Ramblin’ about gamblin’

The NFL season has started and, if you’re into placing monetary wagers, it’s time to think about gambling. If you’re like me and need an extra incentive to watch football games featuring awful franchises like the Cleveland Browns, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Houston Texans, gambling provides a measure of meaning. Plus, gambling can give you an underlying and inexplicable, yet somehow enjoyable, hate for teams that, you were rather indifferent towards before, but now make you livid after they do you and your gambling money wrong. Inexplicably strong emotions always make sport more exciting. Personally, I try not to bet on the Kansas City Chiefs anymore, but when you get a line that’s hard to ignore, that’ll be the one time the damned bastards blow the fucking game like a bunch of fucking assholes. Stupid red tights-wearing wusses…

Unless you’re passing money between you and your one-eyed, whiskey-drinking, baseball bat-collecting bookie at the local tavern–which I think is illegal but you’ll have to double check for yourself with the police–Sport Select is your best option. Sport Select kiosks are ubiquitous in convenience stores and are fairly easy to operate. They are located and marked along the edges of convenience stores and come stocked with paper cards, which you fill out and hand to the cashier, and plastic flip-through pages that detail the lines for the games available for betting. Because the government is eager to take your hard-earned money, they also have explanations on all of the kiosks on how Sport Select operates and how you too can become a gambling addict. Be careful when you’re marking down your picks as you can easily make a mistake and vote for Pat Buchanan instead of picking the Eagles to beat the 6.5 point spread. One time I thought I had won $80 on Sports Line and, long before Michael Vick became the worst dog-sitter in history, I was cursing his name like a PETA activist. I thought I had bet against the Atlanta Falcons because they were another team in my dog house (unjustified anger is as good a compass as any to guide your betting). It turned out I had bet with them and they had lost, like the poodle-owning sissies they are. My entire card was garbage.

You may be under the false impression that gambling on football games, or any other sport for that matter, is different than gambling in a casino because sports games aren’t statistical games left up to chance. Though this is true, you don’t have a better chance at winning money gambling on football than at the casino. Statisticians and football experts–whose job it is to know the sport inside and out–decide the line and over/unders so, in any situation where you’re placing bets with Sport Select, there’s a decided dissymmetry of information working against you. In the end, though provincial and territorial governments operate Sport Select, it’s not a social service, it’s a revenue generator. But luckily, the government isn’t going to break your legs if you lose, so they have that going for them at least.

In the end, I’ve found that, regardless of the amount of research I put into my picks, most games are still crapshoots because that’s how the lines are created. The goal of Sports Select odds-makers are to guide half of the bets to either side, and unless they get the line wrong, you really only have a 50 per cent chance of winning any given bet. For football, you need to make a minimum of two bets and you need to win both to get any money. The chances of you winning both are 25 per cent, but it pays out 2.5 times your original bet. For example, if you bet $2, there’s a 25 per cent chance of you winning $3 and a 75 per cent chance of you losing $2. The odds are in Sport Select’s favour. Ultimately, the goal of any successful gambling operation is for you to lose money and you shouldn’t forget that.

But who gambles to make money? Unless you’re some sort of undiscovered football guru, you’re likely not going to overcome the dissymmetry of information: if you think you’re going to become rich off of a Sport Select, you’re kidding yourself. Gamble to feel more invested in the outcome of the game or to have a reason to watch it in the first place. Enjoy gambling in moderation and avoid the Falcons and the Chiefs because they suck more nuts than a squirrel and hate puppies.

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