David Lazar, passionate, excessive, riddled with contradictions and soaring ambitions, is a compulsive gambler. He is hopelessly in debt and stuck in a humdrum job that can't support his addiction. He is fighting to keep the wife he idolizes who cannot live with his gambling loses. Lazar is left with no other options but to fight back and find a way to succeed.
Lazar takes control of life. He calls upon the expertise of his all-powerful friends—Nathan Rubin, the money obsessed CEO, and Solomon Lepidus, the man who can afford to gamble for fun. Basketball is Lazar's game, and he studies the teams, the plays and the betting. He uses the energy of his obsession to beat that very obsession, to become the most knowledgeable man in the country about college basketball. He builds a network of tipsters, produces a more accurate 'line' of point spreads than the Vegas experts, wagers—and beats them at their own game.
The Handicapper is the story of one of those rare instances in which an individual beats the system, and it tells in fascinating detail just how it was done. But it is more than that. It is also the story of a tormented soul, cursed by spiritual poverty, driven by an inner necessity to climb "Mount Gamble" only to discover that winning sometimes mean losing.
Robert Kalich is a born-and-bread New Yorker. He is the author of several non-fiction books and four novels. Three of his novels are works of autofiction based on his life and intimate knowledge of sports and gambling.
"A compelling novel that transmits the flat-out thrills of putting your money where your heart is ... a tale of what betting is all about ... wonderful insight into the ways of a gambling mind. The Handicapper is alive. Bet on it." - Sports Illustrated
"Kalich's fellow gambling devotees--sports--betting division especially--will appreciate the in-the-know details here. ...and maybe the sheer wish-fulfillment too." - Kirkus Reviews
"An ambitious first novel." - Publishers Weekly
"The Handicapper is an exceptionally good novel and yet so much more. It is probably the most illuminating novel about the topic of sports gambling I have ever read." - Bert Sugar, Writer & Sports Historian
"Kalich is writing about much more than making money. He's writing about living the American Dream - making it! I couldn't put it down." - Leo Rutman, author of Five Good Men
"I have the same feeling about this book as I had about the Beatles. It's a winner." - Sid Bernstein (introduced the Beatles to America in 1965)