Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Eastern Illinois Recap

First post in over 2.5 years...here...we...go....

Anyone who's still reading this (which at this point I'm sure has to be like 95% people I actually know) is surely aware that over the last decade I have moved more and more into sports betting.  It's actually part of the reason my blog kind of died, because I no longer really felt comfortable being 100% honest about what I was doing (both in terms of the activities and the dollar amounts involved, but I've decided to give fewer fucks about that going forward). The pandemic really pushed that even further along, as myself and a few other noted Gamboleros found ourselves out of poker work and joined forces a bit more formally to try to beat sports.  And boy oh boy have we beaten fucking sports lol.  Maybe I'll do a post on the general happenings of that, but right now I owe a story.  So here it comes, this is gonna be really technical but I promised the hero I'd write it up for posterity.

A year or two back I had a sports account that was very...unique.  The site let you bet HUGE money line dogs (we are talking like +5000, where as many other outlets stop posting numbers above even +400).  I actually hit the nine overtime win by Illinois over Penn State on there for some just ridiculous number, like I wanna say they were +2500 and I had down like....several thousand on the game...for a win in the middling 5 figures.  The site had another quirk, in that it was old school Vegas rules for the max bet, which means that when you fired, they'd (often, but not always) move the line.  Once they moved it (even a single penny), you could re-fire the max cannon.

Now the combination of these two quirks resulted in some truly absurd sweats and positions, as you can imagine.  Not only can you fire off the +2500 ML, you can fire it again at +2498 if they triple dog dare you to do so.  And let me tell you, I am a big fan of accepting the triple dog dare.  The first day I had the account was actually during the "winter wsop" event, and the dirty agent called me the next morning asking if I was drunk and gambling in Vegas because I smashed all big NFL ML dogs.  I assured him I was not, encouraged him to keep his 50% of the action, and we eventually won a metric fuck ton of money.  Then we lost about the same metric fuck ton of money back, then my dirty agent's connection (apparently?) went to prison and I lost the account.  

Fast forward like a year and I get another one of these, and so does the guy I work with who writes, maintains, and runs our bot (lovingly known as Hal).  Let us call this man, the "hero" of our story, Mr. White.  So because of the way this site works (what with the moving of the lines after someone bets), Mr. White and I are effectively racing to get the best prices.  Sometimes I get it in first and alert him, but MOST of the time Hal beats me, because Hal is a machine (nothing stop Hal).  At first we are a little worried about getting pegged for having similar action, but that becomes kind of a non-issue after we just get utterly skull fucked for about the first 2 months.  We are both steadily losing faith, and discuss the idea of just running the accounts sequentially (first using mine, then if/when we get shut down, using his).  We talk about it, but I only have 50% of my account to start, so it really is hard to chop it up that many ways and we don't do it.  Then we lose more.  And more.  We really just lose all the money, to the point that the dirty agent who got me the account decides to give up his piece.  Lo and behold, I now have 90% of the action on an account that can get down $2500 (per fire, with re-fires allowed) on +5000 college basketball dogs.

So I'm flying home to visit the parental units for Christmas, and on my day of traveling I decide to open the conversation with Mr. White.  We decide to combine forces formally;  he will shut down his account for the time being and have Hal run mine instead.  We'll split it up the action 60% me, 30% him, 10% my dirty agent.  My account is more than big enough (and bigger than his anyway).  We agree that Hal will never re-fire (as a general principle I was never re-firing on purpose anyway.....just sometimes on accident...and Hal was never firing a bet more than once cause Hal machine Hal makes no happy accidents).  We also agree that on "big" college basketball dogs, defined by odds of +1000 (10:1) or higher, we would not fire the max bet of $2500, and instead just bet $1000.  At this point the account was down, and I shit you not, about $220K in the previous 6 weeks.  I had just been blasting away on these huge dogs and never winning a single fucking bet.  The very first day of college basketball season I went 0-28.  Mr. White was also buried under the very earth itself, and so we decided to tighten up, be smarter, and see if we could claw some back.

I eventually get to my Mom's house around 2am Pittsburgh time.  I sleep.  I wake up.  I drive over to see my Dad (they live 10 minutes apart).

Mr. White texts me that "I think I fucked up" and explains that Hal fired the full $2500 unit on "a few" big college dogs.  He asks me if I want him to keep the extra, I think very briefly and say no it's fine I'll just keep my piece (60% for me, and 10% for my dirty agent), whatever it's fine.

Me and my dad do some stuff.

Mr. White texts me again....apparently no only did Hal bet the max $2500, but in an effort to not bet the max (which he clearly already fucked up), he broke Hal's ability to refrain from re-firing.  A few teams got bet more than once, and did I want Mr. White to keep the extra.  I think (slightly less briefly but still briefly) and come to the conclusion that you know what, yeah, this is on you, you gotta keep it.  We are talking about stuff like triple firing EASTERN ILLINOIS for $2500/click at +2500.  So it is agreed that I will keep my 60% of the first play of the day on every team, but for re-fire Mr. White has his 30% + my 60% for 90% of the action (my dirty agent is not consulted, he only has 10%, he can deal with it).  

I now take the time to explain most of this, as best I can to my father, and do not mince words, laying into Mr. White with colorful language and fervor befitting a man who just traveled for 15 hours, is short sleep, and on his first day home for the holidays.  Many f bombs are deployed.

The day goes on.....I go back to see my mom, I don't really remember the details of when what what happened, but it was my understanding (and that of Mr. White) that Hal had fired three bullets on EASTERN ILLINOIS at around +2500.

Then they win the fucking game. 

Mr. White had tried to hedge out.  Tried to sell action.  But really didn't get rid of much.  He is elated and logs into the account, expecting it to be up something like $185,000.  That is not a typo, that is how much you win when you bet $7500 at 24:1 odds or so.  He logs into the account, and, turns out, Hal had not fired the game 3 times.  He went and fired it....5 times.  And it wasn't all in the 2400-2500 range.  The first bullet went in at +5002


Game ResultsRISK: $2,500.00 / TO WIN: $125,050.00

Again, not a typo.  The other 4 tickets won a bit less than half that each, making the total won on that game something like $365,000, the majority of which belonged to Mr. White.  Most of the other re-fire bets lost (I think three or four of them), but we hit another +1000 for a triple unit, so the account won $416,000 in a single day.  It did so because of the following parlay:

1.  We got crushed to the point that my dirty agent gave up most of his action.

2.  I decided to let Mr. White let Hal run free on my account.

3.  We agreed to not bet $2500 on big dogs, instead just $1000, but that got messed up.

4.  We agreed to not re-fire anything, but that got messed up and we bet this game five times.

5.  EASTERN ILLINOIS pulled off the biggest upset in modern college basketball history.

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen.  When I die, I think that will be the most absurd gambling story I have ever told.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Managing the Curve

I was talking to my buddy Phil earlier about the nearly ideal conditions being presented for day drinking, which is basically my single favorite activity.  I told him that my new-found ability to sleep until 8:30 or even 9am has had some incredible consequences;  there are days when I can start drinking less than 3 hours after I wake up, and the extra 2 to 3 hours of sleep I get after waking up at dawn basically can kill off any semblance of a hangover.  It's wonderful.  It's like I'm a new me.  Never you mind that I am abusing NyQuil and taking double the suggested dose of melatonin on a daily basis, or that I just ordered four packages of edible gummy bears.  Never you mind that at all.

So anyway Phil and I are talking and I told him I had some days when I was propping at Hustler about a year ago where I was off and literally would wake up at 2am (on days I was on my alarm was set for 12:48am, and I had to get out of the house by 1:14 to get to my shift on-time at 2:00) and just couldn't do anything.  Like...nothing is open.  All the bars in Laguna had literally just closed.  And it wasn't like I could do much of anything in my apartment.  I felt guilty even walking around, it was the middle of the fucking night!

So obviously a few of these days I end up going to "breakfast" at either the White House or the Cliff at 8am and just start drinking immediately.  I mean, we're talking like waiting for them to open level here.  It was great.  Phil then relayed to me a story of his greatness.

"Yeah I did that once for the world cup final at 8am.  Probably had 6 drinks in two hours, then the waitress called me a pussy for not ordering another one.  So we split a bottle of wine, then decided to go out sailing.  Ended up getting towed in by the coast guard"

"My.  Man"

"We were never that hammered but upon review we obviously weren't operating at 100% lev"

"Yeah, eventually it's like calculus.  The area under the curve matters, not just the current height"

"Oh, you don't have to tell me that.  Managing the curve is probably one of my top 10 skills.  #flattenthecurve"

"Phil Johnson:  Flattening the curve since 2003"

And that got me thinking about, well, a lot of stuff.  And I couldn't really figure out where to go with this post and it sat here for a day and a half literally 15 words ago until Phil gave me the punchline.  And he's right, it's a good punchline.

It's REALLY hard to be REALLY good at something.  Anything.  I played a lot of Duke Nukem as a kid, and it lead me to the following truism:

No matter how good you are, there's someone better than you could imagine ever being.  And no matter how bad you are, there's someone worse than you were the day you picked up the activity.

Think about it.  And there's two ways to go here....you can either think about things that you consider yourself "good at", or just a random activity and how good the best people in the world are.  Either way it's mortifying.  I don't consider myself to be much of a writer, but even I'll admit I have to be like top 20% or something.  Stephen King writes for several hours EVERY day except (sometimes) Christmas.  No matter what you think of him you have to admit he is prodigious and has sold a ton of paper.  This book is fascinating, and it explains a lot about how he came to be...well.  Himself.  At one point he's talking to someone and takes him down to his basement library, which is the entire bottom level of his large house.  The man asks if he's read every one of the books.  King looks confused and then says "I guess there are probably a few I've only read once?"  You see if you want to be a good writer you almost have to be a voracious reader.  And he's perhaps the most voracious of all time.

The level of dedication to a craft that is required to reach the highest level is mind-boggling.  But the natural talent required is perhaps equally stupefying.  There is no amount of work, no amount of dedication, no amount of sacrifice that would allow me to have become, say, a world class pole vaulter.  Because what do you have to be before you can become a world class pole vaulter?  A world class pole vaulter!

That's exactly right.  It's dumb, but it's true.  You think there's a universe in which I could have been Phil Ivey?  Absolutely not.  Could I be a lot better at poker than I am?  Sure.  But could I be Phil Ivey?  Not a fucking chance.  Just not the way it works.

So that's how you get these incredible outliers, the combination of absurd natural talent and other-worldly work ethics.  Know anything about Michael Phelps?  His coach was accused of abusing him as a child.  Stuck with him.  He's gotten in trouble for drugs and alcohol on a few occasions.  Not a problem.  He swam two a days for for 20 years to become who is he, which is basically a goddamn monster.  Same deal with Jerry Rice.  His workouts were the stuff of legend.  But could anyone else have been him, no matter what?  Nope.

And the reason for that, I think, is that talent and work aren't additive, or at least they don't project that way when you get to the highest levels of activities.  They're multiplicative.  Hard work gets you more when you're absurdly talented.  When you're up in that rarefied air gaining ground on your competition becomes almost impossible.  They are already so good, and most of them are working just as hard or even harder than you and becoming better everyday.  Or if they aren't there are new younger stronger people on the way up to replace them.  And they are all naturally gifted.  If you want to really stay in the top 1% of anything you need to be gifted AND work hard basically forever.

So yeah, I guess that's a little depressing if you think about it too long.  Hard work can really only get you so far;  the distribution of talent is uneven and unfair, and there isn't much you can do about it.  Except perhaps try to focus your efforts on things where you do have some natural ability, because by doing that your hard work will get you further.  I've read a few books, about this concept, and it goes something like this.

First of all, you need to figure out what you're good at.  People sometimes have a hard time assessing what they have talent for because, typically, those things have always been easy for them.  Other times people just assume they are good at everything and overrate their skills across the board (they say that only the clinically depressed can accurately assess their own abilities).  The point is it's kind of hard to know what you're good out without outside advice.  

Once you know what you're good at, just try to build a life that takes advantage of those skills.  This may seem obvious, but it goes counter to a lot of corporate culture these days.  Employees are encouraged to address the weaknesses on their performance reviews in order to get promoted or in general just level up.  Now don't get me wrong to some extent this is useful (if you're just a rude asshole that's going to hold you back; you need to work on getting up to basic 4/10 people skills if you want to succeed), but as an overall strategy it is somewhat misguided. 

Instead of focusing on the things where you have lots of room to improve (and therefore probably don't have much natural ability), consider focusing your efforts on improving your strengths even further and getting into situations where those strengths are extremely valuable.  If you can achieve that, even to a small degree, you'll find that your life has basically been set to easy mode, since you'll be constantly solving problems that feel easy to you (even though they really aren't).  And wouldn't that be fucking wonderful?

Saturday, April 25, 2020

That moment when you know it's fucked

We've all been there.  I've been there 5, maybe 6 times.  You know it's just completely fucked, the whole thing, there is no way out.  What do you do in that moment?  Whatever it is, it's not a small thing.  It matters.    It's a job.  A girl.  A person.  Something.  But it's fucked and you cannot get it back.

People who are good at life know exactly what to do.  Relationship, job...a fucking cat.  Doesn't even matter.  When they know it's fucked, they cut bait and run.  Because it's completely fucked...they know they can't fight their way out, and even if they could what would be the point?  It's fucked. 

Then there's me.  I don't quit, I don't give up on anything.  Ever.  Ever.  How's that worked out for me, you ask?  Real bad.  Real, real fucking bad.  Pretty much in the history of my life I can't think of a time I should have quit and didn't.  It's a damn shit show, I miss every off ramp every time.  I get hurt again and again.  Or I fail, again and again.  Then I get left.

So once that happens 57 times in a row you have to ask yourself....are you trying to get hurt?  Are you even trying to protect yourself?  Surely you can't be that stupid....But I am that stupid, and it's a huge "character" flaw.  Apparently I like to "play the victim", and that's horrendous.

So...I'm gonna work on it.  And you should, too.  When it's fucked, it's fucked.  Don't hang on to something that's not there.  Just do something better.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Priorities and Crutches

The apocalypse really gives you some time to think.  I tried to write yesterday but I just couldn't make anything stick to the page.  Hopefully today will be better (I feel like I say that literally every fucking day).

We all have things that are important to us, be it values we learned as a kid or maybe decided were important along the way (for me they are things like kindness, honesty, and humility), or actions and achievements we value (generating financial independence, running a 6 minute mile, or fostering an animal).  These are our priorities.  The one thing I can think of worth mentioning is that it's really valuable to actively identify your priorities and values through conscious effort, then analyze if your day to day life actually lines up with holding those things in high regard.

For example, I have this out-dated priority of achieving financial success through poker.  It's not that that's still not important to me; it is definitely somewhere on the spectrum of my priorities.  But my actions the past year or two (maybe longer) aren't really congruous with it.  If it's my number 1 priority (as by my time allocation would appear to be), why does it not give me pride?  Why does it not make me happy?  And why have I not mustered the energy to do the extra things (like studying, learning, reading, hand reviews) that would allow me to continue to succeed at it?  Don't get me wrong, succeeding at poker used to be my #1 priority and it used to make sense.  But lately I think I've just been limping along because I haven't replaced it with anything else.  Inertia perhaps?  It's easy to do the same thing again and again.  Or it's not and we turn to crutches.

What's a crutch?  Some people I guess might call it a coping mechanism, and it's something or someone you use or do to help you cope with other, less pleasant, aspects of your life.  I had a couples therapist who called them "escapes".  Obviously the ideal is to generate a life that you don't need to escape from, one that requires no or very few crutches and coping mechanisms.  Back here in reality we accept the need for some of those things (we call them "me time" or "self care") and I think they are completely fine.  Having a glass of wine and a bubble bath?  That's self care and that's great.  Getting blitzkrieg drunk at a bar for no reason on a weeknight?  Probably less good....

As I was thinking about this post (and the one I failed to write yesterday) I realized something.  The reason I failed yesterday and the reason I'm still going today is that today I have a fucking point, something to tie the whole thing together at the end.  That sounds absurd now that it's out on the page, who starts writing without a point, but for someone who has close to 800 blog posts and doesn't know how that's even possible maybe it's not obvious.  Anyway, here's the point.

Crutches are OK as long as you treat them like crutches.  As long as you use them as intended, they can be a perfectly healthy way to keep yourself going (that's the whole self-care thing).  The problems creep in when you start treating crutches like priorities, when they start getting in the way of you doing things that are actually important to you.  Hopefully you see where I'm going with this, but here are some examples.

You like to drink, but you've started scheduling your life around your ability to get blitzed with your friends.  You are often hungover the next day and can't work effectively.  You can't get into shape because of the excess calories.  But still you make sure you find a way to get to the bar with your friends as often as possible.  Your crutch is being treated like a priority.

You play a dumb internet game on your phone.  You used to really enjoy it, but now you're just going through the motions and it's eating away at time you could spend doing other things.  It's fine if you need a distraction now and again, but you should know when too much is too much.  What are you really getting out of it, anyway?  You're prioritizing a crutch.

You're in a stagnant relationship that's not giving you what you need or really even want.  It has become a crutch to avoid feeling useless and lonely.  Obviously at some point it was giving you those things, or else you wouldn't have gotten into it in the first place.  Maybe it has changed, or least it's forward projection (what it could turn into in a perfect world) has, or maybe just your priorities have shifted.  Who fucking knows.  It's OK to stay in something like that so long as it's not interfering with your priorities, but it's important to make sure you know what those priorities are.  Do you want something more, something different?  Are the good parts worth the bad?  It's always easier to limp along than make big changes, trust me that I of all people get that, but here's the thing.  If it's a crutch you have to treat it like a crutch.  You can't make it a priority.  If you do you're just selling the rest of your life short, and that's no way to live and will eventually eat you up.  But in this case....if your relationship isn't a priority, then I mean.....is it really a relationship?

So yeah that's all I've got.  Take the time and effort to decide what your priorities really are, and make sure you live your life in such a way that the majority of your efforts and energy go towards those priorities.  It's OK to have crutches, but you have to limit them to just helping you re-focus on your priorities.  You can't let them become priorities themselves.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

And then it got real

Everyone I've talked to this whole time has KIND OF understood how real this is.  Kind of.  Myself included.  But now it's finally real for me, and that's because I've accepted that I won't be able to convince anyone how long this is going to last.  I can't, just like I can't convince anyone who voted for Trump that he's literally a danger to "the free world". 

This current situation, the quarantine, the don't go outside, the "stay home" stuff?  That's not going away.  It's going to last probably a year or 18 months.  Maybe with breaks, but only if we had some competent asshole at helm, not this literally retard lemur.  I hope a million americans don't die, but I'd bet the over.  It's going to be a shit show.  We are stone cold fucked.  The response was too soft, too late, and it's going to be bad.  So bad.

But what do I do now in the interim?  Do I just stay at home and hope?  Do I find someone, anyone, willing to accept me into their small social circle?  Is that safe?   Can I survive 18 months without touching another human being?  Should I have intentionally infected myself while good medical care was available, so that I could work to help people after I recovered?

Fuck man.  Fuck