Here's the second and final installment of my rum-inspired sports betting diaries. It started out as a social experiment but over a long weekend, I nearly lost my shirt on college hoops and had an accident that left our kitchen floor all... sticky.
After fear mongering all day, I got a tip from someone that Chicago Bob knew. Manhattan College +20 was my only college hoops play. I grew up within a stone's throw of Manhattan College and attended many games with my old man when I was a kid. The Jaspers were pathetic this season on the road, but could they really lose by 20 points? If they we're playing a Big East team, then I'd be worried. But Fairfield? No way.
I went with the sharpies on this one. By the time I placed my bet, the line dropped to +19.5. Manhattan surprised everyone and led by three at the half. The Jaspers couldn't hold on and lost, but by one 2 points. Printing money, eh?
On the NBA front I plucked four games off the money tree: Utah -7 against Minnesota (a shitty T'Wolves squad on the road), the Knicks +7 (blind faith? I can't not bet the Knicks when they are road dogs), Oklahoma City -10.5 (I compulsively faded the hapless Wizards, the only winless road team in the NBA), and Boston -4 (Phoenix had been abysmal beating the spread in 2011).
I really should have only bet three (Boston was an impulse buy at the checkout counter). I dunno how many times the phrase/philosophy "What the fuck, right?" got me into trouble. My girlfriend and I finished our writing work for the day. By late afternoon, we kicked back with a batch of rum drinks. She set up her grind station in the living room and fired up a few SNGs.
I sweated the Knicks game and that wasn't pretty. The untelevised Manhattan game finished first and that winning bet eased the blow of the Knicks' demise. I cringed at the frivolous fisticuffs from the Knicks to end the game. They acted like a bunch of thugs and sore losers.
I turned off all sports and watched The Grateful Dead movie because I've been on a Jerry Garcia kick and it was perfect background amusement while I chatted with the girlfriend about whether or not I was going to Brazil in a couple of weeks.
Then disaster struck.
As the saying goes... even a blind squirrel with a broken watch gets laid in a whorehouse twice a day. Or something like that.
All I know is that the lowly fucking Wizards decided to show up and play like an actual professional basketball team. They had OKC on the ropes late in the 4th quarter. I was laying 10.5 and thinking -- I need overtime to save my ass, but could someone get outscored by 11 in a 5 minute OT period?
The Wizards wouldn't die so easily. The game plunged into overtime, giving me like 0.04% chance of covering. To my delight, both teams struggled to score 7 each in the extra frame and the game stumbled into a second OT tied at 110. My bet was not officially done, but weirder things have happened in multiple OT games. But.... not that night as OKC won by 7, but failed to cover.
Oh well, fuck the Wizards in the mouth. I'll keep fading them on the road all season. I'm still up for the year betting against them on the road.
Utah squeaked by with an 8 point victory when I was laying 7. That made me look like a genius, or the luckiest fucker in the Northern Hemisphere.
My hopes rested on Boston. The Cetlics. Those shamrock-wearing schmucks were my only chance to break even for the day in the NBA after the Wizzies and Knicks put me in a hole. I was already slightly agitated at Boston's anemic start. They were down by double digits against the Suns. After a sloppy first half, the game had the makings of a low-scoring snoozefest. I made a bold decision: I bet the under total in the 2nd half at 98.5.
Boston played without any rhythm and trailed by ten for most of the 2nd half. Both teams went cold in the 4th quarter and combined for only 26 points. Poor shooting = printing money. The second half total was around 75 or 76... well under 98.5. At the least, I broke even for the game. I started with 3 NBA plays, ended up with 4 and went 2-2 for the day.
For the week, I was barely above water with a 5-4-1 total. On a positive note, on NCAA games, I improved to 8-2-1.
Big day. I could smell the money in the air.
I woke up early, scanned the picks that my buddy's computer program generated, made a few early plays, shrugged off the hangover, went to coffeeshop, crushed a cheeseburger for breakfast, read a chapter from Griftopia, and then made a re-supply run for rum and maraschino cherries. It sucks that four marijuana dispensaries were located within walking distance of our apartment in the slums of Beverly Hills, but not one liquor store in the same radius. That just encouraged drunk driving.
The closest grocery store (with booze) sold me a 1.75ml bottle of rum for $17, saving $8 with my Ralph's card, which by the way is under the name Page McConnell (for you non-Phishead readers, Page is the piano player from one of my favorite bands). Yep, Page saved me $8 on the extra-large bottle so I didn't have to worry about running out. With enough rum and buds, I could properly hole up in the apartment all weekend.
I used my $8 in rum savings and played a trio of $1 parlays and one $5 three-team parlay. Two of the $1 parlays shit the bed before it was even noon including a 10-team behemoth paying 700-1. The third one fell soon after.
Parlays? Fools' gold. Suckers' bets. Pikers' wet dreams. Those -EV bets siphoned off a chunk of my bankroll. When was I gonna learn?
The UCONN game was the first misstep (and misclick) of the day. I bet twice as much as I wanted, but it was my fault for being too hungover to notice my error. That's a major downside to online sports betting (and a sincere boil on the ass of any poker player -- the dreaded misclick). I had a bad feeling that the fuck up was going to cost me dearly. Gah, why was I bet the fucking UCONN in the first place?
The UCONN game went into not one, but two overtimes. My buddy attended the game and sent me a flurry of text messages...
ChipBitch: I can't handle this.I needed the game to go into a third OT to have a shot at covering -4. Nope. Louisville won by 1. Fuck. Me.
Me: Suck it up, you're not the one with $500 riding on it!
ChipBitch: It's tough being a UCONN fan.
I was already in the hole before my girlfriend woke up. She brewed a fresh pot of Sumatra-blended coffee and the apartment had the same aroma of a Amsterdam coffeeshop. I blasted a Phish funk mix and then played five different live versions of the song Ocelot. My girlfriend fired up her laptop and played in three tournaments. With the TV on mute, I frantically flipped back and forth between Charleston/Davidson and scanning every possible station on the dial that had a college hoops game. Meanwhile, one of my laptops streamed Al Jazeera's coverage of the unrest in Egypt, while the other constantly refreshed scores.
In between folding hands, my girlfriend peeked up from her laptop and asked about the so-called computer program that a friend of mine, a former quant on Wall Street, was beta testing his new equation. Using her iPad, I showed her projected outcomes of Harvard-Cornell and Princeton-Yale.
"Now you've seen the intel, which game do you want to bet?" I asked.
"I'm not getting involved in your sports betting hedge fund!" she snapped. "I only bet on 'exotics' like American Idol and Oscar winners."
"Exotics? Betting on Ivy League basketball is as exotic as you're gonna get."
Her interest in hoops quickly faded and she disappeared into an online poker haze after ripping a binger. I considered a bet on Harvard, but opted out.
My biggest action of the day fell upon the shoulders of the Mormons of BYU. Due to the UCONN fiasco, I attempted to chase the morning's losses by betting BYU multiple times when the line moved from -3.5 to -2.5. Earlier that day, I locked in a bet at -3.5, but then doubled up when it moved a full point in my favor. I waited until 1:29pm, or ten minutes into the BYU/NM game to mix my first cocktail of Saturday, even though getting hammered was on my mind the moment that I rolled out of bed seven hours earlier.
I periodically kept tabs on BYU, and they were always ahead by a bucket or two. I decided to have a relaxing afternoon and not sweat games until 5 minutes were left. Instead of ripping what little hair I had out of my head, I read articles about Egypt's political instability potentially affecting the price of oil, then mixed another drink before I stepped outside in front of my apartment building to marvel at the warmth of the California Sun and the swaying palm trees.
And then it happened...a disturbance in the force.
BYU let the lead slip out of their hands with three minutes to go. So much for being ranked #9 because they couldn't beat the fucking Lobos in New Mexico. The worst part? BYU tragically gave up at the end of the game. When their deficit was reaching double digits, I turned it off. My big plan to dig myself out of a hole was toast. BYU shit the bed. Explosive Mormon-induced diarrhea.
A friend of mine who also watched the game sent me a rather blunt direct message: "That was worse than coming down off of coke."
Time to get unstuck, I mumbled and instantly pulled up the Ivy League games that I teased my girlfriend with only a few hours earlier. Friends of mine graduated from Cornell and they advised that it wasn't wise to bet on them. With that in mind, I liked Harvard laying 10.5. Is an 11-point victory too much to ask?
St. Mary's hooked me up a few night's earlier and I hopped aboard the St. Mary's bandwagon, even though I had no idea where they were located. That morning, I had bet them at -6 against Portland, but doubled up when the line moved to 5.5. I also bet the over in that game at 141.5 a few minutes before tip off, something I would not have done if BYU had won. Call it what you will...I was desperate and chasing a loss.
I switched gears in the cocktail department and whipped up a club soda, Malibu, with a splash of cranberry. "Very summery," complimented my girlfriend as she took a satisfying sip, "this is a perfect beach drink."
During the week, my sports betting selections were suspect, but my mixologist skills were still top notch. At the rate my bets were going, I might have to find a part-time gig working behind a bar if I went busto.
"The Dead is a good soundtrack to basketball," Change100 said about Red Rocks 1978 as it echoed throughout our apartment. I needed the music to mellow me out, otherwise I might have kicked my TV in. By 4pm, a wave of gripping inebriation took root as I tried to wash away misery from the UCONN double OT debacle and BYU's pathetic performance. Those Mormons played like a bunch of JV rejects at the end of their game, and gave me a dismal outlook for the rest of the slate.
My dour mood finally perked up when Harvard smoked Cornell like cheap schwag. Harvard won by 21 and easily covered. Ha! All of my parlays got flushed down the toiler, but that was the only exotic bet of the day that came through. I should have just hammered those geeks at Harvard all afternoon instead of wasting my time with special-underwear wearing polygamists at B-Y-fucking-U.
I finally won a bet after getting shutout all day, so I celebrated the moment with a cocktail.
I got a little sloppy while mixing a batch of Bahama Mamas and a huge crash in the kitchen ensued. A concerned voice bellowed from the living room to see if I was still alive. My girlfriend was too involved in her SNGs to actually rush to the kitchen to see if I had spliced off any fingers.
"Good news and bad news," I barked and then inspected my soaked jeans. "Bad news is that the kitchen floor is pink and sticky. Good news is that thanks to the supreme technological advances in developing plastics, the shatter-proof bottle prevented the rum from exploding."
I half-assedly cleaned the kitchen during the halftime of St. Mary's-Portland, and wished that our former maid had not gotten deported to Guatemala. Damn immigration laws.
When the 2nd half tipped off and a cocktail in hand, I settled in for a sweat, except that the next ten minutes were agony, followed up by another ten of torture. During six minutes of game time, St. Mary's failed to score a single fucking point. Zilch. Zero. Zed. Portland ran up a 20+ point fueled by a 25-2 run. Talk about a kick in the nuts with a sledgehammer.
In other games, Cincy was on the verge of imploding. That pick was so bad that it wasn't worth me writing about the bad beat. The "I gotta get unstuck" mantra echoed throughout my brain and I hit up my laptop like a virgin in a whorehouse, fumbling around to find the right hole, er, to find a late game to piss away the rest of my bankroll.
Enter Texas/Missouri. I liked Texas -7 and the under at 146 when I woke up. I bet those numbers individually and as a parlay. During the afternoon, the line moved to -7.5 and 147.5 on the total. I only doubled up on the under.
Hook 'em (gulp) horns.
Just when I was read to "tear up my ticket" on the over in the St. Mary's game, they made a semi-comeback and my dead "over" total bet sprang to life. St Mary's still trailed by almost ten, but both teams hoisted up enough points in the 2nd half to give me a shot at hitting the over 141.5. A couple of treys from both teams brought me closer and closer...and with less than a minute to go, I clinched the over bet. It was only 25% of what I had riding on St. Mary's to win, but considering that I had already written it off, I'll gladly took the rebate.
The loss didn't sting as much with the euphoric high of hitting the over. Your bi-polar sports bettor's mood changed drastically when you had something to root for -- and it friggin' hit. I enjoyed the buzz while it lasted because I was still in the hole for the day. Was Texas gonna bail me out?
"Hook 'em fuckin' horns!" I screamed, probably pissing off the Yo La Tengo-playing hipsters who lived upstairs.
Texas sprinted out of the gate with impeccable start and maintained a 8-10 point lead the entire game. They kept the score under 146. Not much of a sweat. Too bad all games weren't that easy. I hit two under bets and Texas laying 7. That clutch bet sopped up a ton of bloody carnage. Why did I even bet any of those other games? I should have made one giant bet on Texas and a medium bet on Harvard.
With a junkie's buffet of college hoops action, I almost forgot about a single "must play" in the NBA... fading Washington on the road. The winless Wizards played their second of back-to-back road games. On Friday night, they forced a double OT to come as close as they've been all season with a road victory, but in the end they still lost. Those fuckers beat the spread and I lost my bet. Yep, I wanted revenge...I wanted my money back and then some. Payback time. Memphis at -9 got buried in a blizzard of action from yours truly. I got nothing personal against the Wizzies...I just wanted the cheddar.
With Memphis up 59-50 at the half, I had a moment of clarity while taking a leak and screamed: "Fuck the Wizzies! Bet the under for the second half."
The total was 98. I locked it up and also bet Memphis -2 for the second half. It was tough to win back-to-back nights on the road in the NBA and after they endured a multiple OT game the night before, ergo it made logical sense that the Wizzies would be extra tired.
Yep, I faded the Wizzies in the 2nd half to get unstuck. As scripted... Memphis won by double digits, they outscored the Wizzies by 5 in the 2nd half, and they both scored under 98 points combined.
I scooped all three bets to post a 3-0 night in the NBA. Printing money. Too bad I was burning money indulging in college hoops.
The NBA action bailed my ass out. All that work only for nadda. Totally blew asscock, but I should've been counting my blessings -- I got lucky with a few desperate "gotta get unstuck bets" and turned around a disastrous day into a break-even day. No profit to show for it after a long tiresome Saturday because I went 5-6 in college hoops.
For the week in the NBA, I had a reputable score of 8-4-1. College hoops was a different beast. My weekly record of 13-8-1 looked good on paper, but I was actually down a few bucks for the week after that losing a big (misclick) bet on friggin' UCONN, and then I dug myself a deeper hole with the Mormons.
A gentle rain fell on the city of Angels.
Writers have employed rain as a hackneyed literary device to indicate a change in emotion. I welcomed the rain and hoped it washed away the miserable break-even streak. Losing streaks were depressing, but break-even streaks were outright frustrating. A grey and gloomy day should have fit my mood, but I was rarely optimistic. I woke up without a hangover and confident in one NBA game.
But I couldn't ignore the Duke-St. John's match up. National TV. MSG. It came on at 10am on the west coast. It was the first Sunday in months without a pro football game -- the one-week hiatus before the Super Bowl. The early college game attracted plenty of action, more so than normal. It was methadone for Sunday punters.
The computer liked Duke. I hated Duke. Maybe it was because I went to Emory or because I always wanted to play hoops wearing Carolina Blue for Dean Smith. It always pained me to bet on Duke. I assumed that the majority of bettors had a similar bias against Duke, including all those home-dog-loving wise guys back in NYC who pounced on the Johnnies +9.
I can't explain why, but I bet on Duke when the line moved to -8.5. They probably should have won by a dozen, but with all that action coming down on the Johnnies, it made sense that the shops lowered the line to induce some sucker to bet on Duke.
And I'm that fucking mush who woke up and said, "Duke, baby!"
I was shocked that Duke got pummeled, but then again, the Johnnies played schizo all season. Some nights the Johnnies had the pedigree of a top 20 team, but other nights, they look like a hastily-thrown-together pick up squad. I bet Johnnies +11 in the second half to wipe out that misstep with Duke -7. Law of averages said that Duke would play a more cohesive 2nd half to make it a competitive game, but the Johnnies were doing something right -- an intangible element that enticed me to bet them +11. If they could fend off a couple of offensive surges from Duke, then getting +11 seemed like a lock. At the least, it made the rest of the game interesting to watch, right?
The Johnnies maintained their lead, but how would they handle the last two minutes of the game during the frantic scramble (foul > FTs > chuck a trey > foul > FTs >chuck a trey)?
Prayer should not be confused with a "one-time" chip. I only prayed when Catholic college teams are involved. I wouldn't pester God with a trivial gambling matter, but I figured that's what all his Saints were for, right? I turned to a trio of Saints that distraught gamblers sought in times of despair... St. Coulda, St Woulda, and St. Shoulda. The triumvirate helped wayward sinners on their path to salvation, and sometimes helped you with a missed free throw or a fortuitous holding penalty.
I got my prayers answered when the Johnnies made free throws down the stretch and Duke's sharp shooters fell short. Duke only outscored the Johnnies by 6 points in the 2nd half. I won that 2nd half bet to break even for the game. The only winner was the betting shop... those heartless fuckers. When am I gonna stop being the sucker and start booking bets?
Until I got the testicular fortitude, security protection, and financial banking to book street bets, then I'm shit out of luck. Back to being a punter. A piker. A mook.
If college was my leak, then NBA was my bread-and-butter... smoother than cocoa butter. I liked one game, but bet two. So it goes.
The Lakers-Celtics were on TV at 12:30pm PT. That match up was a throwback to my youth with flashbacks of Magic Johnson and his shit-eating grin as he led the Showtime Lakers against porn-stashed Larry Bird and the Celtics. Back then, Tommy Heinshon announced the games on CBS and my dad hated Heinshon because he was a "homer" (and a former Celtic player). K.C. Jones manned the Celtics bench while the slick-haired Pat Riley roamed the Lakers' side, with a handful of Hollywood's prettiest people sitting court side.
Twenty-five years later, the actors have changed but the principle characters and script remained the same.
I bet the Lakers only because I was gonna watch the game, and you know how I hated to waste my time, so if I was gonna watch it, then I was gonna bet it. I only watched some of the first half, because I got lost in a website project and got distracted with Egypt coverage. I forgot about the game. An hour later, my girlfriend popped her head in my office and consoled me with a gentile "I'm sorry, baby."
"Oh, shit, the Lakers!" I screamed. "What was the score?"
She revealed me the final score and I was glad that missed the entire second half. I dunno why I bet the fucking Lakers if I wasn't going to watch the game.
"So, was Khloe there?" was my only reaction.
My fate rested on New Orleans, which opened at +1 when I woke up. I bet them at +1.5 after breakfast, and again when it moved to +2. The line went back down to +1.5. Word on the street was that all the sharpies were hammering New Orleans. I was betting on the same side as the wise guys it seemed. I hoped that we both had the right side.
Just before tip off, I bet my hometown Knicks laying -6.5. A friend of mine made it his pick of the day and he hated the Knicks, so I took that as a good sign. I was irked when I couldn't find the Knicks game or the New Orleans game on cable. The friggin's Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards show was on instead, and my girlfriend had it on in the background. I asked her if we had any sure things to bet on. She explained that the SAG awards was one of the only award shows that wasn't rigged. Instead of SAG bets, we made a pact to save our money and bet on the rigged Oscars instead.
I resorted to streaming the Knicks and New Orleans' games on my lap top using the "sweat channel" -- a Scandi site that streamed European soccer and American sports.
The Knicks were down by a few buckets at halftime. The New Orleans game started thirty minutes after the Knicks, so the action was staggered. New Orleans kept pace with Phoenix and I was happy to see the score tied at halftime. I couldn't watch the rest of either game until they reached the 4th quarter. I drank and feasted on Change100's turkey chili instead.
I checked in on the Knicks in the 4th and they had dismantled Detroit. Easy and smooth. Not much of a sweat, which made the game a pleasure to watch.
New Orleans was a whole other story. They trailed by 8 with 8 minutes left in the game. I walked away for a few minutes and hoped that the New Orleans would go on a run to bridge the gap. Upon my return...they were down by 10. Fuck me. I was ready to tear up the ticket with a minute to go, but New Orleans made a stupendous, unreal, remarkable, sick comeback fueled by 12-2 run. A stupid foul by Phoenix with 12 seconds left gave me a shot to get within 2 points.
Holy shit...I went for utterly disgusted to totally pumped.
Then Phoenix threw the ball away. I was bouncing off the walls! New Orleans gained possession with 10 seconds to go and down by a bucket. I didn't want an overtime and prayed for a last second trey. New Orleans inbounded the ball, David West drove the lane, dished it to an open teammate, who promptly blew the layup.
New Orleans lost by 2 points. I pushed one bet +2 and lost the other -1.5. What a disappointing finale to the day and the week. The game could have earned me a profit for the day. Instead, I ended Sunday 1-2-1 in the NBA and 1-1 in college games.
The week's totals....
NCAA: 14-9-1Despite picking 5 more winning games that losers in college hoops, with juice and losing a big bet, I ended the week with less than a $100 profit. I finished the NBA with a whopping $140 thanks to reduced juice Fridays.
Overall, I barely won $200 after a week of what seemed like constant break-even action. I grinded out an income worth less than $30/day. Shit, I'd make more if I was selling beer as a vendor at the games. To put things into perspective, the $200 surplus didn't even cover my liquor tab and weed habit for the week.
If you haven't done so, please read Part 1.