Friday, March 20, 2009

Confessions of a Non-Gambler

A Vegas sportsbookI am a huge basketball fan, especially college, and so always follow the NCAA tournament fairly closely. Used to play a lot of hoops, which I think makes the game all the more interesting to watch. Haven’t played so much over the last few years, although every now and then I will come out of retirement to sink the odd fifty-footer.

I also would generally always join a pool or two, sometimes expending a lot of effort during Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday deciding how to fill out them brackets, then -- usually -- watching my carefully-calibrated prognostications all rapidly turn to dust by Thursday evening.

I recall particularly enjoying one variation in which one was rewarded with bonus points for picking upsets correctly, with the stakes going up with each round (including the bonuses). Also, you didn’t fill out the whole sucker beforehand, but picks were made before each round, meaning you were never really out of it on Thursday. (But you could be toast by Saturday, I think.)

It’s been a few years, though, since I’ve bothered with the brackets. I did half-heartedly fill out one over on ESPN at 11:30 a.m. yesterday, and see this morning I’m in 4,268,437th place heading into the second day of play. Sounds about right.

While I’ve always been a sports fan, I never took much interest in sports betting, and I think since getting into poker I find myself even less inclined to gamble in that way than before. I know for many the opposite is true, with poker playing encouraging the desire to bet on sports or engage in other games of chance. Probably more so if one is a live player and thus usually not that far from the sports book and everything else the casino has to offer. But even online it isn’t that hard to click on over to the Bodog Sportsbook or other such places to lay yr moneys down.

For me, though -- and perhaps for many others, too -- poker satisfies whatever “gamble” is in me just fine.

Joseph Walsh, 'Gambler on the Loose' (2008)In Gambler on the Loose (2008), Joseph Walsh’s whimsical collection of autobiographical essays-slash-prose poems, Walsh tosses out dozens and dozens of maxims about gambling -- some uncanny in their precision and apparent accuracy, some obscure to the point of impenetrability, most hiliarious. I’ll quote just one:

“When it comes to handicapping, keep in mind you are handicapped.”

Of that I am acutely aware whenever I have tried -- in earnest -- to predict the outcome of a sports contest. Talk about a “game of partial information”!

In any event, I hope everyone has a good weekend watching all those games of partial information in high definition.

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Blogger Pauly said...

Carolina destroyed yesterday. Can they keep it up? They need Lawson back if they want to go deep.

3/20/2009 2:19 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

(Have to admit, Dr. P., you did cross my mind when making my non-confession.)

No way UNC does it w/o Lawson (as the FSU game in the ACC tourney showed).

Kinda think Green & Ellington are fairly crucial, as well. At least one of those two will have to be on his game in the next couple of rounds, then both will have to be on from the Elite Eight onward, I'd think.

3/20/2009 4:24 PM  

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