boxing are both physical, but there's something between stripping and boxing and gambling and now even writing -- you really have to pace yourself.
Q: Why did you write the book?
A: I wanted to give readers access to this secretive world I found really interesting. Everyone thinks they'll cut your fingers off if you don't pay, but my book shows they're not slimy degenerates.
Q: Given your description of Dink upon meeting him, what were you expecting?
A: Dink is a professional gambler. That's what he puts as his profession on his taxes. He went to (New York's) Stuyvesant (a high school specializing in math and science). He's very bright.
Q: And his associates?
A: A lot of these guys are very mathematically inclined. Some of them tried to work on Wall Street, but they're just not cut out for the corporate culture, they wanted to be their own bosses.
Q: So those long-standing stereotypes of gamblers are outdated?
A: To make it as a professional gambler, you have to have an incredible work ethic. Dink worked 16-hour days. Sometimes in movies they're portrayed as out on the town, doing drugs, drinking -- that cannot be the case. They're living very straight lives, they're workaholics.
Q: Why did you leave the business?
A: I had a customer who stiffed me for $25,000. (Before), after he had won, I had paid him on time. But when I confronted him, he was threatening. I knew these kinds of guys existed, but when it happened to me, I was so enraged. A lot of business is done with handshakes. I didn't like that he wasn't true to his word, that was enough to think it wasn't worth it.
Q: What did you want to do next?
A: I was 28 and by my resume standards, I was just a criminal, with no references. Luckily, I got accepted to Columbia and I sold my book when I was in graduate school.
Q: Did you sour on Las Vegas?
A: Most of the time, I'm longing for Las Vegas (she lives in New York City now). I loved running at Red Rock and boxing at Johnny Tocco's.
Q: Speaking of which, what happened to your boxing career?
A: I stopped when I went to graduate school. But I made it to the Golden Gloves finals and boxed at Madison Square Garden in front of 5,000 people.
Q: Did you win?
A: I got my ass kicked.
Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at sbornfeld@review journal.com or 702-383-0256.