Gambling Man, Part I
Confession to make. I’ve got the gambling gene. But, through some costly lessons learned over many years, I now keep that bug on a tight leash. Those lessons have kept me away from roulette wheels, crap tables, blackjack tables, bingo, slots, and all the other games where the odds are stacked in the House’s favor. Haven’t been to Vegas in two decades.
An exception to the above…on one occasion, during my five years of living dangerously as a freelance writer, I arrogantly thought I could best the House and beat the ponies—even though the state and track skimmed off 22% from the pari-mutuel betting pools. Yes, I fancied myself that good a handicapper.
So, backed up with a story assignment from Los Angeles Magazine, I scraped together a small stake of $200 and headed to Santa Anita, that lovely, pansy-covered graveyard of dashed dreams, to make my fortune. After ten days among the railbirds, I quit.
Why? When I was slightly in the black? Well, the work was just too hard—14 hours a day spent poring over the Daily Racing Form, commuting to and from the lovely oval, checking out the thoroughbreds in the walking ring, pacing nervously up and down the homestretch between races, and so forth…too much.
Moreover, when I took my winnings and subtracted my daily business expenses—gas, Racing Form, admission, program, parking, lunch, etc.—I had only made 37 cents an hour. That was less than I was making as a freelance writer!
When you can’t beat them, you join them. That’s what I did, freed myself of the House’s big bite, and did so profitably. How? By joining friendly poker groups, where my skill level was the equal of (or slightly better than) my fellow owners of the House. Caution: If you are tempted to step up in class, seek a higher level of competition, do so cautiously. You don’t want to be the mark in a new group. And after two rounds of dealing, if you haven’t figured out who the mark is, you are the mark. Fold ‘em and go home.
There’s a gambling game for most everybody…one where you excel and that you like playing. If you don’t find yours, stay home and watch the Hallmark Channel.
My game of choice, and a trusty source of income over the years, is cribbage. How good am I? Well, according to the vanquished I currently reign as undisputed champ of the Milky Way Galaxy, Western Division.
Enough, you say. Why do I bore you with these tedious details of my brushes with sins past? Why should this meandering narrative of my lessons learned as a small-time gambler be of interest to you? Because what I learned of the laws of probability and applied to the Mueller Report has led me to conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Russian meddling did indeed elect Donald J. Trump president of the United States. The proof will be presented in Part II of this educational confessional.