There are a few things in life that I’ve become addicted to over the years, some harmless others a little less so. Golf, booze, exercise and mustard – my interest in all of these has occasionally escalated beyond socially acceptable levels.
One highly addictive thing I dabble in and enjoy, but have never actually felt a craving for, is gambling. A few years ago I went to Las Vegas on a Stag Do. I’d been nervous at the prospect of my addictive side taking over in the gambling capital of the world; that I would lose control and splurge all my cash, sell my watch and plane tickets home, gamble away my house in a high-stakes poker match, borrow $50k from a loan shark to try and win it back, lose that too and end up locked in the boot of a Chrysler with gaffer tape around my wrists and over my mouth.
Luckily this wasn’t how the trip panned out. In fact, I found myself being super cautious in the casinos – playing low-stakes roulette and risking little to be able to sit quietly, frittering away the odd $50 while nice waitresses brought me gin and tonics.
I’ve heard that gambling addicts often get a thrill from losing as well as winning; it’s the buzz of the game that excites them. I get a thrill from winning a bet but I certainly don’t enjoy losing. How can losing money possibly give you a good feeling?
I once some money at the dogs in Wimbledon and my “lucky dip” pick for the National came in two years on the trot a little while back. But, my greatest gambling wins have come on the golf. Largely because I rarely bet on anything outside of golf and that, in turn, is largely because I don’t feel I understand anything else sufficiently well to risk money on it.
Each week I write previews for the European and PGA Tour events on this website and I pick three players “to watch” in each event. I don’t make a betting recommendation; I just select three guys in each tournament who I think might have a chance based on: current form, previous performances in the tournament and suitability of their game to the course.
Up until this week I’ve seldom placed money on my selections. I don’t tend to bet on events outside the Majors and the odd WGC tournament – I’m just a bit too worried about that Chrysler.
But looking back through my predictions in October, I could have made myself a pretty hefty sum of money if I’d put my money where my mouth was. Check this out:
Starting with the PGA Tour: In the JT Shriners I chose Ryan Moore who won. The following week at the Frys.com Open I chose Jonas Blixt. He won too. Then, the big payday would have come two weeks after that at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. There my picks were: Nick Watney (winner,) Brendon de Jonge (placed) and Bo Van Pelt (placed.) Aargh. If only I’d had £5 each way on that lot!
On the European Tour I didn’t do quite so well but with places for Thorbjorn Olesen at the Dunhill Links, Rory McIlroy at the BMW Masters and Jason Dufner at the WGC HSBC Champions, I would have covered costs plus a wee bit extra.
Anyway, all of this has encouraged me to start having a little each-way flutter on the guys I select for those previews. So, starting today is the Singapore Open and I’m playing safe with Olesen, Oosthuizen and Scott. Well I thought I was playing safe – I’ve just checked first round scores and none of them are under par. Great. Well what about the PGA Tour? OK, I’ve picked Robert Garrigus, Blake Adams and Justin Leonard. Oh god, why did I pick Justin Leonard?
I know exactly what’s going to happen, because this is how gambling works. You think, with the benefit of hindsight that you know what you’re doing. But then, when you put your cash on the line, things turn out very differently. From now on I’m keeping a razor blade hidden in my pocket to slice through the gaffer tape if and when required.