Tag Archives: gambling

A Horse is a Horse, but I Remember #Secretariat

I will never forget the look on my Uncle Frank’s face as he tossed the small piece of paper in the air and walked away in disgust.

In fact, as I stood there looking at the faces of the others in the pool, I didn’t understand why they were looking at me so strangely.

There were even a couple who looked angry.

The date was June 9, 1973, and I was four months shy of my thirteenth birthday.

There was a cookout at my father’s house and I, along with a few of my brothers and sisters were there.

It’s rare to be able to recall your exact whereabouts on a specific day forty-two years ago, unless that day was historically significant. John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the day the space shuttle Challenger exploded on take-off and the day the Boston Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years are some examples (that last one probably more so for me than most of you).

So what was so special about June 9, 1973 that allows me to remember a Saturday afternoon cookout at my father’s house?

It was the day of the 105th running of the Belmont Stakes.

belmont

It would be an understatement to say my father had an affinity for gambling. For those of you who have read my novels, the character of Ralph Donabedian is loosely based on my dad.

So with a big horse race happening, it goes without saying that there were some wagers being placed at the gathering.

sting2

There was also a pool—the gambling kind, not the swimming kind.

The entry fee for the pool was $10 per couple.

When it came time for the entrants to draw their horse from the torn pieces of paper in the “hat”, my father noted that they were one couple short. There were six horses and only five couples, so my Uncle Eddy pulled my cousin Debbie and me from the sidelines and told us he would pay our entry fee so we could round out the pack.

I think I was the third one to pull a name from the hat.

I had no idea what was going on, I was just following instructions.

I reached in and removed a slip of paper and tried to pronounce the weird name written on it…the best I could do was “Secretary”.

That’s when Uncle Frank tossed his slip of paper in the air and walked away in (mock) disgust.

I asked my father what was going on. He laughed and said “You just won the pool!”

Secretariat made it look easy.

secretariat

Even after he won by thirty-one lengths, Debbie and I weren’t 100% sure what all the fuss was about, but we accepted the payout with huge smiles.

Only five horses ran in the race.

One of the six was scratched just before post-time, so we had to refund that couple’s money, and naturally we had to refund Uncle Eddy for staking us…

So we ended up splitting a forty-dollar pot.

A day of fun in the sun was great, but leaving with a twenty-dollar bill in my pocket made it a very memorable cookout indeed.

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How Much Is Not Enough?

Tonight’s Powerball jackpot is about 500 million dollars (give or take a million).

500 million

I, like many others around the country, will be joining forces with several friends and purchasing large quantities of tickets.

The theory, naturally, is to increase our chances of winning.

 

I’ve done it before and I must admit, it’s difficult to not fantasize about all the things I’m going to do with the booty, even though I know the result will most likely be a repeat of this attempt.

In tonight’s pool there will be 15 of us, each contributing $6 – which means, at $2 per ticket, we will have 45 chances to win.

If, or should I say WHEN, we win, and take the lump-sum payout, we’ll each walk away with about $24 million.

Not too shabby.

I could finally replace the missing hubcap on my Mitsubishi and buy some new socks.

cashI think it’s even safe to say that my great-grandchildren will still be enjoying it after I’m gone…

I also think it’s safe to say that there a very few people who would take issue with such a nice payday.

Which brings me to the reason I decided to write this post…

As I said, I’ll be one of 15 people in this attempt to hit it big…but the number of people in the group isn’t always that high.

There are only four of us willing to take a chance every week, regardless of the size of the jackpot. The rest are bandwagon-jumpers only interested when they stand to make “the big bucks”.

This attitude baffles me because the minimum Powerball jackpot is $40 million.

Minimum.

That’s Forty Meeeeeelllllion dollars.  Dr Evil

Some basic math tells us that, if there were 15 people participating, each person would pocket a cool 1.33 million.

Apparently 1.33 million isn’t enticing enough for some people to risk five or six bucks.

Now, granted…1.33 is not 24 – but is the risk/reward really that bad?

The guy who runs the pool I’m in (we’ll call him Julio) has determined that the “others” usually start climbing on board when the jackpot clears the 200 million mark.

More basic math…and we learn that the magic number for participation seems to be (gulp) 6.66 million.

I’m not one to cling to religious dogma, but that’s a bit eerie.

Anyway…root of all evil notwithstanding – I’ll throw my hat into any ring that has the word million attached to it.

root of all evil

If you play, good luck – hopefully one of us will get to sleep in tomorrow.

If I don’t win tonight, I’ll try again next week when the jackpot will either be in the neighborhood of 600 million ( a very nice neighborhood, indeed) or a paltry 40 million (not exactly the projects).

nice neighborhood

And if it’s true that money doesn’t buy happiness, at least I’ll be able to buy lots of stuff to take my mind off my misery.

Good luck to all of us and remember…

You can’t lose if you don’t play.

 

As always – thank you for reading

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