Diary of a pari-mutuel clerk

saratoga pari mutuel window the millions MinkelOver at The Millions, Elizabeth Minkel is writing a diary of her time as a pari-mutuel clerk this summer at the Saratoga Race Course. A clip:

We take bets. It's the simplest explanation for a job that's more nuanced than I'd ever have guessed, before any of this, before the track was something more than a disruptive abstraction on the east side of town. I learned the basic logic of horse gambling ten years ago, hovering over a keyboard as seasoned tellers called out sample bets, struggling to understand the terminology and the different combinations, exactas and doubles, keys and partial wheels, ten-ten on the eight horse, Seabiscuit in the fifth. I've learned a lot in the intervening decade, like how to harness the patience to explain the fundamentals to a novice, or how to decipher the ramblings of a drunk. I work hard to be effortlessly adept when professional gamblers come to the windows, printed stacks of racing stats clipped together, the carefully-calculated permutations of a morning spent handicapping printed at the top in neat pencil. Each series of bets, each exchange is a single moment encapsulated: beneath the numbers, horses and dollar amounts, it's flirtation or anger or joking banter or the drudgery of playing a game only the very lucky can seem to crack.

We enjoyed reading this first part of the diary, the way Minkel reflects on the Track's presence in her hometown and her focus on some of the tiny moments there.

We're looking forward to more.

(Thanks, Darren.)

photo: Elizabeth Minkel / The Millions

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

Steve Martin + Martin Short at Proctors

Humorous people Steve Martin and Martin Short will be at Proctors February 17 for a show together. Tickets go on sale this Friday, October 19... (more)

Umphrey's McGee / Experience Hendrix at The Palace

Two shows announced for The Palace today... Umphrey's McGee The jam / prog rock band Umphrey's McGee is set to play a show at The... (more)

Drawing: Historic Haunted Pub Crawl of Downtown Albany

The Historic Haunted Pub Crawl of Downtown Albany have returned this month. And we have a pair of tickets to give away -- maybe to... (more)

Morning Blend

Schoharie limousine crash + Sifting through the life and business dealings of Shahed Hussain, the owner of Prestige Limo who worked as an undercover informant... (more)

The week ahead

Here are a few things to keep in mind, look forward to, or keep busy with this week, from the weather (fall), to haunts, to... (more)

Recent Comments

When I was a new mom I tried lots of different activities. My two favorites were the public library programming. There are a ton of story hours in the area. You could hit one every day of the week and you see a lot of familiar faces after a few weeks and get to know the other parents. They are at a variety of times which helped for the constantly changing nap schedule. ...

Drawing: Historic Haunted Pub Crawl of Downtown Albany

...has 13 comments, most recently from C

Dominoes as an art -- and a job

...has 1 comment, most recently from Jay

A look around Bard & Baker, the new board game cafe in downtown Troy

...has 3 comments, most recently from Julian Hutton

Stuff to do this weekend

...has 3 comments, most recently from CF

Morning Blend for Oct 12

...has 1 comment, most recently from ravioliollie