Stay in my lane when I wager

Jan 13, 2021 3:13 AM

I can assure you that none of the kind people who read my column on a semi-regular basis in this esteemed journal are looking for wagering advice. There are several sharp bettors and insiders who occupy these pages that serve that role. In the parlance of the industry, I would be classified as a Sucker with an appropriate capital S, in boldface and italic type.

I don’t study the point spreads in any detail, I don’t scour injury reports, and I’m not aware of any legal trouble athletes are facing before they become headline news. In these COVID-ravaged times, I have no idea how serious bettors find out who and how many players or coaches tested positive to the virus or had proximity to others who did prior to the start of games. That must be a science unto itself.

I wonder how many knew early in the betting window that the Denver Broncos had none of their three quarterbacks fit and ready for a game against the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 29. That info would have been pure gold to those who got the early reports. The Broncos were forced to start practice squad player Kendall Hinton, who completed one pass for 13 yards and had three picks in a 31-3 demolition. I don’t recall the opening line, but I’m damn sure it wasn’t 28 points.

One of many facts that make me a classic sucker is that I never bet against my two favorite colleges, the University of Oregon in football and basketball, and Gonzaga University in hoops. I graduated from the former after four fun years of literature and golf, and I went to Gonzaga Prep and summer-schooled at GU when I would typically need extra credit hours after dropping a class or two during golf season in Eugene. Back in my day, a young man who didn’t keep pace with his class academically would lose his student draft deferment. That meant he could be classified 1-A and shipped off to the jungles of Southeast Asia and a war our country should never have engaged in. I totally respect those brave men and women who served our nation in that mess, but I wanted no part of it.

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Unlike my sucker tendencies, a truly sharp bettor wouldn’t think twice about betting against his alma mater or hometown team if the numbers were right. That doesn’t mean I’ll always bet on Oregon or GU. I try to be a little judicious in this regard. But I look for point spreads on both schools whenever they are playing, and I’m sure I’ve lost far more than I’ve won for my allegiance.

Another sucker trait: I also almost never bet the under total on games. Like most people, I like games with a lot of scoring, so I bet the over and cheer for a bunch of touchdowns and three-point shots. That’s a total sucker strategy.

Now having confessed all my glaring weaknesses as a sports bettor, would you believe I’m well ahead in my betting over the last three years? That’s because I’m admittedly a sharp bettor on professional golf. Even though no one will hear it, please give me a golf clap now….thank you.

How is that possible, you must wonder? Well, it’s simple. I’ve wagered on five major championship winners in the last 2 1/2 years. I had Francesco Molinari at 25-1 in the 2018 Open Championship, Tiger Woods at 16-1 in the 2019 Masters, Brooks Koepka at 12-1 in the 2019 PGA, Las Vegas resident Collin Morikawa at 30-1 in the 2020 PGA, and Dustin Johnson at 9-1 in the 2020 Masters.

I’m not reporting how much I wagered on each of those studs; I’m keeping that between myself and the IRS. But suffice it to say that my golf winnings far outweigh my sucker betting on pro and college football and basketball.

I used to kid my wife Carol about wasting her time watching trash television like the Bachelor and Bachelorette. She would counter by yawning loudly when I was glued to PGA Tour events.

“It’s like watching paint dry,” she’d say. Now when I’m watching golf, the only thing she asks is “Who you got? And what are his odds?”

It’s really fun to have seen her come around.