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The “Four Phases” of Sports Gambling

‘Twas the night before I downloaded Fanduel, and all through my bank accounts, not a spare dollar was stirring, not even a penny.

By now, we’ve all seen or heard the advertisements for the big-name sportsbook apps. We may even have a friend who lives for the thrill of watching their team cover -7.5 (helping cash in their rent this month). Who wouldn’t? But as more states start to open the floodgates of legalized sports gambling, these advertisements are everywhere I look. People have a wide range of perspectives about the topic, and even casinos in general. At the end of the day, sports gambling is great for generating viewers and it’s great for your degenerate friends.

Our parents might say that our generation is soft for how easy it is now. Download a quick app, create a login, and you’re cashing in 5 minutes later. But hold on, there are still some hurdles. You’re telling me I must drive the 2.1 miles back to the West Virginia state border because Ohio hasn’t legalized it? Come on, grow up Ohio and get with the times. We may not have to track down our bookie and risk the potential knock on the door from the collector, but we have problems too!

You may be someone that hasn’t taken a shot at it, and that’s probably not a bad thing. If you don’t bet it, you can’t lose it. But there always will be the type of brave men and women that try to out play the S&P 500. Smarter than the others? Pure bravery? A natural sense of who’s winning March Madness? No, no, and no. It all comes back to that thrill of watching those big, fat winnings hit your account. So, if you’ve never found yourself betting Russian table tennis at 2AM desperately trying to cover your losses from earlier, well that’s the difference between me and you. I promise you’re on the better side of the fence in the long run, but damn it sure is fun on this side. Until it’s not.

Death, taxes, and a roller coaster series of emotions that inevitably follow a bet are the only guarantees for every sports gambler until the end of time. In short, the cycle can be broken down to 4 simple phases:

1) The Heater

2) The Cold Streak

3) The “Break”

4) The Return of the King (shout out Lord of the Rings)

Phase 1: There comes a time in every gambler’s life where they are just so inexplicably hot on their picks and for no reason at all. It’s not the guts on taking the underdog that plays lockdown defense and it’s not the foresight of a Steph Curry 3-point explosion. It’s just a streak so hot that the devil himself couldn’t handle it. Unders, totals, spreads, overs, moneylines, parlays, you name it. By that extra lottery ticket because you’re hitting everything. You’re going to bed at night and cashing bets in your sleep. At this rate, you should be thinking about a house in Malibu and the new Benz you’re about to test drive this weekend. The world is your kingdom, but don’t quit your day job just yet. It comes out of nowhere and Is gone just as easily. One can get so drunk on the power of the heater that it ruins them. A tale as old as time: what goes up, must come down. Say hello to your new worst enemy, Mr. Cold Streak.

Phase 2: Brutal. Relentless. You haven’t seen a cashed bet in weeks. You begin to question yourself and how you could be so dead wrong so many times. The high of the heater is just a distant memory, but you still (somehow by the grace of God) have a positive balance left in the Fanduel account. “I can save this!” You think to yourself as you place one last massive moneyline on the night. Failure isn’t even an option. This is the one sure thing, locked in bet to get you back to the top. Meanwhile, you’re completely ignoring the pending anxiety if you lose. You watch the clock expire as that last buzzer beater bucket falls and you kiss that money goodbye.

Phase 3: It’s reflection time. Hello Darkness, my old friend. Who is this jackass in the mirror? Questioning everything you ever thought you knew about sports. You conclude that you have to delete every sportsbook app from your phone. This isn’t just the on again off again break like with your ex, this is it. Divorce. It’s not them, it’s you. You need some time away to think about your mistakes. Never putting another dollar down a game no matter how locked in on the spread you are. You’re down to eating 2 cliff bars a day for weeks. It feels like an all-time low, as if the storm cloud of Hurricane Failure follows you around every day. Days go by and you see scores and point totals tick across SportsCenter. You tell yourself you would’ve guessed this score and that score, fighting the urge to look at the spreads on the NBA schedule tonight. You’ve come so far, worked so hard. But you’re only human.

Phase 4: ““Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” – Michael Corleone” – every gambler ever

Just like walking down the street or into the bar and seeing that ex you swore off, you find yourself staring at Draftkings in the App Store. “She’s never looked more beautiful than she does right now.”, you think to yourself. You deposit $10 and say you’ll play small, limit yourself, and then get out. Well my friend, you just found yourself waiting on that next heater to hit and start this sick, cruel game all over again.

A wise man once told me “It’s more fun to gamble with your friends, it makes the wins and losses more enjoyable. Now download it (Fanduel) and put some money on the Sixers tonight.”

Turns out that wise man was just a drunk idiot at a bar in Philly a few years ago. Look at me now, he’d sure be proud.



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