Why I Love Sports Gambling: The Sweet Money Won
Sports Gambling Isn't a Vice. It Can Be a Rewarding and Enthralling ExperienceBy Cam Giangrande I love Roger Clemens! There will always be a special place in my heart for the big oaf from Texas. Not because he’s the best pitcher I’ve ever seen, (sorry Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, and Randy Johnson), but because it was Clemens who introduced me to sports gambling. It was the summer of 1986 and Clemens was unbeatable. He began the year with a 14-0 start, on his way to a 24-4 record and the first of his seven Cy Young awards. He was also on the mound when I made my first MLB wager. I was 16 years old and working at a bowling alley, spraying rented shoes returned by non-athletes. The facility was like the Olympics for couch potatoes; aside from bowling, there were pool tables, darts, and a video arcade. The lanes were filled with billowy smoke; for it was 1986, and people could still smoke in public…there was even a coin-op cigarette machine at the end of the corridor. You can imagine, by the picture I’m painting, that it was easy to find someone to make a sports bet. So there I was, with my $84, from my $3.50 per hour paycheck, wanting to bet on Roger Clemens in the All-Star game. I knew nothing about odds or how it worked, other than I believed that Clemens couldn’t lose. I got a quick tutorial; the AL was favored 7-8 over the NL, which meant that to bet $25 on the AL to win, I’d have to risk $40, but if I wanted the NL, I’d risk $25 to win $35. The second, larger number represents the premium to bet on the favorite, while the smaller, first number is the increased odds you’ll get if you bet the underdog and they happen to win. Notice the difference in the numbers; that’s the spread, or vigorish (vig), which the house keeps, and is their edge. It’s basically what built Las Vegas.
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