Friday, August 1, 2008

Lungfish’s Greatest Plunders and Worst Blunders, vol. 1

Welcome to the first installment in this ongoing series in which I will detail some of the biggest scores and toughest beats in my tumultuous gambling history. Let’s step into the time machine and journey back to the spring of ’02, when a gallon of gas was a buck fifty and Britney Spears was still smokin’ hot.

When the NBA season starts to wind down, I always like to bet underdogs to win outright. Teams are that have clinched playoff berths tend to coast and teams that are lottery-bound are just playing out the string. A lot of games that should be lop-sided on paper become proverbial coin-flips. On a whim, I saw good value in three road underdogs (Knicks, Grizzlies, Mavs), and decided to parlay them together at odds of over 47-1. I didn’t have enough in the account at the time, having just cashed out, to bet each of these separately. I was on a bit of a hot streak, so this was sort of a heat check. Michael Jordan used to perform a heat check when he was in the zone and sinking every shot he took. He’d attempt a pull-up 3-pointer from 7 feet beyond the arc just to see how hot he was really running.

I kind of forgot about the bet and finally logged onto the computer at about 11:30pm to check in. What I saw was that I was already 2/3rds of the way home. The Knicks had already won and the Mavs had a comfortable lead. The only outcome that was still in doubt was the Grizzlies- Rockets game. A crappy Vancouver team (hadn’t moved to Memphis yet) was trying to stave off a depleted Houston team that was playing without the services of their 3 top players- Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley, and Glen Rice.

I sweated out the rest of the game on the internet. As a gambler with action on a non-locally televised game, you're often forced to follow along on the internet. I always find it to be strangely compelling though. Basketball translates surprisingly well to the Java/ Flash based format. There's an overview of the court, with missed shot denoted by a ‘X’ and made shot by a green dot. There's even a little animation of the ball heading toward the basket each time a shot is taken, so you have the suspense of following the ball's flight arc and seeing it it rims off or swishes through. A running text of the play-by-play also streams along. I'll contend that you're able to follow the action better than if you were way up in the nosebleeds watching a hoops game with ant-sized players at the Continental Izod Arena.

Anyway, Pau Gasol, Shane Battier, and Jason Williams were barely able to hold off the Rockets who fielded a starting lineup of Oscar Torres, Moochie Norris, Terence Morris, Kenny Thomas, and Jason Collier (no doubt tanking for more ping pong balls in the draft... and it worked, they took Yao Ming with the first overall pick the next year).

Parlay (3 Teams) 04/14/02 17:43 ET
10.00/476.40 (paid 486.40) Result: Wager Won
Grizls 98
Rockets 95 04/14/02 (20:35 ET)
Grizls +300

Knicks 94
Heat 67 04/14/02 (20:10 ET)
Knicks +220

Mavs 113
Kings 100 04/14/02 (21:10 ET)
Mavs +280