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Pandemic Ping-Pong

by Johnny D

April 23, 2020

These days, things are different…in case you hadn’t noticed.

‘Shelter in place’ has introduced us to an assortment of new experiences--some positive, others negative. For example, I now understand what it must have felt like to have been a wild west outlaw; on horseback robbing a stagecoach wearing gloves and a colorful bandana. In my case, though, it’s pushing a cart while shopping in a supermarket.

Since most of us have quarantine-time on our hands and are hungry for action, online wagering of all types has surged. But what’s out there to bet on? Plenty.

If you’re reading, then you’re probably comfortable with playing the horses on a laptop or other mobile device. Even so, you’re probably new to ‘Fun at Fonner’ Tuesday evenings with mandatory Pick 5 carryover payouts as ‘can’t miss’ appointments—on par with the next installment of 90 Day Fianc�. And, of course, also during the week, there’s Will Rodgers Downs--the place where I never met a horse I didn’t like.

Like I said, things are different.

Gulfstream, Oaklawn and Tampa Bay Downs keep major weekend Thoroughbred racing lights on. And they’ve served up outstanding cards with competitive racing, full fields and some hefty payoffs. Last Saturday, at Oaklawn, the Count Fleet, was won by the indomitable Whitmore and the Apple Blossom went to emerging Ce Ce over determined Ollie’s Candy in the final strides. That card combined with Gulfstream’s mandatory Rainbow Six payout Sunday was enough to banish COVID 19 thoughts and fears for a few hours.

Those accustomed to wagering on the exploits of two-legged athletes running, jumping, throwing, catching, hitting, dribbling, passing, shooting, dunking, etc. have been at a loss. With professional and collegiate sports sidelined, those uninterested in wagering on fast horses making repeated left-handed turns have been searching for alternative opportunities to risk hard-earned bread.

For example, did you can know that you can wager on the NFL Draft? An extensive list of options includes:

Total QBs Drafted In First Round [3.5]
Over (+140) / Under (-170)

Total ACC Players Drafted In First Round [2.5]
Over (-220) / Under (+190)

Player To Be Drafted First
Tua Tagovailoa (-130) / Justin Herbert (+110)

First Three Picks: Burrow, Young, Tagovailoa
Yes (+275) / No (-365)

While you’re kind of wagering on football, you’ll want to grab a slice of the popular ‘Future Bet of the Century’ on the Tampa Bay Bucs to win the 2021 Super Bowl. After news that former New England quarterback Tom Brady will be joined in Tampa by unstoppable tight-end Rob Gronkowski, everyone’s backing the Bucs to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February.

Odds on a Bucs 2021 Super Bowl victory:
Before Tom Brady 50-1
After Tom Brady 22-1
After Gronk 14-1

At Caesar’s, Bucs are now tied with Saints and Seahawks for fifth best Super Bowl odds behind
Chiefs +400
49ers +700
Ravens +800
Cowboys +1100

I searched, but couldn’t locate a price on an interesting but much more frightening Super Bowl proposition wager: Will There Even Be A 2021 Super Bowl?

Major League Baseball hasn’t started the 2020 season yet, so, currently, to paraphrase a familiar line…’There’s no wagering in baseball.’

Not so fast, my prognosticating friend!

This morning I got an email suggesting that by ‘following the smart money’ I could make a killing on CPBL games--that’s the Chinese Professional Baseball League. (Don’t feel bad, I had to Google CPBL.) I think I’ll pass on the offer, for now. As it is, I can’t stay awake to watch horse racing from Australia.

When sporting events were halted, those who hunt and gather suckers…err…clients to purchase wagering tips were sidelined. Resourcefully, those touts pivoted toward selling ‘valuable’ info on the only live game in or out of town: Horse racing!

Because I’ve been known to make a sports wager or two, my in-box usually includes a few ‘can’t miss’ sports wagering opportunities (like with the CPBL). Over the last six weeks, the content of those e-mails has shifted to horse racing. Get a load of these recent email subject lines and related copy:

Top Horse Racing Syndicate Ready for BIG WEEK!
Did you Bet any of these LIVE Horses Today?
Everyone is Making Money!
Attention Horse Racing Fans: Turn $100 into $1000 Weekend!
12-1 plus 15-1 Morning Line Winners!

“Cash in big at Gulfstream like you never have before! Even if you've never played a race, give it a shot today! It's not like you're picking winners on the regular (sic) at your favorite or local track! I'm not trying to put you down...I'm trying to bring you up! This is the perfect day to make money...it's a Thursday Hot Horse Payout!”

Despite the eloquent hustle, I don’t have the heart to reply, ‘Thank you, but this Eskimo already has plenty of ice.’

Props to the author of the copy below for an effective pitch advocating horseplay over sports wagering:

“The Arenas Are Vacant & The Fields Are Empty But Race Tracks Across America Remain in Action…IS THERE A BETTER TIME FOR A SPORTS BETTOR TO DISCOVER THE INCREDIBLE PROFIT FROM THOROUGHBRED RACING (sic ?)

And here is why I am convinced you might find horse racing AS LUCRATIVE AS I DO.
*In sports betting you risk losing $110 to yield $100 on a straight bet. But horse race wagering is ODDS ORIENTED. Value is everywhere. A winning bet on a 4-1 shot gets you $10 for $2 or $500 for that same $100 wager.

*In sports betting, to break even on straight bets you have to be correct at least 53% of the time. In horse racing, if you average a $10.00 mutual you only have to be right 20% of the time. At 30% or 3 out of 10 you get a 50% return on your money.”

Beating the races sounds so simple. Makes me wonder what the hell I’ve been missing for the last 40-plus years?

I recently was informed that my offshore wagering account now offers ‘live’ dealer casino games. That’s a major improvement because after a couple of shift changes ‘dead’ dealers tend to develop an odor. Another advantage to ‘live’ dealer casino games is that when I double down on 11 and get a 5, I can curse at a real person instead of a virtual one.

Friday, Nevada’s Gaming Control Board approved wagers on Activision Blizzard’s “Call of Duty” League matches, making it the latest of several esports to be approved for betting. That’s right, now you can bet on people playing video games. Don’t laugh, these games sell out arenas worldwide to fans eager to see how creatively players can slaughter virtual foes.

What could possibly be next? Betting on virtual players playing virtual games?

Already here. It’s called QuickPicks Classic. The promo states in part:
“Who was better in their prime?
• Aaron Rodgers in 2014 or Peyton manning in 2013
• Julio Jones in 2015 or Deandre Hopkins in 2018
• Ezekiel Elliot in 2016 or Adrian Peterson in 2012
Now with QuickPicks Classic, you play these matchups, and win money on them too. You can select your first ticket for as little as 10 cents and win up to $50,000 for each entry.”

Sunday, I took a $.20-per-throw shot at the Gulfstream Park Rainbow Six mandatory payout that returned $20k each to winners. Why wouldn’t I swing at a $.10-per-pitch proposition that pays $50,000? After all, I probably know as much about classic sports matchups as I do about horse racing…which, based on my Xpressbet account balance, is $0!

The QuickPicks Classic ‘game’ somehow matches historical stats of players and awards points based on certain actions: A Passing Touchdown, for example, is worth 4 points and a Rushing Touchdown is worth 6 points. Passing Yards are worth .004 each and Rushing Yards return a healthy .01 each. A Lost Fumble will result in a deduction of 2 points. And so on…

Wagers are calculated like with football parlay cards:
3 of 3 winners pays 5X wager…
5 of 5 pays 18X wager…
10 of 10 pays 500X wager

That last payoff line is how you can win $50k--by going 10-for-10 with a $100 Max Entry on that ticket. A Minimum Entry of $.10 on the same ticket earns you $50. So, when the promo says, “You can select your first ticket for as little as 10 cents and win up to $50,000 for each entry” they’re fudging a bit. While it’s true that ‘You can select your first ticket for as little as 10 cents.’ And, it’s also true that you can ‘win up to $50k for each entry.’ When combined those factual statements form a somewhat misleading message that a player could win $50,000 for a dime. He can’t, not as far as I can tell, anyway.

Doesn’t really matter. I’ll pass. I’ve got Daily Racing Form past performances and Thoro-Graph sheets for Oaklawn and Gulfstream. That ought to be enough to keep me busy. That is, unless I get an e-mail touting some red-hot table-tennis match info. I’m a sucker for pandemic ping-pong.

Be Safe and Race On!