Gambling is huge in prison. Especially, sports betting.
To get involved in the action, you must simply find a “parlay-man” and express to him that you are interested in playing a “ticket.”
Usually, he’ll say “ok.” Then he’ll ask how much you want to bet. It’s usually somewhere between 1-10 dollars for a payout of 10-100 dollars if you win. This may not seem like a lot of money but in prison, this is big money. A couple hundred dollars here makes you RICH.
To win, you must first pick 4 winning games where the team you chose on all 4 games either won or lost by the point spread. It’s not as easy as it might seem. More times than not the parlay man or basically “the house,” wins and collects without having to payout anything. But every once in awhile the house gets “hit, “someone or even multiple someone’s win, which means that the parlay man has to pay.
Sometimes, these payouts could be for hundreds of dollars.
During college basketball, especially March Madness, it seems these parlay guys walk a tight rope because this tends to be around the time when ticket players get A LOT luckier.
A friend and I were talking and he told me “I’ve seen many-a-parlay man put out of business because of March Madness.
I agreed completely. Especially with the current gossip as of late around the compound being mostly about one such parlay “tag-team” duo and how they had gotten hit for over 300 dollars in just one day!
The problem was that they didn’t have the 300 dollars needed to cover the pay-out. So, one of the guys checked into the hole, which means he went into protective custody, leaving the other guy basically to fend for himself.
Mentioning all that, here is where I come into the story with a mural mishap that could have easily turned disastrous.
First, it all started with another mural painting buddy of mine being requested to go paint on the outside back wall of all 6 housing unit buildings here at the prison.
The request was simple enough.
He was asked to paint “DO NOT PUT YOUR FEET ON THE WALL.”
On this day, I was bored, with nothing to do. So my painter buddy asked if I wanted to help him.
I said “sure.”
We never made it passed the first building.
We got to the first building and my buddy suggested that instead of just simply painting the words, we should also include a pretty little background color.
Without thinking, I agreed. Then we went to town painting a big colorful “spot” on the wall.
Now at the same time as we were doing this, there were a couple of gang members outside with us talking about the parlay man who owed the 300 dollars. This parlay guy lived in the building we were working on, and the issue with this money he owed was now becoming a lot more serious and intense.
But what was even MORE crazy was what I realized after the gang guys left… The HUGE mistake this other painter and I had just made.
Without even realizing it at all… We had just “tagged” this building with a rival gangs’ color. Mind you, that was totally NOT our intention. But that didn’t even matter because interpretation is a mother fucker in prison.
“Jesus!” I said. “Do you realize what we’ve just done!?!”
I then explained how this could be interpreted.
“Well,” He responded. “Thank God this is a pretty neutral compound, then.”
He was trying to justify this by saying that of all the gangs that are here at the prison. There’s no beef between them. So this shouldn’t really be a big deal.
“Yeah, well…” I went on. “This is the type of shit that makes things NOT so neutral and kind of ARE a big deal!!”
He just wasn’t getting it.
The only middle ground we could reach was to “lighten” the color a little. But it was still obviously the original, blatant, signifying color.
We ran out of time to work before we could even begin the words. All I could think about was the nuclear type fallout that was sure to come from this.
I tried my best to put it out of my mind.
Later on that same day, for some reason, my good friend decided to be a hero and help that poor drowning parlay man who was hit over 300 dollars.
My friend loaned him the last 100 dollars he needed to cover what he had to pay-out… He loaned him that 100 dollars with HEAVY interest.
You would think this act of kindness would have purchased my friend some good MO-JO, right?
Well, it did not.
See, my friend, he is also a parlay man, himself, and in a strange twist of fate, guess what happened?
On that same day where he rescued another parlay man who had just taken a bad hit, my friend then took a bad hit himself for over 200 dollars…
Some karma, huh?
My friend had the money to cover what he now had to pay-out.
But, not by much! This almost crippled the tickets he runs.
Less than 24 hours after me and the other mural painter had painted that big, dumb, colorful spot; the fallout was in full swing.
All of the powers that be, the big wigs, the higher ups, they were all in a serious up roar behind this shit. They thought the building had really been tagged by a gang marking their territory.
My painter buddy caught all the flak, too. He was the one they HAD originally asked to paint the words. So, guess he got his ass reamed pretty good behind this little lapse of judgment the two of us had together.
The end result: nothing too bad, I guess. He had to cover up the colorful spot. Then he was told not to even worry about painting the letters now.
My reaction to all of this after he told me: Fuck it.
We made a simple mistake that could have set off an entire gang war.
What’s the big deal about that?
All of this taught me a few things too… the tickets and the parlays… the painting…
*The odds are always in the houses’ favor… whether that’s applied to the actual parlay man or the constant battle to rise above the negativity of prison… chances are, you’re playing a losing ticket.
*Something’s are best left simple, like painting letters. Sometimes too much is too much, and sometimes, in prison, too much could escalate into a full blown gang riot.
*In my line of work, it’s best to work along. If I’m going to crash and burn, I’d rather do so on my own… not because I decided to ride shotgun with some other guy.