Don't bet on humans!

Apr 1, 2008 7:00 PM

Winning Strategies by Elliot Frome | Undoubtedly, every year in the middle of the football season, my father would remind us of one of his favorite phrases when it comes to sports betting – "Never bet on any event where the participants have only two legs."

Basically, he was telling us it was okay to bet on the ponies or the dogs, but stay away from events where humans are the participants. This isn’t to say that you can’t have some winning streaks betting football.

I did okay on the parlay cards, and even had one year in which I missed winning one of the prizes in the Barbary Coast’s football pool by one win. I lost because the 49ers played their scrubs in a meaningless finale against some so-so team.

And, this is exactly why my dad would tell me to avoid games with humans playing. If this was a dog race do you think the dog would’ve known that their playoff position was secure, so take it easy and don’t hurt yourself? I don’t think so. Then there is the whole emotional side of things – for both the team playing and the person doing the wagering.

You might be able to control the latter, but not the former. Who knows if the night before the big game, the All-Pro quarterback didn’t come home to find his wife in bed with someone? You think this might throw off his performance in the game the next day? Or, maybe he’ll take his anger out on the other team and have the greatest game of his career.

There are no sure things. I’m a Rams fan. I won’t forget the massive underdog Patriots kicking that last-second winning field goal in the Super Bowl a few years ago. At least my hometown Giants (my second favorite team) took some revenge this year with what may be an even bigger upset.

Then there was the NCAA Tournament from about 20 years ago when the UNLV dream team got beat by Duke. Maybe Larry Johnson and crew were already thinking about their NBA contracts and just lost focus on the game at hand. I’m glad I didn’t have money on these games.

The outcome of any gambling scenario is always unpredictable to a point. But, they didn’t make up the phrase "any team can beat any other team on any given day" for nothing.

I’m not really sure that horses and dogs are so much more predictable, but at least the emotional elements are removed. But, if the goal is to completely remove these ‘human’ emotions, all the more reason why video poker is such a perfect game for a gambler. There is (should be?) NO emotion whatsoever when deciding which game to play or how to play. Sure, it’s okay to show some emotion when you hit the big hand, but that doesn’t really affect your play.

The game of poker is a highly emotional game. You may not show most of them outwardly, but in the end, the game is as much about psyching out your opponent as it is getting better cards. There’s no one to psyche out in video poker. That computer chip inside doesn’t care if you win or lose.

Trying to psyche out a video poker machine would probably be like trying to psyche out the dealer in a poker game. What’s the point?

Video poker is a game about math. There are 32 ways to play each hand, and you want to pick the one that gives you the best shot to win (or not lose). It doesn’t matter how you did on the last hand or the last 100 hands.

There are no guarantees of winning, just a fair chance. And, you don’t have to worry about how the computer’s marriage is doing.