Monday, July 28, 2008

Golf, Gambling, Trying

Weekends that pay for themselves are my favorite kind of weekends.

Well, except for weekends that pay for themselves and involve hookers.

Played golf on Friday. After a 42 on the front, where I was only one over par except for the two holes I doubled and tripled, I collapsed on the back. I hit good shots but mixed in enough bad shots to tank the score. The worst part was how my buddy Rich tied me on 4 separate occasions with chipins or 50 foot putts. It became ridiculous enough that on the final 9 holes when he chipped in to tie me again I mentally gave up.

Quitting is how you solve many of life's problems, children. Don't ever forget that.

When I was a high schooler I golfed a ton. My family had a membership at a course that was less than a mile from our house. It was, and still is, a challenging course. I was the kid who swung too hard and got too angry. You probably had to duck for flying clubs if you ever played the same course.

It was always my goal, and still is, to score good. Sure, I want to hit great golf shots and have the occasional eagle putt or tap in birdie, but more than anything I want to get done and be proud of the score I posted. Generally that score will need to be under 80 if I'm truly to be satisfied.

The first time I broke 80 on the home course was while out golfing with my father and his friends during their Saturday morning group. They were the third, fourth, and fifth groups off every Saturday and I often played with them. It was the first time I ever predicted that I'd break 80. I popped my head in my dad's bedroom while he was getting ready and told him I'd be breaking 80 that day. I predicted a 39-40, if I'm not mistaken. I'm sure he didn't believe me.

See, I used to get angry when things didn't go like I planned, and it was really hard for me to recover from bad shots or luck. In fact, when I'd play alone and find myself in a position where I'd "ruined" my score by getting a couple doubles or triples I'd usually make it one more bad shot before getting really angry. I'd take every ball out of my bag, fire them into the woods as punishment, then walk off the course. My dad knew I'd rarely post a great score with an attitude like that.

We showed up at the course and I told another guy about my prediction. He probably didn't believe me either. I then shot a 41 on the front and felt my round slipping away. Then, instead of getting angry I guess I just tried harder. I posted a 38 on the much tougher back nine for my 79.

It reminds me of gambling (The hitting of all my balls into the woods as punishment part) because I find myself in a similar situation right now. I get angry.

It's no surprise if you've read my eleventeen blogs that I have shitty luck. I talk about it a lot.

Back when I was beating myself up for bad shots I was a decent golfer. I'm a much better gambler, but the parallels are the same.

I can't just walk away from a first to bubble finish in two hands. The feelings that some roundtable gathering of Gambling Gods has my four inch thick chart in front of them as they laughingly fix the order of the cards in everyone else's favor pop into my head. I tilt.

I find myself pulling the gambling equivalent of punishing myself for stupid plays and worse luck by saying "Fuck it" and taking the remaining hundred and playing one sng. Or pulling the final two hundred out of my pocket and playing two spots at a blackjack table.

You want to give me a fucking 3 on every goddamn double down, gambling gods? Is that what you like? Then here, take the rest quickly and fuck off!

On Saturday I went to play the ponies at a new track. I normally don't handicap the crap out of races, nor do I stifle my urges to throw random money on random races without any info. I normally do a cursory search of information on races I have a form for, and often just grab a horse at 8-1 or 7-1 in races I don't have a form for. Quality money management, for sure.

In other words, I don't usually win.

Betting ponies may be the only gambling I do where I manage to keep my cool when things don't go my way. Not sure why that is. Actually, I take that back. I know exactly why that is. It's because I'm not trying to optimize my strategy.

Unlike blackjack, where I play Basic Strategy to put myself in the best possible odds with every hand, I take lots of fliers at the track. I bet without attempting to figure out my optimal strategy. In poker I try to make the best play for each situation. Walking past a television and grabbing a horse at random is not making the best play.

So when I lose I don't get riled up. I probably should have lost and I don't feel like I've gotten fucked out of a payout. I should go to the track more often, if for nothing else than the drop in blood pressure it probably provides.

Saturday I picked up a racing form and decided to pick my spots a little better. I didn't do a complete work-up of all horses and utilize every ounce of information, but I passed on races I didn't see as much value in. I only bet three of the nine live races. The fields were too small and the payouts weren't worth it to me.

I bet Saratoga and Arlington, with the occasional Colonial Downs bet since it was on a screen nearby. I looked for my favorite races, the crapshoot Maiden races, and focused my money there. Instead of betting a win, place, and show on certain races I restricted it to just win, place. Or I only bet the exactas when I felt they'd be worth it.

I won.


Granted, I did get lucky and win close to $80 on a horse named Royally Robbed, whom I bet on just because of his name. But I also lost $20 on Seven Two Offsuit, a horse with the perfect name, bred out of Dancing Robyn, and with the jockey wearing my favorite colors of green and white.

He finished 7th.

When I texted that to BG he replied, "Well it was either that or second."

I hit a 34-1 longshot as a winner and caught the exacta there as well. That paid me $275 and covered my food and beer all night, as well as my golf Friday and my golf for the next morning.

Coincidentally, the longshot was one of four horses racing in a 12 horse Maiden Claimer that had both significant speed and excellent workout times. The race was either 5-1/2 or 6 furlongs and every horse in the field was relatively evenly matched. This is probably the best example of my favorite kind of horse race. You couldn't discount anyone and there was a full field. Bring on the high payouts!

I took the ribbing of the old timers nearby in stride. They weren't winning. Hell, even on Royally Robbed they made a jockey change at the last minute and held the race up for it. When I started to lament on my shitty luck with such events, the old timer next to me quipped, "Don't worry, they'll put the exercise rider on him. He's 6'3" and goes about 175."

He drew off down the stretch like he was running against mules.

I brought that luck and attitude to the course the next day and proceeded to struggle my way to a 46 on the front. Completely discouraged, but well aware that I wasn't that far off the swing I had just found two days prior, I sucked it up and tried harder on the back nine.

I just missed a birdie on the 17th and lipped out a birdie on the 18th for a 40.

I think it's about time I apply the progress I've made in my golf game to my gambling games. I need to try harder, tilt less often, and maybe wear the occasional pair of knickers.


Joaquin "The Rooster" Ochoa said...

Dude, you tilt on is just your competitive nature. Me, I leave that at home when I walk on the felt or anyother game...even golf which is you against just smile at Baby Jesus when I get three A's and split them and 3 face cards follow! Holla! You shouldn't cuss so much, Baby Jesus doesn't like that.

The Bracelet said...

I pretty much do tilt on everything.

It's how I roll.