Sunday football means making my weekly wager

I, like millions of people across North America, have a set routine each and every Sunday from September through to the end of January.
It goes something like this: wake up, eat breakfast, and watch every National Football League game I can from noon until around 11 p.m.
What can I say? I love the game. There’s nothing more relaxing to me than watching two teams square off in a hard-fought game the day before I have to go back to work.
I don’t even particularly care which two teams are playing as long as it’s a close game.
My lack of concern about the participants probably stems from my being a Chicago Bears’ fan. My beloved Bears have been on the wrong end of so many beatings over the past 15 years that I’ve long since stopped caring which team wins or loses, choosing instead to focus on the quality of play.
As far as I am concerned (and I would imagine many Bears’ fans), playing well and losing is as good as a win.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve added an extra element to my day of relaxation—a small wager on the afternoon’s games.
Before I’m inundated with e-mails concerning the dangers of gambling and the example I’m setting for any kids who may take the time to read this column, hear me out—I have a strict set of rules I adhere to religiously.
The rules were given to me by a long-time friend who also happens to be a pretty good gambler. He’s the type of person who walks into a casino and invariably walks out an hour later a little heavier in the old wallet.
The rules—in no particular order—are:
1. Never gamble anything you aren’t prepared to lose
The idea is to imagine the money you put down is already gone. If you accept that your wager is already lost, you’re much less likely to freak out in the event the worst happens.
And make no mistake about it, the worst will happen much more often than not.
2. Set your budget and adhere to it
This usually is where people who develop problems stray off the path.
Gambling is a lot like eating out at a restaurant. It’s a nice treat every once and a while, but you probably can’t afford to do it every night.
3. Wager the same amount consistently
This last rule will prevent you from getting carried away.
The greatest temptation with gambling is to increase your wager the minute you have some success. Don’t do it! All you’ll end up doing is giving your money back—and possibly more—to the gaming industry.
It is with these three rules in mind that I wander into the local convenience store every Sunday morning.
My personal preference is to wager on the point spread. If you’re an avid fan, and I’d probably qualify in that category, betting on the point spread is probably your safest bet.
It’s still no more than an educated guess, but at least you can do some research to help lessen the odds of losing. It’s not a complete crap shoot like picking five numbers and hoping they turn up.
So each and every Sunday, I pick 10 games and wager $10. That’s it. No more, no less. If all 10 picks cover the spread, I win $4,000. If nine of the 10 picks cover, I take home $200.
Now I can just see you shaking your heads right now and thinking, “Ten games. He’s nuts. There’s no way that’ll ever come through for him.”
And you’d be right—so far. In two years of playing, I’ve yet to win $4,000.
However, I have won $200 on two occasions which, if you do the math (two 17-week seasons multiplied by $10 per week for a total of $340 over two seasons) means I’ve never lost a cent wagering on the game.
In fact, I’m up $60.
But having stated that fact, the winnings aren’t why I choose to play.
I expect to lose every week, and for the most part I do. In the two years I’ve been playing, I’ve won twice. If we do some more quick math (two wins divided by 34 weeks), I’ve got a roughly five percent success rate.
No, the reason I play is because it’s fun.
I managed to predict nine out of 10 games correctly this past Sunday and it was one of the more memorable Sundays I’ve had in a while.
I’m sure that five years from now, I’ll still be talking about Tennessee Titans’ quarterback Vince Young’s 39-yard game-winning touchdown run in overtime against the Houston Texans.
I’m positive I’ll remember the Atlanta Falcons’ titanic defensive stand against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with less than a minute to go and the Bucs poised to score on a first-and-goal situation.
And I guarantee you I’ll remember J.P. Losman and the Buffalo Bills going on the road and thumping the N.Y. Jets 31-10 at the Meadowlands.
How could I forget? Losman is the single biggest reason my student line of credit wasn’t cut in half Monday morning.
Oh well. Those, as they say, are the breaks. At least I still have three more weeks to try and win my fortune.

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