Let's do some extremely risk-averse sports betting
Read to the end for some truly exquisite Clemson trash talk.
I always assumed that I would be in favor of legalized sports betting. More freedom, more choices, YA WOO CAPITALISM, etc. But my long-held pro-gambling point of view evaporated into thin air the moment it came into contact with the reality of legalized sports betting.
Some downsides I underestimated:
The predatory nature of the gambling sites’ advertising strategies
How easily people become addicted
The immiseration it would cause to the people who become addicted
Having to listen to the guy who reads The Athletic’s podcast ads say “no-sweat bet” several times a week
And, worst of all, people posting about their bets
So anyway, I was thinking I might post about my bets.
While I am loath to give a single dime of my money to any of these gambling apps, the good news is that I don’t have to. FanFight, DraftDespot, and Chaise Longue Sportsbook are so confident that their efforts to make us addicted to their products will succeed that they literally give you free money if you make a deposit. They don’t even care if you immediately transfer your deposit back into your bank account.
So that’s what I did. Two hundred dollars in and, seconds later, two hundred dollars out. For my trouble, I got $100 in the form of five $20 “bonus bets” and the slim but non-zero chance that this is the first domino to fall on my path to financial ruin.
The advertising makes it sound like you’re getting $100 for nothing, but what you’re actually getting is five $20 bet stakes that return nothing if you lose and return very little if you win — unless you bet on something that is not particularly likely to happen.
This is where a vibes-based approach that I honed during last year’s college basketball season comes in. (Please do not ruin this by using math to demonstrate that I am wrong.) Basically, it seems to me that the moneyline odds struggle to account for just how uneven many college sporting events actually are. And while it might not be very profitable to bet $20 on Tennessee to beat Virginia (a Vols win would yield a whopping $0.40), if you stack up enough virtually guaranteed moneyline victories into a parlay, you eventually start to see a return on investment.
Sure, an App State vs. Michigan-level upset could ruin everything, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take with $20 of fake money.
An important key to my process is the outsourcing of almost all decision-making to stats wizards. When the potential payout is so small and the money you’re gambling with is so fake, any amount of time you spend researching depth charts and injury reports just isn’t worth it. So what I did was pull up Bill Connelly’s spreadsheet and bet the moneyline on all home teams favored by three or more touchdowns.
If I win, I’ve got $16.61 to screw around with next week. If I lose, then something very funny will have happened, and that’s even better.
All hail all-day kindergarten
I beg your pardon for the newsletter’s unplanned silence this month. I got stuck on a story (presently tabled) and the demands one of my other jobs (father of a five-year-old) ensured that I remained stuck. The great news is that all-day kindergarten started on Monday, thus marking the end of our five-year odyssey in search of affordable childcare. In the future, I will plan for and announce an hiatus (or, at minimum, reduced newsletter cadence) during the summer months — at least until Hugo is old enough to have interests beyond disrupting my concentration every five minutes.
Some good posts
When Avery Wilks first left the USC beat to cover actual news, I wondered why on earth any one would do that. Then he made me look like an absolute idiot by going on to an award-winning career exposing public corruption. But the even greater public service was that it freed him up to be a god-tier Carolina homer on Twitter.
I’ll be back tomorrow with some thoughts on a borderline nonsensical viral prompt tweet that has overtaken everyone’s feed.
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