Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's Hard Out Here for a Gambler

My sleep schedule has been really messed up of late, which is the main reason for the lack of posts the past couple of days. It also has to do with my neuroses that I don't really want to talk about too much and I won't air my dirty laundry here, but I suppose if you ask nicely one of these days we can discuss it. If I miss a few days in a row, these are likely the two biggest culprits for my absence and not me being hit by a bus.

I woke up yesterday at 3pm. I had been up all night and allowed myself about six hours of sleep that day. It took me about a half hour to decide, but in the end I went to the Hilton to place a bet. I don't like spending a lot of time on this topic as many think it rather unsavory in their souls even if they support my attempts at making a few bucks at it. For those people, you can stop now as this post will be entirely about gambling. it's unavoidable for me to mention it from time to time as that is one of the reasons I came out here. The main reason, my writing, has suffered this week due to my lack of sleep, but I still have a chance at reaching my 4000 word goal for the week if I put forth a solid effort today. I will try on that account and that is the best I can do for that.

Anyway, I made another money line bet on the Phoenix Suns. They were playing the NJ Nets and were favored by 6.5 in NJ. This meant that if I wanted to bet with the spread, NJ would be getting 6.5 points added to their final score. Phoenix is by far a better team, so the spread is there to encourage people to bet on NJ. I opted out of that type of bet and laid $600 to win $200 on the money line. So I had to pony up some cash to buy out of the point spread.

When the Hilton makes a point spread, their goal is not to try and predict that actual point differential of the game as one might think, their goal, is to produce enough betting action on both sides of the bet. On these types of bets, one must bet $11 to win $10. With this happening on both sides of the bet, if there is even betting action, then the house will win, regardless of the outcome of the wager. Obviously, the goal of the gambler is to choose the winning side. So, in reality, the two goals are not the opposite of each other and that is why one can exploit the situation and make a little money.

With this being a Saturday during March madness (the National college basketball tournament that decides the national champion) the sportsbook was packed. I knew it would be busy and that was one of the debates I was having with myself in going to place this bet. Did I really want to deal with the crowd? Anyway, I was pretty sure Phoenix would win this game, but I felt the spread was about right. That is, I really felt the Suns would win by 6 or 7. That's why I was willing to lay the extra money on the money line. Paying that extra amount allowed me to bet on the Suns straight up, so it didn't matter by how much they won the game, all they had to do was win.

The funny thing about the average/amateur gambler is that they still bet on the favorite most of the time, even though the spread is always against them. And in a lot of ways, that is understandable. I doubt anyone in the room gave the Nets much of shot at winning the game, even if they knew it might be close. Of course, the house knows this and they make their spreads accordingly. You need to factor this into your betting if you're going to be serious about betting on sports. Of course, you don't want to think too deeply about it. At the end of the day, the goal of the house is to get equal action on both sides of the bet. The reason I say this, is because I like to read other people's opinions on the games and some of them are really out there! They talk of "Las Vegas Line Traps" all the time. Where they think the house is trying to get them to bet one way because the house knows the other side will win.

Let me tell you. The house doesn't know which side is going to win any more than you! They just have great statisticians working on this and they are better at it than you are. End of story!

I don't go through a lot of statistical analyses for the games I bet on. I don't think it means much most of the time. I have always been a competitor. I understand the mentality and I understand what it takes to win. When I see that in a team, I am more inclined to bet them. I actually play the psychology as much or more than the statistical trends. Yesterday, I felt the Suns were primed to win, so I bet them.

So did an entire row of bettors. I came late and had to stand in the back. I could see there were 4-5 guys in one row who had money on Phoenix. For a quick recap of the game: NJ went up by 10-12 early in the first quarter and I was mildly worried. It's always nice to see your team jump out to the early lead. But basketball games usually have an ebb and flow to them with one team making points in streaks and in the second quarter, the Suns came back and led the game at halftime by a point, 52-51. In the third quarter, the Suns broke out to a 12-15 point lead and I was feeling very good. As the game started drawing to a close, NJ made a final push of their own and started coming back. Going into the last couple of minutes, the Suns were up by 5-9 points. They couldn't put the final nail in the coffin, but NJ could seem to come back either. I still felt pretty good. In fact, I had very little to worry about, but keep in mind the spread of 6.5 they were hovering around.

Going into the last minute, NJ was down by 5 and started fouling. Basketball teams will do this so they can try to make up a few points at the end of the game. Phoenix managed to hit the free throws and rather than NJ making up a few points, Phoenix increased their lead a few points, they were up by 8. That's how I could tell this row had money on Phoenix. Every time Phoenix hit a free throw and went up by 7, they went nuts and when they were only up by six or less they were on the edge of their seats. In the final seconds, Phoenix just let NJ waste the last bit of time. A NJ player ran the length of the court and put in a layup, completely unopposed, with less than a second on the clock. Time runs out and Phoenix wins by 6.

That entire row was stunned silent. They basically had lost their bet, because Phoenix had no interest in covering the spread. They were just looking to win. Which is another reason I prefer to pay the extra money for the money line. Teams want to win. They have a vested interest in winning. Covering the spread is completely unimportant to them. In gambling parlance, that row of guys were beat by "the hook".

I now have 5 wins and a tie for the month. With 6 bets in 25 days, you can see I pick my bets carefully. I have now won $700 for the month. Enough to pay my rent of $600 and replenish that little bit of spending cash I like to keep in my pocket. It is important to note, that I will lose eventually. You cannot buck the odds forever, at least, with as little money as I have at my disposal. If I were to have any hope of surviving out here indefinitely, I would likely need $50-100,000, not $10,000. Even this month I have lost money for the month since the only bill I covered was my rent.

But, the extra money doesn't hurt.


Kimberly said...

Sounds like you are doing okay with the betting thing. Also, it hasn't been a full month, so give yourself a little slack. The most important part is that you are sounding like you are having fun. Are you planning on being always this cautious with your betting?

Doctor Augur said...

For the most part, yes, but we will see. If I find a bet that I really like, I could see myself betting to win $500-1000.

Three $500 bets a month pays my full expenses for the month as well as the taxes I would have to pay on the winnings.

I am definitely taking it slow the first couple of months. I don't want to lose everything right away if I hid a bad streak!

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