When public gets smart, wiseguys evolve 

August, 24, 2010

People say and do strange things in Las Vegas. On a Monday. At 4:30 in the afternoon. When it's 104 degrees outside. And you're sitting at the Hard Rock Hotel's poolside bar trying to write a column. As I am. Right now.

For example, I find it strange that the very nice young woman in the S&M-themed black bathing suit with the cutouts on the sides moved from her 100 degree spot in the shade into the skin-crisping sun. I find it strange that the guy who looks like The Situation's cousin is doing aerobics to the beat of house music blasting so loud the sand on the fake beach is dancing.

I find it strange that I'm clearly the only one in town -- other than the bartender -- working on a Monday afternoon.

Seriously, this is work. And just a couple of hours earlier -- as I did my job, interviewing a real wiseguy (and eating by the pool) -- I heard the strangest thing of all. My chat was with Dave Malinsky, a longtime bettor who I first interviewed more than 10 years ago when I was working on "The Odds." He was going to be the fourth character I followed in the book until he realized he had a lot of better things to do, like make money betting. Dave is the philosophical type who answers a lot of questions about betting from every angle except head on, which I like. It makes for an interesting, 360-degree conversation. During lunch we were talking about the betting marketplace and what kinds of advantages sharps have over squares. That's when he put down his sushi, paused and said, "Really, I don't even know what a square is anymore."

Huh? What a strange thing for a wiseguy to say.