The big nights at the Paradise Island Casino down in Nassau are called three-boat nights. Every few days, a passenger liner full of tourists with fat wallets pulls into the harbor for an overnight stay. The two or three times a year that three boats are in town at once, the Casino is filled with fat wallets.
The regulars at the Casino like three-boat nights, because the package-tour types who have sat staring at the waves for a week are aching to spend some money. The regulars feel that somebody has to be there to win it.
Action Herbie is a regular. He made a killing in the furniture business years ago, and now he wanders down south every Christmas to play the tables and work on his tan. Action Herbie bets so much that the Casino even gave him a special award a few years back. Something about contributions to the industry.
One three-boat night a while ago, Action Herbie picked up 80,000 bills playing craps. The next afternoon, he lost every cent of it in a friendly backgammon game by the pool. But he was back at the tables that night.
I ran into Action Herbie the other night--a three-boat night--just after New Year's. I didn't expect to find him where I did; I thought he'd be at the crap tables. Herbie doesn't miss many three-boat nights.
But Herbie wasn't at the tables this night, he was sitting in a bar with a pad of paper, a pen and some index cards. It took me a little while before I remembered, and then it hit me. More than anything else--although I'd better exclude his wife and kids in case they read this--Action Herbie loves to bet pro football.
This night, Action Herbie was working on his picks for the following day. "I like Philly," he kept mumbling between sips of a club soda (Herbie doesn't drink), "and I love Oakland. Ain't no way Oakland's gonna lose."
I asked him why. "Philly's got a balanced offense, with Carmichael and Montgomery. Only one NFC team that's gonna stop that offense, and it ain't the Vikings, that's for sure. And Cleveland," he continued, "there's an overrated team. Why, two years ago they all thought Sipe was a bum."
I commented that until a few months ago, everyone thought Jim Plunkett was washed up, too. "Yeah," he said, "but they was wrong."
I had never talked to Herbie about football before, but when he went two-for-two the next day, and two-for-two the day after, I figured maybe the guy knew his stuff. So yesterday, I called him up to get his picks for this weekend, thinking if he goes two-for-two again we'll get him on TV. Here's what he said: ACTION HERBIE'S PICKS: Dallas at Philly. Apparently, Dallas is the one NFC team Herbie was referring to. "That Danny White, he's got an arm on him, all right. And the Cowboy defense is there, just where the Viking defense wasn't." A mumble or two about Ron Jaworski's attitude, and out came the numbers: Dallas, 28-20.
Oakland at San Diego. Action Herbie took a while on this one. "What it all boils down to," he said mystifyingly, "is Dan Fouts versus Mark Van Eeghan." He refused to elaborate, but he did say that "A1 Davis will never be able to move the team if they win, and he gets what he wants." San Diego, 31-17.
And if you win, Herbie and I each get 10 per cent.