Sports Gambling: (n) A drug used by many sports fans to make their viewing more exciting. A hindrance to thrill seeking persons all over the world, often affecting the way that they live their everyday lives.
All right, so I made that definition up off the top of my head, but I think it is pretty accurate. Everybody knows that sports gambling, and gambling in general, can be dangerous—so what happens when it first affects a 15-year-old boy? How will it hinder him—how big of a negative impact will it have on his life?
I am the living example of this. Now 18, I still suffer from an addiction to gambling. This is a short recap...
I started legitimately gambling when I was 15, a sophomore in high school. I was basically bored with my life, craving the excitement you hear so often about, so I started by dropping out of school.
I started working at a Pizza Hut—an experience I would like to forget—until I was eventually fired for eating a piece of pizza out of a customer's delivery order. Well, the college football season had just begun, and I was a huge Texas Tech fan...
Tech was scheduled to play in Lubbock against Sam Houston St., and I saw a line for the game with the over being 70 points. I knew for a fact that Tech alone would score for more than that against their worst opponent of the season, and I went looking for a local bookie who would take an obscure bet.
I didn't need to look far, as one of my closest friend's brothers was a bookie. He limited my bet to $200 as it was such an odd bet to place, but alas, it was made. Tech ended up winning 80-21, and easily covering it, thus making me a profitable first-timer.
My next bet of the season would come three weeks later, against a Nebraska team that was 4-0 at the time, although losing to Tech 70-10 the season before. I found a line as of Wednesday that surprisingly was even and approached the same bookie. I tried to place the bet. He took it, but only by my agreeing to pay out $400 to win $300.
I agreed, almost sure in my mind that Tech would manhandle the Cornhuskers.
Tech took a 21-point lead before squandering it and trailed 31-27 with two minutes left. That is where the excitement happened. Tech QB Cody Hodges was intercepted with 1:11 left, and the game was over—or so I thought.
I kicked the coffee table, breaking it into three pieces, and headed upstairs—but then I heard the words, "He fumbled it!" As I looked back, the Nebraska defender, trying to run the ball back, fumbled it back to Texas Tech. Tech ended up scoring with 11 seconds left on fourth down and won me $300.
I couldn't answer why the coffee table was broken, and my parents were mad for a while, but I didn't care. I was addicted to the money, the excitement, and the suspense that hinges on every play.
I ended up picking some bogus parlay the next week and winning something like $117, but I didn't care. I was too hyped about the Texas/Texas Tech game the next week. I had talked to the bookie about it for a week in advance, letting him know that I was going to put down a lot of money on the game, and I was assured he would be able to take it.
The game finally arrived, and I put $1,250 on the game at Tech. I waited until Friday to make the bet though, as the line changed to 10.5. I sat and waited hours downstairs for the kickoff to arrive.
The kickoff finally arrived—and it wasn't pretty.
Tech ended up losing 52-17, I ended up breaking my hand punching a wall, and I lost more than a thousand dollars... By this point, you may have realized that I also have an anger problem. I guess when it rains, it pours.
The season's next few games went on uneventfully. I won small money the next two games, as Tech covered against Baylor and annihilated Texas A&M. I lost it all back the next week though, betting the +/- 52 over against Oklahoma St., a game Tech lost, ending their BCS hopes.
The following week they played Oklahoma, and I took Texas Tech 8.5, and the over, +/- 49. Tech ended up winning an amazing game but did not cover, nearly negating the money made from the aforementioned.
In the final game against Alabama, they did not win nor cover the over, and I was out nearly $750...thus concluding a losing season, by a fairly large amount. I didn't think I had a problem (other than betting on my favorite team, the biggest mistake anyone can make)—I just loved sports and money. Why not put them together?
2006 came and went. I made over $2,000 and started betting on more than Texas Tech. It was overall a very wonderful college football season, including the Tech/Minnesota game to end the season.
I had gotten back into school and was back on the right path, it seemed, able to control the betting—as long as I was winning. Then 2007 hit, with a big bang.
I started the season off with big losses, with Auburn falling to USF and the very next week to Miss St., not to mention Tech losing to OK St. the week directly following that.
I broke the side door at my house kicking it, I dropped back out of school, and my parents kicked me out of the house when they found a note from somebody wanting their money.
I lived with a friend now until the Missouri game came around. I had HIGH hopes, and Tech flopped, leaving me down nearly $6,000. My friend told me he didn't want to be involved in it and told me to leave.
I had paid off my remaining debt to my bookie, all of this ending my 10-year friendship with his younger brother. I found a new bookie, one who took in a large number of bets, and is among the most prominent of names in Houston. I was sleeping at bus stops. I was taken in a few days before the Texas game by a friend's family and given everything I could ask for.
The game day was the most stressful of my life. I regretted making the bet, and said that if I won, I would quit betting.
Tech didn't cover, losing by 16, and I was now down $12,000 dollars that I didn't have to a man who only allowed you seven days to pay.
I kept betting small, on the NBA, any game I could find, and managed to make $1k in five days, and got together $2,400 more, paying 25 percent of my debt. I managed to place a $9,200 bet on Oklahoma/Tech over, which I found at +/- (60.5), as it would jump to 67 the day before game time.
Down $8.6k, I needed this game.
I went to a small sports bar where a friend worked and saw so many people I knew, all wishing me luck. (My predicament had made me a legend at my old school—everybody thought I was a dumbass.) The line wasn't covered with one minute left, but Oklahoma threw a worthless Hail Mary touchdown to bring it to 34-27, enabling me to cover...by .5 of a point.
I was bailed out of the biggest mistake that any 17-year-old could make.
Alas, I didn't learn, losing more than I had during bowl season and actually having to leave town unable to cover my bets. I moved back two months later, as the debt had been covered, and vowed never to bet again...
I was back betting on the Hawks/Celtics in no time.
I bet on 24 games this weekend and just can't quit...
Here's to me staying alive to see 21.