Trials and Tribulations of the “Vegas Man” known as Jimmy the Greek (part 2)

Posted: July 3, 2015

Updated: July 3, 2015

Jimmy brought further legitimacy to gambling and sports in America

Jimmy the Greek worked in “sportsbooks” or betting houses in Steubenville, Ohio where he grew up in a time long before online sportsbooks in the US. Having a penchant for calculations, Jimmy showed talent on odds and forming the line. After dropping out of high school after the 10th grade, Jimmy worked full time in sportsbooks and gambled. He proved to be a natural personality who knew how to get information from people.

• When Jimmy was 13, his uncle shot his mother and his aunt
• Jimmy first arrived in Las Vegas in 1956
• Jimmy and his wife lost 3 out of their 5 children to cystic fibrosis

Favoring the underdog, Jimmy was able to do his research from just the right angle to give him an advantage. He paid porters to collect papers from all over the country to get insider info about college games. He hired women to give polls in order to predict Truman beating Humphrey. Soon Jimmy was ready to take his talent to Vegas where they would be appreciated.

Jimmy started life with a hard lessons that would prepare him for life


He had a rough life few could make so much out of

Jimmy had a tumultuous episode in his life as a child. His uncle, who was distraught from his wife leaving him, went on a rampage and shot Jimmy’s mother and aunt in front of him and shot himself. At 10 years old, Jimmy emotional state and view of life never would be the same. After losing money in investments such as oil drilling and coal mining, Jimmy moved to Las Vegas in 1956.

Jimmy soon found himself in trouble and got convicted for interstate gambling. By giving a tip to a friend over the phone and breaking the Interstate Wire Act, Jimmy was forced to pay a USD 10,000 fine and close his sportbook business. Jimmy decided to give up gambling because he knew that as a convicted felon he mustn’t appear like a gambler. Going legitimate, Jimmy set up a business as a called “Information Unlimited” that specialized in public relations, advertisement, publicity and sports lettering.

Jimmy was able to continue his persona and a celebrity who could walk casinos, greet people and take in his celebrity well within US gambling laws. Often going to casino, Jimmy appear, talk to some people, hand out USD 20 to some workers, play a few rounds of blackjack and leave. Jimmy was involved in several notable pursuits such as working public relations for exclusive billionaire Howard Hughes, putting Caesars Palace “on the map” and putting poker games on television.

Jimmy came out with a publicized “sports column” that he claimed would help the “everyday people” who wanted to make bets and needed advice. His column would soon be seen in over 200 newpapers throughout the country which provided free publicity. It was that column that introduced most Americans to the “betting line.” The major hotels went to Jimmy and offered to buy his name.

Jimmy lived a life plagued with despair as well as happiness

Jimmy Snyder wedding

He had a difficult relationship with his wife, who nevertheless was a great support for him

In a move that could have made both gambling news and Jimmy a billionaire before and after his death, Jimmy refused to sell his name because he didn’t want it exploited for gambling. Jimmy’s love seemed to be for the horse track. Once he ran into a trainer named Duke who told him he like his horse today. Even though the horse had 50 to one odds against him, Jimmy took the advice and waged on the underdog which resulted in him winning USD 100,000.

At the track, Jimmy felt at ease. It was coming for Jimmy to act obnoxious towards a waiter during the races and after find that waiter and tip them USD 100. His thirst for winning was profound a to level where, if he were having a bad day, would bet something on every horse, just so he can pull out a ticket saying he won and be center of attention.

What most people didn’t understand about gamblers is that losing is as much a part of life as winning. Jimmy went through losing times throughout his life. Jimmy claimed there wasn’t a system for horse racing. Supposed Jimmy had tickets for flights, that he cancelled, that would end up crashing and killing everyone aboard. Jimmy and his wife lost three out of their five children to cystic fibrosis, a congenital condition derived from birth.

Often, Jimmy’s wife would stay up nights helping their children, while he wasn’t around. Since Jimmy’s profession always had in away from home, he had strained relationships with his wife and children. Jimmy was greatly affected by his children’s condition and his lack of presence may have been purposeful as a barrier for better dealing with his problems.

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