Sense and Exponents

In the past few sessions, I’ve strung together 9 consecutive successful wagers, boosting my stake by a hypothetical $1000 in the process. The bets have been modest–all between $100 and $150, and I’ve never wagered more than 45% of whatever my starting position was at the time. A wonderful run of savvy and luck, from which I’ve made a nice return.

But not a spectacular one. Allowing for a moment of hindsight, it’s true that several of those wagers came in overlapping games, so let’s say conservatively my streak of winners stands at 5, with each in a time frame distinct from the others.

Had I wagered $100 on each pick, then reinvested both the principal and the return 5 times in a row, I’d have won $3200. Almost double my current stake after 26 tries.

But it is hindsight, and what I’m proposing next is preposterous: I’m going for another 5 in a row and all that lovely doubling.

Which means that I’ll have to extend my current winning streak to 14. Nine games into the run, there’s roughly a 3% chance of that happening, but 14 in a row is still 14 in a row, and the odds against are 16,383 to 1. Which puts it somewhere between being struck by lightning and understanding what the hell happened on the first viewing of Mulholland Drive.

Then again, I’m going to start with a modest $50 wager–and take only two or three chances at the brass ring–so I’m really only risking a maximum of $150 plus the vig. With the regular season drawing to a close, the likely worst case is that I’ll conclude my NBA wagering with a stake that’s roughly 50% higher than when I started. Not bad, considering the hole I dug with my first five picks.

And because I doubt I’ll wager on the playoffs (where Very Good meets Even Better every night, with all teams equally rested, prepared and motivated), this looks like an entertaining, inexpensive and possibly lucrative way to end my first tour through the NBA.

So tonight, the bets:

  • $55 to win $50 on Oklahoma City giving 10 to visiting Utah.
  • $55 to win $50 on Indiana getting 1.5 from host Charlotte.

Each of these is the beginning of a separate 5-pick attempt. The thought with the Thunder is that the sting of their last home performance (a debacle against Toronto) will spur a rout; that, plus Utah is a shadow of its former self, stumbling into town on a 9-22 bender, and likely without the services of Devin Harris. And the absence of Stephen Jackson (Charlotte’s only clutch offensive threat) plus the Pacers’ need to step on the neck of its closest rival for the East’s last playoff spot will spark an Indy road win.

The temptation passed is Miami on the road giving 8.5 to Detroit. I’m expecting a Heat blowout, but then again…I’ve also gone back through this blog and tallied up my calls on the games that caught my eye but didn’t coax a wager. I’m a thoroughly underwhelming 7-28-2 in that department, so the counterargument looks uncomfortably compelling.

Go Pacers. Go Thunder.