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The Jagr Meister Couldn’t Score

Good player, bad bettor.

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It’s no secret that Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr is a major gambler who racked up a half-million-dollar debt in 2000. But a new book reveals how he managed to lose so much: He was really bad at it. “The guy lost just about every bet he ever made with us,” says Steve Budin, author of Bets, Drugs, and Rock & Roll and a pioneer in the offshore-sports-gambling business. “For over a year straight, he’d do nothing but pay us. Ten thousand a game, seven, eight games a week.” Jagr gleefully used his secret code—it was “975 JJ”; a personalized VIP code—to call in NFL bets from his NHL locker room, the book says, and he sometimes skated out late to join his team for warm-ups, delayed by waiting for confirmation on bets. Budin, who laid the first fiber-optic cable to Costa Rica when starting his company in 1995, never extended the future Hall of Famer credit; the hefty tab was with a different company, CaribSports. Budin, instead, took in a quarter-million dollars from the guy each week.

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