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Monday, March 4, 2013

Brier Notes Day 3: A Gambler's Lament

I'm not sure when it was I first heard of online sports-books taking wagers on curling.  Might have been 2008 or maybe 2009.  In any case, I resisted the urge for many years.  As a fan of numbers, and in my belief some advantageous insight into curling, I always suspected I'd have an edge.  But still, I resisted.

Let's go back a little further.  Gambling likely started for me, like many, during a game of crib with my dad when I was 9 or 10.  "Let's play for a quarter" he may have said.  When grandma and grandpa visited, there were Rummoli games where a jar of pennies could last me deep into the night (about 10PM).  Eventually, my friends and I, like many, would play various games for quarters and then, bless our Canadian Mint, the Loonie, which was like your very our own $1 casino token.  Often we played various forms of home game poker, like follow-the-Queen, Kings-and-little ones or low Chicago.  We'd also play crib, 31, hearts, then migrated our games of chance to the pool table and, on occasion, betting sports.  

I was a tender age at the beginning of Sports Select (legalized sports betting in Canada, controlled by the government) and thought my early systems for baseball and hockey betting were fool proof.  My "systems", which were largely based on intuition and grade 7 math formulas, didn't hold up for very long.

Over time, I realized that sports betting was like the stock market.  If you're not prepared to put in the time to study and learn and understand it better than the average person, you are at a huge disadvantage.  Not everyone has time and money to build an advanced simulator and hire a MIT grad to run it.    

I vowed only to bet sports when I travelled to Vegas, and to keep wagers to a comfortable level for purposes of entertainment only.  I knew that if I were to take my interest in probability and analytics and combine it with my love of sports, my life would lose all balance.  So I resisted the urge to bet curling for several years.    It was almost an embarrassment that the Curl With Math guy wasn't be using his numerical savvy to break the bank of or  For some reason I decided 2012/13 would be the Season I dipped my toe in.

After mild success at the Canada Cup and the Scotties, I'm all in at the 2013 Brier.  I've followed the lines for several years and looked for trends and opportunities. Naturally, now that I'm placing real dollar bets, everything theory I had in the past appears to be false.  It could be short term variance, or it could also be the same problem I had with my Sport Select "systems" 20 years ago.  I'm going to stick with it for now, but if things don't improve, I'm going to give it up, or hire one of these guys to build me a simulator.

Brier Notes:

Wardrobe Malfunction
Paul Flem(m)ing received Nova Scotia garb with his name spelled incorrectly (one M instead of two):

The problem was resolved when Paul received new shirts later in the day.  I started to think they had simply gone over their team quota for lettering, with Fitzner-LeBlanc and fifth man Kent Smith (sporting his full name on his back) the main offenders.  

The "How did we get here?" draw of the day:
James Grattan and New Brunswick posted an early 5-love advantage in their evening match with Saskatchewan.  After a deuce and a steal by the opposition rink, they still held a two point advantage with hammer. They needed that final rock in the 5th when James faced a draw attempt against 5 red Saskatchewan stones:

I can't recall seeing an end where someone with a two point lead may have needed a great draw just to hold their opponent to a steal of three.  As it turned out, Saskatchewn skip Brock Virtue came a little wide on his last (see 5th shot hiding behind Roach in the photo) otherwise Grattan wouldn't have had a chance to make the draw for a single point.  Saskatchewan eventually battled back to tie the game with a 3 in the final end, only to lose in the extra end and fall to 2-3 (the same record as New Brunswick).

It's not Augusta's Azaleas but...
The 2013 Tim Horton's Brier includes several large flowery curling rocks (you may catch a glimpse on TV) and also is fashioned with these table center-pieces.  Wait, wasn't The Scotties last weekend?

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