This Week in Major League Baseball (Betting)
I’m not what you’d call a baseball fan. Hell, I don’t even like baseball.
However, I do bet on baseball games. I bet on lots of baseball games.
Having no rooting interest in any of the major league teams — nor any desire to watch games, either in person or on television — this somehow keeps me on a much more even keel emotionally than watching pro football, which for me is a severe mental and emotional strain. Yes, I’ll admit to having serious difficulty dealing with adversity when betting on football. That’s because so much of the final outcome depends on motivation and is influenced by mistakes…a fumble here, an interception there. By comparison, I have much less of a “tilt factor” when betting on baseball games, because fundamentally it’s a sport predicated on two things — (1) statistics and (2) percentages. Remaining dispassionate about baseball comes easy because I don’t give a shit about any of the teams, except that I usually cheer against any team from New York, Boston, or Los Angeles. I simply make my wagers, then check the final scores at the end of the night. If only the rest of life were that simple.
That said, this week has been an emotional and financial roller coaster. For the first time, I’ve decided to chronicle my wins and losses over several days. Hopefully, those of you who bet on sports will enjoy the ride.
Preface: I Need Money
I’m not ashamed to admit something.
I need money.
I need to make money, but until the 2016 World Series of Poker comes around, a regular gig of mine which will keep me stoked for at least a couple of months, I’m an independent contractor. In other words, I’m a freelancer. Oh fuck it — I’m unemployed.
When I first moved out to Las Vegas, which was right after 9/11 when an airliner smashed into the Pentagon right outside my 9th-story condo, a harrowing experience which for many of us who lived through that period was a moment of epiphany, I always fancied playing poker and betting on sports full-time to make a living. After you stop laughing and manage to catch your breath, you have to understand my goals were quite modest. I had no illusions. Yes, I had issues. But not illusions. I’ve seen too many gamblers die broke to think what’s beyond the looking glass doesn’t apply to me.
I’ve written before, often with intense passion, about the myths of professional gambling — noting that the overwhelming majority of successful gamblers aren’t earning a million dollars per year nor betting five-figures a game. The typical full-time gambler drives a Honda, not a Ferrari. In sports gambling and in poker, the vast majority of real pros — those who make a profit in gambling year in and year out — are earning figures far less than that, and working their asses off to achieve a tally in the black. Many professional sports bettors and poker players I know (and I know more than a few) make perhaps $15,000 or $40,000 or $65,000 a year, often used as supplemental income. Sure, some gamblers make considerably more than that, and many make far less. The point is — making $800 a week is really something that’s significant. That comes out to about $3,200 a month. If you can do that consistently, then congratulations — you’re a professional gambler.
My Gambling History
I’ve wagered millions of dollars over the past four decades. I don’t make that boast with any sense of bravado. None whatsoever.
The biggest sports bet I ever collected was $10,000 — many, many times. The biggest bet I ever lost on a single game was $39,000 which wiped me out. Since I’ve lived in Las Vegas, I’ve usually bet an average of between $200-$500 per game. Sometimes much more than that. Sometimes considerably less. The amount I wagered usually depended on my bankroll, and sometimes how steamed I was about chasing a loss.
It’s hard to explain this, but the worst period for me when sports betting was when I had money, which is to say, enough money to be somewhat frivolous. That’s a dangerous invitation. Having credit lines and plenty of cash sitting in a drawer at home didn’t provide any sense of freedom or comfort. Instead, it game me license to overindulge.
I never bet purely for action’s sake. That’s another misnomer among gamblers. I don’t need to have a bet on a game to be interested in it, nor do I feel uncomfortable taking a day or a week off. In fact, taking breaks is usually a relief. But I do have emotional problems when dealing with losses, especially brutal beats that cost me money that I think should rightfully be mine.
Once, I remember being so upset at losing $12,500 for the day in college football, that I wagered ridiculous amounts of money on the late night game which started at 11 pm here in Las Vegas, on a game played out in the Pacific islands that was impossible to handicap, but which was probably one of the most heavily bet games of the college football schedule every single week because it was the last game of the week in college before the pro games started — so everyone looked to the Hawaii game to get even. Stuck and steaming, I bet $5,000 on Hawaii plus $5,000 the total, plus another $5,000 at halftime, trying desperately to get even. Okay, I did that several times. That never seemed to work out.
Thing is — I can’t take those crazy plunges anymore That’s because I have no disposable income right now. I can’t afford to go on wild fuck chases or go on tilt inside the sports book. When creditors have called me in the past, I’ve actually used the excuse, “well, if that fucking field goal kicker for the Chiefs would have made that 42-yarder in overtime, then I could have paid you what I owe this month — but the cocksucker missed it….so, sorry , but you’ll have to wait. Cheer for the Ravens -2 this Sunday if you want to collect something….bye.” [yes, I have really used that excuse]
2016 Major League Baseball: The First Five Weeks
I don’t like having to explain myself. Trouble is, some ass joker will read this, have no sense of who I am nor understand the tribulations of what I’ve been through in sports gambling, and then make presumptions.
Take a fucking hike, will ‘ya. I have no regard for the judgement of people I don’t know. Pricks and touts — fuck off.
As I said, my goals were and are and very much remain….modest. Hey, I’ve done this off and on, many times over the years — always with different circumstances and results — sometimes with other means of income to soften the cushion, and sometimes with no safety net at all, and sometimes even betting games on borrowed money. That’s really gambling.
Right now, if I make a couple of hundred dollars doing this — then I’m happy. That’s 200 bucks I didn’t have before that’s now tucked comfortably inside my pocket. If I make $1,500 a month, hey — then that’s really good. That figure just about pays the mortgage. Not very many people in Las Vegas can say they scrapped together the monthly mortgage from wagering on sporting events. Then, if I somehow have a huge week and make anything more than that, then I’m ecstatic. I’m trilled, and it’s not just about the money. Wagering just a few hundred per game means that if I earn anything in the $3,000 range translates into +15 units — which any serious sports gambler will tell you is an astronomical ROI, and anyone who doesn’t respect that win rate is a fraud and knows nothing about sports betting.
So, when all said and done between April 1 and May 7, I made something in the range of approximately $4,400 during the first five weeks of the season, plus the casino comps. Not life-changing money, of course. But more important than the amount of the win was the fist-pumping adulation of actually earning a long-term profit. It’s the glee of knowing, of realizing, that at least for the time being, yes — I can beat the game.
For a gambler, that’s euphoria.
Writer’s Note: I intended to write about this week in baseball. I’ll continue with the story in the next segment, which I will post after I make my Sunday wagers. Check back tomorrow for the conclusion of “This Week in Baseball (Betting).”