Happy Steinfelt and Lew MorganHappy Steinfelt and Lew Morgan, a couple of bookies, come out to Hogan's Health Farm and apparently persuade Jack Brennan to bet $50,000 against himself in the...

Happy Steinfelt and Lew Morgan

Happy Steinfelt and Lew Morgan, a couple of bookies, come out to Hogan's Health Farm and apparently persuade Jack Brennan to bet $50,000 against himself in the upcoming fight with Walcott. Jack is giving two-to-one odds, so he stands to win $25,000 if he lets Walcott beat him. Why would Steinfelt and Morgan want to take such a bet when they should know that they will end up having to pay Jack $25,000 plus his original $50,000? Maybe they are planning to have Walcott lose, but how can they persuade Jack that he is sure to lose the fight and win the bet? Maybe they think he will believe that they just want to make sure he will lose the fight so that they can take a lot more bets on him and collect a big profit. In other words, they are paying him $25,000 to lose the fight but intend to make a much bigger profit. At least that's what they want Jack to think they are doing. This seems like a screwy way to fix a fight, doesn't it?

Expert Answers
William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It seems to me that the customary way to fix a fight was to make a cash payment to the boxer who was supposed to lose. In Hemingway's story the gamblers ask Jack Brennan to give them $50,000 in advance. Then when he loses he is supposed to receive $75,000, that is, his $50,000 plus $25,000. If they are bribing him to lose the fight, why should he have to put up $50,000 of his own money? I don't see anything "logical" about this or anything "usual." It is certainly not "usual." It is very un-usual. Jack should be very suspicious when they ask him to turn over $50,000 of his own money to them. Why wouldn't he ask them, "If you want me to take a dive for $25,000, give me the $25,000 and I'll agree to take the dive"? If Jack wants to bet against himself he doesn't have to make some deal with these two gamblers; he ought to be able to have his manager place the bet with any bookies in New York. Instead of trusting them to pay him $25,000 if he loses to Walcott, he is trusting them to pay him $75,000 if he loses to Walcott.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't think it's a screwy way to fix a fight.  This is pretty much the usual way, right?  You pay someone to take a dive because they won't do it for free.  But then you make up all the money you paid them and a bunch more by taking a lot of bets that the guy you've paid off will win.  It's pretty fool-proof because in boxing the guy is pretty much in control of who wins -- no teammates to screw things up like when you try to do point shaving in basketball.

William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Everybody without exception, including Jack Brennan himself, knows he is going to lose the fight. So what is immoral about betting against himself? It might be considered illegal, but I don't see it as immoral. The gambler don't "pay" any money; they take $50,000 from Jack. It's great for them if he goes along with the idea. Morgan and Steinfelt are offering nothing but an idea. Jack could bet against himself at any number of places in New York.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It seems a very logical, if not immoral, way of making money if you ask me. Clearly you pay out money initially by fixing the fight but then obviously you are able to make plenty more through bets and fixing the odds so that because you know the outcome, you will make far more of a profit overall even if you include the initial loss that you made to begin with.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Yes, as I understand if this story is based at least partially on a real fight. I don really understand the world of gambling, but as I understand it fixing a fight is psychologically very difficult for the athlete. In this case, Jack knows he will lose even if he tries, so he decides to bet against himself anyway, and still try his best.
Read the study guide:
Fifty Grand

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question