Monday, July 18, 2011

Wagering on Soccer Can Be Fatal to the Heart

I can´t say exactly how many bets I lost in a row, but it was more than ten.  It started July 10 for the game between Bolivia and Columbia in this year´s Copa America.  I had stumbled onto Macho Sports a day earlier while feeling out different locales in Guayaquil to watch the home team, Ecuador, play its match against Venezuela. 

I asked the guy at the counter what the odds were for Bolivia.  I was looking for an underdog that paid good.  Bolivia seemed ideal.  I hadn´t seen that much difference between teams so far and I thought Columbia was overrated.  Bolivia was paying more than $6 for every dollar.  I went with it and lost my bet.

The next day, I had wanted to bet Argentina to win against Costa Rica by more than one goal.  I felt I had the upper hand because I had followed Costa Rica during the Gold Cup and they were unimpressive as far as I could tell and had been fortunate against Bolivia in its last match.  Also, I felt Argentina would be able to take advantage after 2 dry runs of ties.  Unfortunately, I got distracted with other commitments and was never able to place the bet (Crap, I had this one figured out, Argentina won 3-0).

I took a day off from thinking about bets and waited for Ecuador vs. Brazil.  I stayed with my instincts.  I went with the big underdog, Ecuador, again paying more than $6 for every dollar.  I knew it was a longshot, but I´ve witnessed Ecuador beat Brazil in the past during World Cup elimination rounds, so this was not impossible.  Ecuador had yet to score a goal in its first 2 games, the only team in the tourney without a goal, so maybe they were ready to breakthrough.  Unfortunately, they were playing without their best player, starting halfback for Manchester United, Antonio Valencia, who was injured in the first game of this Copa America. 

Brazil had tied its first two games, so you never know.  As it turned out, I was given some hope twice.  Brazil scored first, then Ecuador.  Brazil again, then Ecuador again.  At 2-2, Brazil went on to dominate the rest of the game to win 4-2. 

At this point in the tourney, I thought it was safe to say that Brazil and Argentina were heating up. 

Prior to Ecuador-Brazil, I had suffered my toughest loss so far, as Venezuela mounted an unbelievable comeback from 3-1 down and tied Paraguay in the last minute.  I had committed the bettor´s worst error; I had talked about winning this bet prior to the match ending.  Fine, I was intent on figuring out how to win for the quarterfinals. 

For Columbia and Peru, I bet Peru, the underdog, only to learn later on, that they won the match, but I didn´t win money because betting on Soccer at Macho Sports is only for the first 90 minutes.  The correct winning bet was for the tie in the first 90, then, Peru to win in extra time.  Extra time is another bet entirely.

This is what makes Soccer so tough to bet and win, unlike other sports with only options for winning and losing, the tie changes everything.  There are always 3 options, until penalty kicks.

Everything was going to be okay, Argentina was set to explode against Uruguay.  I had them minus a goal.  I was confident they wouldn´t just win, but win going away (going away in Soccer is by 2 or more goals).  I got better odds by having them win by more than one goal. 

Of course, things didn´t go as I thought (see above video), but Uruguay gave me a good lesson to remember for the next day.

For Paraguay against Brazil, I had to stay with Brazil, even though 2 underdogs had won so far in the quarters, it was hard to bet against a Brazilian squad with emerging star players.  But, before this match, I was completely immersed in Japan vs. U.S. in the Women´s World Cup Final. 

First I bet the U.S. to win, then I bet them to win in extras.  I lost both.  We all know the story by now of this great match.  But, here is where the lessons of Uruguay from the night before came to be useful.  I bet Japan to win the penalties.  I figured the favorites were losing, why not?  Finally, I won a bet. 

At this same time, I had lost two bets from Brazil, to win and then to win in extra time.  I bet Paraguay for the penalty kicks and won again.  I was on a roll, I had won 2 bets.

I took my winnings and threw it all on Venezuela and then sweated out practically the whole match.  Chile dominated and hit the crossbar a few times, while coming so close many other times, but only managed one goal.  Venezuela took advantage of its few opportunities and closed out twice with goals.  I can take solace in being slightly ahead for this moment in my life, as Venezuela paid out $5.20 for every dollar (In betting sports and gambling in general, I am way-way behind, with hardly a chance to ever pull ahead).

Copa America has taken some unusual twists and turns.  It has been a fun ride after a slow start.  I´ll have to look up how long its been since both Argentina and Brazil are not in the semi-finals.  I would imagine its been a while. 

As Soccer becomes bigger in the U.S., wagering games may be one more avenue to explore for sports fans, but it is not suggested for anyone with heart problems. 

Sidenote:  Interestingly, I had placed one bet for the hell of it, that paid 100 to 1.  I bet a parlay of Japan, Paraguay and Venezuela to all win.  They all did win and in some betting parlors, this bet might have paid off.  Some bets to win will include extra time and p-kicks, just depends on the place.

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