Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Playing With The Bookies Money

I've never been much of a gambler. Which perhaps explains why I've settled on poker as my preferred vice.

The local casinos are always fun to visit. Pre-poker I'd play a little roulette and some blackjack, but never for great amounts, and I'd always have a stop-loss amount fixed before I crossed the threshold.

Usually I'd lose. Sometimes I'd win. That's the way of table games. In my mind the losses are the fee for a good night out. Winnings an unexpected bonus.

The local horse track is fun to visit too. Though it's more of a social thing, than a serious betting expedition for me.

My horse racing knowledge is almost non-existent, and again there's a stop-loss.

Fiver a race does me fine. Usually there's six races, so the thirty pounds is filed in the 'necessary expenditure' section of my mind, alongside gate money, taxis, and beer.

As with the casino, any winnings are an unexpected bonus and a great buzz.

Winning the first or second race is fantastic, since any decent price winner effectively makes the rest of the event a freeroll. This is what we refer to as 'playing with the bookies money'.

Which is how I found myself lumping a big - by my standards - wodge of cash on the Pittsburgh Steelers at the weekend.

The story starts some time ago, when I dabbled with betting on the financial markets on Betfair. Strictly small beer, but it was interesting for a while, until a change of job took me out of reach of the Betfair site during market hours.

The way the market worked, there was always some odds available on what were almost guaranteed events, albeit at ultra short prices.

So, it was never going to be a way to get rich quick, but if I was in front of a PC and had 2 minutes free to check the charts and stick on a bet, it was a sure fire winner.

The dregs of my account lay dormant until May last year. I was one of the sizeable minority of Celtic fans who still harboured misgivings about our league campaign even after our defeat of Rangers in the final head-to-head of the season.

The suggestion was posted on one of the many Celtic online forums that any pessimists should get their money on Rangers for the league, at the very generous odds then available, as a sort of insurance policy against Celtic losing.

It seemed like a reasonable suggestion to me, and despite my misgivings over having a punt on Rangers to win, I figured it was a fair way to invest my Betfair winnings.

Alas, it was not to be. The account had been dormant for so long it had been frozen, and by the time the necessary paperwork was complete to release the funds, Celtic had crashed to Hibs and the odds were no longer so long on Rangers.

As history records, Celtic went on to throw away the title on the final day, and I was left with not even the winnings from a slightly traitorous bet to show for my disconsolate state. Winnings which would have comfortably funded a Vegas return flight from Glasgow!

So the cash remained in the account until last weekend when on the Blonde Poker forum, Brian Wilson was sending out good vibrations about the Steelers chances in the Superbowl.

What the hell, I thought. It doesn't even feel like my money anymore. It's been on Betfair for so long.

So, I lumped the lot on the Steelers, at not very generous odds, and spent the Monday morning drive to work straining for a mention of the score.

I won't be paying for a trip to Vegas with the winnings, but it's always nice to see the balance moving in the right direction, though I suspect Pittsburgh's most decorated poker blogger was somewhat more elated than me.

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