Beautiful Losing

  • Denver 102 Atlanta 87
  • Oklahoma City 96 Miami 85

Two underdogs win outright.

A 2-0 night, and suddenly I don’t know who I am anymore; 20 bets in and for the first time, I’m in the black. My hypothetical stake has grown to $1025. Up an I-stink-therefore-I-am 2.5%.

On one hand, it’s a negligible return–indefensibly poor, if you’re adjusting for the level of risk and/or the number of wagers. A cartoonish $1.25 per bet.

On the other hand, I’m giddy. Life is relative; I’ve tripled my stake from where it was a week ago. The direction is encouraging, but what’s more heartening is the idea that maybe, just maybe, NBA wagering isn’t inscrutable/choate/effable.

Of course it’s still early days. Of course I’m just 10-10 over 20 bets. But I reached the .500 mark by going 7-2 against the spread after a 3-8 start. What’s changed isn’t the kind of game I’m choosing, it’s the side of the bet. Rather than backing superior teams come hell or high spreads, I’m taking the points and getting paid off by lesser squads that are losing, but doing so gamely.¬†Because in the NBA, at least for me, at least of late, it’s looking like the bullies don’t pay, but the losers do.

I wrote a few posts ago what my results would have been had I wagered the same amounts on the same games, but taken the points every time. Through tonight, and throwing out three spreadless money line wagers, I would have gone 14-3 against the spread with that approach, nearly quadrupling my original stake. I’m elated by this, not rueful over what might have been. I’m a writer, not a gambler, and this is about thinking my way through the mysteries of wagering. Maybe I’m onto something.

We’ll see in the guesses to come.

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