Blind Gambling

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I’ve never been much of a gambler. Apart from the occasional sweepstake my gambling life has pretty much involved a drunken night at Wimbledon dog track, numerous unfinished games of poker and a random £5 bet on Chelsea to reach the FA Cup Final in 1994.

This decision was made during a cab ride from Stoke to Newcastle-Under-Lyme just before ‘the third round proper’ and, amazingly, they did! (Only to be hammered 4-0 by Man Utd).

That all changed this weekend: in the spirit of consumer science I set out to challenge the might of Ladbrokes and William Hill armed with a £5 note and what can only be described as an extremely flimsy grasp of the current Premier League season.

My hypothesis was simple: thanks to my deep understanding of previous seasons, I could predict between 3 and 5 winning teams. To make life a little more interesting I staked £1 on each of my selected sides and pitched myself against an experienced gambler with full access to the results and fixtures and who, crucially, could also lay the bets for me.

To make life even trickier I also decided to limit myself to one of the so-called ‘big six’. Instead, I opted for teams who could be pushing for a decent top ten position or enjoying a remarkable first season in the Premiership. So Sunderland were miles out of the picture.

The result? Well, see for yourself….

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Money waged: £5
System used: Accumulator.
Teams: I’ve no idea. I can’t ask him.
Winnings: £70.

Footy-dodger
Money waged: £5
System used: Wild stab in the dark while dragging two children through the Sainsbury’s multi-story in Walton-on-Thames.
Teams: Chelsea, Norwich, Watford, Palace and Everton.
Winnings: 40p (overall loss of £3.60)

So there you have it. Proof, if there ever was, that a fool and his money really can be easily parted. That’s unless the gambler has told me an outrageous lie and I am actually the one who’s scooped on a huge wad of cash. There’s no way I can check, you see.

Nevertheless, in trusty gambling style I have cried ‘best out of three?’ and shall return to the fray with a different scheme that’s practically guaranteed to turn the tide.

Next week: Blind Gambling 2 – The Return of the Cretin!

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No Hiding Place

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It’s now been two months since I hatched this crazy scheme in
the triumphant glow of England’s Ashes glory. Since then I haven’t watched, read or talked about English football, making it the longest period of sustained footy-dodging I’ve endured since primary school.

What have I learned? Well, nothing to challenge Archimedes, that’s for sure. But that’s not to say I haven’t picked up the odd piece of weirdness here and there either.

For what it’s worth, this is my top ten so far:

  1. Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais basically summed up my plight in 1973 when they wrote the Likely Lads episode No Hiding Place. (https://vimeo.com/135305590). It details the endless grief suffered by Bob and Terry as they try to sidestep the result of an England vs Bulgaria match for an entire day. Other than the general beigeness of 70’s Britain, it’s pretty much how my life has been since the Trent Bridge test match (60 All Out. That’s 60. S.I.X.T.Y).
  1. One day? That’s so simple I wouldn’t even call it child’s play. The really difficult part kicks in around the seven-week mark when you find yourself mentally berating your own eyes for lingering over a random headline because it features the words “Klopp” (surely, the greatest gift ever handed to Evertonians?). Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 13.42.45
  1. It’s also around the seven-week mark that you grow tired of having to explain your mad scheme to whoever’s about to launch into a footy-led conversation. I may have to go ‘all-footballer’ and have it tattooed on my arm. That’s if they’re still slavishly following Becks’ style lead. I haven’t seen ’em to tell either way, you see!
  1. As I’m a Chelsea fan, most people generally try to lure me into a footy chat with the words “So do you think Jose will get the boot then?” This is a very bad thing for anyone who’s trying to avoid football because: a) It tells me the Blues are still pants; b) I assumed he would have gone long ago, even if Chelsea were top of the league with 100 goals per man. Roman must be on the crazy juice somewhere.
  1. There’s no easy way to stop a footy chat in its infancy without sounding rude. So you have to be blunt and straight to the point. The process of hearing yourself spout such lunacy then provokes an internal monologue that ultimately leads to an existential crisis: “Am I in any way sane?” Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 13.38.10
  1. 70% of men respond to this explanation with blank incomprehension. 29% say they wouldn’t miss footy if they did the same. 1% claim they have done it for their whole lives, so don’t see what the big deal is. (these figures may not be entirely accurate).
  1. The best reaction so far has come from a Liverpool supporter who just stared at me, desperately tried to think of something to say, failed, then walked away. It was clearly a step too far. I’d have got a better reception if I’d told him that Stevie G was the transsexual love child of Ian Rush and Nicola Sturgeon in her pre-LEGO makeover days.
  1. In psychological terms I have now entered into ‘The Wall Stage’. Apparently, this is the moment where the over-optimism of your initial endeavor (‘the honeymoon stage’) starts to wear off and you’re most in danger of a relapse. If I were a drug fiend I would now be scouring the local area for a dealer – but not actively gathering supplies. 184H
  1. The Evening Standard is my nemesis. It only exists to fill the tube with people shoving the sport pages in my face. Et tu Sun Online and Twitter Trending.
  1. I fear for my sanity post-Rugby World Cup. There’s a very good chance I could be stalking the streets with a banana gun.