Defend Truth


Bettor late than never, maybe — a novice’s experience of hedging, handling and bad beats


Jeremy Maggs is a veteran journalist, television and radio presenter, and MD of communications firm, Bold. He is the author of ‘WIN!’ and ‘My Final Answer’.

The joyous and often misguided rush of adrenalin that can stem from a gambling neophyte’s R10 bets.

I know a guy who knows a guy who is a professional sports spread bettor. Or as my late mother would sniff, “patently a cardsharp with no prospects. What would his poor family say?” Anyhow, for someone with no career potential, according to my mother, this young man drives a snazzy car, wears short pants all day and spends a lot of time at cricket stadiums. And he is not poor. What is not to like? 

Now I am no betting man, and my only experience has been at the Durban July, where after three buckets of Pimm’s I was happy to wager the family fortune on a half-blind gelding with a limp ridden by an overweight jockey with equinophobia and a poor sense of direction. I sense there was a bit of gelding as far as he was concerned as well. I did not ask. 

That was until recently when a daughter’s boyfriend inquired politely if I had tried online sports betting? Now before we proceed, I acknowledge gambling can be a serious debilitative addiction and I have seen first-hand the ruin it can cause. I am also aware of the excellent work that Gamblers Anonymous does.

The young suitor’s pitch was……. well pitch-perfect as he explained how one was more immersed in the game if there was a little money riding on it. How a person focussed more on the screen-action instead of being distracted and then the coup de grâce of salesmanship, as he explained the joyous rush of adrenalin when you won and saw the money instantly deposited into your betting account. 

He was an ardent Manchester United supporter and I sense he had not experienced that giddy jubilation for a while, but I did not have the heart to say that. He recommended one never bet more than R10 on a game and to study team form before hitting the bet button. Something I should have done at the Durban July in my alcohol fruit-cup addled state. With a few punches on a keyboard, I opened an account and with R200 waiting to be burnt, I felt like Doyle Lonnegan in the movie The Sting and rather hoped my first wager would be accompanied by a Scott Joplin soundtrack. Naturally, I bet on Manchester United losing and to my delight some 90 minutes later was richer by R15 — and a Jag F Pace, if I played my metaphorical cards correctly, was in my future. This was as easy as riling Helen Zille or getting Fikile Mbalula to make another promise to fix trains. Sadly, it was not to be. 

The next weekend, with confidence coursing through my veins, I asked the worst question a gambler can ask. What if? What if bottom of the table Norwich City could in fact beat one of the top-four clubs. All the pundits said it was impossible, but I was confident of a major upset. Now I am no football expert but given the team’s current performance they would struggle to beat Zoo Lake United in a Sunday morning kick-about. After that loss, I gave up on Premiership football and ventured into the lower leagues. I would redeem myself with a punt on Dover Athletic against Woking in the National League, the fifth tier of English football. And again, I saw my initial investment scroll downwards, like the big departures and arrivals board at airports when there are sudden flight changes. I gave up on the English game in disgust. 

Did you know that Ireland has a feisty football culture? And a trip to the Emerald Isle is always a treat as I imagined a match between Shamrock Rovers and Finn Harps would be. I knew I should have gone with Shamrock. Then someone suggested I try F1 where there are plenty of options including my favourite: which driver will retire first. Imagine being that person and seeing the narrowest odds are on you to take the first helicopter ride back to the hotel. Well, thanks to Nicholas Latifi, I managed to win back some of the cash that Finn Harps took from me in a 3-0 drubbing. Which I shall immediately place on a match between KooKoo and Tappara Tampere in the Finish Ice Hockey League with the former being outright favourites. 

Do I hear someone calling me a schmuck? I only hear the word puck and abundant riches to be had on the ice. DM


[hearken id=”daily-maverick/9366″]


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted