Bad Bets

A Saturday night sitting at the casino bar watching the fights. Since the pandemic, the casino’s the only place to go to watch the pay-per-views. The machine I was sitting at was broken, so there was no reason to chase me off for nursing some beers and watching the fights instead of taking up that spot to gamble.

Some guys took seats at a nearby table. One of them was shitfaced. They began arguing about losing their sports bets.

The one guy was already on the defensive when I landed into their argument.

“I don’t get mad at losing a bet,” he vehemently protested.

“Bullshit,” the other guy said. “You get irate.”

“No. No. You’re one that gets pissed off at losing a bet,” the smaller guy slurred.

This went back and forth for a while. I half-assed paid attention cause I was trying to watch the fights.

It wasn’t until later I got to wondering, given their passions for getting upset or not over losing a bet, I got to wondering why it would matter.

I’m not much of a gambler so I don’t know, but I got to thinking.

I got to thinking that if you’re the guy that makes a bet on a fight at +230 (meaning you’ll make $230 off a $100 bet), you’ve made the conscious decision to bet on the underdog. You may have reasons for betting on the underdog, BUT, he’s the underdog nonetheless and generally for good reason. It’s usually a solid reason, otherwise the bookies would go out of business real quick.

If you place that bet on the underdog and he loses, well, that was to be expected. It was in the goddamned numbers and something any novice gambler should understand. Nobody lied. Nobody forced you into placing a bet on a guy that was predicted to lose. Your loss was nothing more than a matter of your insight or analysis or understanding of the situation being wrong.

I imagine any gambler knows this. Maybe it’s why these guys were so heated about how they react to losing a sports bet. Sometimes the favorite loses. Sometimes the underdog wins. But, not usually. That’s why there’s pluses and minuses – to make things plain and clear. That’s why 100 dollars don’t pay the same depending on who you lay it on. It’s a calculated risk. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Your odds of winning are better when you bet the minus, but the payoff’s usually not so good. Lose one bet and it takes a lot of wins on a lot of favorites to recoup the loss. The payoff’s a lot better when you bet the plus and he wins. The recoup of a loss comes a lot quicker that way. But the risk’s a lot higher too. It’s all fairly simple. Any other way of understanding the process makes you a fool, and nobody wants to be a fool.

Maybe there’s some dogma or an ethic among the real gamblers that you gotta bet with your head, not your gut. And getting upset over a loss suggest you’re betting with your gut, since anger is an emotion.

It made me wonder about “real” gamblers and if there is such a thing. It reminded me of the time waiting in the subway in Chicago. There was a big ruckus. I heard a bunch of yelling about “motherfuckers”. It sounded like a fight was about to break out. I looked around a beam and saw an old black dude in his sixties or seventies. He had the cane and the velvet suit and the matching top hat with the feather. I couldn’t make out who he was screaming at, but it didn’t seem random. He screamed, “You Detroit motherfuckers come down here thinking you’re real pimps, but you Detroit motherfuckers don’t know a thing about real pimping.”

It was a lesson to me in the realness of subcultures. That memory caused me to wonder if there isn’t a subculture to gamblers with a similar ethic for realness, authenticity or what it takes to be a bona fide, committed gambler.

Maybe, underneath it all, that’s what they were arguing about. Maybe they were just drunk and itching for their own tussle to relieve their boredom. If the real fights hadn’t been on, I might have paid closer attention.

2 thoughts on “Bad Bets

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