Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Lay the Favorite: A Story About Gamblers” as Want to Read:
Lay the Favorite: A Story About Gamblers
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Lay the Favorite: A Story About Gamblers

3.38  ·  Rating details ·  565 Ratings  ·  110 Reviews
An eye-popping and hilarious joyride through the underworld of sports betting ? Beth Raymer arrived in Las Vegas in 2001, hoping to land a job as a cocktail waitress at one of the big casinos. In the meantime, she lived in a $17-a-night motel with her dog, Otis, and waited tables at a low-rent Thai restaurant. One day, one of her regular customers told her about a job she ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published November 20th 2012 by Spiegel & Grau (first published January 1st 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Lay the Favorite, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Lay the Favorite

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Apr 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One thing I've learned from working at an Indian casino is that appearances can be deceiving. If the stereotype is that gamblers are overweight, stogie-chewing men in sharkskin suits or young men in designer T-shirts and $500 sunglasses, such images are fallacious. Nine times out of 10, the so-called big spender who pulls up to the casino in a fancy car wearing flashy jewelry will gamble much less than the middle-aged Filipina in Old Navy sweatpants and knock-off Louis Vuitton fanny pack.

In her
I won this book from Goodreads. I was definitely looking forward to reading it since I generally enjoy memoirs and this isn't one I would likely have picked up on my own. The first sentence tossed me right into the action of the story. However, after only a few pages, I began to wonder if this isn't more of a biography about Dink. I enjoyed Dink's backstory, but as far as the structure of the book goes, it confused me that so much time was spent focusing on Dink so close to the beginning of the ...more
I won this book in Goodreads First Reads. The odds: 40 copies available, 726 people requesting. That's approximately 5.5%. Assuming random selection, but I'm starting to doubt it's entirely random.


I just got this book, and this is neat. The cover is sort of plain with publisher's logo in the background. It says at the top "Advanced Uncorrected Proofs" and that I shouldn't quote without checking against the finished book. Well, I find it neat, because I get to see the book before it's publish
Apr 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I expected a story of a woman who would become an obsessive gambler, would hit bottom, see the light, and share with the reader the tale of how she pulled herself out of a really bad place. This is not that story. Instead we have a woman who makes a series of choices, some not exactly good, but always understandable and even interesting. Beth Raymer is not me. She is not everywoman. Instead she is herself, very intelligent, but unable to find satisfaction in ordinary events. Hence, she lives a f ...more
Sep 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think that technically the subtitle of this book should have been "A Memoir of Being In The Vicinity of Gambling" because there is very little actual gambling in the life of the author and in the pages of the memoir itself. Which is not to say that the author hasn't lived (or at least, as I have to admit is possible in this crazy post-A-Million-Little-Pieces world we live in, invented) a fascinating life which includes everything from working as an in-home stripper to pursuing an amateur boxin ...more
Christy Stewart
Your life is crazy, right? You've gone through shit, man. Shit. Sex, drugs, rock and roll. Shit, man. Man.

Stop writing memoirs. All of you.

On to the book...

Raymer goes through some interesting stuff. Not so much so that she should have done something as horrible as write a memoir, but what's done is done.

The biggest problem is Raymer herself. She isn't relatable. She isn't likeable. She isn't even unlikable.

Indifference toward a peice of art is the worst reaction imaginable...and I feel it for t
Jul 11, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Ugh. I thought this'd make a nice vacation from the tougher Shakespeare crap, but it didn't do much for me. It's a memoir of...what, a hanger-on? This chick who spent a little time on the outskirts of a not-very-seamy-or-dangerous gambling culture. That's not very interesting! It's competently written, but so are a lot of things sold in bookstores.
Apr 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a slow Saturday evening so we rented a movie from Redbox. It looked cute but didn't get a good review from RottenTomatoes but it caught our eye. The movie was a 'hoot' if you love sports and Las Vegas and a little bit of gambling. As the credits rolled by, I noticed that the story was true and the source was a book by the heroine of the book, Beth Raymer... and that intrigued me a little more. Could WCPL own the book? Well , yes we do and I knew I had to read it to find out other things t ...more
Apr 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I expected Lay the Favorite to be a mostly on-the-job autobiography of a cocktail waitress-cum-bookie in Vegas, it turned out to be more of an opportunity to follow Beth Raymer as she chronicles her past relationships with men, mostly gamblers, including her father, her neurotic former employers, some boyfriends/lovers, and co-workers. Most of the autobiographical portion of the book lies in Beth's obsession with boxing and brief stint as an in-home 'dancer'. Many of the rest of the sto ...more
Laura Zimmerman
Nov 25, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a book that I received from a Goodreads giveaway.

What to say about this book? It started off interestingly enough and moved along fairly well until I got about a third of the way through. I learned a bit about gambling (a world I knew nothing about prior to reading the book) but after 60+ pages I felt the book wasn't going anywhere. I may have missed the point but it seemed to me that the author was simply recounting her days at work. The characters in her book are colorful and fun to re
Jun 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beth Raymer is young woman who impulsively moved to Las Vegas with her boyfriend, the promptly broke up with him. Since she was working at his family's Thai restaurant at the time, she needed a new job. One of customers refers her to Dink, a professional gambler. This book is the story of her job with Dink and others in the world of gambling and bookmaking. There are also significant detours into her former career as an in-home stripper and internet porn model and her hobby of boxing.

I loved t
Okay memoir, would have been better as humorous mystery series ala Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum.

If you have an interest in gambling and/or Vegas you might find it interesting.

Possibly interesting characters, but not much really happens.

Former stripper, amateur boxer, investigative reporter boyfriend, crazy family, and her employer and most of her friends are gamblers or bookies. Locals include Vegas, Costa Rica and Curaco.

Sounds like promising character for a chick lit mystery, right? Ins
Charming and troubling. Girlish woman narrator takes risks and makes choice that seem both naive, stupid, and self-deluding but survives and succeeds in every situation. Told in a different tone this could be a cautionary tale but it is not. Neither is it self destructive catharsis. The confident and assertively unreflective way the main character make choices that the white suburban male teacher that I am wants to warn her away from is truly subversive. I want to say "Don't you know that stripp ...more
Apr 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, gr-str, arc
Lay the Favorite was a fast, fun, and thrilling read. Raymer takes the readers behind the scenes of sports betting. She reveals all the dirty secrets and truth behind the money and glamour of the gambling world without holding anything back. The readers are in for a treat as she shares her adventure with them which begins with a waitressing job in Las Vegas to becoming a pro boxer in New York and everything in between.

It’s a good read for anyone that is looking to escape from their boring and or
Apr 14, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
To me this book was boring. The stories within the story were scattered. She explains one topic and then goes off on a tangent. The story was dry and choppy. I feel the book wasn't outlined or formatted prior to her beginning to write. It seems that it all got thrown together. It was an extremely slow read for me. The last paragraph was as disappointing and flighty as the rest of the book.

For Publisher: I did find a few simple typographical errors in the spelling of words and bunny eared the pa
Greg Eldred
It is interesting to learn how seedy and undermining the gambling world is. What offshore casinos are like and what kind of people migrate towards that lifestyle. Pretty bad indeed.

Other than that the author, Beth Raymer really has no life nor ambition in it.

There really is no drama in this book and overall it is pretty boring.

May 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beth Raymer tells a story that one would only expect to find on the silver screen. Sprinkled with humor and heartfelt sentiments throughout, 'Lay the Favorite' is a memoir for people who wish they could follow their own impulses in the manner of an affluent European playboy.
Everyday eBook
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Everyday by: Kristin Fritz
Beth Raymer doesn't have a plan. And she's not entirely and consciously sure about what she's searching for. After her job as a youth counselor goes awry, she moves from one sanity-testing gig to another, following the nearest path to quick cash. After answering a Help Wanted ad that makes no apologies for its offer of work, Beth's life post-counseling finds her posing as a nude dancer who makes housecalls. Though the work's moral foundation is questionable at best, the money is good, and so Bet ...more
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very humorous.
A compendium of bad life choices. Early on in her memoir, Beth Raymer tells the story of losing her only legitimate job when she intentionally allows girls doing time in juvenile detention center to escape into the unsuspecting community. All of her subsequent occupational decisions decline in advisability and for none does she feel much remorse or regret. In fact, Raymer's interior monologue and subsequent self-consciousness measures as deep as a puddle on the Las Vegas strip. She drifts from i ...more
May 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Lay the Favorite. Beth Raymer. 2010. Random House. 230 pages. ISBN 9780385526456.

This very entertaining gambling memoir is the story of Beth Raymer, a young woman who relocated to Las Vegas with hopes of becoming a scriptwriter but then stumbled upon a bookie job in all its high-risk and dangerous glory.

Lay the Favorite opens right away in Las Vegas and we are instantly introduced to Raymer, a Thai restaurant waitress. One of her customers refers her for a job at Dink Inc., where Raymer meets th
Kara Jorges
Beth Raymer developed her love of gamblers at her father’s knee, and was perfectly suited for the lifestyle by the time she grew up. She made a couple of attempts at “straight” jobs, but somehow, though not a gambler herself, the gambling life always drew her in. After a short stint as an in-home stripper, she followed a boyfriend to Las Vegas, and found herself in just the right city for the life she grew to love. On a tip from a friend, she went to work for Dink, Inc., a professional gambling ...more
Apr 22, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The only positive thing I can say about this book is that I think it is well written. Beth Raymer’s writing style is one I enjoy more than most, it is straight forward and easy to read, vocabulary is neither too simple nor sophisticated, and descriptive passages are exactly how I like for them to be: a minimal use of words that nonetheless perfectly capture and convey an ambiance or a scene.
However, the book itself is a total waste, in my opinion. I don’t like the personality of Beth herself. T

This is the kind of book that people call a "romp." I enjoyed it.

Beth Raymer, the author and main character, bounces from one job and adventure to the next. She starts out as a staffer at a group home for wayward girl teens, gets into at-your-door exotic dancing, then migrates into gambling.

After coming to Vegas with a boyfriend, with whom she rapidly breaks up, Raymer briefly waitresses at a Thai joint, then goes to work for Dink, a professional gambler in Vegas. Either he, or o
Apr 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is interesting. As a sports fan that doesn't know much about gambling on sports, I found this novel full of all sorts of interesting information on the different aspects of professional gambling. The novel paints an thorough portrait of the life gamblers live, the elation and despair of their profession and the gray area of the law they often operate under or around. Following the life of Dink through his journey to becoming a professional gambler in Vegas is very interesting. His pat ...more
Apr 14, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sadly, I found this memoir dull and un-engaging. I usually find something nice to say about memoirs but alas, nothing good will be here.

Luckily, I won a pre-release copy from Goodreads so I didn't actually pay for the book, but I'll never get the time back.

Raymer profiles, in painful detail, some quirky characters in the gambling world. She also profiles some terribly dull characters in the gambling world. Her own voice is uninteresting and almost absent. Sometimes the narration was best chara
Jan 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
Beth Raymer's memoir about her life working odd-jobs for professional gamblers was entertaining, funny, and a page-turner. Following the whims of her heart, Beth moves to Las Vegas to move in with a boyfriend and begins working at a Thai restaurant owned by his parents. Soon after, they break up and she finds herself miserably working for his family making little money. A regular customer connects Beth with a professional gambler, Dinky, and she begins working for him. Beth regales us with stori ...more
J Acosta
Jul 07, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don't usually write reviews, but I had to say something about this one as I really wanted to like it early on. Having lived in Vegas for over a year, and roughly around the time the beginning of the book takes place, I really enjoyed the build-up to where Beth starts to learn about bookmaking, sports lines, and the Vegas area in general, and I was interested in ins-and-outs of what goes on behind the scenes. However, I was very disappointed as it wasn't so much a "Memoir of Gambling", but inst ...more
Jaclyn Day
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know next to nothing about gambling and especially little about sports gambling. Luckily, despite this book being all about gambling, my lack of knowledge didn’t matter much. After moving to Vegas and waiting tables, Raymer gets a job assisting a professional sports gambler and gets increasingly drawn into a shady, crazy, money-filled world that she pretends she’s still outside of. The best part of this book is not Raymer, though she’s the one telling it and most everything is happening to her ...more
Apr 14, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"Lay the Favorite" gets a few points in its favor for providing some insight into the world of professional sports betting, which though not the kind of topic I would normally gravitate towards, proved interesting in the first few chapters, which trace the author's own introduction into the world of professional gambling. On the whole, it didn't work for me as a compelling personal memoir -- I didn't find the author particularly likeable, and maybe worse, her stories of adventure-seeking started ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Odds: One Season, Three Gamblers And The Death Of Their Las Vegas
  • Elihu Washburne : The Diary and Letters of America's Minister to France During the Siege and Commune of Paris
  • The Gift of Stoppage Time
  • Harrington on Cash Games: How to Win at No-Limit Hold 'em Money Games, Volume I
  • Don't Stop Believin': The Unofficial Guide to Glee
  • Why I Fight: The Belt Is Just an Accessory
  • Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas
  • Direct Hits Toughest Vocabulary of the SAT
  • Amarillo Slim in a World Full of Fat People: The Memoirs of the Greatest Gambler Who Ever Lived
  • The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America
  • Finding Jeena
  • Revisions of Goodloe Byron
  • The Black Rose (The Seven Stars, #2)
  • Darwin and the Barnacle: The Story of One Tiny Creature and History's Most Spectacular Scientific Breakthrough
  • Let's Get It On!: The Making of MMA and Its Ultimate Referee
  • Repeat Until Rich: A Professional Card Counter's Chronicle of the Blackjack Wars
  • Call it What You Want
  • Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy

Share This Book