The Gentleman Bookmaker – Terry Rogers


Colin Mallery remembers one of the great characters of the bookmaking sector.

This week, I want to bring you a story about someone who I remember with great affection. It would be over 25 years ago, when I first met Terry Rogers, a bookmaker from Ireland.

I was working for Ruffler and Deith and we had taken a stand on the stage at Alexander Palace. It was the first time anyone had used this space and it looked spectacular with the organ behind us. It was first thing in the morning and we had an extremely expensive new machine on the stand. Even in those days it cost several thousand pounds. I remember it was called Stagecoach and it was a shooting game and it came as a four and a six-player. We never expected to sell the larger model, given the huge price tag.

Anyway, this man came on the stand and asked to buy the six-player. I was wondering if he was having me on. But he was serious, and he also bought a pin table. He then asked to have it delivered to his nephew Kevin Farrell’s arcade in Dublin as a gift. “But don’t tell him who its from,” he added.

“Right, I am off to see about a horse,” he said. I thought he was going to buy a racehorse, and I asked him about it. But he said he was a bookmaker and he would buy up tickets for the Irish sweepstakes, which was a kind of lottery attached to a horse race. Peolple would buy tickets for a pound or so, and if their ticket was a named horse in the race it could be worth a serious amount of money. People often sold them on and Terry Rogers had come over to buy a ticket off a woman in the UK.

“Mind you – it’s a bit of a wasted trip – her horse was scratched this morning,” he explained. He then added, “But I made a deal with her and she didn’t mess me around but offered me a fair price. So I will still give her the money.”

I was amazed that this man would continue to buy a worthless ticket because he felt it was the right thing to do. I was even more amazed when he left and slipped a folded 100-punt note in my top pocket.

Every time I did business with Terry Rogers in the years that followed, he would slip a 100-punt note into my pocket. That is until I was promoted to become a director of a company. Then he said to me, “No more 100-punt notes, Colin.” When I asked why, he said, “You don’t need them now do you?”

Terry Rogers was a larger than life character and I went to Dublin a few times and visited his snooker club The Sportsman. I am sure Freddy Bailey will remember those days too!

Coin-op Community found more interesting details about Terry Rogers on Wikipedia, below. If you have any more stories or memories of him or other characters in the industry, please send them in.

Terry “Red Menace” Rogers was an Irish bookmaker, credited with introducing hold’em poker to Europe, alongside “Gentleman” Liam Flood. He earned his nickname from his bright red hair.

Rogers was born into a family of bookmakers. As a teenager, he was laying odds at dog races. He went on to become a pivotal person behind Irish horseracing in the 1960s.

Rogers regularly attended the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas, Nevada. At the 1980 WSOP, Rogers was the only bookmaker not to write off Stu “The Kid” Ungar from winning the main event. Whilst other bookmakers put Ungar at 100-1; Rogers offered just 20-1, and instead bet on Ungar to win with other bookmakers. Ungar went on to defeat Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson to win the main event.

Back in Ireland, he formed The Eccentrics Club in Dublin, and arranged the inaugural Irish Poker Open tournament through which “Collect” Colette Doherty became the first European to play in the WSOP. Another Eccentrics Club player, Noel Furlong went on to win the 1999 WSOP main event. Rogers passed responsibility for the Irish Poker Open on to Liam Flood shortly before his death.

The family bookmaking business is now run by Rogers’ nephew, Terry Rogers Jr.

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Terry Rogers was one of the greatest characters I ever had the privlidge to know. I first met Terry in Galway in 1970, I was sitting in the Salthill hotel when Terry and Claude Toft came in to meet me, you could tell immediately that he was a true larger than life character. like Colin said in those days he was known as the Red Menace, he chased every body that had drawn a horse in the Irish Sweeps Stake derby, he would offer to buy an whole ticket or a share in it.

I have so many stories about Terry, we were great friends, his best friend was the Irish jukebox operator Michael Verrecchi, Terry and Michael along with his Nephew Kevin Farrel and Bertie Cartmills would go to all of the trade shows in the U.S, Japan and the U.K.

I remember one time I was entertaining a large group of people in the Kobi Steak House in the Ocura Hotel in Tokyo, Terry stopped by my table to say hello, I asked him to please join us, he declined knowing that I was also conducting business with several of my guests. A couple of hours later , I called for my check, only to be told it had already been taken care of by Mr. Rogers, and believe me it was an arm and a leg, but that was Terry.

In 1982 I celebrated a 10th wedding Anniversary at the prestigious Miribou Restaurant in Dun Laughry, it was a special occasion with only 20 of my closest friends and family from around the world. My ex wife Geraldine had a lifelong friend of hers visiting from the United States, she had returned to Ireland to visit her mother in Dublin along with her new child, sadly at the time she could not afford for her American husband to accompany her. I told her that I would love for her to join us, and not to worry, I would get her a boyfriend for the evening, she said please don’t do that as she was happily married, to cut a long story short , I arranged to meet both my wife and her friend at the reastaurant later as I had some business to take care of, that business was to pick up her husband from the airport as I had flown him in from the States as a surprise.

Sean Kinsella who owned the restaurant said it was one of the best events ever held at his restaurant, another event was that he and Terry Rogers had fallen out a couple of years before, and Terry vowed never to go back to the restaurant. But he did come back as my guest on this very special night. I did not let him pick up the check this time, we all enjoyed a great time and stayed in the restaurant and watched the sun come up the next morning over Dublin Bay. As we were leaving Terry Rogers commented that Sean Kinsella was still a con artist as Sean presented every guest with a bottle of Dom Perrigon, and of course put it on my bill. More of Terry Rogers a fine gentleman later.

Freddy Bailey

01/06/2011, 22:31

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