Wanna bet?

I couldn’t believe I had lost. I was devastated. I threw the baseball card at my brother. When he looked up smiling, I broke out into tears and ran to our bedroom. “Little brat, go cry to mommy,” he yelled after me.

My brother’s reaction was probably a little harsh, but I deserved it. When I was 8 or 9-years-old, I had a nasty habit of saying “I’ll betcha.” It didn’t matter what or when, but I was willing to bet on a game of Monopoly or shooting basketball. Most times I said it to try to get my brothers to play with me. I was the youngest and tiny compared to them. They didn’t view me as real competition, I was more of an annoyance, but occasionally they would break down and play me.

In this instance, my middle brother took me up on my challenge, whatever it was, and I lost my prized possession, a 1973 Roberto Clemente Topps Baseball Card. Clemente was my hero and the card was the last one that he appeared. He died December 31, 1972, when the plane with supplies he was taking to Nicaragua to help survivors of a terrible earthquake crashed shortly after takeoff along the Puerto Rico coast. 

Image by Pixabay.

Rolling the dice

I was just getting into baseball and treasured that card and now I had lost it. I should have taken the card off the table, pulled it out of the bet, but it was too late, I had lost and the card was no longer mine. 

I’ve long forgotten about the challenge, but it’s funny how things that happen to us when we’re young kids, subconsciously play a role in how we act as adults. Gambling is a big time business now. According to one estimate the global gambling market, including casino lotteries, sports betting, and other businesses, grew from $449.04 billion in 2022 to $702.45 billion in 2023.

While gambling is huge, I’ve long avoided it. I’ve never wanted to lose a modern-day version of my Roberto Clemente card. Oh, I’ve made small bets with my wife or kids, but I generally avoided larger wagers. A few years ago, my wife and I went to a casino on a whim. We kept to the quarter slots. It was fun to be out with friends, but I took no joy in the actual gambling.

Oh, I’m familiar with the spreads on colleges and pro sports that I watch, I’m familiar with terms like point spread, over-under, and cover, but I’ve never felt the urge to put down my hard-earned money. There’s too many underdog wins and it’s too hard to predict the bounces of the ball. Plus, I know myself too well. I could see myself easily trying to break even and five hours later walking out of a casino or off-track betting parlor with little, but the clothes on my back.

Image by Naim Benjelloun by Pexels.

Hitting the jackpot

Gambling is especially big this time of year with the NCAA Basketball Tournament coming to a close. When the Round of 68 kicked off, the American Gaming Association estimated that more than 68 million Americans were going to place a wager on the tournament with bets totaling more than $15.5 billion, slightly less than the $16 billion Americans wagered on this year’s Super Bowl. Like many people, I filled out a bracket, I’m not opposed to that, but I put no money down. Oh, I’m tempted every now and again, but I usually refrain.

When I got the idea for this story, I checked online to see what that 1973 Roberto Clemente card is worth today. Oh, I definitely lost out on that bet. A quick Google search showed that depending on the quality of the card and how it’s been stored, the Topps Card draws anywhere from $20 for a run-of-the-mill ungraded card to $1,500 dollars for one in good condition, and much more for one in great condition.

Roberto Clemente definitely taught me a valuable lesson. If you’re going to gamble, be ready to part with your valuables. You may win, but you just as easily could lose.

All bets are off!

31 thoughts on “Wanna bet?

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  1. My dad enjoys going to Vegas. He will happily spend a few hours at the nickel slots. But he considers it “making a donation”. He absolutely does not expect to win. He does not take his wallet. He does not take a credit card. He takes one single $50 bill, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another good write. And I’m in agreement in the main. But let’s throw some stuff in the game. How about a political “book” in this country. Think people would become more aware of how electoral politics is played and the cost of holding certain policy positions effect a candidate’s or party’s chances.

    Hang with me here. How many people are aware that the GOP Presidential primaries are winner take all, while Democrats divvy up the vote by congressional districts.

    How do you factor “single issue voters,” and is there really such a Creature?” How do “ground rules” vary region to region, state to state, district to district? Would a political “book” lead to a “body politic” kind of campaign sabermetrics which could possible evolve into a template of good governance?

    Talk about bracket betting; 33 US Senate elections in 2024. What are sure bets, any 6 to 5 and pick ‘em. And there will be numerous primaries. What’s the total vote.. over/under in the California dem senate primary.

    If there was a Fan Duel for politics, and was 20 precent as popular as sports book, our understanding of American politics and the possibility of better governance could be close to a sure thing.

    I hope I didn’t highjack this thread. Regards

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You bring up some interesting ideas. First off, I should probably add I’m not opposed to some of the changes I’ve seen, the availability of fanduel and gambling sites. I worry about people losing money, but i know my friends are happier that it’s easier to get online. I don’t have any problems with that. As far as a political book, my first thought was that it will be run by monied-interests. Oops, that’s already happened!! Ha, ha. I don’t know, maybe it would get more people involved, improve understanding and paying attention to where their money really goes! I’m in, ha, ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sorry you lost that card, Brian, but it may have ended up saving you more down the road. I’m like you in my aversion to gambling. I do buy 2 lotto tickets consistently every week but keep it to a single play each. It’s not like my retirement plan or anything. 😆 But I could see things getting out of control quickly and can see how it does for others.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I could be addicted to gambling, in that, once I start, I have trouble stopping. My early adulthood often saw me gambling – and losing – more money than I could truly afford to lose. I haven’t gambled in years, and stay away from casinos (other than a dollar bet here and there with a friend when our teams are playing against each other). Just thinking about being in a casino gets my adrenaline pumping! The last few times I went, I told myself I was taking some money to leave behind to be company with the money I left behind the last time. Ugh, thanks for reminding me of something I will always want to do!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Never tempted…but the heartbreaking story of losing the Clemente card? Wowza. My dad liked to dabble in Vegas but never lost big…it was recreational and I think he enjoyed taking my sister, Lisa, along. She’d sit at the slots and walk away — every time – with a jackpot of some sort. One time she won $5000 playing quarter slots. She had the right ‘mojo’. 😎

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It got to be pretty ridiculous…her winning streak. We figured good luck came her way because she was so cavalier…win, lose, whatever, she liked the noises, music, colorful images. Winning? Oh yeah, that’s nice, too! 😂😎😂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. My best friend growing up was a big Clemente and Pirates fan, Brian. He was devastated when Roberto died. I wonder if he still has any of his baseball cards? Gambling and sports are “in bed” with each other now, especially with all of the money flowing in. It is addictive for many, and those disclaimers about “if you have a problem” are just for show…because it is all about the dough!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I applaud you for refraining from gambling, Brian. I have never been a gambler, hence the bank account is safe. Imagine all of the money lost in Las Vegas each day, each year to these greedy gambling machines, both man and machine. Keep your money safe!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Like you, Brian, I have always kept gambling at arms length. Perhaps there is something in a person’s DNA that determines whether they gamble. Your post did make me think about all the treasures we had as children. If only we had kept most of our toys and games from childhood. Our bank manager’s would be smiling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve always wondered about that Davy. I think there must be . . . when I was younger, I wondered a lot about what made one person become addicted to drugs or alcohol, but not someone else. I still have lots of my old baseball cards, I should probably check to see if any are worth anything. Unfortunately, most were handled lots as a kid. I doubt any are in great shape. Oh, the struggles of being a kid.


  9. I enjoyed family poker games as a child, mostly because I was pretty strategic and I liked the idea of betting with those colored poker chips for fun! I’ve been to Las Vegas a number of times (work related), wandered right through the casinos and out the doors to walk the strip. I am not a gambler in any way. Speaking of cards though, my son was big into Pokeman when it first happened and collected cards. While I have no idea if he still has any of those, or if they are worth anything, he ended up as an adult working for Pokeman for a time. He was given a card when the CEO visited from Japan. They were randomly giving them out. Turns out it was worth enough to make a significant dent in helping to remodel their newly purchased home!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I never understood gambling and never have indulged, except in a few football pools at the office to just be sociable – knowing full well that I’d lost my five dollars. We have lots of casinos here in my town and we only go there rarely to eat, they have some good restaurants in those casinos.

    Liked by 1 person

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