How not to lose your shirt when betting on sports

Photo: Charles Krupa/AP/Shutterstock

So: If you live in New York, you can bet on sports right now! Suddenly you can pull out your phone and bet some money – a parcel money – on any sporting event in the world. (If you live in New Jersey or a few other states, that’s already old news.) You want to bet next week’s paycheck on handball? Your 401k on a table tennis tournament in Russia? Your child’s college fund billiards? You can do it now. You can do it so easily.

In a very funny, very incisive piece for Defector last weekwriter Lauren Theisen details how frighteningly easy it is to lose everything quickly:

The frictionless manner in which I was able to donate my savings there seemed extremely dangerous. Once the money was in my account, I could put in hundreds of dollars in less time than I’ve ever ordered a pizza, or even streamed a movie. On my very first use of the app, it took me six minutes to place four bets, and that was with a bit of strategic consideration on my part. I literally can’t think of a faster way for the average person to spend large amounts of money, and now it’s just a few clicks away for Americans with smartphones in a growing number of states.

And Theisen is right. Sports gambling has gone from “taboo” to “illegal” to “legal” to “supported by sports leagues” to “a big part of those sports leagues’ revenue models” to “just a normal part of everyday life” so quickly that it’s reasonable to feel, like Theisen, that the head is spinning. When the Supreme Court overturned a federal ban on sports betting in 2018, every league immediately got on board, financially associating itself with sports betting so quickly that many fans didn’t realize it. how much of the vig goes to roger goodell and rob manfred. Some teams, like the Washington Wizards of the NBAeven install sports books inside their arenas right next to the beer cart.

Whether this is a good thing is far from a cut and dried question. You should know that I personally think that the legalization of sports betting will end up leading to a huge scandal, and probably several. But on a more human level, sports gambling can be personally destructive in ways that, say, weed or other recently legalized traditional vices are not. Like NBA writer Ethan Strauss recently wrotewhen the UK eased gambling restrictions, a whole new class of serious problem gamblers emerged – and their number continues to grow. We can argue that the moral panics about gambling and other vices are exaggerated, but it is undeniable that the number of Americans in this category will swell with “poverty, divorces and suicides” which, as has been noted Strauss, accompany them. And the leagues themselves will be complicit in this suffering. For the first time that I can remember, the leagues are not only indifferent to their fans; they are actively rooting for them to lose.

But I start again, wiggling my finger when I should be trying to help. This weekend, millions of sports fans were just trying to watch historic playoff football games in peace, but after seeing 400 Caesars Sportsbook ads featuring JB Smoove and Patton Oswalt, some of them were inspired to place a bet for the first time.

So here are some tips for newbie players, the curious, newbies… suckers.

Know the rules. Don’t do anything if you don’t know the rules.

It might seem obvious, but if you open the app and you don’t know what the numbers in front of you mean, immediately close the app and don’t reopen it until you’ve done so. (Here is a good primer.) It’s hard enough to win at sports betting when you to know What do you do. Again, this may seem obvious, but it’s not like those JB Smoove ads are going to spend a lot of time telling you how things work. Remember the fundamental rule of sports betting: They are counting on you to lose. Don’t make it easy for them.

Don’t bet money you don’t have. Set limits.

The biggest mistake you can make as a sports gambler is betting on presumed future earnings before you have declared future earnings. (Another way of putting it: don’t bet money you haven’t won yet.) Howard Ratner Business. You are not a shark. The app may try to trick you into thinking you are; that’s the whole business plan. Also: There’s no limit on the Caesars app to keep you from withdrawing as much money as possible from your bank account, so, uh, you better make one. Don’t force yourself to make a… more… bet. Set a strict limit on the amount you are willing to lose. And then don’t lose more than that.

Don’t pay anyone for advice. Never.

The game is already stacked against you, and any winnings you take home will be the result of slow, incremental wins (see “grinding,” below) or making one huge, risky big bet that pays off ( in which case, you’re just as likely to blow it all the next time you make such a risky bet; again, see Ratner, Howard). The idea of ​​cutting into your already tenuous earnings by donating money to something named VegasWorm or GriecotheGreek is madness of the highest kind. These are services that claim to have “inside” information if you are simply willing to pay for it. They don’t. You have to watch every penny to be a smart bettor. The last thing you have to do is give away those pennies that, despite their charming advertisementsare just guessing like the rest of us.

Do not bet on your favorite team. Leave the emotions out.

Imagine if you were just a big fan of the seven of diamonds in poker. Maybe it was a useful card to play in a given situation, and maybe not. But it didn’t really matter what it was for, because you loved that card, you grew up encouraging it, and you own a whole bunch of shirts with the seven of diamonds on the front.

You see where this leads. Betting on your favorite team, or betting with any emotion, is one of the fastest ways to lose. Doing so also serves as a way to commodify something as wondrous, timeless and ineffable as sports fandom – turning something inherently personal and specific into something cold and desperate – is another reason for the to avoid.

Grinding is the only way to win.

There are actually people who make money from sports betting. But they are, like John Turturro in Rounders, grinders. Strauss talked to a professional sports player named Rick who is capable of making money, but it takes “time and resources” – meaning more than just typing on your phone from the sports bar. The whole idea of ​​”grinding” is to earn small portions on the margins that add up enough in the long run to make a living. You can’t win big. But you can win small if you space it out enough. Even the best professional sports players are lucky to win 53-55% of the time. And you, I’m sorry to say, you’re not the best professional sports player, no matter what Jamie Foxx tells you otherwise. And even if you are…

The system is set up so that everyone – even the best guys – loses.

Rick explains to Strauss that “Most of my time isn’t spent getting an advantage; it is spent to find ways to lower a bet. Rick is known as a big winner, making him persona non grata at major casinos, many of which have lower margins than betting apps. So even if you end up being really, really good at it – and you won’t – you will hit a ceiling. It is possible to make money with sports betting. But it takes incredible discipline, focus, and expertise…and the apps are set up precisely to elude anyone with those three things. Always remember this: The game is set up for you to lose. That’s why every league wants to be part of it! They all think you’re a sucker. And they are right !

Do not do it. Now you can’t say nobody ever told you that.

Look, I know I’m Cassandra here. I think gambling is bad for the world, bad for individuals and bad for sport. I don’t necessarily think that means it should be illegal; I’m not the moral police here, and there’s something to be said for Adam Silver being slightly less likely to break your leg if you owe him money than people you may have bet with in the past. But it’s a game you can’t win.

That doesn’t mean the game can’t be fun. If you find it enjoyable and are willing to lose small amounts and sometimes win big, you could have a blast. But know what you’re doing because things can get out of hand quickly. Do you know how easy it is to order DoorDash? It’s easier but more expensive, and you don’t even get food. Gambling is suddenly part of everyone’s daily life. You can do it, like, now. But you shouldn’t. Please don’t. If everything falls apart for you one day, come back and read this column. You can’t say you weren’t warned.

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