Against All Odds

After following NBA for some years, I feel that I have a pretty firm grasp on understanding and analysing the sport. What better way to test it out by putting my money where my mouth is?

In kicking off the challenge, I have deposited $20 into SportsBet (a local bookmaker). For the final few weeks left in the 2017-18 NBA regular season, I will see if my account wallet can survive through betting on a minimum of one game per day (on average). It is a chance for me to learn about the highs and lows of gambling. This is unfamiliar territory, so I am making my approach with caution in a limited context, lest I foster a new addiction. My primary goal isn’t to cash in, but I certainly wouldn’t mind some winnings to go toward a League Pass to watch the playoffs.

The main thing I noticed when browsing games on SportsBet is the vast number of betting options available for each game. I will, however, try my best to stick to calculated predictions over uneducated guesses. Contemplating potential match winners, score margins, and player stats are no doubt more meaningful than taking a shot at determining which dude will make the first basket; whether or not the game will go overtime; or if the sum of points is going to be odd or even. When I win a bet, I would much rather gain affirmation for my knowledge than to simply feel lucky.

This is a documented journey of basketball and perceived probabilities. Read on as I recount every step, explain my reasons for the choices made, and find out if the odds are in my favour.

March 16: Chicago Bulls (23-44) @ Memphis Grizzlies (18-49)

  • Match Winner with Handicap
    Chicago Bulls +2.0
    Stake & Odds: $10.00 x 1.95

What’s Going On?

Both teams are weak, but I favour the Bulls due to that in the past six games they have at least defeated three bottom feeders of the league — Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks, and this upcoming opponent: Memphis Grizzlies, a team that doesn’t seem interesting in competing at all with its current 18-game losing streak. So I am a little surprised that the odds for this matchup lean toward Memphis over Chicago (Grizzlies: 1.82 / Bulls: 2.03). The only danger here is that the Grizzlies may want to put in some effort to try and break the losing streak in front of their home crowd.

I have also decided to implement the handicap option. Since the Bulls are considered underdogs in this case, the handicap provides a bit of padding instead of drawing further risk.

Bulls 111 – Grizzlies 110

Wallet Update: $20.00 + $9.50 = $29.50

Memphis was definitely trying to end their losing streak. The game went down to the wire, with numerous lead changes in the fourth quarter. Though it was small, the handicap proved comforting in a tight, single-possession game like this. Regardless, the Bulls persevered, and so did my bet.

March 17: Sacramento Kings (22-47) @ Golden State Warriors (52-16)

  • Match Winner with Handicap
    Sacramento Kings +12.0
    Stake & Odds: $5.00 x 1.95

What’s Going On?

Stephen Curry is down with an ankle injury, and Klay Thompson fractured his thumb. With the Splash Brothers out, I predict that it wouldn’t be a blowout win for the Warriors. The substantial handicap of +12.0 should be enough to cover the discrepancy — that is indeed my hope. But I do realise the danger of betting against the defending champions in any capacity.

Kings 98 – Warriors 93

Wallet Update: $29.50 + $4.75 = $34.25

Shortly before tipoff, Kevin Durant was diagnosed with a rib cartilage fracture, so he was scratched. Omri Casspi also went down with a sprained ankle early in the second quarter. The shorthanded Warriors lost a lot of firepower as a result, and fell to the lowly Kings on their home court. It turns out the handicap wasn’t needed at all, yet I have no regrets about a solid win.

March 18: Golden State Warriors (52-17) @ Phoenix Suns (19-51)

  • Player Points – Made Threes
    Draymond Green Over 1.5
    Stake & Odds: $5.00 x 2.45

What’s Going On?

In yesterday’s battle against the Kings, Draymond Green attempted a game-tying 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter. He missed badly, and the Warriors went on to lose the game. Afterward, he received a lot of criticism for not deferring to one of the guards. Knowing his personality, Draymond would have none of it. The more people attack and say that he can’t or shouldn’t do something, the harder he will try to prove them wrong. And as the only All-Star healthy on the team, the weight of fighting for the top seed in the Western Conference now rests on his shoulders. Therefore, I think Draymond would be very active in the upcoming game, scoring a couple of 3-pointers in the process.

Warriors 124 – Suns 109 (Draymond Green 3pt: 4-8)

Wallet Update: $34.25 + $7.25 = $41.50

Just one single minute into the game, Draymond drained his first 3-pointer. Though he wouldn’t make another in the first half, he finished with four made baskets from downtown (shooting 50%), doubling the requirement of my bet. The Warriors also won confidently on the road, led to victory by the confidence of an outspoken champion.

No splashes or snakes, for only the Donkey remains.

March 20: Milwaukee Bucks (37-32) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (40-29)

  • End-of-Quarter Leads (Wire to Wire)
    Mixed Results
    Stake & Odds: $5.00 x 1.67

What’s Going On?

These are two middling teams of comparable strengths. I have no clue as to who will win the match, but it looks to be a struggle where no one will be able to dominate from beginning to end. And that is what I am after: a mixed combination of the two teams to take the lead after each quarter ends. Their lack of consistency only adds to the possibility of the game going back and forth.

Bucks 117 – Cavaliers 124 (CLE Led Q1-Q4)

Wallet Update: $41.50 – $5.00 = $36.50

Despite taking the lead a few times during the first half, the Bucks always trailed at the end of every quarter. Early on, they needed only a single point more to finish the first quarter on a tie. That was as close as it got. On the Cavaliers’ side, I wasn’t aware of Kevin Love returning from injury, which might have helped the team’s stability, and made it hard for the visitors to stage a comeback.

March 21: Atlanta Hawks (20-50) @ Utah Jazz (40-30)

  • Match Winner with Handicap
    Atlanta Hawks +13.0
    Stake & Odds: $5.00 x 1.95
  • Winning Margin
    Utah Jazz 11-20
    Stake & Odds: $4.00 x 2.96

What’s Going On?

After suffering my first failure, I have been busy with some “advanced” calculations. The main thing I am attempting here is to pair together bets in a way that covers more ground, and find a balance between stakes and odds that mitigates losses while offering a chance to win big.

My first combination covers everything except the Jazz winning by more than 20 points, which would hurt if it happens. Any other result grants me a profit. The earnings are maximised if the Jazz win by 11, 12, or 13 — these numbers form the sweet spot. Now this is starting to feel like roulette.

Hawks 99 – Jazz 94

Wallet Update: $36.50 + $0.75 = $37.25

I was a little afraid that the formidable Jazz might slay the Hawks too hard. Yet I needn’t have worried, for not only did the Hawks stay competitive, they came out on top with Dennis Schröder dropping a career-high 41 points. Thankfully, I had that covered, and received a bit of extra change.

March 21: Dallas Mavericks (22-48) @ New Orleans Pelicans (40-30)

  • Match Winner with Handicap
    New Orleans Pelicans -9.0
    Stake & Odds: $10.00 x 1.95
  • Winning Margin
    New Orleans Pelicans 1-5
    Stake & Odds: $4.50 x 5.00
  • Winning Margin
    New Orleans Pelicans 6-10
    Stake & Odds: $5.00 x 4.50

What’s Going On?

I admit my excitement, betting on two games in one day. The triumvirate you see above is enabled by steeper odds attached to precise margins. If the Pelicans win, I could go from breaking even all the way to doubling my stakes. But if the Mavericks win, this whole experiment may end very soon…

Mavericks 105 – Pelicans 115

Wallet Update: $37.25 + $22.50 = $59.75

The game was tied at the end of the third quarter. Then Anthony Davis and the Pelicans took care of business at home and won the last stretch — and the game overall — by exactly 10 points. Jackpot! And more importantly, this was achieved within boundaries that minimised risk.

March 22: Indiana Pacers (41-30) @ New Orleans Pelicans (41-30)

  • Combined Points Total
    Under 221.0
    Stake & Odds: $5.00 x 1.91

What’s Going On?

The Pelicans just played yesterday, so I am hoping that they score fewer points than usual against the Pacers, who seem to have more trouble finding the basket when they are on the road.

Pacers 92 – Pelicans 96

Wallet Update: $59.75 + $4.55 = $64.30

As I expected, it was a low-scoring game. I knew I had already won as they were struggling in the third quarter. Even if they piled on 32 more points toward the combined sum, I still would have won. The Pelicans have yet another game tomorrow (a rare back-to-back-to-back situation), and I could go for a repeat if this betting option were to be made available again.

March 22: Memphis Grizzlies (19-51) @ Philadelphia Sixers (39-30)

  • Match Winner with Handicap
    Memphis Grizzlies +13.0
    Stake & Odds: $12.00 x 1.95
  • Winning Margin
    Philadelphia Sixers 11-15
    Stake & Odds: $5.00 x 5.00
  • Winning Margin
    Philadelphia Sixers 16-20
    Stake & Odds: $5.00 x 5.50

What’s Going On?

As long as the Sixers don’t win by more than 20, this three-piece gives another chance at a solid win.

Grizzlies 105 – Sixers 119

Wallet Update: $64.30 + $3.00 = $67.30

This was, by far, the scariest win. Ben Simmons and company were devouring their opponent in the second half, leading the game by as many as 35 points. I had given up hope and braced myself for a huge setback. In the final 8 minutes, however, the Sixers’ second unit took it easy and allowed the Grizzlies to go on a huge run, eventually cutting the deficit down to 14, saving my ass in the process.

Australians won’t shut up about this guy.

March 22: Washington Wizards (40-30) @ San Antonio Spurs (41-30)

  • Match Winner with Handicap
    San Antonio Spurs -4.5
    Stake & Odds: $5.00 x 1.95
  • Megabet: Patty Mills / Spurs
    Made Threes 3+ / Winning Margin 6+
    Stake & Odds: $4.75 x 8.00

What’s Going On?

A week ago, the folks of San Antonio feared for the first time in 20 years that there might not be any playoff action in their city. The Spurs reawakened with a sense of urgency and have since garnered four straight wins. I am betting for another victory, and for Patty Mills to light it up from range.

Wizards 90 – Spurs 98 (Patty Mills 3pt: 1-8)

Wallet Update: $67.30 + $0.00 = $67.30

As a team, the Spurs handled the match well, though Patty Mills was another story. He missed all but one of his eight shot attempts from 3-point land. Nothing lost on my end, so I won’t complain.

March 23: Utah Jazz (40-31) @ Dallas Mavericks (22-49)

  • Match Winner with Handicap
    Utah Jazz -8.0
    Stake & Odds: $10.00 x 1.95
  • Winning Margin
    Either Team Within 7
    Stake & Odds: $8.00 x 2.40
  • Winning Margin
    Utah Jazz 6-10
    Stake & Odds: $1.20 x 4.50

What’s Going On?

Today, I don’t want to underestimate a good team’s ability to decimate a weak foe. By sacrificing potential earnings, I am also catering for up to a 7-point underdog upset. There isn’t much to win here, but perhaps yesterday’s drama has moved me to play it real safe.

Jazz 119 – Mavericks 112

Wallet Update: $67.30 + $5.40 = $72.70

I felt very calm following this game, and ended up with a decent payout too. Not bad!

March 23: Detroit Pistons (32-39) @ Houston Rockets (57-14)

  • Match Winner with Handicap
    Houston Rockets -11.0
    Stake & Odds: $10.00 x 1.95
  • Winning Margin
    Houston Rockets 1-10
    Stake & Odds: $7.00 x 2.90
  • Winning Margin
    Houston Rockets 11-15
    Stake & Odds: $2.20 x 5.00

What’s Going On?

It is safe to assume that the Rockets will win, hopefully with a margin of 11-15 for that sweet spot.

Pistons 96 – Rockets 100

Wallet Update: $72.70 + $1.10 = $73.80

Chris Paul decided to rest with a sore hamstring, and James Harden had a woeful shooting night. Therefore, the Rockets had to go overtime to beat the Pistons, barely.

March 23: Los Angeles Lakers (31-39) @ New Orleans Pelicans (42-30)

  • Combined Points Total
    Under 229.5
    Stake & Odds: $5.00 x 1.91

What’s Going On?

As aforementioned, it is the Pelican’s third straight game, and I believe they are tired. The Lakers are a feisty bunch, yet I don’t see them scoring to the level of being able to compensate for the overall match. Let us see if the teams try to exert themselves a little on defence.

Lakers 125 – Pelicans 128

Wallet Update: $73.80 – $5.00 = $68.80

The pace was fast, and defence was non-existent on both sides. It turned into a bloody shootout, and I stood no chance as they combined to score 23 points over the threshold. I really have to tip my hat to the Pelicans for winning night after night after night.

March 24: Boston Celtics (48-23) @ Portland Trail Blazers (44-27)

  • Match Winner with Handicap
    Portland Trail Blazers -7.0
    Stake & Odds: $20.00 x 1.95
  • Winning Margin
    Either Team Within 7
    Stake & Odds: $17.00 x 2.27
  • Winning Margin
    Portland Trail Blazers 6-10
    Stake & Odds: $1.50 x 5.00

What’s Going On?

Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown are both out with injuries. That leaves the Celtics vulnerable on Portland’s home court, especially considering how fierce the Trail Blazers have been of late.  Nevertheless, it isn’t a bad idea to take into account the possibility of Boston sneaking in a win; you shouldn’t ever underestimate the adaptability of a deep, well-built team.

Celtics 105 – Trail Blazers 100

Wallet Update: $68.80 + $0.09 = $68.89

And here is a fine example of why playing safe pays off. I barely won anything, but all my funds have made it back to me due to the “insurance plan” that I laid out. The Celtics are probably making a final effort to compete for the first seed in the Eastern Conference.

Kyrie bumped his head when he slipped off the earth.

March 24: Miami Heat (39-33) @ Oklahoma City Thunder (43-30)

  • Player Points Doubles
    Steven Adams 15+ / Thunder Win
    Stake & Odds: $20.00 x 2.88 — Bonus Bet

What’s Going On?

SportsBet gave me a $20 bonus to use as I please. So I thought, why not place a risk-free bet on my current favourite player from my favourite team? Steven Adams is one of the most-improved centres in the past few years. He has made significant strides in his game on both sides of the floor. With Hassan Whiteside out, the Heat just doesn’t have much to counter the might of the Kiwi.

Heat 99 – Thunder 105 (Steven Adams: 24 pts)

Wallet Update: $68.89 + $37.60 = $106.49

As I predicted, Adams had no issue scoring, finishing with 24 in the end. It was the Thunder as a team that struggled a bit. But they eventually prevailed, granting me the biggest win yet!

March 25: New Orleans Pelicans (43-30) @ Houston Rockets (58-14)

  • Match Winner
    New Orleans Pelicans
    Stake & Odds: $7.00 x 4.05 — Cashed Out: $0.06
  • Winning Margin
    Houston Rockets 1-10
    Stake & Odds: $10.00 x 2.69
  • Winning Margin
    Houston Rockets 11-20
    Stake & Odds: $8.40 x 3.42
  • Winning Margin
    Either Team Within 7
    Stake & Odds: $1.50 x 2.45

What’s Going On?

Chris Paul is still out, and I expect the Pelicans to keep the game relatively close.

Pelicans 91 – Rockets 114

Wallet Update: $106.49 – $26.84 = $79.65

My first major loss; the same issue as the game three days ago with the Sixers, only this time I wasn’t so lucky. The silver lining is that during the panic I figured out the option of cashing out during a live game. I may be able to take advantage of this feature. It is time to run some new tests.

March 26: Cleveland Cavaliers (43-29) @ Brooklyn Nets (23-50)

  • Match Winner with Handicap
    Cleveland Cavaliers -6.5
    Stake & Odds: $10.00 x 1.95
  • Winning Margin
    Either Team Within 7
    Stake & Odds: $9.00 x 2.24
  • Winning Margin
    Cleveland Cavaliers 6-10
    Stake & Odds: $0.50 x 5.00

What’s Going On?

The Cavaliers have been quite inconsistent this season, so much as that head coach Tyronn Lue has been absent due to increasing chest pains caused by stress. In these times, LeBron James always enjoys stepping up and taking over as coach. As a result, the team is doing better.

Cavaliers 121 – Nets 114

Wallet Update: $79.65 + $22.66 = $102.31

By the grace of God, the Cavaliers won by 7, and I recovered from yesterday’s misfortune.

March 26: New York Knicks (26-47) @ Washington Wizards (40-32)

  • Match Winner with Handicap
    Washington Wizards -10.0
    Stake & Odds: $10.00 x 1.95
  • Winning Margin
    Washington Wizards 1-10
    Stake & Odds: $7.50 x 2.78
  • Winning Margin
    Washington Wizards 16-20
    Stake & Odds: $2.00 x 6.50

What’s Going On?

The strange thing is that the Wizards have been playing better without John Wall. We will see if that is true against a Knicks team who are struggling without their own star, Kristaps Porzingis.

Knicks 101 – Wizards 97

Wallet Update: $102.31 – $19.50 = $82.81

“We looked like we didn’t give a damn, honestly,” Bradley Beal said after the disappointing loss.

It’s hard to defend one’s home without the Wall.

March 26: Atlanta Hawks (21-52) @ Houston Rockets (59-14)

  • Winning Margin
    Houston Rockets 1-10
    Stake & Odds: $10.00 x 3.12 — Cashed Out: $1.18
  • Winning Margin
    Houston Rockets 6-10
    Stake & Odds: $5.00 x 5.00 — Cashed Out: $0.91
  • Winning Margin
    Houston Rockets 7 (Exact)
    Stake & Odds: $1.00 x 21.00 — Cashed Out: $0.24
  • Winning Margin
    Atlanta Hawks 1-10
    Stake & Odds: $1.00 x 8.00 — Cashed Out: $0.43

What’s Going On?

This is where I shall further test out the cash out option. I am particularly curious about what the values would be for a bet on an exact winning margin: the Rockets by 7, in this case.

Hawks 99 – Rockets 118

Wallet Update: $82.81 – $14.24 = $68.57

So the cash out is determined by the pace and direction of the game. For instance, if the margin sits within the betting range, yet a team seems poised to extend the lead, the cash out value would be low. By contrast, if the difference is beyond the boundary, yet the game is headed back toward the chosen numbers, the given value would increase — at times dramatically. In the case of bets placed on an exact margin, the offerings aren’t good either way, likely due to it being too precise of a guess.

March 27: Los Angeles Lakers (32-40) @ Detroit Pistons (33-40)

  • Winning Margin
    Detroit Pistons -7.5
    Stake & Odds: $5.00 x 2.32

What’s Going On?

Blake Griffin has moved on from the Clippers to join the Pistons squad. Still, I am counting on him to lead the team to a decent victory over an old Los Angeles rival.

Lakers 106 – Pistons 112

Wallet Update: $68.57 – $5.00 = $63.57

So close, yet so far away. My losing streak is killing me!

March 27: Boston Celtics (50-23) @ Phoenix Suns (19-55)

  • Match Winner
    Boston Celtics
    Stake & Odds: $30.00 x 1.14
  • Winning Margin
    Boston Celtics 6-10
    Stake & Odds: $1.60 x 4.50
  • Winning Margin
    Boston Celtics 11-15
    Stake & Odds: $1.60 x 5.00

What’s Going On?

Without Devin Booker, who scored 70 points against Boston a year ago on this day, I expect the Suns to get burnt. This better work out, because I am going in big. I can’t be wrong that often, can I?

Celtics 102 – Suns 94

Wallet Update: $63.57 + $8.20 = $71.77

Finally, some good news. The Celtics rarely win by a lot, but they are consistent in their effort.

March 28: Indiana Pacers (43-31) @ Golden State Warriors (54-19)

  • Match Winner with Handicap
    Indiana Pacers -7.5
    Stake & Odds: $10.00 x 1.87
  • Winning Margin
    Indiana Pacers 1-10
    Stake & Odds: $7.20 x 2.56
  • Winning Margin
    Indiana Pacers 11-20
    Stake & Odds: $1.00 x 3.46

What’s Going On?

For this game, the main thing to know is that all four of Golden State’s All Stars are faking injuries.

Pacers 92 – Warriors 81

Wallet Update: $71.77 + $3.96 = $75.73

The Warriors put up a fight in the first half, but the Pacers took over when it mattered most with Victor Oladipo scoring a game-high 24 points.

A rising, deadly killer.

March 28: Chicago Bulls (24-29) @ Houston Rockets (60-14)

  • Match Winner with Handicap
    Houston Rockets -5.5
    Stake & Odds: $30.00 x 1.27
  • Winning Margin
    Houston Rockets 1-5
    Stake & Odds: $5.35 x 7.00
  • Winning Margin
    Houston Rockets 11-15
    Stake & Odds: $1.00 x 5.00
  • Winning Margin
    Houston Rockets 16-20
    Stake & Odds: $1.00 x 5.50
  • Points Race
    Houston Rockets to 10
    Stake & Odds: $5.00 x 1.45
  • Combined Points Total
    Over 205.5
    Stake & Odds: $7.00 x 1.43 — Cashed Out: $1.83
  • Player Points Doubles
    Chris Paul 20+ / Rockets Win
    Stake & Odds: $5.00 x 1.45
  • Player Points Doubles
    Trevor Ariza 10+ / Rockets Win
    Stake & Odds: $5.00 x 1.25

What’s Going On?

Using another site (Bet365), I selected a handicap that is very different to the standard, making the margin-related bets safer. The combined points threshold is also set at a lower number, but comes with less lucrative odds. In addition, I am entering a points race for the first time. And finally, since James Harden is resting, hopefully other players will be able to get more buckets.

Bulls 86 – Rockets 118 (Chris Paul: 13 pts; Trevor Ariza: 21 pts)

Wallet Update: $75.73 – $6.02 = $69.71

The Rockets totally kicked ass again, which didn’t do me any favours because I missed out on higher returns. But the bigger failure here is on Chris Paul not scoring much while focusing on assists.

The points race was a success as the Rockets came out firing right from the beginning of the game. The Bulls struggled, however, and caused the combined points total to fall short, but I cashed out early to get back a small portion of my investment there. Sadly, it is still a loss overall.

March 29: New York Knicks (27-48) @ Philadelphia Sixers (43-30)

  • Match Winner with Handicap
    Philadelphia Sixers -4.5
    Stake & Odds: $12.00 x 1.26
  • Winning Margin
    Philadelphia Sixers 11-15
    Stake & Odds: $1.60 x 5.00
  • Winning Margin
    Philadelphia Sixers 16-20
    Stake & Odds: $1.40 x 6.00

What’s Going On?

The Sixers have been surging thanks to the duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Their desire to overtake the Cavaliers for the third seed in the East promises another valiant effort.

Knicks 101 – Sixers 118

Wallet Update: $69.71 + $8.60 = $78.31

Joel Embiid exited the game early in the second quarter after smashing his face against the shoulder of teammate Markelle Fultz. That made things rather interesting for a while, in a bad way. But the Sixers went on to prove that they don’t collapse just because their All-Star is missing.

March 30: Chicago Bulls (24-50) @ Miami Heat (40-35)

  • Match Winner
    Miami Heat
    Stake & Odds: $40.00 x 1.08
  • Winning Margin
    Miami Heat 11-20
    Stake & Odds: $3.00 x 2.94

What’s Going On?

Team morale has been high ever since Dwyane Wade returned to the Miami Heat as part of the “mass exodus” that occurred with the Cavaliers at the trade deadline. They are now just two wins away from clinching a playoff spot, so I think they will make the most out of this easy home game.

Bulls 92 – Heat 103

Wallet Update: $78.31 + $8.90 = $87.21

Consecutive victories are awesome. I wonder if I can keep it up tomorrow.

Another breakup.

March 31: Phoenix Suns (19-57) @ Houston Rockets (61-14)

  • Match Winner with Handicap
    Houston Rockets -5.5
    Stake & Odds: $30.00 x 1.10
  • Winning Margin
    Houston Rockets 18+
    Stake & Odds: $3.00 x 1.95
  • Match Winner
    Phoenix Suns
    Stake & Odds: $150.00 x 1.18 — Live Betting

What’s Going On?

The Rockets have secured the top seed in the Western Conference ahead of the beleaguered Warriors, meaning that they don’t really need to win this game. Nevertheless, they are playing so well right now, and a game versus the weakest team in the NBA should be a walk in the park, even if they are planning to let Chris Paul and Eric Gordon rest up.

(Note: The live betting wasn’t part of my original plan. I will elaborate below.)

Suns 103 – Rockets 104

Wallet Update: $87.21 – $183.00 = ERROR!

So what the hell happened here?

The Suns came out competing, taking the opportunity to strike early. They continued stretching the gap throughout the first half and didn’t seem to slow down even as the surprising dominance carried forth into the third quarter, accumulating a 21-point lead.

I was being let down by the Rockets. Perhaps James Harden and his squad simply didn’t care about losing games for the rest of the season. I was, however, frustrated that my wallet was going to suffer thanks to their complacency; I didn’t want to lose — not in this stupid way, especially after having just had two solid victories in these past couple of days.

Nearing the fourth quarter, I made the decision to rescue my ill-placed funds. I turned to live betting, which could only be done via making a phone call to the bookmaker. My plan was straightforward: bet as much as needed on Phoenix to win in order to break even. Since the Suns had maintained a substantial lead, the odds for them were unremarkable. But I was determined to force the issue into becoming a do-or-die situation. So I grabbed my phone, dialled 1800-138-238 and told the operator to put me down for $150… And it’s on!

To my dismay, the Rockets decided to play basketball in the final quarter. They steadily chipped away at the discrepancy — minute by minute, point by point. When James Harden hit a 3-pointer (his first of the evening) to tie the game, only 12 seconds remained on the clock. Yet the ensuing possession gave me hope, as Josh Jackson countered with a midrange jump shot, putting the Suns back up on top with a mere 0:01 left until the buzzer. What great relief!

If only the story ended there. I wish I could say that the close call taught me a lesson, and that I am now ready to return to my calculations and keep playing it safe while accepting occasional losses that were at least reasonable. But in the NBA, anything can happen in a second.

And so Gerald Green happened. Yes, Gerald Green, the second cousin of Danny Green (of the Spurs), the guy who was out of a job until James Harden vouched for him back in December, the 32-year-old who has a finger missing on his shooting hand due to an accident in primary school.

So they drew up a play for Harden to attract defenders, allowing Green to sneak to the corner spot, where he was able to receive the inbound pass and perform a quick catch-and-shoot, drilling the game-winning buzzer beater against his former team, breaking my betting bank in the process. (This basket would later be documented on the Wikipedia page for Gerald Green.)

The Houston Toyota Center exploded into pandemonium as I embraced the end of my experiment.

These guys owe me money!

>>> POSTGAME REPORT <<<

Just as March concludes, my journey has come to an unexpected finish. But in gaining hands-on practice with assorted sports-betting manoeuvres, this whole affair proved both educational and memorable. In all honesty, I would continue on to explore advanced schemes such as arbitrage formations and incremental money-chase techniques, yet these are tales for another day.

It is important to keep in mind that we mustn’t be stressed out playing the game, nor should we put too much weight on our own knowledge and abilities. As someone who has a tendency to become immersed in what I do and get ecstatic conjuring up new methods to tackle these numbers, I shall take heed of wisdom: “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness.”1

This moment of pause also calls for higher reflection. After all, it is Easter weekend, a great time to remember that Christ is the ultimate winner of all. For those that belong to him, we have the privilege of enjoying his victory, as it is written: “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. If we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”2

And what exactly is the glory of Jesus? In betting terms, it is in overcoming impossible odds; for even as sin and death swallowed up the Son of Man, he still emerged triumphant on the third day, decimating the enemy in the greatest comeback victory of all history.

In a world of uncertainty, take no chances. To ensure a guaranteed success, bet on the Saviour who has not only paid your debt, but is ever keen on letting us share in his winnings for eternity!


  1. Proverbs 23:4 (NIV).
  2. Romans 8:16-17 (NIV).