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Tuesday, January 28, 2003

The Wagers of the Son

My oldest son, Aaron, has returned from Reno, where he went to the sports-book parlors to place wagers on the Super Bowl. His wallet is now three digits fatter to the left of the decimal.

Aaron is a disciplined sports bettor. We both remarked, after watching Tampa Bay decimate the Eagles the week before the Super Bowl, that nobody, not even the Raiders, was going to beat the Bucs. Aaron is the kind of bettor that can put his emotions aside and keep it scientific. I don’t have that capability. I couldn’t bring myself to bet against the team I was rooting for, so I had to refrain from placing any wagers on the game.

Aaron goes up to the Reno sports books five or six times a year and wins 80% of the time. He never lets his emotions cloud his judgment. Sometimes I think I should have my retirement money riding with him instead of the pathetic stock market. But it wouldn’t work because, if Aaron had his Dad’s money riding on a proposition, his emotions would then become a factor. That’s the kiss of death in gambling. .

Years ago, before moving into the responsibilities of marriage and child-rearing, I was a semi-accomplished horse player. I managed to put together a nice string of winnings. But gambling is probably the greatest leveling force there is. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, the universe turns on a dime and bites you right in the ass.

You cannot gamble repeatedly, even if you’re knowledgeable and disciplined, without encountering the occasional crippling losing streak. If you’re good enough, you can come out ahead in the end, But very, very few—certainly not me--have what it takes to ride out the disastrous streaks and keep their composure.

I figured that it was more work to do that than to work, so I never became tempted to leave my day job. Fortunately, Aaron isn’t either. But he does have enough talent and the right temperament to have carved out a nice little sidelight for himself.

In exchanging observations on the game, Aaron and I both remarked that, while Gannon is an outstanding quarterback, we couldn’t imagine that Montana, Young or Elway, no matter how good a defense they were facing, would EVER let themselves get outsmarted and slaughtered like that. Anyone agree? Just thinking about that proposition makes me realize how much I miss those guys. There’s no replacing people like that.

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