Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Ides of Imperil

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

March 16th is a bastard stepchild of March.

The 15th of March is the infamous Ides of March, the tragic date when Julius Caesar was mortally stabbed by ruthless Senators on the steps of the Pompey Theatre. And everyone knows that the 17th of March signified universal binge drinking... or the mutation of the Roman Catholic holiday of St. Patrick, otherwise known as the zealot who drove the snakes out of Ireland. So we drink like retarded monkeys until we puke our guts out and piss ourselves in order to commemorate the snakeless Emerald Isle.

But the 16th of March is like Danny Baldwin, the least famous of the Baldwin brothers, sandwiched in between his more famous brethren. The date has rather ill significance in the greater scheme of things. Sure, it's Erik Estrada's birthday, and one of the most underrated TV actors from the 1970s deserves to be honored to the fullest.

However, March 16, 2009 signified a special day for me.... when I officially gave up on the financial system. I cashed out a significant amount of money from my Smith Barney account. I used most of it to pay the tax man and I'm gonna gamble some of my savings during March Madness. Why the fuck not? These days, betting on fixed games seems more logical and potentially profitable than getting conned in ponzi schemes.

I figured that $10,000 was a nice round number for seed money. I don't plan on betting it all at once. My goal is to double that by the end of the month betting on college basketball. The profits shall fund the remainder of my current writing project... in addition to funding Phish summer tour. Yes, I'm gambling with my retirement money in order to generate cash for artistic endeavors... my forays into music and writing will hopefully be funded by my amateur knowledge of college basketball.

Of course, I'm open to some of your suggestions. It really seems like any team can win March Madness this year. My early game plan is to bet small in the first round and increase my bets as the tournament progresses. I'm going to have to wait until the Sweet 16 and then bet heavily on the hottest teams at that point.

The number 12 seed upsetting the 5 seed has become a hackneyed strategy. I'm more interested in the 4/13 and the 6/11 matchups. Historically, the #11 seeds win 33% of the time. There's potential for several upsets among those twelve games and some serious value to be made betting the money line on those dogs... but which ones?

I watched Cleveland State upset Butler and was impressed with how they came from behind by a barrage of three pointers. Virtually unknown senior guard Cedric Jackson had the game of his life and almost netted a triple double. Who knows, maybe Wake will get too cocky and play sloppy allowing Cleveland State to knock them off? For some reason, I also like Utah State +5. They are one of the best shooting teams in the country...
4 Wake vs 13 Cleveland State
5 Utah vs 12 Arizona
6 West Virginia vs 11 Dayton

4 Washington vs 13 Miss St.
5 Purdue vs 12 Northern Iowa
6 Marquette vs 11 Utah State

4 Xavier vs 13 Portland St.
5 FSU vs 12 Wisconsin
6 UCLA vs 11 VCU

4 Gonzaga vs 13 Akron
5 Illinois vs 12 W. Kentucky
6 Arizona St vs 11 Temple
The oddsmakers are well aware about the public's rabid appetite for #12 seeds. They adjusted the lines to compensate for the heavy action on #12 seeds. A decade ago, there was significantly more value betting on those teams. Since everyone is doing it these days, there's not as much value as their used to be. In fact, the real value is betting on the #5 seeds if you can find the right team... since they should be favored to win much more than they are listed. That's my goal this year... to find the one or two #5 seeds that will be locks.

Could that be Utah over Arizona? Lots of pundits thought that Arizona should not even have been selected. Even Amy Calistri sent me an email that simply said... "Arizona?"

Arizona lost five out of their last six and games. They had an anemic 2-9 road record and their two wins were against shitty teams. They were bounced in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament by intra-state rival ASU. After USC, led by DeMar DeRozan, beat ASU for the Pac-10 title and the automatic bid, I figured that Arizona was toast and headed for the NIT.

Arizona was a controversial selection, which means they're gonna upset Utah in the first round. Weird shit like that happens, right? That's what makes March Madness so magical and unpredictable and explains why your secretary wins every fuckin' year.

I'll probably throw down some money line bets on dogs like Cleveland State, Dayton, Utah State, VCU, and Western Kentucky... and I'll bet on Utah and FSU to win their 5/12 match ups.

Memphis should have been a #1 seed, but the committee had a hard on for Big East teams. Three of them were awarded with #1 seeds. The heyday of the Big East happened during my youth in the 1980s. Since I grew up in NYC, every white kid wanted to be Chris Mullin and play for hometown's St. John's back when they were known as the Redmen and they were coached by the Cosby-sweating wearing Louie Carnesecca. Man, we rooted our hearts out for St. John's in 1985 all season long against Rollie Massamino's Villanova squad of cokeheads led by Ed Pickney and Georgetown's duo of Coach Thompson and the unstoppable Patrick Ewing (who I hated in college but grew to love as a NY Knick). Three Big East teams made the final four in 1985. The Johnnies were knocked off by G'town. Fueled by nose candy and a sick shooting performance from the floor, Villanova upset heavily favorited Georgetown in the championship game.

I was officially hooked on March Madness three years earlier in 1982 when I watched Michael Jordan and company at North Carolina beat G'town courtesy of a brain fart from Sleepy Floyd. Little did I know that a small little college basketball tournament would transform into big business. And that I would wager heavily on the contests over the years to fund my bohemian lifestyle.

In the mid and late 1990s, I relied upon March Madness to fund my summer excursions. I often held dead end jobs in the winter and spring months to put enough scratch together for a bankroll that I'd use to bet on the games. I used the winnings to fund overseas trips or use the money to travel domestically to cool music festivals such as Jazz Fest in New Orleans and Phish summer tour. I got to see America primarily by betting on basketball. Those journeys were paid by clutch foul shooting down the stretch. That's so fuckin' crucial in betting on college hoops... betting on teams that hot their free throws.

2009 is sort of a throwback to 1999. It feels kinda exciting that I'm taking an unconventional route towards achieving my short term financial goals. Of course, the gambling to fund my writing projects are actually long term investments... in myself and my art.

Once March Madness is over, I'll head back to the tables and grind it out again... a few bucks at a time. For now, I'm on the verge of returning to the battle field. I'm a much wiser and more disciplined warrior now. I have a clear goal in mind and I'm trying to make all future decisions void of emotion, while have the fluidity to make changes in my strategy on the fly.

I don't know about you, but I'm sick of losing money. Time to step up, have some balls, and get some of that back.

* * * * *

I'm such a degenerate. I wrote this excerpt on Tao of Poker approximately 400 days ago...
I started betting on Swedish hockey because a friend of mine in Stockholm (who used to play pro hockey in Sweden) was doing nothing but following along with the Allsvenskan Swedish hockey league while playing online poker. He did the research and I made the bets. I went on a rush betting on something I had no knowledge about and at the end of a two week stretch, I turned 200 Euros into over 2K. I decided to hit and run. I have not bet on Swedish hockey since then. I bet on a couple of NBL games (Australian hoops) when I was in Melbourne and Sydney in October, but that was just small bets to keep things interesting. Of course, I took my winnings betting on Swedish hockey and pissed all of that away betting on the stock market.... More
Who would have thought that Swedish hockey would have been more profitable than betting on the S&P 500?

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at www.taopoker.com. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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