I’ll bet you $100 I can have you betting by the end of this blog. Deal?
Ok, good. Now that you’ve accepted this bet, I win. It didn’t even take until the end of the blog for you to make your first bet. All I had to do was throw a number out there that would appeal to you, and before even thinking about it, you accepted. That’s ok though, I don’t want your money. I’ll let you off the hook this time. This was your first lesson in betting: Always know the terms before accepting the risks.
The next lesson? Give yourself the edge. If you’re not the favorite in the bet, you’re just gambling. And gambling is a lot different than betting. You see, betting can be described in two ways. The first one, is by just coming up with terms between two parties, and wagering something tangible on said bet. An example of this would be, “I bet you $10 the Patriots beat the Chiefs on opening night.” Most people who know sports, especially the NFL, would not take this bet.
You see, the Patriots are fresh off of their Super Bowl victory over the the Atlanta Falcons (GOAT Super Bowl, by the way). And they now open the 2017 NFL season at home, against a team that hasn’t beat them in New England in… I can’t even remember. So, unless you’re a Chiefs fan and fully believe, you wouldn’t take that bet. Everything is in the Patriots favor. They have the GOAT (greatest of all time) coach and quarterback, in Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and they play at home. I could go on and on, but I think I’ve said all I need to.
The other part to betting, may include a points spread, or odds. Straight up, you wouldn’t take that $10 bet of me having the Patriots, and you having the Chiefs, right? Of course not, unless again, you are a Chiefs fan. But, what if I gave you odds? Say, 5 to 1, that the Patriots would win? Meaning, if the Patriots win, I get $10, but if the Chiefs win, you would get $50? Suddenly, that’s a bet worth considering, right? I mean, it most likely ends in you owing me $10, but maybe now you start to talk yourself into taking it, because $50 is still $50. That’s an amount that is worth risking $10 on.
Maybe the Chiefs defense gets enough pressure on Tom Brady to force him into a turnover or two. The Chiefs boast a terrific defense that thrives on turning turnovers into points. Maybe they even sack Brady a few times, forcing long distance downs or even punt situations. No yardage and Tom Brady off the field means less opportunities for the Patriots to score. And the last time I checked, the team with the most points wins the game. Maybe Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are all the Chiefs need on offense to put some points on the board. If I told you both would have, say, 100 yards and a touchdown in this game, would it surprise you? Probably not. Would it surprise you if rookie running back sensation Kareem Hunt came out and rumbled for a clock controlling 100 yards and a touchdown against New England?
A slight chance, but still, a chance.
So, I repeat, I will give you 5 to 1 odds on the Patriots beating the Chiefs for $10. If the Patriots win, you owe me $10. If the Chiefs win, I owe you $50. You have to really think about this one, don’t you? And that’s learning how betting is done. You take an edge, and exploit it. You take a disadvantage and turn it into giving yourself a chance to win, for it to be worth your while.
This happens across the world, every second of every day. How many times a day do you go to a coworker, a friend, a family member, some stranger online and utter these three words: I bet you… ? I bet you I’m a better welder than you. I’ll bet you I can run a butt weld down these two conjoining aluminum walls, and you can’t, deal? I’ll bet you that I can run faster than you. I’ll be you that the next time mom yells at someone it will be you, and not me, deal? These are daily occurrences, everywhere. And ones, that I myself have made. Whether it is money being exchanged, a meal, a drink, anything, it is betting.
When betting, one must always make sure they have as much control in their power as possible. As I did in my initial Patriots offer, it was simple. I had the Patriots straight up. There were no odds, there was no point spread (a team has to win by so many points), there were no stipulations (if Tom Brady is injured and out of the game, it doesn’t count). I put everything in my favor with a straight up bet. To take the Chiefs would be considered gambling. You’d be going against logic and the favorite, to just hope to win $10. Again, that’s gambling. There was no advantage or skill in placing that bet, at straight up value. It’s gambling.
Really, the only thing you need to know or pay attention to when betting are the conditions and stipulations of the bet. Know what is being asked of you. Understand the terms. Make sure you can pay out or that if you lose, you can handle what happens. Don’t be a fool. That’s gambling.
Now, for most bettors, they have a little gamble in them. They have to. There is no sure thing in life. As the saying goes, “The only certainties in life are death, taxes and… (insert one liner here).” In my example of the Patriots bet, there is no certainty that they win the game. Many variables can come into play, in which they lose the game. Upsets happen all the time. Strange things happen in sports. That’s why they play the games.
Ask yourself, “What is most likely to happen?”
As betting as taken a forefront in sports today, many sites and casinos are taking bets on almost anything. In fact, when it comes to the Super Bowl, you can bet on how long the national anthem will be. You can bet on what the coin toss outcome will be (heads or tails). I’m being serious about these. And since I have a little gamble in me, I have placed such bets to have a little fun with the game. That’s gambling, because there is nothing you can do to control the outcome of that. You’re just blindly throwing your money away, or hoping to hit it big.
I have bet, and gambled on many things in my life. I have been placing bets since I was a kid. If I go as far back as I can, I remember placing my first bet on a Packers and Cowboys playoff game against my father. I was in my early teen years, and the Cowboys were a 1990’s dynasty. The Packers (my hometown team) would end up facing them every year in the playoffs, only to lose every time. In this scenario, I bet all my money (like $6.87 in my change jar) on the Packers, because I wanted them to win. I ended up losing, of course, and would get my first lesson in betting as my dad took all of my money from me. “If you make a bet, you have to be willing to take the loss like a man.” So there I sat, sad the Packers lost, and I lost my money that I had randomly earned finding change or my mom giving me a dollar here and there.
In another instance, years after that, I would bet my dad that I could catch more fish than him while we were up north for a weekend. It was our last night there, and we both were close enough, that a nice run on fish would give either one of us the victory. It was dark out, and he caught the first one a few minutes in at our spot on the deck. I didn’t mind, as it was just one fish. Just one hit against me, no big deal, we’re still in the early stages of the game. But as time went on, he started catching more and more fish, and was pulling ahead by quite a few on me. At the end of the night, he had caught like 10 more fish than me. I had to pay up, once again. I would later find out though, from my mom that he had caught his first fish, and left it on the line, just barely casting it out, and reeling it back in every few minutes. I had been duped. Bamboozled by my own father. His reason for doing this? Another lesson in paying attention when you bet your money.
I had been taken advantage of, and at the same time, was given a lesson in protecting my money.
I didn’t stop there, though. As I went through school, me and my friends would start betting all kinds of things. Mostly, it was money, like $10 or $20 on things. But we would also bet Pokemon cards, or videogames, while playing sports or videogames. Weird, to put a videogame on the line that you spent $50 on, against someone in said videogame, indeed. As I got older though, I started looking into betting money on poker.
We all know about my love affair with poker and where I got my start (Life Is a Gamble). I was putting a lot more than a few dollars on the line. I was wagering hundreds of dollars at a time in a game of poker. I played in these games and bet my money against theirs, because I thought I was a better player. In the end, my skill would win out, over time. Sure, players would get lucky and they would have to gamble with their cards and money in order to beat me, and I’d lose, but after a week’s worth, I would be up. I wasn’t gambling as much as you would think initially. Why? Because I was playing a skill game and had an advantage over players that didn’t study and play as well as I did. I put the odds in my favor by putting in the time and effort.
These days, however, sports betting has taken center stage once again. There have been numerous websites dedicated to placing money wagers on sporting events and players. Some will know this as, fantasy, or even, daily fantasy. Fantasy football has taken center stage. It can be considered a skilled game though, in that one drafts a team of players, and bets that his team will beat yours. You can see how, someone who watches football consistently will beat someone who doesn’t, as he won’t understand matchups, trends, player connections, playing at home or away, etc. All of that stuff matters and adds up into decision making.
People are willing to bet a ton of money on such things. They see it as something they know a lot about and think they have an edge on, so they bet gobs of money on the outcomes. Of course, the websites that act as placeholders for the money and run the sites so you can draft, and manage your team make money of every transaction. They take fees for doing such things. Say I want to join a fantasy football league online, and the cost is $100 + $10. This means that I will put $100 into a prizepool, to be shared among the other players putting their $100 in. The $10 is the fee for running everything, by the website. They just made $10 off every person entering, and keep that money. You can see how quickly it can add up.
In poker terms, this is known as the rake. The price to pay for playing at a location, and/or someone holding your money for you.
In banking and financial terms, this is known as interest. The price to pay for for making a credit purchase, or advancement on money.
This is how companies make money, in really basic terms. In the end, everyone has to make money somehow. Everyone that wagers money, needs to try and get their cut. When there is money to be had, or be made, read the fine print. Watch yourself and your money. Understand what is being asked of you, and make sure you can cash a check that you’re writing.
Gambling has become a rush that some just can’t shake. That excitement of pulling down on a lever, at a slot machine, for the chance to win thousands of dollars. They hook you in with their bright lights, sleek looking images and prize money being posted everywhere. But those odds aren’t in your favor. Maybe one in 100 people will win any kind of money off of that, if not even less, as it is a form of gambling. There is no skill in playing slot machines.
Some see gambling as a form of entertainment. As a way to pass the time, to occupy their minds for while. It’s a way to relax, in an odd way, in seeing your money being put on the line in something you don’t have control over. This particular way of betting has no appeal to me, but when it comes to sports and poker, I’m all in. I feel I have a love for such games, that my passion will lead me to study and care enough about my money that I will put myself in the best possible scenario to win.
I believe this, and as such, I have been in multiple fantasy football and basketball leagues throughout the years. I am in leagues with millionaire poker players, and millionaire golf club members. I am in leagues with friends and family. I am in leagues with total strangers, because we all have one common interest and goal: to make money on something we enjoy.
I have made great friends with some people that were once strangers. I have also grown to not like certain people because they try to cheat the game or disrespect it. But, it comes with the territory. I can’t control everything, or the outcomes, and that’s where it can be considered gambling. However, I can put myself in the best possible chance to win money by paying attention. It’s one thing to lose by a player injury, or someone getting lucky on the river in a game of poker. It’s another thing to lose because you didn’t understand the rules or just misread your hand.
Everything I wrote about today and used as examples, equates to one thing. The very first rule of betting, whether it is a little money, or a lot, it all comes down to this: Always know the terms before accepting the risks.
I do, and I hope you will as well. After all, the name of the game is simple. It’s the one thing bettors and gamblers follow… Get rich or die trying.