You Bet Your Life: How to piss off strangers at a sportsbook
I was at a Las Vegas sportsbook this past Sunday, placing a wager on an NFL game 10 minutes before kickoff like all the other hungover idiots who slept in too late.
It was a pointless bet, really. I didn’t like the early afternoon card but talked myself into a small bet on the Broncos, who were catching seven points against the Titans. I got in a line that was about 25 people deep and waited my turn as the clock began to approach 10 a.m. local time.
The line moved quickly, and I made my way toward the betting window in no time at all. And then, with just one person standing between me and my chance at placing a wager — a wager that actually ended up winning — everything came to a standstill.
“Yeah, um, I will take, um, 397 New England,” the guy in front of me told the ticket writer. “And, um, hang on now. Let’s see. Um. Can I. Sorry, I’m having trouble seeing the board. OK, give me 400 New Orleans. Oh, parlay that. And, uh, make that for $25. No, $50. Make it $50.”
Then came a long pause as the guy looked back up at the board, then down at a little piece of paper, then back up at the board. The piece of paper, I should point out, did not have rotation numbers on it, or at least I don’t think it did.
“Oh, for the love of God,” the man behind me said, before pulling out Gone With the Wind, a book that he’d read cover to cover — twice — while standing in line. “Is this guy serious?”
Indeed, he was.
“Anything else?” the ticket writer asked?
“Yes, of course,” the guy said. “I’ve got quite a few bets here.”
By this point, three minutes had passed, and now we were less than seven minutes away from kickoff. At least 20 people behind me still had bets they wanted to place. Some of them, I’m sure, had lunch reservations. Others, perhaps, had flights to catch. But for now, they waited.
“OK, tell you what,” the guy said. “I think I will also parlay those four teams I just mentioned, all together.”
“You’ve only given me three teams,” the ticket writer said.
“Oh,” the guy said. “I thought I gave you four.”
Two more minutes went by, which was fine, I suppose, since it gave me time to finish putting together my Rubik’s Cube. Others in line prepared light snacks.
Meanwhile, the guy in front of me continued to place bets.
“You know, I think I’m going to go with 407 Detroit,” he said. “Why don’t you put that in with the previous two teams. A parlay.”
Of course, he didn’t know the previous two teams he mentioned, or the rotation numbers, or anything else, for that matter. What he did know was how to aggravate dozens of strangers who were now on the verge of getting shut out. But maybe not …
“OK,” I think that’s everything,” the guy in front of me said.
His total bets, all 10 of them, came to $250. He paid the ticket writer, who then handed over the tickets. Finally, mercifully, it was over.
Until it wasn’t.
“Hey, wait,” the guy said. “Can you cancel these? I forgot to tell you that I wanted my parlays on the money line.”
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
I’m sure stories like the one above play out all over town every Sunday. And really, it’s needless and unnecessary. Here are three tips to make your life — and the lives of ticket writers — much easier.
1. Prior to stepping up to the betting window, have your games written down. Know the rotation numbers and know how you want to place each bet. If possible, have your money ready.
2. If you have more than a few bets to place, don’t wait until the last minute, especially if you aren’t using a parlay card. You’re slowing up the line and jeopardizing everybody else’s chances of getting their plays in.
3. Always double check your ticket.