Smart Money by Michael Konik
The first thing I want to do is thank Forum Member, JohnnyQ, for suggesting that I Review The Smart Money by Michael Konik in the comments of my Review of Million Dollar Video Poker which can be found here.
I can recommend this book for Virtually any reader, sharp or square. I will say that, other than what I've read on the WizardofOdds.com pages, I know very close to nothing about sophisticated Sports Betting. My experience is doing the WoV NFL Picks Game (I think I'd be slightly beating the juice, all considered---dumb luck, play hunches and have absurd picking parameters) and I do some casual betting with friends. I have made one Sports Bet in Vegas in my entire life (it won!) and I, "Ran," tickets for Wizard to...maybe two casinos. Once.
What I'm trying to convey is that the guy who religiously follows the USA Today Lines and nothing else probably knows more than I do, yet, I found Michael Konik's memoir to be a fascinating account.
Aside from the introduction, we start off with the author in a potentially hairy situation that won't be resolved (I'd actually forgotten about it) until the end of the book. While it was that very situation that precipitated the decision that the author had to make at the conclusion of the tale, everything in the body of the book sucks you in so completely that you almost forget about that situation entirely.
One thing that is certain is that the author spends much of the narrative as a, 'Runner,' for, 'The Brain Trust,' essentially just doing what he's told and making the Bets he is instructed to make. In fact, the first 75% of this book is (rightfully) more about the pseudonym, Rick 'Big Daddy' Matthews, than it is about the author as Big Daddy is the Brain behind the Brain Trust.
Michael Konik weaves the reader through his story expertly with a writing style that is fast paced and, in my opinion, nearly unparalleled. He refers to his predicament as a, 'Prison,' in many ways and makes clear the repetitiveness and tediousness of being a runner, but at the same time, he somehow conveys that repetitiveness in a way that locks the reader in...perhaps because of the sheer numbers involved.
I am not in much of a position to say how useful this would be, as an educational resource, to Sports Bettors who are already extremely sharp. Konik seems to take great pains to highlight concepts of what makes certain Bets a smart Bet without really delving too deeply into the specifics. Just when you think you might be let in on one of the best kept secrets in the world of Sports Betting, the author seems to pull back as if he knows he has reached the precipice of giving away too much. For the punter, there are some concepts highlighted that you may not have previously been aware of, but Konik is by no means giving away the farm...you'll have to do your own further research.
As the author increasingly earns the trust of Big Daddy, we see that the author slowly (by Big Daddy's design) learns more about how the world of smart Sports Betting works. The author eventually uses this information (and some he did not get from BD) for himself, but I'll leave the specifics of that to you, the reader, who should obtain this book immediately.
In addition to a look at the high roller lifestyle our author gets to live based on money bet that is both:
A.) Not his.
B.) Bet at an advantage.
We also get to see the effects, both positive and negative, that these endeavors have on the author's psyche, his relationships (particularly with his girlfriend) and his profession, which actually is freelance writing.
These aspects of the book engage the reader and bring a human element to what is largely a technical series of events, the reader will get to know the author on a personal level, share the author's highs and (especially) lows. Konik will be revealed to be a generally moral, but far from flawless, person. Konik will also make a HUGE mistake at some point in the book, but again, I leave that to future readers to discover.
There is also a biting tone throughout the narrative with regards to the 'P***ies," who run the books. I'm going to offer my opinions on this narrative, in full, in a corollary Article to this one. Needless to say, Big Daddy and Friends are not terribly impressed with many of the countermeasures taken against them throughout. That said, they are often quite right, but at other times, I think the Vegas Books are also acting fully within their rights.
This book proves to be quite balanced as we learn that the operatives of The Brain Trust, if morally superior (big if) are certainly not perfect. At one point, the otherwise cordial and extremely wealthy Big Daddy puts our author in an unenviable position. The author never directly states that he had a major problem with Big Daddy's position, (other than he disagreed and it could have cost him a princely sum) but one is forced to wonder if that conversation led to repercussions that would guide the author's actions throughout the rest of their relationship.
Ultimately, what you have is a fast-paced narrative of the transition of a man who knew next to nothing about Smart Betting from runner to trusted partner and perhaps even more. That such an essentially repetitive narrative can somehow remain fast-paced and readable is a testament to the fact that Konik is an absolute master of his craft. Konik also has at least one non gambling-related book, and I'll likely read every book he has ever written sooner or later.
This memoir that reads more like a novel is recommended by me for absolutely everyone. My final score is 9.5/10, but don't ask me to point out any specific flaws, because I can't.
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