by Jack Maidment
Form is something that any gambler swears upon. When betting upon sports, whether it be horse racing, football, baseball or basketball, knowledge of what has gone before and previously is ultimately the only way of making an informed decision on how best to spend/lose/win money.
That isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for the ‘I have a feeling’ notions that make up such a large percentage of bets: there are countless people who have won the lottery after picking numbers which came to them when they were in the shower or eating ice cream.
But for anyone who takes their betting even a little bit seriously, putting money on a team because you’ve supported them all your life is not going to cut it and it is because of this that sports are so intriguing when taken in the same breath as gambling. To plan a bet is to try to take into account any number of things that could happen or go wrong; a complete impossibility.
You could watch a team like the Lakers play for the whole season. You could be confident that their roster is the greatest the NBA has to offer. You believe that Kobe is the best player in the L and that he is the edge that allows LA to beat teams when it gets a little tight. You see the front court rotation of Artest, Bynum, Gasol and Odom as one of the most versatile and dominating in both conferences. You see them win all their homes and you start thinking: that’s some easy money right there. Even with short odds on a Laker win, a large bet will see a large return. And what could be safer than the League’s undefeated team?
And so the Milwaukee Bucks or the Memphis Grizzlies roll into the Staples Centre and you are forced to watch as the Lakers are undone by a team that form suggests should have a shot in a thousand of winning.
Gambler or not, it is the unpredictability of most sports that keeps us coming back for more. The knowledge that anything could happen and that nothing can be or should be banked upon.
For example, the Celtics were many people’s favourites heading into last season but an injury to their anchor Kevin Garnett reduced them to commendable also-rans. An injury here, a suspension there. A cheeky trade.
Imagine that Pau Gasol bitch slaps Kobe and is swiftly shipped out of Lakerland or failing that is confined to the bench for the season. Or how about the entire Orlando Magic roster complains about Dwight Howard to the extent that they refuse to play with the All Star?
Fantastical? Yes. But the point is that weird stuff happens in sports and that is about the only thing that you can take to the bank.