Take stock in
your sports bets

Nov 28, 2006 6:10 AM

Dallas -3½ versus Giants : Sunday’s New York loss may never be forgotten, at least by their soon to be ex-coach, Tom Coughlin. They let the Titans come back from 21-0, with 24 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. I wouldn’t bet on them with your money.

Rams -6 versus Arizona: St. Louis should have no trouble with this team, which has no defense and a real questionable offense.

Oakland -3 versus Texas: Yes I said the Raiders. Their defense is playing great now, and Houston shouldn’t scare anybody!

Bears and Vikings UNDER: Hopefully you can find a 37.

49ers and Saints OVER: Saints offense may score enough by themselves to get the over in this match up.

Many years ago I got a job as a management trainee for a bowling corporation called Sports Arenas, Inc. In the beginning they had about 20 bowling establishments, mostly all east of the Mississippi River. I trained on Long Island, was promoted to manager of Fort Lauderdale Lanes in Florida and within eight months was sent back to run the same training establishment on Long Island.

After about a year the company merged with a west coast bowling corporation and became the largest bowling outfit in the country, with 44 places, including four in Mexico.

After the merger I was promoted to director of operations and shipped to California where our main office was to be located.

So here I was in my mid-twenties with a big shot job, two kids, a good-looking wife and I was positive I could run through a brick wall without any problem whatsoever. Hopefully you get the picture.

One day the president of the company introduced me to his stock broker who worked for Shearson & Hammill, a brokerage house located in Beverly Hills. In the ensuing conversation I told the broker to buy me 100 shares of his highly recommended stock. The company was called Standard Kollsman and it was around $10 so I figured I’d be in about $1,000 and hopefully I’d launch a supplemental income.

The broker said to bring the information to the bank in three days and put up 10%, which at the time was all that was required. I opened an account at the Bank of America and was extended a margin account.

Well, much to my delight the stock had gone up in three days to $12, so the bank didn’t require any cash. I was astonished that I could own $1,200 worth of stock for no investment. Where had this racket been all my life?

Over the next 90 days I bought more and more shares and never paid cash as the stock continued to climb. The stock went as high as $24, and I now had about $500,000 in my account without putting up any money whatsoever.

"Greed is good", said Michael Douglas in the movie Wall Street. I certainly could relate to that statement.

I decided that I’d sell at $30 per share and become a rich man — it all seemed so easy. Here I was being called "Mr. Diamond" upon my daily visits to the brokerage house and not even out of my 20s yet.

One day I received a call from my banker that I had a margin call. "What the hell is a margin call," I asked?

I soon knew what a margin call was. I either had to sell some shares or put up some cash to cover the 10% as the stock began to slide. Naturally I began selling and in the ensuing weeks ended up selling all of the shares and additionally was stuck $10,000, which fortunately I had, and I was able to clean up my account.

I’ve never regretted the experience as I reasoned "how many of us get a real good shot at big bucks so early in life?"

I did learn a great lesson, to wit: "never play another guy’s game."

To all the lawyers, doctors, construction workers, and other hard-workers, your lesson from this story is this: Don’t try to make a living from gambling. Many try and few succeed. Have fun with it, but treat it as recreation for it’s "not your game."