Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How I (almost) bet on CMU against Ball State

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || October 13, 2010

It was just a crisp, dark green bill sitting in the back of my wallet, no different-looking than the $20s, $5s, and $1s in front of it, and no harder to hand over the betting counter.

It was two weeks ago and I was lounging in a plush leather chair, just behind the sports book at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson, Nev., a drink in one hand and probably a cigarette in the other, talking with a few former co-workers over a table of betting sheets, pencils and parlay cards.

Tennessee, underrated. $20. Notre Dame, gotta win someday. $30. Wisconsin, because Michigan State isn’t THAT good. $40. So on and so forth, taking down numbers that totaled well over half of the cash I brought with me to Las Vegas.

“What about this, T.G.?” one of them asks me. (It’s a nickname. Long story.)

His name is Rob — 50-something with glasses and a deep voice. He leans over, pointing a mini yellow pencil at a circled game.

122 C MICHIGAN -16 Sixteen? Ball State? What?

I look at the sheet closer, thinking the game was more suited to a 19-or-20 point Chippewas spread, but predictably, nothing had changed.

122 C MICHIGAN -16

“All day,” I reply, having to be some kind of authority on the team I’m supposed to cover. “All. Day.”

Rob is a writer and admittedly hasn’t bet as of late.

“That might be the game of the year so far,” he says, with a little bit of enthusiasm.

He’s sitting to the left of me, and another guy, Andy, is sitting in front of me.

“But they ain’t got LeFevour,” says Andy, in a Kansas drawl.

Blasphemy, I think, flipping to the back of the page. Team should be 3-1, undefeated against the spread, accumulating 400-plus yards against a team that allows 400- plus yards. Sixteen? Coming off of a tough loss to Northwestern?


“They definitely cover this,” I say. “Definitely.” Immediately, I cross games off.
Florida? Too young. Virginia Tech? Too scared. Michigan State? Well, they still aren’t THAT good. $20.

This guy needs room for a hundred, because if he can’t make Las Vegas money at Central Michigan, then he will certainly make Las Vegas money on Central Michigan.

Besides, it’s just $100.

Just a few weeks worth of support for a nicotine addiction. Just a couple dozen fast food meals. Just an, OK, you get it — $100 is a lot of money.

But in Vegas? In Vegas, it’s JUST $100. In Vegas, it’s not drinks at the club. It’s just getting into the club. It’s not gambling; it’s just placing a chip on black.

So we left, without me placing a single bet (“Will later,” I said), and later that night went to a club where we drank, danced, smoked and saw Dontrelle Willis.

The next day, I woke up around 12:15 in just the kind of way you wake up when you’re in Vegas.

I grabbed a shirt, some shorts, booked it down an elevator and through a casino, but couldn’t get to the ticket window on time. Good thing, right?

Well, then I walked by a blackjack table.

Hey, it was just $100.

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