#NewOn365 – A Day In The Life Of A Pune Bookie

Image used for representation only

Starting today, Pune365 will capture the life of an interesting personality, every fortnight.

No, we aren’t running after the celebs like everyone else.

This is about the story of people who work in unusual professions that govern their lifestyles. This is about the interesting, different, possibly infamous, often controversial, unknown people of the city.

For the first time ever, a no-holds barred conversation brought to you every other week!

In this first edition, we capture the life of a city bookie who lives a life of intrigue, challenge and camouflage every day of the year…

Although the law mandates that sports-betting is strictly illegal, this, like many other businesses flourishes in the shadows. Run by bookies who come from all walks of life, the world of sports betting has a lot of takers.
Some people enjoy going through sportsbook services similar to FanDuel as well as going to traditional bookies.

Today, we meet the neighbourhood bookie who happens to be a 26-year-old law graduate. Vardhan, or so he calls himself.

Perhaps, he’ll tempt you, but he’ll never coax you into placing a bet.

“I never have to,” he says adding that many beseech him for a chance to gamble. The man who operates with three cell phones and multiple sim cards takes us through a day in his life.

“I was inducted by a senior at college and soon started taking on bets from friends. Some of these friends started to also enjoy a football agent or as the Indonesians say Agen Bola alongside the bets I was taking. Apparently this linked more customers to my business. My business grows only through referrals,” says the bookie revealing it as the easiest way to avoid run-ins with the law. With this type of betting and gambling, there are no techniques to “beating the man” it’s a black market, people who wish to bet couldn’t exactly employ matched betting tactics in order to try and not take a loss, there could potentially be a lot of risk venturing bets with these “illegal bookies”.

Vardhan reveals that most of his clients are aged between 19 and 35. “Young guys who want to make a fast buck and don’t really mind risking a fine penny,” he discloses abruptly stopping to answer a call in hushed tones.

He offers us a sneak peek into his cell phone as we chat over a cup of coffee. The first thing you notice are the client messages. Some turn increasingly frantic with a frenzy akin to addicts badgering their dealer for a narcotic rush. Others have a sharp tone that turns intimidating when the person sustains a loss.

“This morning a client accused me of cheating him for he couldn’t handle losing money. This happens especially when the denominations are substantially larger. Honestly though, I’ve never resorted to cheating, mainly because I would not like somebody doing that to me.

“Even in a business that is run in the shadows, trust is critical. This mandates ethics. Taking on a new client is always dicey- I prefer repeat customers and therein lies the need for trust,” he explains.

Tricks of the Trade
“A lot of people don’t realize that I make money irrespective of them winning or losing.
I make a fee on every bet.
That is how the house always wins.”

Sharing tricks of the trade Vardhan reveals, “There is the good old ‘settle’. If someone loses and owes me 20,000 INR; I’ll settle it for him at 13,000. It isn’t a huge loss for me, but I get to retain a customer.

“It is also an easy way to avoid confrontation with players who have a temper and may threaten me. When I settle, the client ends up thanking me profusely and usually places another bet to continue the saga,” he chuckles at the ploy that earns him a repeat customer.

He surmises that his total dealings for the past year are between 15,00,000 and 17,00,000 INR. “A sizeable bite comes from two politicians in Dighi, while the rest is scattered between frequent betters playing safe sums regularly.” He speaks of upping his game sharing that he has a few smaller bookies working for him taking smaller bets and combined wagers. He now refuses bets under 40,000 INR.

“Situations at times turn dire when a friend’s bet goes down. They refuse to pay up whereas, they would happily claim their cash were they to win. Demonetization brought forth the biggest losses to fellow bookies, as most of our transactions are in cash.

Ask him what looms on the horizon for a 26-year-old bookie and he shares his plans for expansion. “We’re now looking at setting up a legitimate front in the UK where this isn’t illegal. My plan is to set up a website anchored in the UK where Indians can place their bets online. It shall make it a lot easier,” he signs off.

The laws of betting are different all over the world, some are legal and some are not. If you want to check out the gambling/betting laws in your state you can look up a link like this one – https://betting.com/sports-betting/sports-betting-laws-in-delaware-all-you-need-to-know and see if there is a way you can bet legally.


#This is a fictional representation. Resemblance to any individual living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Aditi Balsaver

Aditi Balsaver

A rapacious reader and animal lover, Aditi is a traveler on weekends and a writer at night..
Aditi Balsaver