This week, gambling’s been on my mind. Is it because the nominally-normal mid-sized city that I live in has this week turned its entire attention, energy and resources to holding a series of horse races? Possibly.
But it’s also been a big topic of discussion in college football. Gambling’s always been a part of our sport, but it’s only going to grow bigger and more above-board in the coming years.
Last year’s Supreme Court ruling in Murphy v. NCAA opened the door for states to individually legalize sports betting, and the impacts are already being felt. The last couple weeks, college football coaches gathered at the American Football Coaches Association meetings and the Big 12 spring meetings discussed the possibility of implementing a national injury report for college football — an essential tool for bringing the sport in like with the NFL and other professional sports for bettors. You’ve got to know what you’re betting on, and college coaches have long been reticent to provide information on even the most trivial matters.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of my absolutely fool-proof, take-them-to-the-bank, lock-down tips for becoming a successful sports gambler.
PICK A NICKNAME
“Oh, so you’re not taking this seriously, are you?”
Quite the contrary. You’re going to need a mystique if you’re a gambler. No one’s going to listen to your betting advice if you have a name like, I dunno, Tim. You need an aura.
To assemble your gambler name, take:
Your favorite snack food adjective + the last city you took a really small plane to + the animal that looked the most bored the last time you were at the zoo.
Take it from me, The Flamin’ Hot Little Rock Warthog. I sound like a guy who knows what he’s doing.
With well over a hundred teams in just FBS alone, and dozens of games happening at once, it can be hard to separate the signal from the noise. But if you look closely enough, patterns begin to emerge; ones that might be imperceptible to the average viewer, but bold as day to you, the experienced gambling tout.
I mean, take this Freakonomics-like stat for example. In Big Ten games since 2000, when a team wearing red and gray plays a team wearing blue and yellow, the red and gray team has an .889 winning percentage. Can I explain it? No. Is it true? It sure is.
READ THE FACES
Walking around the horse track this week, one might hear experienced gamblers observing the moods of the horses as an indicator of their potential performance. One looks especially fiery, with a hop in its step? That’s your horse. Another one looks sluggish, distracted? Take a pass.
The same is true with college football. I mean, look at these examples.
That fella’s fired up. He’s gonna win the race for sure. But this guy?
Ooh, buddy. Stay away there.
HAVE A SCHTICK
Consistency’s the name of the game, and you’re going to want to choose an approach that works best for you. The great college football coaches do it — think of Kirk Ferentz’s reliance on stellar tight ends and punting, or Urban Meyer’s decision to once a year avoid giving the ball to the best player on his team. You gotta have a bit.
As far as the one mentioned in the GIF above? A few things: first of all, Wesley Snipes did time in federal prison for tax fraud. If he’d followed my foolproof guide, he wouldn’t have needed to. Second, don’t always bet on black.
Me? I always bet on the fifth horse in the sixth race. Does it win me money? No. Do I sing the Hold Steady’s “Chips Ahoy” to myself the rest of the day? Yes. Who’s the winner here.
EMBRACE THE MEANINGLESS OF A VAST, IMMENSELY COMPLEX AND UNKNOWABLE WORLD
Even the most successful experts are wrong nearly 50% of the time, because the immensity of probability attached to even the simplest situation stretches the human mind’s capability for comprehension. No one can give you answers; nothing can actually be predicted.
You will make all of the smartest choices based on the best information and the soundest strategy and there’s nearly an equal chance that you will fail to a drunkard who’s betting because he likes a rock song from 2006. Life is short, nothing matters, Eat at Arby’s.
But seriously, bet on the red team.