Placing wagers on events has been around since the beginning of time. There is no greater thrill in the win, and no greater despair with the loss. In my previous life I had been involved with almost every aspect of it. Here are a few things I have learned over that time to help you whether you are a novice or a pro.
1) Playing the Ponies – Besides the pure beauty of it there is nothing like seeing that gate open. Every year in May when those 18-20 horses bolt out at Churchill Downs during the Kentucky Derby is one of the greatest sounds on earth. It mimics the way I feel when they hit the start/finish line at the Daytona or Indianapolis 500.
Besides being one of the most beautiful sports, it is also one of the best in which to gamble. You must realize first that the cards are stacked against you. After you take out the track take, and the breakage, (the rounding down of payoffs), you end up with much less than the original pool of money to fight over. It’s sort of like when the dealer of five card stud in Vegas pulls money out of the pot and sticks it in his till. These lower payoffs make it that much more important to play the bets properly.
If you are going to the track for a fun day and aren’t necessarily trying to make a killing place small bets. The old axiom “play the favorite to show” will still produce some profits, albeit small. Betting to win on the favorite would be a better choice, although you will only hit that bet one out of three times on average.
The bet I most like, being somewhat of a maverick, is to key one horse with the field for a trifecta. What you are basically doing is picking one horse to win, and if he does you win the trifecta. Even playing this as a $1 bet it can get somewhat expensive. In a 10 horse race it will cost you $72. The payoff comes when you hit your horse and a long shot finishes in the money. I have seen commonly $2500 winners on this.
2) Playing the ballgames – There is an old saying, “Monday Night Football is the bookies best friend”. No truer a statement was ever made. Gamblers who were up big on the weekend would give back all their profits by making one big bet on Monday night. So in essence you could have hit 9/10 over the weekend and still broke even after losing Monday nights game. If you are reading this article, you’ve probably done it. Right?
Baseball – Pick a pitcher and play him all season. If you can determine which pitchers are primed for a good year, this is without a doubt the best way to play the odds in baseball. Don’t be schmuck and try to play game to game.
Football – This was always my choice for sports gambling. In the 25 years I played football I ran across a couple of things that over the years seemed to remain constant. When playing college football I noticed that with spreads of over 14 points, the home team covered a much larger percentage of the time. It doesn’t matter if the home team was the favorite, or the dog. Check it our for yourself. On the pro side, I always like the big spreads with a low over/under. I would play the dog and the over but as separate bets. I figured if the dog got smoked the over would probably be covered and I’d only be out the vigorish. Seemed to work pretty well.
Basketball – For some reason I never really took a liking to betting pro basketball, but I did enjoy the college game. Once again, pick two or three teams you think will outperform the analysts expectations and play them all year. It takes the bookmakers time to catch up that their spreads are off.
3) Rounders – If you are not a good card player, don’t play cards. It’s that simple. I was playing poker on my grandfathers farm with the grown ups since the age of 6. I progressed to larger games in my teens then onto the casinos thereafter. There are three things in this world you should never gamble on if you play poorly. Poker, golf, and pool. The three easiest things to get hustled on.
4) Casinos – The first time I went to Vegas was in the mid-eighties with my father. He took me there for my 21st birthday. I had worked as a painter all summer in the hot sun and gave my pay away to the casinos in 3 days. Now that the casinos are basically everywhere you don’t have to fly 1000 miles to lose your money. Here are a few games and tips.
Caribbean Stud – My favorite game. I have hit more big payoffs in the game then any other. Two rules. Don’t bluff, and don’t waste your dollar by throwing it in the jackpot hole. The odds of getting dealt anything of value is minimal. Those dollars add up faster than you think.
Roulette – 5.26% to the house regardless of what number(s) you play. Enough said. Stick to Keno.
21 – Playing proper Blackjack will net you probably the lowest odds for the house. You can trim their edge down to about 1%. If you have less than 3 decks in the shoe and have a simple understanding of how to count cards you can gain an even edge. If you want to play, learn the proper way first. One bit of caution. If you are playing third base, (position to the right of the dealer), do not hit on a break hand if the dealer has one also. I have seen drinks thrown in the face of such players.
This is by no means a complete list of gambling choices. There are many other ways to lose your money if that is what you are looking to do. One more thing I want to leave you with. Do you know why Las Vegas gives our free drinks to their guests? I’ll bet you can guess. Drinking and gambling need to be avoided at all costs. Pour yourself a nice glass of milk at the table then celebrate your wins with cold beverage later in the day. Best of luck.