Monday, May 5, 2008


I have said many times, and I believe I may be including a blog passage or two, that I am one of the luckiest people on Earth. I am sure most who hear me say that think I am simply turning a phrase, but that is not correct. I am sure they expect a logical, scientific, mathematical mind such as my own to not truly believe in luck. Of course, this is exactly why I do believe in luck.

In a certain sense, perhaps even by definition, good luck is nothing more than a fortunate coincidence and bad luck is nothing more than an unfortunate coincidence. When you consider all of the people in the world, they all have fortunate and unfortunate happenstances occur around them all the time. Clearly, it is not the way of the world that these things alternate. It would be a crazy world indeed if we could expect something bad to happen right after something good has happened.

Thus, it is inevitable that some people will have more fortunate coincidences occur for them, just as it is inevitable that other people will have more unfortunate coincidences happen to them. To not put too fine a point on it, the former are lucky ones, and the latter, unlucky. This is why I believe in luck and say that I am a lucky person. It is because it is a probabilistic certainty that such people will exist, and I can honestly say that in my life, I have had many more fortunate coincidences happen than unfortunate.

I also believe that people make their own luck. At least, some of it. Obviously, you can't go through life expecting all of nature's influences to hand you everything you could ever want. You have to work for it. The people who are neither unfortunate, nor are they active enough in their own matters to create any good fortune are easily found in a crowd. You can recognize them easily enough (in most cases) because they are constantly complaining about how they can never get a break.

The bet that I have been expecting to lose for the past two weeks, ended up winning. I made a parlay bet on The Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons both winning their first round series in the NBA playoffs. They were the two best teams in basketball (based on their record) and I fully expected them to win their best four out of seven game matches and move on to the second round with relative ease. Essentially, I bet $3000 to win $266 that these two teams would win their matches.

I had my reasons for betting so much for so little. Obviously, I thought it was as good a bet as one could make or else I would not have made the bet. Detroit had been playing good ball and was facing the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers had been struggling the previous couple of weeks, so I expected Detroit to win fairly easily and maybe drop a game or two. They lost the first game. Actually, they blew it. They had it won and they let it slip away. After the third game of the series, Detroit was losing 2 games to 1 and were being soundly beaten. I was beginning to fear they were going to lose.

In the mean time, Boston won the first two games of their series quite easily against the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks were the worst team to make the playoffs and didn't even have a winning record heading into the post season. Boston won each of the first two games by about 20 points in Boston. The next two games in Atlanta were rather close and much to my dismay, Atlanta managed to win them both to tie the series 2 games apiece.

At this point, both series' were heading in the wrong direction and I was getting seriously worried. Detroit managed to get their act together and won the next three games to win the series 4 games to 2, but as I said, it started out badly. Boston won the 5th game in Boston. Once again, crushing Atlanta. They now led 3 games to 2.

The sixth game was played in Atlanta, and once again, Boston squanders and early lead to allow the Hawks to win the game by 3 points. One game remained on the bet. The seventh game was to be played in Boston where they had won their 3 games quite handily.

All that money that I had bet in the beginning, two weeks ago, was now bet to win so little on a single game. The odd part was that, in Boston, the Celtics were favored so heavily the moneyline on the game was -2200 for Boston and +1500 for Atlanta. This meant a person would have to bet $2200 on Boston to win $100, but a bet of $100 on Atlanta would win $1500. I placed a bet on Atlanta, $210 to win $3150.

This meant that if Boston won, I would win the series bet for $266 and lose the game bet on Atlanta for $210. A net win of $56. If Atlanta won, I would lose the $3000 on the series bet, but would win $3150 on the game bet. A net win of $150. I had hedged my bet in a way where I could not lose. Normally, a hedged bet is a guaranteed loser. This is why the casinos make money.

In the end, Boston won the game with ease just as I had expected. I had been tempted to let the bet ride, and I would have won, but in the end I took the guaranteed winner because I was no longer betting on what I had intended. I would never be so foolish to bet that kind of money on the seventh game of a series. Even though Atlanta could not seem to win in Boston and barely scraped by in their own house, a single game that could turn out to be so emotional and unpredictable is not worth gambling on.

Of course, that means last months bets did not quite cover the costs of my rent and after going five days into this month, I am only up $56. I have some work to do. I hope my luck continues.

No comments: