Betting on the NBA

A Betting Tale


    It’s Las Vegas, sometime around 1983 or 1984, doesn’t matter. I decide to bet the total on the Golden State at Portland game. The Warriors had been going pretty well with Purvis Short pouring in the points, so I’m going with the over. The only reason I’m doing this is the game is on TV. This was before HUNDREDS of games got on TV. Yes, really, there was a time when that was true. Anyway, I’m looking forward to a couple fun hours of rooting for the over.

     So I’m walking into the Castaways, a hole-in-the-wall place long since demolished. It was right across from the Sands, which has also been demolished. I might be wrong, but I think the Castaways was right where the Mirage volcano is now.

     Any way, just outside the entrance there’s a commotion going on. There’s a guy swearing a blue streak at this woman, who seemed like his girl friend, although probably not after this night. The guy has a scraggly goatee, uncombed greasy hair, looking like he hasn’t taken a shower in three days. To his credit, he is wearing a green sport coat, so maybe he looked real spiffy when he got into town a few days ago.

     So the guy has an empty liquor bottle in his hand, which had probably been emptied into his pie hole. He keeps cussing out the lady, who looks like she’s had a little too much also. Finally, he throws the bottle at the base of the wall, but it doesn’t break. Okay. I’m steering clear of this scumbag. Just get in the door and get away from this creep as fast as I can.

     All right, inside the casino. Spend a few minutes watching some blackjack action. Watch some hockey. Okay, time to make the bet. Get a c-note out and walk over to get in line. There’s just one person ahead of me and it’s…you guessed it…Mr. Dirt Bag himself. Mumbling away. Kind of reminds me of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung. Snot is running down his nose. Greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes. Hmmm, let’s see what he’s betting. Could be fun to root against him. So he says, “Gimme the over on the Portland game.” Aaaaaaaahh, crap! That SOB is betting with me. Geez, that means if I win, he wins too. But he’s an idiot. Idiots don’t win. Damn! Got to think—there’s no way I’m betting that thing now, but if I bet the other way and it does go over then I’m really gonna be steamed.

     After several minutes of deep thought, I decide not to bet and just root for the under. This introduced me to a new concept. By not betting, the house’s edge is switched and is now in my favor! Instead of rooting for one side and risking 110 dollars to win 100, now I root for the opposite side and it wins, that means I saved 110 dollars. If it loses, that means I lost a chance at 100 dollars.

    Back to the original story. Thanks to the gambling gods for making that game go under. So help me, if that game went over I’d have blown a gasket for sure. But it went under so Mr. Dirt Bag loses and I save 110 dollars. Now that’s an outcome to savor! There’s no way that idiots like that can win in the long run.


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