So the Boss and the Rabbi used to be in the same gang, but fell out after a power struggle... yet their subsequent rival gangs are both Generic Ethnic Crime Gangs. Was the original organisation equal-parts Jews and black guys, or did they each have a massive re-hire following the schism?
This Troper just figures after all this time and all the fighting they've had to rehire a lot.
Max was an idiot. The bookie offered him 2.1-to-1 on a 20K bet on the horse race, while the odds at the track were 7-to-1 or 9-to-1 (I can't remember, it doesn't really matter, as the point is they were significantly higher). So in the end, he owes 22K to "very bad people." Had he gone to the track, he could have bet a fraction of that amount to gain the same profit, would have only been in debt to a legitimate gambling facility, and would have been betting an amount (4-5K) he probably could have gotten in cash in time to make the bet. Even if he had lost, the smaller amount would probably have been an easier burden to shoulder by the family. So, for the same reward, he could have risked (comparatively) next to nothing. He was, in the end, an idiot.
That's not really a headscratcher. Max was just an idiot. Nothing more to it. The moviemakers probably realized this as well.
No, no, no. There is no loan, per se. Max places a bet with the bookie for twenty thousand at the bookie's posted odds which are much worse than the track, under the assumption Max can cover the losses if they occur. (The bookie asks him as much.) The bookie's not going to just give him twenty grand and then ask him to place a bet with him at worse odds.
The key is what the bookie says to Max. The bookie offers terrible odds, Max objects ("The racing form says 9-to-1!"), but the bookie says that he'll get the good odds IF the spread sticks (which isn't guaranteed, unlike the bookie's odds). He also said that he would take the bet and "lay it off" - meaning that he's accepting Max's wager for 20 grand without requiring the 20 grand up front, because basically the new outfit (whatever The Rabbi and The Boss' new syndicate was called) was going to front Max the 20 grand. Max being able to pay off the bookie and collect his money (minus "the juice," the bookie's cut on the bet) is dependent on his horse winning the race. The point is that Max doesn't have the money for a legitimate bet, which is why he's seeing a bookie in the first place. (The other reason to see a bookie is if gambling is illegal in your state.) What makes Max a fool is not the odds, but that he didn't have the money to pay the bookie (or more importantly, the mob) in the first place.
The Rabbi and Hebrew
The thing that bugs me is that one can assume that the Rabbi, being a rabbi, speaks Hebrew. Yet he never picks up on the connection between Goodkat and Slevin. I mean one shows up after many years with news about his rival, and he's interested in, for unknown reasons, a young man who's last name is Hebrew for "bad dog".
The Rabbi never finds out about the Hebrew last name: until the very end, he thinks Slevin is Nick Fisher. In fact, the only people in the movie to whom Slevin mentions the Hebrew name are the cops. It's still a bit risky, as the cops could have deduced the meaning earlier than they did, but presumably Slevin counts on the cops not being able to arrest him on such a flimsy basis.
The Rabbi knows Slevin isn't Nick Fisher, but he doesn't make any attempt finding out who he is.
Once Slevin "became" Nick Fisher, how did he know for sure that Morgan Freeman was going to send him on a mission to kill The Fairy?
Well first of all the events played out like so, both the boss and rabbis bookies were killed, then slevin killed the boss's son. boss calls goodkat, it is goodkat who says he needs nick fisher. having looked through both books for someone who appears in both and has a lot of debt, nick fisher fits both criteria. its all there in the film during the chess scene goodkat explains his plan to boss, about his plan to make it look like two gay guys comitting double suicide.