I lived seven-plus years in Reno, Nevada. Or, I should say, I survived seven years in Reno. I was there from 1996 to 2004.
Originally, I was there to go to graduate school at the University of Nevada-Reno for a Ph.D. I didn’t make it. I did two years and got put on academic probation only to get my GPA up to a 2.9 and fall .1 short of being reinstated.
Soon after, my betting career started.
Reno is a completely different animal than Las Vegas and I think a much more difficult one. Everything is close together in Reno, so a bettor can check odds walking from sportsbook to sportsbook.
I don’t think I ever was a gambling addict, though my wife may feel differently, it seemed to me more like a hobby. I was never a big-time bettor and I mainly chased parlays and futures.
I remember my close calls more vividly than I remember my best wins.
I recall betting the Indiana Pacers at 40-to-1 (I put $500 on it) to win the NBA championship the season they reached the 2000 NBA Finals. What pains me most about that one was that the Lakers were down by 15 in the fourth quarter of game 7 in the Western Conference Finals to Portland and came back to win it (there was the memorable Shaq dunk in that game). So, the Lakers (Kobe Bryant and Shaq’s first title) ended up being a heavy favorite against Indiana and I couldn’t even hedge the bet. Had the Blazers won the Western Conference, I would have won for sure by hedging because the Blazers would not have been a heavy favorite in the finals.
My futures tickets got to be worth so much that I would get nervous with them in the apartment, so I got a safety deposit box at the bank for a small price.
The other two big futures bets I remember well involved betting heavy on the then-Anaheim Angels and Boston Red Sox different years to win the World Series only to see both of them win it the following season. My intuition was sort of right on both teams, and it is kind of hard to believe I was willing to bet on the Sox when they hadn’t won in almost a century, but I did.
That was my luck in a nutshell and I was glad to get out from under Reno’s wrath.
I never did get involved with online sports betting, as I had gotten used to having a ticket in my hand.
There are aspects of the betting in Reno I will always miss and I hope I can get back there again some day for a limited amount of time.
I will always remember fondly getting a corn beef sandwich at 9 a.m. at the Sportsbook to get ready for NFL kickoff at 10 a.m. In the beginning, for me, it was one huge altered state in which my brain was incredibly happy and in awe. I can still remember a guy jumping up and down and shouting real loud “yeah, yeah” with 10 early NFL games in progress and I asked him “what happened?” and he said with plenty of enthusiasm, “First down!”
I don’t really think anybody wins consistently betting on sports and is able to not gamble and lose the winnings on other casino games. I suppose it can happen, though. What I liked best about sports betting was looking for futures numbers that may not have made sense (see Detroit Lions).
Daily betting was a grind and a tough road to hoe each day. There were too many ups and downs and it would affect my family life.
There is one winning bet I am reminded of this week. I could research the year, but it was most likely the year 2002. I bet all the underdogs of the MLB Divisional series’ onto a series parlay, so, four different series onto one ticket. It paid off big, I think it was more than 40-to-1.
I’ll be watching the dogs again this year in MLB’s Divisional Round to see what happens.
Those wins were few and far between, but they happened, like one time when I bet the field the year that Goran Ivanisevic won Wimbledon.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com