A bet you can’t refuse

You’re sitting in a betting shop.

It’s raining outside.

You’re feeling gloomy.

The ice has watered down your brew.

It’s one of those bad luck days – your last bet on Traveller to win third the race at Lincoln Park went horribly. She had just overtaken first about to cross the line, slipped ever so slightly, lost steam, and placed behind Secretariat.

Darn it!

Traveller should have been a safe bet! Short odds but you would have been positive for the night had she won.

Your wife is going to kill you – it’s never fun coming home having lost money.

You could try again on the next race but you’re ready to give up. Your spree can only continue.

The bookmaker gives you an empathetic look as you head towards the door.

 

You take cover from the rain in the phone box just outside – you can still see the people celebrating their winnings and lamenting their losses through the window.

You put some coins into the payphone and dial your friend, an old school buddy who’s probably also out betting today as usual.

Of course, cell phones hadn’t been invented yet – much less the internet – so you call Lola’s Betting House and ask for William.

They know you well from the many times you’ve come in with William.

Good times when you visit Will. Good times.

Will! How did I know you’d be out today? How’s your luck? I’ve had none myself, thought maybe you’d be able to cheer me up with some of yours.

Pretty standard – won some, lost some – doesn’t look like I’m coming out on top today either. But depends on the next race here. Gotta get to the bookmaker soon by the way.

Jeez. Why do we even keep up this habit? I make some one day and lose it the next.

Haha, that’s life buddy. Sometimes it’s a rotter. Good time when you win though.

Sure is, pouring rain today. Lost my umbrella too.

Cheer up buddy. It’s not all about the money. Good company down there, no? See Ted today?

No, he didn’t come today. But you’re right, it’s not about the money.

Gotta run – need to go place a bet. I think I’m going to play it safe on my last one and put on Traveller to win.

She running again? Wouldn’t count on her anymore tonight. She slipped last minute in the last race. Didn’t you see? Might still be a bit injured. Secretariat overtook in the last 20 meters.

Must’ve missed it… Secretary you say? I’ll go for it if you think she’ll win. 

High odds though. You really think so?

Go for it. If she wins again we’re getting steak. Your treat.

Haha, ok. You got it. Hope you’re right. Gotta run.

You hope William makes good on the night.

The rain has let up a bit.

You don’t really want to go back inside so you hail a taxi to head home.

Oh well, these things happen. Nothing to do about it.

William’s right though, the company is what matters, not how much you win or lose.

But of course, it’s the allure of winning big that keeps you coming back. Same reason you buy scratchers at the liquor store.

The taxi lets you off a block from your street.

You slip into the store and buy your wife’s favorite chocolate and your favorite ice cream.

 

Later in the evening while watching television, you’re falling asleep on the couch when the phone rings.

Good news buddy, you’re getting steak!

Hmm, great work, Will. Great work.

How did you know that would happen to Traveller?

Dunno man… Lucky guess I suppose. What odds you get?

No I mean that Traveller would slip and Secretary would overtake in the last 20?

You perk up.

Secretariat? Traveller slipped again?

Not sure about again but she did slip, just like you said.

Traveller placed?

Yea she placed.

In the last 20 meters? What was the spread?

No more than a few seconds.

Who came third? Do you remember?

Bluenote. Then Wrecking Crew I think. Why?

Impossible.

Will, what race did you bet on?

Lincoln Park, third race.

Holy shit.

Will, you bet on a past race.

What?

Earlier when I called you, the third race at Lincoln had just finished. I had bet on Traveller and lost.

After we hung up, you went and bet on Secretariat. She won. Traveller slipped at the very end.

I knew she would slip because that race had already been run.

You’re shittin’ me.

I’m not psychic, buddy.

Listen… if what you’re saying is true…

We’re gonna be rich!

What? No, no, don’t –

We just have to figure out which races they delay…

Then you can call me right after the race to pass the tip! I’ll place the winning bet.

We split the steak.

We can’t do that! If you start cleaning up at Lola’s someone is bound to wise up. Besides, that’s illegal. Who knows what’s going on here?

We’ll bet carefully and choose short odds. We’ll even throw one here and there to make it look authentic.

Will, something illegal is probably already going on here. How can Lola delay the wire so much? Something fishy is going on. They might be laundering for all we know.

I don’t want to get mixed up in it.

But I don’t see why we can’t get in on a bit of the action! It’s just arbitrage, people do it all the time.

Let’s try it. What do we have to lose?

I don’t know Will. Someone is bound to catch us. It’s risky.

Come on buddy, it’ll be just like our old time mischief. We’ll update our codespeak.

We’ll be really careful and stop as soon as we’re uneasy.

We could enjoy life more.

Maybe you can get that car you’ve been looking at.

Come on. You could use the money, right?

He’s right – you could really, really use the money.

What would you do?

You have stumbled upon a situation where you can make bets that you know you will win.

It is risky, but if you play it carefully, it could just work.

  • If you know the outcome, winning a bet is easy.

 

Go back and read the next section.

 

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