Gobs of Money & Harmless Maniacs

Lay the Favorite

Printed in New York Resident Magazine
September 2011
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When she was 24, Beth Raymer, author of the gambling memoir, LAY THE FAVORITE, followed a guy to Las Vegas. When the relationship went bust, Raymer drifted from waitressing at his parent’s Thai restaurant to an in-homes stripper gig. When she found herself in a client’s house with a gun pointed at her head, she ran, locked herself in his bathroom, and questioned her career choices. Through a passing acquaintance Raymer landed an interview with a professional sports gambler named Dink Heimowitz, of Dink Inc. He was “a guy about six-foot-four, two hundred eighty pounds” whose hair was “a heap of shiny, springy brown curls, the kind you see in ads for home perms.”

The job description was unclear but seemed somewhere along the lines of a Girl Friday.

“He dressed like the mentally retarded adults I met while volunteering at a group home. His Chicago Cubs T-shirt was two sizes too small. Royal blue elasticized shorts were pulled high above his belly button. White tube socks were stretched to the middle of his pale, hairless shins.”

At that first meeting, “tucked into his armpit was a Daily Racing Form, and in his hand was a puffy white bagel overstuffed with lox.” With a mouthful of sandwich, he asked Raymer if her dog Otis had an opinion on the Yankees game.

Now, prepare to meet Dink’s wife. “Tulip’s cheeks had swelled up and over her eyes. Her bloated neck was propped against a white silk pillow. Pink, purple, and blue bruises camouflaged her face. Grease oozed from her pores. Long staples protruded from in front of her bandaged ears. Her hairline had receded an inch, maybe two. The facelift had been a success.”

With her quirky voice and wild, whacky tale, Raymer’s book is now in post-production as a movie starring Bruce Willis as Dink, Catherine Zeta-Jones as his allergic-to-work wife, Tulip Heimowitz, and Rebecca Hall of The Town as Raymer. Vince Vaughn plays Rosie, a tricky, slippery Long Island bookie. The film’s director, Stephen Frears (The Queen, Dangerous Liaisons, The Grifters, High Fidelity) described the book as, “Strange as hell, wildly affectionate and very, very funny. It is a world filled with scoundrels, thieves, and gamblers.”

The Los Angeles Times said, “Seduced by her stories, we long for this strange, sleazy and alluring landscape, even as the stakes get higher and Raymer’s search for ‘the best of it’ turns into a worst-case scenario.”

Publishers Weekly called Raymer’s voice, breezy, ingenuous and plucky. “Raymer cherished working among the assortment of gambling types, low-end hustlers and misfits she chronicles with evident tenderness.”

The title of the book comes from Dink’s lingo lesson, “You don’t take the favorite. You lay the favorite. You take the dog.”

Live vicariously through Raymer’s jaunts as she literally takes the dog—her dog, Otis—from Vegas to Curaçao and Costa Rica to New York where, feverishly, the risks rise.

The movie’s release date is set for early 2012, so run, don’t walk, to place your bets on this winner of a book.