Gunter Kleist

Kyle Gagnon

The dark times cometh. The long summer months where seasonal depression falters but the gambling slate lies empty have arrived.

I don’t really bet on baseball and the WNBA is still, shamefully, under-broadcasted to the masses. NASCAR was a total bust, and the USFL appears to be operating with less than 100 global viewers per game.

I am having a hard time morally justifying my participation in horse racing, and wouldn’t be able to look myself in the eye if I started playing online poker.

Golf is a great sport to watch, but not particularly fun to bet on. Gamblers want to be able to post up on a couch or a barstool and watch a game completed in under 2.5 hours. That is the environment that creates static in the atmosphere and makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. “Electric,” as the squad says.

Wimbledon is always a blast, but its early morning matches and lack of intrigue outside of the sport’s top stars provide only a brief respite from the insufferable void of hot action that I have grown accustomed to through the colder months.

The times are indeed dark. Waiting for the EPL to kick off in August can be a grueling trudge through the most pleasant part of the year, summer.

In these times, I like to reflect upon how lucky I am to live in a time where I can combine the thrill of high-octane sports, probability and statistics, and the nerve-rattling thrill of losing it all; all with a few clicks of the magic rectangle that fits in my pocket.

We (you, my three loyal readers, and myself) crushed it on March Madness. Special thanks go out to UNC, Duke, and St Peter’s for covering spreads on nights I bet heavy. We also hit a few nice soccer bets this season; Tottenham beating Man City at +900 stands out in particular. And as always, we did pretty well throughout the entire NBA season, taking the points on home underdogs and hanging with the Bucks through thick and thin.

On the flip side, we were absolutely destroyed by the NFL. I couldn’t spot a trend or pick a winner all season. My Tennessee Titans futures all exploded in my face, and the Cleveland Browns underwhelmed… again.

I am so bad at betting on football that I really shouldn’t do it all, but once you’ve learned that the fun is in playing, not winning, the importance of the money seems somewhat unimportant.

I am looking forward to graduating in the fall of 2022 so I can get back to betting in larger sums. The US women’s soccer team paid my rent for the entire summer after they won the 2019 World Cup. Big wins like that make the hobby worthwhile. When you never bet a penny that you can’t afford to lose, every big win feels like free money.

If this is my last column (Tyrone Shaw is a tyrant who works me too hard and doesn’t consider my time or the fact that I have no interest in being a journalist at any point in my life), I would like to give our younger readers a small piece of advice on sports gambling. You don’t have to bet large sums of money to be part of the community. Consider every bet you make as a loss; in other words, only bet money that you can afford to lose, dollars that you don’t care about. Have a target in mind; during the school year, I deposit $50 at a time with the goal of turning it into $500 dollars over time. If I hit $500, I cash it out, leaving myself $50 dollars to start the cycle over again. This gives me a level control over the amount of money leaving my bank account for the sportsbook account. Lastly, have fun and don’t be afraid to make stupid bets. You like Bobby Portis? Why not put $20 on Bobby Buckets to drop 20+ points when he is on TV so you can watch and root for him?

Perhaps most importantly, find a community with which to gamble. My group is scattered across the country: Vermont, Wisconsin, and Los Angeles are the territories that we cover at the present time. Gambling is what keeps us in touch, and we blindly follow each other’s advice no matter how harrowing it be. We win together, and we lose together. These are who I consider to be my best friends and knowing that something as dumb as betting on Eminem’s first song at the Superbowl halftime show can keep us together is truly a blessing.

Never let anybody tell you that gambling is an unsavory or reckless hobby. The stigma that hangs over gambling is beginning to shift, and those who oppose the activity are old fashioned and prejudiced. Responsible gambling is an excellent way to enhance your lived experience if you have a tolerance for risk.