I’m a Writer, Not a Gambler

Yesterday, I relearned what I already knew: this is about problem solving and guessing the future, not money. 

I made the best call I’ll ever make wagering, anticipating last night’s Bullets road victory in Utah. I mulled a moneyline bet that returned $7 for every dollar risked, and fussed over putting as much as $100 on that thought. The payout would have more than doubled my profits thus far, and sent my hypothetical stake into the gaudy profit range, allowing me to close out the NBA regular season with a flourish.

But I didn’t wager. I just wrote about why the Bullets might win.

A gambler would curse the blown chance and call it chickening out.

Yet I’m over the moon, simply because I wrote about an improbable outcome accurately.

That’s how I’m wired; I don’t mind passing on a bet–even one with a spectacular payoff–because I figure every game has a winning pick, and I pass on most of them. Even with a missed opportunity, I get enough of a charge out of reading the game correctly to shrug it off and go on.

That kind of reasoning doesn’t wash with a risk lover, an aggressive wagerer, or someone who simply likes the action of betting itself. And those readers deserve a payoff too. So here are tonight’s wagers:

  • $55 to win $50 on Houston on the road giving 7 to New Jersey
  • $110 to win $100 on Golden State on the road getting 11 from Oklahoma City

If I lose the former, it will likely be structural–generally speaking, it’s risky backing road favorites. But New Jersey without Deron Williams hasn’t scared anyone save Cleveland, Houston is in hot pursuit of a playoff spot, and the Rockets can’t dillydally when their next stop is a war in Philly. Houston is motivated, healthy and vastly better, and I think this is a 15-point game.

Meanwhile, at the the trade deadline, Oklahoma City’s rotation took a strange turn. It now starts two superb offensive threats alongside three starters who don’t score much at all. That odd mix of specialists has racked up wins, but OKC isn’t scoring enough to blow anyone away. Though Golden State has been demolished on the road of late, the Warriors are sticking with an 8-man rotation that can fill it up, and in relative terms, they’re rested, having waltzed past Toronto and Washington in their last two contests. I like the points here, and I’m hoping the hosts stay true to form and fail to cover.

Go Rockets. Go Warriors.

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Maybe It’s Not Rocket Surgery

The Houston Rockets have won five in a row.

The Los Angeles Clippers have lost five in a row.

The Rockets have faced the Clippers twice thus far this season and won both games handily. One at home, one on the road.

Naturally, the Clippers are favored at home tonight against the Rockets by three points.

Wager Number Seven: I’m taking the money line tonight, putting $100 to win $135 on the Rockets to beat the Clippers in L.A.

Of course it looks like a trap.

Consider the swirl of conflicting storylines surrounding this game…

The Clippers are finally at home and intact for the first time since the All-Star break.

That’s nice, except Mo Williams has yet to play alongside Eric Gordon, who has yet to test his injured hand. Besides, Houston has gone 4-0 on the road during its recent streak, including wins against New Orleans and Portland.

The Clips will have the best player on the floor tonight in Blake Griffin, and the cliche seems to fit here–after five straight losses, the Blakers will be “hungry” for a win.

Yes, but Houston appears to be benefitting from addition by subtraction, shortening its rotation by shedding two players at the trade deadline; the ball is in Kevin Martin’s hands (as it should be) when it matters most, and Chase Budinger and Kyle Lowry are thriving with their expanded minutes.

The law of averages has to kick in sometime, doesn’t it? These streaks have gone on long enough for mediocrities, haven’t they?

Well, I’m wagering against overanalysis, opting for simplicity instead: Houston is better than Los Angeles. Better rotation, better coach, better everything except for Griffin.

I’m also betting the money line on Golden State to beat Washington tonight–$100 to win $105.

The oddsmakers are calling this a pick ’em.

I’m picking Golden State.

Because they’re better.