I wouldn’t bet on it


betI have no moral antipathy toward gambling. Heck, I even played a lottery ticket when the prize last approach a half-billion dollars. But I’ve never bet anything more than literally penny-ante poker.

That’s not entirely true. I’ve wagered on something that I knew was a sure thing. One time in the 1980s, I won $10 from my boss over whether the orange juice was from concentrate or not. I don’t know the answer now, but I knew it then. I’ll bet on things I know to be true.

The last time I bet on a non-sure thing was on games five and six of the 1979 World Series. I picked the Pittsburgh Pirates, who had lost three of the first four games and bet only a buck or two, and they won. But I chickened out and didn’t pick them for Game 7, which they also won, and of course the Series.

The horses

Sometime in August, I won a $50 card from something called NYRAbets from the local newspaper, the Times Union. One uses the site for wagering at various racetracks, notably the one in nearby Saratoga. And because I was a new user, I got an extra $25.

That day in mid-August, I bet $2 each on nine horses to win, or $18. The next day, the $75 was now $66. That was fine. I’m picking these horses by name. Anything with black, or green was a likely choice. The following day, down to $53, then to $37. I stopped because life was so busy I didn’t even have that five minutes in the morning.

Then on Labor Day, I made my usual $18 wager. The next day, I went from $37 to $56. I must have picked a long shot to win. And I have no idea which one because I just wasn’t paying attention. And I haven’t played since.

Casino Royale

I particularly hate casinos. It had to be 1996 when the family was in the San Diego area for the niece’s graduation. We drove for nearly an hour to go to a casino. My father loved it. I was totally bored.

On the way back from a work trip to Syracuse, my boss’s boss wanted to stop at a casino. I hear he lost $150. I lost $10, played on the “free” machine” for a time, then read a magazine.

In 1999 or 2000, there was a work conference in Niagara Falls, NY. We were encouraged to cross the border into Ontario and go to a casino there because they hadn’t yet been built on this side of the border. Some sponsors even provided us $10 to wager. I started on the slots and was actually winning. This made me actually queasy; my addictive persona could start to like this. So I switched machines and promptly spent my allotment.

I have a lot of vices. Wagering just isn’t one of them.

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