In January 1971, I made my first-ever sports wager.
I remember the game all too well because it was my first loser. I lost $1.Read More
In January 1971, I made my first-ever sports wager.
I remember the game all too well because it was my first loser. I lost $1.Read More
Today, the United States Supreme Court struck down a federal law which prohibited most states from allowing legalized gambling on sporting events.
By a 6-3 vote, the high court’s ruling overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which was a 1992 law that banned state-authorized sports gambling (aside from Nevada).
What does this ruling mean? Well, it’s really good news for sports gamblers. It’s even better news for many states and companies with the infrastructure to begin offering sports betting. And, it’s fabulous news for the State of New Jersey, and especially Atlantic City, which has experienced a steady decline in popularity as a recreational gambling destination over the last 20 years.
Here’s my list of the winners and losers in today’s historic decision which is expected to drastically alter the American sports gambling landscape.Read More
I’ve been asked once or twice or perhaps a hundred times if I’m a compulsive gambler.
That’s a fair question. Yes, I do fit the classic description. I’ve spent most of my life gambling. Check. I’ve lost vast sums of money at various times, sometimes even seriously harming my financial standing. Check. I’ve spent absurd amounts of time inside casinos. Check. I blow many hours on sports handicapping and watching ball games on which I’ve bet money. Check. I’ve driven across town to get down on the best number, and I’ve driven hundreds of miles to play in poker games. Check. My personal reputation is heavily tinged by gambling. Check. All this and more, it seems, makes me fit the description of a “compulsive gambler.”
However, what I’m about to reveal might be shocking. After nearly four decades spent gambling, and having experienced just about all the highs and lows that one could possibly imagine (keep in mind there are some stories I’ll never tell) — ideally, I’d love to be in the position where I didn’t have to gamble at all. I’d much rather read a good book or go on a hike than watch a basketball game. If I had enough money to live comfortably for the rest of my life, I don’t think I’d bet on sports again. What would be the purpose? Sure, I might still play poker purely for fun occasionally since the game is just as much a social engagement and a gambling exercise, but that would be the extent of it. I’d have no interest in playing table games or other forms of gambling. In short, gambling doesn’t excite me. I could take it or leave it. And, to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t mind leaving it.
That might seem like a bizarre thing to say by someone who’s made various types of gambling his life’s mission. I stumbled into this career quite by accident and given all that I now know and who I know, I’d be foolish to throw all that knowledge away and start anew into something else. But if I had my way, and had a real choice in life, I’d probably spend most of my time doing something else, something completely different, rather than gambling.
So, the answer is no — I’m not a compulsive gambler.
Coping often requires that we deceive ourselves into thinking we have choices in life when usually we don’t. And the older you get and longer you live, the fewer choices you’ll have. Age is an alarm clock and we never know when the bell will ring and our time is up. Late in life, choices become extinct and you’re stuck with a fate over which you have no control.
This isn’t a discussion of free will, and more precisely, whether or not we have it. Put more plainly, we’re all chained by common habits. We become dependent on jobs. We’re wielded to family members and responsibilities. We’re rooted in our communities. We’re expected to act and behave a certain way, especially by all those around us. Break the mold and do something different, and then eyebrows raise and whispers begin. Too often, we’re discouraged from breaking molds. Indeed, most of us are trapped in what writer Henry David Thoreau famously called “lives of quiet desperation.” Misplaced values cause us to attempt to fill this void of quiet desperation with money, material possessions, and accolades. But as studies have shown, those superfluous things don’t necessarily make us happy. There’s absolutely no correlation between society’s common definition of success (mostly measured in wealth and fame) and personal happiness.
To have any long-term chance of winning at gambling decisions must matter. Making decision (or choices) is the difference between games of skill and games of chance, although many forms of gambling include both.
So, in lives with so few choices left, gambling does become a convenient de facto substitute. When many gamblers say they feel alive again, what they’re often really expressing is the freedom of making their choices and then seeing the outcome within minutes or even seconds. That choice and the prospect of a win can be exhilarating.
Games which provide a long-term possible positive outcome include poker, blackjack, sports gambling, and horse racing. Some could argue there are advantage players in video poker, also. In each of these forms of gambling, the player must make choices. Those decisions determine the outcome of the wager, at least in part. Hence, the gambler — to some extent — controls his own destiny.
The 2016 World Series of Poker ends, which means now I have the entirety of all my days and nights totally free, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. The next eight weeks get spent mostly lounging out in the back yard, drinking white wine by day and red wine after sundown, and betting baseball from noon until midnight. Baseball is the only thing going in the doldrums of summer, aside from the occasional Euro or South American soccer bet that captures my gaze. The refresh button on the portable laptop pops a spring and breaks off from being punched too many times. With thousands of dollars riding in action daily, baseball updates on ESPN.com and MLB.com become what the stock ticker represents to a Wall Street investor.
Averaging 10 to 15 wagers a day, seven days a week, which is nearly every waking hour, that means there’s a pitch being thrown somewhere in the country at any minute which has some bearing on my financial standing. After awhile, it all becomes a blur, a mental fog. One becomes numb to the inevitable bad beat of a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth in a game where you held a comfortable 2-0 lead and the bases were empty and you’d already circled the game with a bold “W.” One also becomes desensitized to the wins just as much, that occasional +230 flash in the pan underdog which cashes and reinforces the dangerously false self-deception that you’ve finally got this baseball thing figured out and can coast to an easy living the rest of your life.
Given my volume of wagers, there’s also the inevitable mistake. Since I began betting on sports full time, on more than a few occasions I’ve mistakenly clicked the wrong box on one of five online betting apps I use. That means, I thought I bet on one team when I actually bet on the other. That’s happened more times than I care to admit, and don’t tell me it evens out because it doesn’t. Years ago, I once bet $3,000 on a Seattle Seahawks halftime line which seemed like a lock. I almost never lay points in the second half, but this time I accidentally clicked my offshore account for $3,000 on the ‘Hawks laying -2.5. The other team covered easily, and that sloppy mistake ended up costing me a swing of $5,700. That’s the worst brain fart I can remember.
I’ve also double clicked bets, which means when I thought I was laying $400 on a ball game, I was actually risking $800 because my fat fingers turned the keyboard into what amounted to a bingo sheet. Earlier this year in college football, I took Rutgers for (what I thought was ) one unit, which was very much competitive up until kickoff and ended up losing 79-0. A double click made the defeat all the more costly.
But the worst betting mistake I can recall making was the “no bet” on a ghastly baseball game that lasted an ungodly 19 innings. Given my distaste for the game, the only thing worse that following a baseball game is sweating a ball game that goes into extra innings. I’d bet the under in the Cleveland-Toronto game played in July and despite a marathon match which extended even beyond a double header, more than 6 mind-numbing hours in all, the teams combined for 2-1 pitchers’ duel where my under was never in any serious danger. Dull but easy money, or so I thought.
Upon checking my account balance the next day, the ledger came up exactly $400 short. What the fuck happened? Apparently, I’d put in the bet but then failed to hit “confirm.” So, I sweated a 19-inning baseball game for absolutely nothing. That was like getting sucker punched. I don’t know why, but breaking even on the game was worse than losing.
All these capping and clicks ends up being profitable. But that the end of each month, I’m still short of what’s needed to pay the bills. Hence, my betting bankroll continues to evaporate and instead of being able to wager more money on games and eventually step into the class of 55 percent winners and a steady income because I”m now betting $1,000 a game, I’m now having to downshift back to $300 per game because a cold streak could wipe me out.
What I need is a big win. I need to find the right opportunity.
During the NFL offseason, the insufferable St. Louis Rams move west back to their old home in Los Angeles and become the first professional football team to play in the nation’s second-biggest city in the last 20 years.
Many bettors chose to skip preseason football. Even so-called sharps ignore it. I’m glad. That leaves more opportunity for those of us who take these “meaningless” football games quite seriously and invest lots of time studying lineups and motivation. I could explain more as to why preseason football is actually easier to handicap than the regular season or playoff games (which means they are sometimes more predictable), and will do so another time. But for now, just go along with me that I’m really smart and know what I’m doing.
The Rams are scheduled to open up their 2016 schedule with an exhibition match versus the perpetually over-hyped Dallas Cowboys. They’ll play in the ancient but refurbished L.A. Coliseum, which according to media reports gets sold out instantly, despite this being a preseason game. Most NFL stadiums are half full with bored fans during the preseason. However, 92,000 excited local supporters of the new team are expected to turn out and welcome the Rams back to Los Angeles.
There’s more compelling reasons to love the Rams in this opener. Head Coach Jeff Fisher has just been inexplicably resigned to a contract extension. He’ll be fired three months later. But entering the 2016 season, there’s reason for optimism. Fisher appears to be popular with his players and has the support of management. The Rams are coming off a lackluster 7-9 season. But this appears to be a great spot for them since they’re facing the downtrodden Cowboys, who went 4-12, their worst record in 26 years when Jerry Jones first bought the team.
I figure the Rams will make a definitive statement in this game. They’ll play hard. No way that Rams ownership wants the team to come out on a perfect August Saturday afternoon and lay an exploding lump of dog shit in the first game back in Los Angeles — in front of 92,000 paying customers eager to gobble up plenty of new merchandise. If ever there was a “phone call” from upper management down to the coaching staff and players saying, “win this game, or else….” this was it. This was the game I’d been waiting for. This was the right opportunity.
The opening line comes out at Rams -3 over the Cowboys. The number quickly gets bet up to -5, then drops back down to -3.5
I get nervous laying points in preseason football games. So, the more viable alternative seems to play the Rams on the moneyline. What that means is — I just have to win the game. No points are involved. So long as the Rams beat the Cowboys, I win money. And so, given this rare opportunity where one side seems to have so much the best of it and all the motivation to win, I decide to fucking fire.
Laying the round number of $7,000 to win back close to $3,800 (in profit) means that I’ve got a swing of $10,800 on a single preseason football game. That’s quite a step up from betting $100 a game on baseball back in April, or the ultimate in degeneracy depending on one’s perspective. The spread even dips down to -3 for a short time, and I contemplate firing more on the game. However, one can never be too cautious in gambling.
It’s announced that Dallas won’t even suit up several of their starters. Star quarterback Tony Romo won’t play. Dallas, which suffered a rash of killer injuries last season, announces though head coach Jason Garrett, they just want to “say healthy.” Lots of scrubs, which is the term used for bust outs who will get a couple of weeks in training camp before ultimately being cut back to civilian life and a life of anonymity, will see plenty of action. Then, right before the game, the Cowboys suffer another setback when the second-string backup quarterback gets hurt and won’t play. Dallas’ first round draft choice, running back Ezekial Elliott also suffers an ankle injury and will be out. Meanwhile, the Rams appear healthy and hungry. This is looking like the lock of the century.
Come the time for kickoff, the Cowboys field a goulash of starters which includes an unknown starting quarterback drafted in the fourth round who has never taken an NFL snap. His name is Dak Prescott.
Coming Next: Part 4 of “Gambling for a Living.”
Here’s some advice: Pay your taxes. Preferably, every year. On time.
Take it from the fool who’s danced upon the blade of the sharpest of spears and endured endless migraines instigated by the dreaded evil known as the Internal Revenue Service which lasted for years. It’s all a nightmare, only you can’t wake up from the bad dream and when you do finally awaken, your awash in written threats and creeping deadlines. You don’t want the IRS crawling up your back. That’s an unromantic form of first base on the path towards getting fucked in the ass eventually.
Hey, I don’t blame the IRS for my seemingly endless, and ultimately very costly predicament. I blame myself. I accept full responsibility. I freely admit to owing back taxes and very much wanting to pay my government, the devoted Socialist that I am. We just couldn’t agree precisely on what I owed exactly, and I owed lots of back taxes on what I considered to be reasonable deductions taken years ago when money didn’t seem to be as big a deal that somehow snowballed into a giant shitload of interest and capital penalties and lawyers and paperwork. Running a gypsy tab with the IRS is sorta’ like hailing that taxi from Manhattan over to New Jersey. Only after you’ve crossed completely over the George Washington Bridge and approaching the exit ramp leading into Ft. Lee does the scruffy driver inform you abruptly the cab fare is going to be double because he’s driving way over to Jersey and has to get back into the city, all on your dime. Oh, and you’re responsible for paying all the tolls, too. That’s what it’s like to owe the IRS money. Canines dig deep and they won’t let go.
One pitfall of self-employment over so many years — and I’ve been self-employed, a sorta’ free agent officially speaking off and on for precisely 17 out of the last 23 years — is the maddening maze known as the federal tax code, which some self-claimed faux-billionaires somehow remarkably manage to exploit and not pay any income taxes at all, while working stiffs like the rest of us end up forking over parts of our anatomy to satisfy the 1040 bottom line. Hell, the new President-Elect of the United States of America paid NO! FUCKING! TAXES! WHATSOEVER! WAKE! THE! FUCK! UP! AND! LET! THAT! SINK! IN! FOR! A! GOD! DAMNED! MINUTE! during the exact same years when the IRS was skip tracing and hunting me down like runaway fugitive, demanding their cut like a rag doll on shakedown. Meanwhile, the incoming President-Elect brags that he paid NO! INCOME! TAXES! WHATSOEVER! WAKE! THE! FUCK! UP! AND! LET! THAT! SINK! IN! FOR! A! GOD! DAMNED! MINUTE! because — he’s smart. I suppose that makes me and millions of others leashed to the IRS the dumbest motherfuckers on the planet.
After plowing through about $25,000 in liquid cash that I could barely afford, well couldn’t afford really given that I need fluff my bankroll like a peacock some more for the upcoming football season, and that’s just the legal fees and pencil-pushing accountants who didn’t know my name when I called them on the phone until papers had been shuffled off in the background and my file was located to they could refresh themselves that the client’s name is Nolan and I owed the IRS serious money, as in six figures, plus going to federal court and testifying once to fight the bloodsucking scoundrels who somehow were under the mistaken impression I was rich and hiding liquid assets under the mattress (check out my blog — all the money’s gone! thank a few bad teaser wheels), I finally spotted my escape from the shackles of a perpetual audit in the form of one final massive lump sum payment to Dirty Uncle Sam, thus ending my decade-long ordeal of worry and misery and uncertainty and dusty unopened IRS envelopes piled high upon the desk laying aside losing sports wagering tickets.
The good news: My IRS troubles were about to mercifully end. The bad news: Just about every dime I made in salary during the 2016 WSOP would go towards paying back taxes, plus the penalties and interest. I’d be essentially working for nothing.
I reveal such an annoying tale of woe to you because my well-compensated temp position at the World Series of Poker, once again to be held at the glorious Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in late May through mid-July, would do absolutely nothing to pay the obligation of my monthly expenses. Like masked moth men with butterfly nets, the government was about to seize it all, and I was all too happy to pay this genuine obligation just to make them go away and leave me the fuck alone. Such are the twisted joys of working for what amounted to absolutely nothing for seven long weeks. [Now, many of you know why I didn’t order that second bottle of wine at dinner each night. One has to control the temptation, except for one night which I’ll write about shortly.]
Between the IRS lurking like vampires in the wings, the 15-hour days and nights spent on the floor at the WSOP, I’d still have to produce something from sports gambling in order to pay my bills.
Oh, and on top of all that, out of the blue, someone claimed I was a pervert.
Under these three ring circus-like conditions, I was to chart the St. Louis Cardinals starting rotation along with 31 other major league teams most days and check the wind direction blowing at the Oakland Coliseum and 16 other parks and stadiums, shop for the best line and total, get down on games, manage my four online betting accounts, and then find some time actually handicap a sport I thoroughly detested.
This was going to be a hot long-ass summer.
Edgar Allan Poe, the dead writer, is probably best known for his poem, “The Raven.”
“Quoth the Raven, nevermore.” It goes something like that. Hell if I remember exactly. I think the bird was supposed to be spooky and even creep us out a little.
What most probably don’t know is — the author Poe was a sick gambler and a very bad one at that. Accordingly to biographers, while he was a freshman at the University of Virginia the maven of melancholy racked up massive gambling debts, on what I don’t know. I’d be curious to read Poe’s bad beat stories, of they were available, but then again of a black bird could scare the bejesus out of us, imagine how frightening a nightmare roulette session might read . Once this apparent gambling addiction was discovered, his father became so enraged and got so pissed off at young Edgar that he instantly severed the patriarchal purse strings and refused to give his son any more money for school. And so, the aspiring writer who was then no more than a lost teen got dealt the worst possible beat imaginable….
….he had to move to Baltimore.
Baltimore’s filled with scum, and the reason for this fact is, the great-great-great grandparents of the present-day scum living in Baltimore weren’t just scummy, but scummier even. Look at Baltimore now. What do you see? Maybe more telling, what do you smell? Cold acid rain, dank humidity, pockmarked litter-filled streets. Now, imagine what it was like way back in 1840 before Capital Grille and air conditioning. Who in the fuck would want to move there or live there?
Well, Edgar Allan Poe ended up in what amounted to the urban colonoscopy of Baltimore City, in part because an editor from a startup magazine nestled in one of those brick row houses of that dreadful place saw raw talent in the aspiring young author and agreed to publish his work for the princely sum of $50 a month, about what I’m pulling in now from my own writing endeavors, so I can empathize. Hey, Poe — I got your back. Yet, poor Poe ended up spending the rest of his miserable life in Baltimore, before he mercifully died at age 40. His lifeless body was reportedly found laying face down in a gutter, which should be a dire red flag to all writers and wanna’ be writers. If that’s the fate of one of our more talented and successful peers, what sad fate awaits the rest of us? While living there, he reportedly drank a lot, engaged in the services of prostitutes (on $50 a month!), and did some other pretty lurid stuff which is pretty god damned amazing when you think about having all those vices and living on scraps. One doesn’t know whether to detest or envy this condition, but at least Poe squeezed some mighty good times out of a meager salary. However, when one thinks back to the punishment of living in Baltimore, such perversions must be forgiven. After all, what else is there to do in Baltimore?
I pen this short interlude because there’s a lesson to be told here which should be plainly obvious to my writer brethren who also happen to be pro football fanatics, and students of history of the game. Think of this: Had Edgar Allan Poe not been a gambler, the NFL team now calling Baltimore home would instead be known something else, instead of the Ravens.
Baltimoreites and Baltimoreans, all — thank Edgar Allan Poe for being a shitty gambler.
Two essential qualities to gambling success are money and confidence — not in that order necessarily. The requirement for the need for money is obvious. Without cash, there’s nothing to gain, no risk, no upside. Cash is oil to the flow of the gambling engine.
Accordingly, confidence is its drive shaft. A gambler must have confidence, not to be confused with arrogance, in his or her decisions. Poker players, who know this all too well, must trust their reads. You inherently know when your opponent is bluffing, so you make the tough call. It’s almost an instinct. Advantage players must maintain faith in the card count, the proven long-term percentages which produce something known as “EV” for short, which translates into Expected Value. In other words, played out a million times hypothetically, what’s the net expectation on such and such wager? A sports bettor must trust in his information and the knowledge the he’s got the best of it when a ticket it written and bet is confirmed. Then, once the game starts, a rookie punt returner fumbles the ball and demolishes all that pregame research. One has to prepare for such crisis, and be willing to accept those events which we cannot foresee, nor control.
The first couple of months of baseball betting gave me enough confidence to continue the exercise. By end of May, a full ten weeks into wagering daily full-time, I’d stepped up my bets to $200, then later $300 a game. The training wheels were coming off. By margins of previous results, betting $300 a game instead of just $100 a game should have netted three times the profit. Since I made $1,500 profit in April, that meant by summer I should be pulling in $4,500 a month. When I eventually get to betting $500 a game, that figure becomes $6,000 a month, which is $72,000 a year — in other words, a living.
Sounds too easy.
Tilt and temptation are the death ditches of gamblers.
Going “on tilt” means just what it sounds like. It’s a old poker term, denigrating emotionally unstable players who can’t control themselves after suffering inevitable losses and bad streaks. So beset they are with inner angst, they then fire outrageous amounts of money at the next betting opportunity chasing losses and hoping to get back to even, something I’ve done once or twice in my betting career.
Temptation can be just as dangerous, which means the inducement to fire far more on a game than one can afford, because the stars and planets and zodiac and talk show prognosticators all line up on the game way too perfectly. It’s the “can’t lose” game. The “lock.”
During the second month of betting Major League Baseball, I uncover a previously undiscovered angle that works and so I bet blindly it at every opportunity and this sunken treasure chest puts me about $3,000 to the good in May followed by $3,500 in the black in June. Three consecutive winning months is certainly sweet, joyous even. But it’s still a couple of grand short of my monthly nut, and more like $4,000 to $5,000 in added expenses short of what I need for the dinner-laden drink-infused dates on my social calendar for the WSOP which incorporates entertaining media dignitaries and old friends. Last year, I plowed through $5,500 just on dinners at the WSOP (about 50 of them) with friends and colleagues. Fortunately, Mark “Pegasus” Smith and Bob Slezak picked up four of the tabs, or I would have been on the hook for nearly another dime.
The bottom line was, even though I was making money, I wasn’t earning enough. I was still falling way short of what was needed to exist, let alone prosper. Under the conditions, while the gambling experiment was undoubtedly a success, my financial needs weren’t being met. My bankroll might as well have been a popsicle, melting away slowing in the desert heat.
There was only one alternative, which was to start betting even higher. And so, on some spot plays I made two considerably larger wagers, and won both. Prompted by temptation and fueled by desperation, I wagered about $3,000 (twice) on two perfectly ideal betting situations that appear to already be in the bag. In the first situation, some pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays is on the mound against a worthless scrub for the other team, is laying about -190, and so I blast away hoping to cream off an easy $1,600 without even so much as breaking a sweat and acting like the game is already final. While I’m obsessing over this on the night shift at the Rio, a couple of guys are playing for a coveted WSOP gold bracelet and I’m 30 feet away sweating the Blue Jays-Angles game on a laptop and hitting the refresh button on my smartphone every 30 seconds. My bet wins. A few days later, I find an similar spot where San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner (I remembered his name) is starting against some unknown mook who might as well have a broken arm wrapped in a cast. San Francisco breezes effortlessly to an easy 4-0 victory on a masterful two-hitter, and I’m wondering why the fuck I’m wearing a suit and tie when it’s 109 degrees outside and working a job when my gravy train pitchers are making my financial life so damn easy and paying my bills, that is, except for the IRS which is still there with me like a garlic necklace.
Five or six days later, maybe it was a week, the Washington Nationals ace Strasburg takes the hill against some slug of a team, and while I usually hate betting heavy, heavy favorites, there’s some Twitter tweet that comes out that says the Brewers got caught in a rain delay at the Milwaukee airport the night before and sat on the tarmac for three hours before taking off to Washington National and finally arriving red-eyed at 3 am, only to be scheduled for an early day game the following afternoon. Another $3,000 or so of my betting capital goes in the prohibitively-favored Nationals who then promptly go out and morph into the ’62 Mets. My anchor Strasburg suffers arm trouble and gets yanked in the top of the first, and suddenly here I am holding the sitting duck of a 3K ticket riding on the arm of some Triple AAA bust out plucked from the bullpen in an unforeseen emergency. The mediocre Brewers massacre the first-place Nationals and smoke my ticket like pickle ash and so the previous $2,500 roughly that was earned so effortlessly from the Jays and Giants games suddenly get seared like a fuck fillet.
Oh, and someone just won a gold bracelet, which requires me to suck it all up and put on a smiling face, as though I haven’t a care in the world. This demands segregating thoughts, suppressing emotions, and taking decisive action. In one room of the cerebral dollhouse of my mind is the lingering outrage of losing a sizable bet because Ryan Zimmerman grounded into a double play with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth. Off in another corner of my mind — the written logs of poker narrative. Time to go congratulate the winner on collecting $700,000 and his glorious first WSOP victory.
Naturally-gifted writers are often trapped within the purgatory of what they want to write and what they have to and are paid write, either to pay the monthly bills or not tick off the rest of the world and lose readers. It’s a perpetual compromise that must be made and a perilous tightrope and no one I know walks it better than Brad Willis, known to many as the longtime blogger for PokerStars.com.
Brad and I go back more than a decade in what I think he’d even reluctantly agree is a sort of isolated chamber of a mutual admiration society. Yet for all our common ground, both working for PokerStars, writing about the game, sharing frustrations, and working so many tournaments and covering so many stories over the years, it’s astounding that @bradwillis and I have never once sat down face-to-face at dinner.
That would change one rare off night when Brad and I found the time to dine together at the well-reviewed SLS steakhouse, Bazaar Meat by Jose Andres. Brad generously agrees to front the entire expense, even without the knowledge I’d dropped $3,000 the night before on the Washington Nationals and was in serious danger of suffering my first losing month. Despite this predicament, I couldn’t hang Brad out to dry for the full amount like that, since this dining experience was destined to be two things — epic and really fucking expensive.
And so, I cut a crafty and in my mind generous deal that I still think is really, really good for me and would still be expensive for Brad. He’d pick up the dinner tab, and I’d pay for all the drinks.
I didn’t know it then, but another sorta’bad beat was about to come.
I don’t remember the amount of the dinner tab, exactly. I think the set-course meal was somewhere in the neighborhood of $450, plus the tip, which Brad willingly paid without so much a grumble nor complaint. I took care of the wine, a rare Gewurztraminer from the Alsace region of France that I’d never tried before which drank marvelously but was rudely contrarian to the customary dining standards of drinking red wine with red meat. Brad and I didn’t give a fuck. We ordered what we wanted and plowed through the evening like two sailors enjoying our last meal.
Following this two-hour dinner punctuated with laughs and memories and mutual frustrations and plenty of gossip about some of you now reading this, we agree to have “one more drink” at the SLS bar, which was out in the center of the casino. Walking that direction, I think we both knew very well this wouldn’t be a “one drink” chat not a one-story encore, more like treking off to a Grateful Dead Concert as an afterthought. Toss two writers into a blender, pack with ice, hit the whip button, pour into a shot glass, and leave a credit card open for the next round after round and the stories lead from one to another and by the time you’ve looked down at your wristwatch, as I did, it’s 2 am and the bar tab has somehow skyrocketed to more than $400.
Despite the expense, this ends up as my favorite night of the entire 2016 WSOP. Worth every penny, my only regret is I didn’t take notes because there could have been a scandalous book written that night just from the scribbling. And so, with that, Brad and I exited the SLS and both have to be back at work at noon the next day. And I’ve got another fresh slate of baseball games to handicap in the morning.
Next: Gambling for a Living — Part 3 (The Lunacy of Betting $7,000 on a Los Angeles Rams Pre-Season Game)
Sports betting is one of two things. It’s either fool’s gold or the holy grail. In reality, it’s likely both, depending on how you’re running at the moment.
Anyone with that ill-advised delusion of trying to beat the oddsmaker will at some point certain as the night is long find sports gambling to be a most humbling, even a humiliating experience. It doesn’t care about our feelings. At least in this regard, the beats we’re dealt are indiscriminate. It’s nothing personal. Indeed, I’ve been humbled. I’ve been humiliated. And yes, I’ve even gone broke a few times — once right here on these confessional pages in front of your very eyes.Read More