Back in the day when E.F. Hutton talked, people listened.
Some of us remember, forty-three years ago, the ad campaign on how beneficial it was to be an E.F. Hutton client. When a Hutton client talked, a stillness came over a conference room, meeting, airplane, gym, bar, restaurant, you name it. The 1979 television commercial, nine years before being acquired by Shearson Lehman Brothers, convinced us that the Hutton stock tip was so solid nobody wanted to take a chance and miss it.
Today, the anti-Hutton whisper is when Herbie Shainker speaks. People can’t help but hear him. Even carnival barkers take cover.
They were/are both considered experts in the same field: gambling. Hutton in the stock market; Shainker in team sports betting.
The major difference is Hutton clients carried themselves with a hush-hush dignity. Shainker is Rodney Dangerfield bombastically crashing a library.
They were/are both good at what they did/do. When push comes to shove, comparing winners to winners, Hutton couldn’t hold a put or call to Shainker’s win percentage in sports.
Shainker and I are members of the same golf club in Las Vegas, Red Rock Country Club. That in itself is disturbing that a private club would admit either, never mind both of us. Shainker is a character and a caricature of himself. Everybody knows him and has a Herbie-story. If you are looking for a relaxing, insult-free day on the golf course, you want to avoid playing in his group. He’s Ralph Kramden at a poetry reading. He’s an airplane middle seat nightmare.
His buddy Jim Nettles sums it this way: “I met Herbie the first day I joined Red Rock. I was warned not to play with him because his back and forth banter would destroy both my concentration and my golf game. They were right. My handicap was a four when I met him; today it’s a 10. The funny thing is, I don’t care. I wouldn’t trade one minute I’ve spent with Herbie. He’s a pain in the ass but a lovable one.”
His personality is an acquired taste. His golf game is not too bad for a golfer named Shainker. However, there’s no second guessing his ability to handicap team season win totals in football, baseball and basketball. He has no match and if you ask him, he’ll tell you just that.
“I’ve been doing this for the past 46 years, since 1976, and I’d guess I have a winning percentage of probably 75-80%,” Shainker said. E.F. Hutton clients would have mortgaged their kids for that type of return.
After graduating from Boston University he returned home in the late 1970s to Cleveland, Ohio, and worked in the family business, Ohio Furniture, with his father and brother. In his spare time Shainker would bet sports with Leon, the neighborhood bookie. One morning he called to make a bet and Leon didn’t answer as he always did. He was busted by the cops the day before.
“I would bet individual games and pick the winners but lose because they didn’t cover the spread,” Herbie remembered. “After I lost my bookie I changed my strategy and went with the season-total bets. I upped my wagers, enjoyed the daily action, and the point spreads didn’t matter to me anymore.”
In 2004, a few years after his family sold the business, he and wife Laurie moved to Las Vegas. He no longer had to send his wagers out here with friends. He now had a sportsbook on every corner.
Shainker decided a month after arriving in Vegas that it might be a good idea if he spent a majority of his time in one of the books; not betting, but working behind the counter. In a decision they still regret, Caesars hired him. He was fired six months later for giving out too many free drink tickets.
“If someone complained they didn’t get a drink ticket or wanted another, I gave them one. What’s the big deal, they were betting nice sums of money,” he questioned? “I guess management didn’t see it the same way I did.”
These days his sportsbook action is limited to up to six visits a year: betting a team in football, basketball and baseball. And hopefully, three more visits to cash the tickets.
Season win-total bets are not popular with most players. The instant gratification a gambler gets for winning a bet or the despair in losing one, doesn’t happen when the wager is spread over five or six months. Plus, most gamblers don’t want the casino holding their money that long.
For Shainker it’s different. “I enjoy it, I’ve got action for six months whether its every day in baseball, multiple days a week in basketball or even once a week in football,” Shainker, 67, said and added, “This way I don’t have to run to the sportsbook every day. One preseason bet takes care of the entire season for me.”
You can’t argue with his success. He’s won 14 of his last 15 plays. His bankroll is moderate. He bets $4400 on a side. If he wins he goes to $5500 for the next season on the calendar. Win again and it’s $6600, which is the ceiling. Any season total wager he loses he goes back to $4400 and starts again. “Don’t ask me why,” Herbie quipped. “OCD, I guess.”
He won 12 straight over the three sports going into the 2021 baseball season. His $6600 went on the Cubs, under 76 wins. They cooperated by only winning 71.
Finally, his 13 consecutive streak was snapped last NFL season. His play was Washington over 8.5 wins.
“I liked Washington for one reason and one reason only,” Shainker said. “Their quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick wins wherever he goes. He’s 39 years old, has a long beard and is a Harvard guy playing in the NFL. None of it makes much sense. But he wins so I played Washington solely because Fitzpatrick was their quarterback.”
What Herbie didn’t envision was Fitzpatrick getting hurt in the second quarter of Washington’s opener and being lost for the season. “Somehow they still won six in a row giving me some hope,” he smiled. His long winning streak finally ended when Washington only mustered seven wins for the campaign, two short of what he needed.
Having a reputation as a good loser but a terrible winner, it’s been rumored Shainker has tutored a certain former president on pomposity. As word of his long winning streak circulated the Red Rock clubhouse, more and more guys jumped on his selection of Washington last football season. Ultimately, Shainker brought down more investors than Bernie Madoff.
“Truthfully, I’d prefer people don’t play my picks,” he tried unsuccessfully to convince me. “I don’t want to be responsible for all that. I never encourage it.”
Yes he does. After every victorious season Herbie throws a Sunday Victory Breakfast for everyone who follows his wagers all season. Of course, he is the guest of honor at his own party. Normally about twenty are invited to celebrate Herbie-Fest. It’s an opportunity for Shainker to not only praise himself, but most speculate an easy way for him to use his required annual country club food minimum. During the course of orange juice and omelets and pancakes, Shainker prepares written remarks taking good natured swipes at almost everyone else in the room. If this were an Academy of Motion Pictures event, he would leave with two bloodied cheeks.
His last breakfast, a week ago, was to revel the beginning of a new streak, cashing in on the NBA Chicago Bulls over 44 wins. As of last night, with one game remaining on the schedule, they’ve won 45. That’s pretty solid handicapping.
“I really liked Chicago the year before when they picked up (Nikon) Vucevic from Orlando,” Herbie pontificated. “Then during this past off-season they signed (DeMar) DeRozan from San Antonio. I love him as a shooter and knew he would be the push the Bulls needed to get close to 50 wins. It pretty much worked out the way I had figured it on paper.”
Roy Abrams has followed and bet Shainker’s NBA selections the past eight years. He has won seven, including the Bulls. The only one he didn’t cash was during 2019-20 when the season was shortened because of Covid, and all bets were refunded. That was a big break for both Shainker and Abrams who would have been on the losing end with Charlotte and under. It resulted in a no-bet. Shainker calls it the greatest non-loss of his betting life.
Abrams said, “I’m not a sports bettor per se but you can’t ignore Herbie’s success.”
To which Shainker responded, “The guy (Abrams) has won seven in a row, you think maybe once he’d grab the lunch check. I’m still waiting.”
Fellow golfer Mike Rubin says Shainker’s success isn’t a fluke.
“Herbie studies and considers his bets very seriously,” Rubin said and added, “He is a student of trends, team’s divisional play, player acquisitions, injuries and everything else he can absorb. There is no emotion in his selections, only fact-based decision making. It’s impressive.”
Since Laurie passed away in 2011, Shainker spends his time playing golf, doting over his three daughters and six grandkids and watching his team, whomever it may be, in whatever season, on television.
“Sadly to say, away from the golf course and my family, I have no life,” Shainker said. “I watch every game my team plays. I’ll watch all 82 in basketball and 162 in baseball if it goes down to the wire. I watch the crawl on the bottom of the screen to keep current with trades and free agents on how it might affect any future bets I make. Probably my biggest expense these days is satellite television, I’ll buy every sports package I can find.”
However, once the fate of his season wager is determined, off goes the television. “I won’t watch a single game after that, I really don’t care anymore and have no loyalty to any team after the bet is settled.”
Shainker prefers to bet on the ‘over’ because “it’s more fun to root for a team during the course of a season to win” but noted, “in reality every bet should be an ‘under’. There’s always an injury to a key player that needs to be overcome. Plus, sportsbooks tilt their totals toward the ‘over’ because the bettors always favor playing that way.”
Three days ago, Shainker put down the notebook and finally made a decision on his baseball choice for this season. He had three teams he was looking at: Boston, Baltimore and Washington. He expects all to have down seasons, so ‘under’ the published total was going to be the play.
“I didn’t think Baltimore (projected win total 63.5), or Boston (84.5) were going to be very good,” Herbie reasoned. “Baltimore struggles every year and I thought Boston’s number was too high especially in a division that had better teams with the Yankees, Toronto and Tampa. What bothered me is Boston and Baltimore play each other 19 times and even if they split the season series, that’s at least or nine or 10 wins for a team that I am pulling for to lose.”
Washington was the other team on Shainker’s under-achieving list. “They are in a division (NL East with Atlanta, Philly, Mets, Miami) where every other team is as good as or better than they are. Washington has Juan Soto but other than that, I don’t think they have anything,” he analyzed and added, “I see this a lot like the Cubs last season. I think Washington is on the verge of a major rebuild and will sell off their roster just like I figured Chicago would do last year. But in this case I need Washington to lose 92 games. That’s a lot, but if things go wrong for them like I think it will, it’s doable.”
Shainker lives in a high rise condominium just east of the Strip close to the Westgate Hotel and Casino, formerly the Las Vegas Hilton. This past Monday morning, with the season opening on Thursday, he stuffed fifty-five one hundred dollar bills in his pockets and strolled across the street to the Westgate SuperBook. With all his handicapping conviction, he walked up to the betting window and in an uncharacteristic hushed tone that would have made E.F. Hutton smile, told the clerk to plunk it down on the Washington Nationals under 70.5 wins.
There’s no word on whether or not he got extra drink tickets.
Fun read! Thanks Roy. I would love to see you and Mr Shainker banter back and forth..that would be fun to see!
I don’t know about sports betting, but Herbiefest sounds awesome!
Lots of great material in the pipeline.
I played with Herbie twice last week and my handicap is now 11. I’ll never learn.
Roy, a huge fan of your blog, but………..this is your finest work ever!
Hmm, now there’s an interesting admission. Once his team bet is closed out, he turns off the television. Is that the same lack of interest in the sport that transfers to the golf course? If I remember Herbie accurately enough from his golfing days in Cleveland, once he closed his opponent out on a $10.00 Nassau, he inexplicably found a way to skull chips across the green, miss two foot tap-ins, and yes “Shaink” a short iron into the trees. Or is that OCD also??
I am glad I didn’t read this last week while I was in Las Vegas. I might have been tempted to put a sawbuck on Washington Nationals under 70.5 wins (and I don’t even know Herbie).
Herbie’s biggest challenge is his fear of technology. How he will figure out getting Apple TV for baseball games and Prime Video for Thursday Night Football games will be more difficult than winning his Washington Nationals bet.
I love playing golf with Herbie another red rock member asked if his talking and energy interfered with my game (if that’s even possible) and I said it’s just the opposite it calms me down at which point the inquirer quipped I guess he’s sort of like Ritalin
Win or lose (mostly win) there is only one Herbie! I’m anxious to hear your wisdom for this years NFL bet.
Loved the blog as always, but what was omitted was Herbie’s wonderful sportsmanship on the golf course. We’ve had some great matches but there is one in particular that I’ll always remember. Herb was four down and came back to even the match going into 18. I got up and down from the green side bunker to win the match. He immediately came up to me and gave me the biggest, most genuine bear hug ever! That’s Herbie!
E F Hutton was more of a whisper. 30 minutes after the bet the whole club knew it was Washington. “Hey Jimmy, it’s Washington under”. With Herbie’s voice volume, another 20 people besides me knew what he did.
I’m looking forward to another win. It will make me watch the standings all year.
The world needs a Herbie cam, so we can watch his animated reactions to every play throughout the season.
What are they doing? Who does that? You got to be kidding me! You can’t be serious!
This is fabulous !! Could hear Herbie gloating all the way from Southern California after the 0-3 Nationals start. 🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻
Roy, your description of Herbie is spot on! He is one unique character that is unforgettable.
Keep the system going Herbie. Everybody loves a winner!
So many stories to tell – so little time. I was the “carrier of the goods” to Vegas when Herbie lived in Cleveland and was not able travel. I played golf matches with Herbie for money and dinners and won 70% of the matches. Yes, he was better loser than winner. All this and many more provides me hours of Herbie stories to tell friends, including how he shortened the length of all his clubs by 12”, has the exact same daily routine on everything he does in life, wears clothes that Goodwill would turn down and may not be the person you want to invite to a black tie affair.
However, the most important element of my friendship with Herbie is that my wife became good friends with Laurie.
Great story. I find myself reading your blog before I make my Sunday morning coffee.
I agree with Herbie. “This is your finest work ever.“ And now I have a few comments for Mr. Abrams.… Where is all that money!!! Love you Herbie. Mrs. Abrams.
He is truly the most unique person I have ever met. I too belong to the same golf club. You just have to love this guy. I am the guy who has won 7 bets in a row with Herbie doing the handicapping. He is truly incredible.
Now some personal stuff. If you need a friend, do NOT go to Herbie. As he has said: my life consists of golf, ESPN…and maybe 2% family. That is it. The last movie he saw was Raiders of the Lost Ark.
He doesn’t tip anybody in the golf club in regards to cleaning his clubs, He does it himself between 18 and the clubhouse. He is not the cheapest guy in the world but if the cheapest guy should ever die…
Herbie Shainker…a true legend.
Great article. He hasn’t changed in the 40 years I’ve known him. Every guy loves him and most women hate him. When the Cavs won, people asked him if he was happy. Unless there was a bet he doesn’t care
What a great read! While I chose a quieter life away from Las Vegas several years ago, I am privileged to still get my Vegas fix at least 3 times per year when my friend Herbie let’s me know his team bet. I often find myself checking the standings just to see how Herbie is doing. Otherwise I would never check!!! Is that an example of Herbie’s positive influence on someone or what? I’ve always known Herbie to be the winner that he is – except of course when he was my every Saturday golf ⛳️ partner in 2009-2010. We still hold the record for most $16 Crab Louis’s purchased to pay off our losses to Ricky and Kappy. The memories will always be with me as will my friend Herbie. Keep it going!!! And please stay in touch.
Herbie is a genius. I met him through a mutual friend, Jim Nettles, Every year I look forward to going to Vegas and spending time golfing with Jim and Herbie.
I’ve known Herbie since I’ve been about 14. You hit the nail right on the head describing Herbie. He’s a great guy.
When I joined the club 18 years ago, I signed up for a match play tournament and drew Herbie as my opponent…. as I arrived at the range to warm up, our starter Bob asked me who I would be playing, and I told him…. He winced a bit and then asked me if I would be taking my own cart… I told him that since I didn’t know anyone and didn’t want to seem snobbish, that I planned to ride in the same cart as Herbie …. He frowned and said to me “ You need to have him give you 2 extra strokes!!” When I asked why, he said that I wouldn’t be able to concentrate because Herbie doesn’t ever shut up… I chuckled, but being a decent golfer I ignored his sage advice…
Herbie beat me 1-up….
… a warmhearted spike in my coffee today … thanks roy
Great read. Enjoyed learning about you and your background here Herbie. I now know who to go to for some sports betting advice. I was happy to see you win your Bulls bet.
The first time I played with Herbie I learned the difference between a “froggie 1 and a froggie 2”. I also endured a golden putter with Herbie. He picked me as I was the only one left on the board in my group. He also picked Jonathan Fore a new member playing in his first golden putter. Herbie had one shot that mattered over the course of 2 days. A 35 foot putt for bogey that he missed. Jonathan asked him at the end of the round why he picked him. Herbie said without missing a beat that he didn’t know him and Herbie’s poor play wouldn’t cost him a friend. If you want to have fun playing golf play with Herbie. Great guy.
Herbie definitely does his homework! Although some of his teams would rival mine, I have to say, his technique has been impressive! It is exciting to watch his success!
Herbie brightens the room when he enters it! Not when he leaves it like many may want you to believe. HA HA! He is a clutch partner when on your team! Don’t let him know if he gets under your skin you will regret it forever!
Great guy for sure!
Playing golf with Herbie has always been a “kick in the pants” for me. Only, my wife, my mother and Herbie call me Stevie! When I miss a putt he believes I should have made, he yells out, “Stevie, Stevie, Stevie!!
Without question, Herbie is one of the most competitive golfers I know…he wants to win and enjoy making his opponents buy lunch. While to some his golf course demeanor is a bit unusual, I always find that I laugh on every hole when I play golf with Herbie. And our jokes are not just reserved for our playing partners, we needle each other as well. In one round when I missed an 18-inch putt, Herbie loudly exclaimed, “What kind of 1 handicap misses a putt like that?”
For me, the best part of playing golf with Herbie is that I love making him laugh. Second best part…when we are partners, we almost always enjoy a free lunch!
Great insights Roy, Herbie is a gem 💎
Herbie is definitely one of a kind…..but I enjoy every minute around him especially when golfing as I have never missed a four foot putt when he is there….must be my good luck charm….OR ….get it outta there.
Herbie has a softer side that he does not get credit for and is a true friend. Yes, Sherry has read this blog and still wants to get those four foot putts in the Rattlesnake tournament next year.
My golf recollection goes back almost 50 years. All of the above about Herb are consistent with who he is. He hasn’t changed in 50 years . Most NORMAL PEOPLE change a few times in their lifetime usually by experience, wisdom and character. Not this guy! He thrives on busting your balls and reminding others of it.
Thank God only one Herb Shainker was created!
Regarding his betting prowess, many years ago, after running off a string of successive basketball bets, he coined the phrase, Hoopmaster. To the average person this would mean highly skilled in playing basketball or with the hulahoop. Not Herb! He would remind me and one other person who shall remain annonymous, he was referring to his success in betting on basketball games . He then, took his success with basketball to football and the Hoopmaster title carried on .
In case anyone hasn’t noticed, his ego is the size of the Grand Canyon. He insists on reminding everyone of that. Winning can make someone pretty cocky at times. For Herb , its a mental instability!.
Great article Roy.. That’s him..
Great read. It summarizes what Herbie has told me over the many years of playing golf together.
Let’s clarify one thing. Herb is not that good a golfer nor is he a reliable team mate. When I first met him 14 years ago his handicapp was “35”. However, over the years he seems to have finally got used to the seven and only 7 golf clubs he carries. His handicapp is down to 13 now and he is actually quite a good putter from moderately long distances, but he’s been known to swing and miss from long distances especially out of deep rough ( go figure). The thing that truly exemplifies him over any other golfer is his incessant inclination to beg for short putts. If your team needs him to make a short putt and he starts begging for a gimme, forget about it. But get this. Who would you rather have than Herb on your team? I for sure can’t think of anyone. Well done Roy
Herbie is truly 1 of a kind. If Herbie really likes you, and if you are fortunate, you will receive one of Herbie’s magnificent back slaps. The harder the slap, the more love Herbie has for you. Many times, the mark it leaves can be seen through the golf shirt. It’s quite remarkable…..just like my friend Herbie!!!
Great Blog Roy. I had the pleasure of partnering with Herbie last week a the Club for a partner better ball. First time ever playing with Herbie and although we didn’t win, I enjoyed every single minute of it. Now stuck in my head, whenever anyone putts in my foursome “CMON ONE TIME”. Herbie, I look forward to the next time we play golf together.
A true wizard when it comes to sports betting. But more importantly, a man with a big heart. I love it when he tells me to “get it out of there” on the golf course. Always a hoot to play a round of golf with.
I met Herbie approximately (9) years ago when I became an employee at Red Rock CC. He was the first member to invite me to play golf, an although Bobbie told me that I was going to be sorry, I went anyway! I had a great time with Herb and I understand what Jim Nettles meant. When I started at Red Rock I was a 1.4 handicap, I am now an 8 going on 10!!! I haven’t played much with him since Bobbie’s passing and I “kinda” miss those days when I’ve hit a good drive and getting over my second shot and just as I’m about to take the club back…..the “kiss of death” came from Herbie, “stick it Jimbo!” which I proceeded to hit it somewhere other than the green and then the next words out of his mouth were “what the hell was that?” Herbie is quite the sport better, I will give him that. He has invited me to everyone of his “victory breakfast” but I have declined as I told him that I work on Sunday’s, even though I tell him that he has never neglected to ask me (5) or (6) times and if I know Herbie this trend will continue! Herbie, is Herbie and you will never meet another like him, but I would never give up the times I have spend with him!
Nothing can truly capture Herbie but this article definitely did a great job trying. He’s never taken me golfing, probably because he knows I barely tolerate him already.
The thing about his bets is that there’s no system. He simply researches every single team, every single offseason move, and bugs friends and family about various players and teams before finding what he thinks is the best bet of the season – and then forces you to schedule all dinners and everything else around his games!
I would certainly agree with most of the replies here that Herbie is quite a character. But I am originally from NY so I am used to all kinds. Since I have moved to Colorado 2 1/2 years ago I do miss the mornings at RED ROCK CC when Herbie showed up to tee it up. Everyone knew he was there! If he ever came up close to you there would always be a STRONG headlock after what he thought was a funny comment he made. Most times it was him being “full of himself”. To this day he would always remind me of a 1 foot putt I missed in a major tournament and that was probably 2013! But the gentlemen I am (NOT) I never reminded him of a tournament he and his partner won with an 11 on the last hole ( His opponents had a 12!) When Herbie went home after a round of golf there was never any Fruit left in the fruit bowl as he cleaned it out to fill his fridge for free. We still keep in touch talking sports which I love to do with him. He sends me every article he finds about the NY YANKEES which I am a big fan of. Mostly we agree which I can say for most of his friends. He may never take the shirt off his back to help anyone but at least he would rollup his sleeves. A true gentlemen at all times. Happy to call him a friend. And about his season long bets. I do root for him but I really Don’t give a Sh……! He never shared any winnings with me! And never got invited to one of his breakfast celebrations. What’s up with that!
The Washington bet that came short I thought was safe as well considering they played in the weakest division in the NFL on top of Fitzpatrick being their QB, you just got robbed. Herbie, you’re a great man with a knack for betting because the attention to detail that you display!
Mr. Berger, I can’t believe you gave Herbie his own blog! Herbie is the only man I’ve met that lives for regular AND backhanded compliments. I’ve participated in every hilarious breakfast and celebrated with Herbie and friends after his wins. I’d like to say I participate for the laughs or the extra revenue it brings the club, but I really just enjoy observing the waiters watch Roy Abrams eat!
David would have LOVED this!!
Sure, my dad made plenty of time for me and my sisters as children… that’s what halftime was for. In all seriousness though, I’m happy he has something that brings him so much joy and helped fund my college education 😊
I moved out to Vegas for college a few years before he did, and I’ll never forget him asking me to make a bet for him at the Hilton sports book. “But dad, I’m only 19,” I exclaimed. “You have a fake ID… USE IT,” he barked back. The Tennessee Titans (under)… I’ll never forget.
My son’s bris, my daughter’s birthday parties, holiday dinners, surgeries, labor and delivery… all scheduled around my dad’s games. He’ll let nothing get in the way of his sports betting.