The Highs and Lows of Sports-Betting
I have a healthy love for sports-betting. I live in a state where it’s illegal. I’ve tried using proxies and spoken to people a lot smarter than me about finding a way to gamble online, as though I was in New Jersey, covered by the cold. But it’s not possible. Those seedy guys who played online poker with accounts in Puerto Rico ruined it for all of us. The good news is that I found a guy. He’s actually more obsessed with sports and betting on sports than me. He’s my local bookie, and at the drop of a text, I can bet on anything I like, provided I use real-time Vegas odds. Before you think I’m involved in some underground betting syndicate, let me explain.
We bet in $10 increments, and we cash out at $50. Last year we probably sent over a thousand bets between us and one of us (I’m not sure who) is maybe $50 or $100 better for it. As I said, I love sports betting. It’s not all about the money, but rather watching a game with something on the line, even if that something is the smallest piece of a left-over pie.
We send each other about twenty-five bets a week. When I first started betting with him, every bet held calculation, research, and reason. But as time passed, I realized none of those things apply to sports betting, at least 90% of the time. Now I bet without much thought, further than an initial instinct or feeling. I’d say the outcome is even when comparing this method to reading reams of research boasting flawless insight. Don’t get me wrong when I’m at $40; about to cash out, I pick my bets with extreme precision. But in no form or fashion does that precision pan out into guaranteed green. The blind bets appear just as profitable as the wise ones.
I could make a little money at sports betting if not for two massive problems: Pride and Greed.
I remember a perfect weekend. I was up $90, $10 away from a double cash out in two days. That’s the most either of us had ever won in such a short amount of time. I remember telling my wife that I could make it in Vegas. That I could do this full time.
The Milwaukee Bucks had been on a roll, stomping opponents with no thought of sparing them from humiliation. They were up against the Timberwolves, a mediocre team that posed little idea of being able to compete. I took the Bucks at -12 and began scheming what I’d do with my bonus $100.
The game was back and forth, gritty and tight. By the beginning of the second half, I knew I wasn’t going to win it. The Timberwolves ended up beating the Bucks by 2. What’s worse is that it sparked a frantic notion to get to $100 before Monday, which then brought upon a slew of bets I was sure would land on green pasture, only to lose 8 in a row turning my supplemental Sunday into sulking and moaning on Monday.
Greed is the other head of this two-headed monster. If I were calm and calculated, unmoved by money, I would’ve waited for bets I liked a little better when I was up $90. Or go at it with one or two stabs instead of 8 in a row. But greed is the reason for pride. It’s the oil in the engine. I know I’m in it for the love of the game, for the art of feeling like a sage of sorts. But let’s be honest if there weren’t a little cash involved, it wouldn’t be nearly as enticing.
The beauty of sports betting is that nobody knows anything. It’s honestly all blind luck. I’ve tried various strategies: from subscribing to so-called experts who guarantee a 60% win rate to asking my daughter what color team she liked. It’s all the same. It’s the wonder and unpredictability of sports. Objectively I believe that. Yet somewhere in the depths of my subjective rollercoaster experience, I think I can still make it.
I have this working theory and dream that I can make two bets a year that are sure to win. I’d give myself a window of six months to place one $20,000 bet on a line that Vegas got wrong. I’d collect my $40,000 then return six months later with another $20,000 to put on another Vegas error. It sounds like a terrible idea on paper, but if you only knew what I see. If you only possessed the clarity at which I carry when placing money on the line on a team, that means the world to me, just for one game.