Sunday, February 17, 2008

If I Was A Betting Man

16 February 2007

Let's face it: I'm not one of life's winners. Heck, my name's not even first called-out when it's time for the losers to take the field. And I'm aware of this fact.

Right now, I'm in the city of sin, visiting my Uncle George, who has a) a great deal of money, and b) a great interest of late in sports gambling. I mentioned (in this blog) the Super Bowl wager I got in on, and I think I mentioned the one time I came here and watched my uncles try and out-piss each other when it came to betting on football.

But today, we went to the sports bar to get my mom's and my brother's winnings from that last bet, and my Uncle George started in on this boxing match, and how "his guy" had some inside information about how it was bound to go, and did I want to get in on it with him? Well, before I answer that question, let me mention two things, one little and the other not so little thing: 1) George's first gambling rule is and has always been "Don't bet more than you can afford to lose." and 2) I'm not in the best of money situations right now. In fact, let's suppose that you're a real person reading this blog post, and let's suppose that you (Mr. or Ms. Imaginary Person) have a job. Well, in the time you've read these three paragraphs, you have made more than I will make all week.

Yeah, so I'm not exactly in the primo position to flop my billfold onto a blackjack table. And as much as I love my Uncle George, and as persuasive as he can be, I was aware of my financial situation and told him I thought I'd pass on this one. George didn't take "No" for a first answer, though, and he told me about his guy and what his guy said about the two fighters and what his guy's track record has been of late and how much cash George has made through these bets lately and how many people he's passed this advice to who came back to him with hugs and happy tears. "So," he said again, "What do you think?"

I have to admit I was tempted. After all, he was betting, and my mom was willing to let her Super Bowl winnings ride, and the bet didn't even seem all that doubtful--it didn't even matter who won the fight, as long as the match went at least ten rounds. But I shook my head and said, "Nahh, I think I'll pass on this one."

So, George seemed to let it go, with a 'no big deal' expression. After all, I'm not his kid, and he has plenty o' fish to fry.

But tonight, when the boxing match came to a close, I wasn't in the room (I was off foolishly trying to make a couple of bucks on my own), and when I came in, I asked George who had won the fight? "Who cares?" he said, "The only thing that matters is that WE won." He laughed, and I nodded, and then he said, "Bet you wish you had bet now, huh?" And yeah, I did, a little. Free money is nice, and I did CONSIDER the wager (and reconsider again later when we had the chance to bet again). But George wasn't finished. "You know, I didn't just fall off this turnip truck," he said. "I've been doing this for a long time. And I wouldn't suggest you bet something unless I was pretty sure the odds were in your favor." "Yeah," I said, a bit deflated, but willing to concede gracefully. "My guy calls around, and checks the stats," George said, "And he's not just doing this in his spare time; this is what he does for a living. So yeah, you could've lost your fifty bucks or whatever, but I win eighty to eighty-five percent of the time, 'cause my guy doesn't call me unless he's pretty darn sure." I nodded, unable to say anything at this point. It just occurred to me that maybe Uncle George wanted an apology. I didn't know that then, and I don't know that now. I simply don't know what he wanted. Except maybe a little respect and/or trust on my part.

But I'm not his son, I'm just his nephew. And probably--heck, certainly--not his favourite nephew. I still don't get why he would care what some loser kid without a positive attribute to his name would think about him or his gambling tips. But I simply don't understand people, that much was sure before all this.

And George said, "Do you wanna watch a movie? Have you seen TWO FOR THE MONEY?" I hadn't. I vaguely remembered it being a movie where Chris O'Donnell robbed a bank and was forced to pleasure Zelda Rubinstein for weeks on end in order to keep his secret, but I was wrong. It was a movie about Matthew McConaughey coming to work for Al Pacino picking sports wins for gambling bigshots. "You watch this movie," George said, "And you'll understand what my guy does."

So I did. And seeing McConaughey's gift for picking winners during the first half and watching the money roll in certainly made me feel like a jag-off. I don't know if that was the intended purpose of showing me the movie*, but it was particularly successful if it was.

But the movie didn't end. McConaughey starts to get full of himself and starts to discover that Pacino has a dark side (gee, really? The first tipoff should've been that they cast Al Pafreakingcino to play this part; next he's going to meet Pacino's bookie, played by Vern Troyer, and be surprised to discover that he's short), and suddenly, his gift starts turning sour. Instead of picking winners ninety percent of the time, he slips to sixty, then forty, then twenty percent. And everything goes to hell.

By the time the movie ends, you start to realise that not only is Pacino is a very sick man, but sports gambling is a truly evil thing. And when the Lifehouse song began to play over the credits, I had come to two (pretty impressive) realisations:
1) TWO FOR THE MONEY is an intensely bad movie; and
2) I not only am glad I didn't bet on that boxing match tonight, but I WOULDN'T bet on it even knowing the blessed outcome, not even with money made of a flammable material that would burn itself up if I didn't bet on it.

And hey, maybe that does make me a jag-off. Point taken.

Rish "Three For the Show" Outfield

*Doubtful, since George already owns the DVD and also, I have never used the word "jag-off" before today. Honest injun.

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