Friday, March 27, 2009

limited wisdom

This morning, after the initial games of the sweet sixteen were played last night, I visited a website to find out what the over was on each of the games and to see if the pundits had got it right. I happened on one site which not only gave the spread, but also provided commentary on how the bets had been coming in prior to game time. One feature of the site indicated what the wise bets were. Of the five wise bets identified on the site, three turned out to be correct.

I then scrolled down to read comments made on the site. The most amusing comment was posted by a visitor who scoffed at Villanova's chances against Duke. The remark was unequivocal "If anyone in their right mind thinks that the defensively deficient Villanova Wildcats are going to beat Duke tonight they're absolutely CRAZY!" The final score was Villanova 77, Duke 54. The defensively challenged Wildcats held mighty Duke to the lowest score among the 8 participants last night.

While I was amused as I read this comment, it also reminded me of a humbling moment. I do not pretend to be an expert. Actually, in the book I make the comment that my only wisdom in this arena is the wisdom to know that I am not wise, and that few who bet regularly could be sufficiently wise to come out regular winners. However, when interviewed about the book, almost invariably, the host asks me "who I like." I listened to the podcast with Howard Schwartz the other night, heard Howard ask me for my picks, and heard my response. As it turned out, I was three for three. Certain that Ohio State would beat Siena, Butler would beat LSU, and VCU would prevail, I cringed as I heard each utterance as all three teams lost their games. (But VCU did cover. Maybe Butler too. Don't talk to me about Siena).

The Madness of March: Bonding and Betting with the Boys is not about betting wisdom. It is about the subculture of fans who travel to las vegas and bet. Within the subculture are those that fancy themselves to be knowledgeable--even though they really consider the excursion an amusement park ride as opposed to a money making expedition. This illogical assumption--that you can outsmart the sports books--is part of the amusement at the sports book. The logical assumption is this: If there were many genuine pundits, there would be no Las Vegas.

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