A guest post from Dingus Dave, whose nickname I don't understand, because he's a rad dude who has totally forgiven me for being such a dick in highschool.
About ten years back I was in a TAB on Lygon St on the morning of the Melbourne Cup. I was going through the form guide, pretending to know what the hell I was looking at, when legendary Essendon footy coach Kevin Sheedy came in.
“Hey Sheeds, got a tip for me?”
“Sure do young fella; don’t bet.”
He’s a wise man that Sheeds.
I was watching Milan San Remo a while back with Brendan and a few other New Timer friends, when I mentioned I’d backed Cavendish for the win. And also put some money on Sagan. And a few dollars on Cancellara just to cover the other two bets. Oh, and a couple of dollars on Haussler as an outsider. The boys were a little taken aback. I don’t think betting on cycling had really occurred to them as something you could do. But in the last few years sports betting has gone a little crazy, and although cycling is a long way behind the football codes (which is probably a good thing), there’s still the opportunity to pick up a few sneaky dollars watching what can at times be, let’s be honest, pretty boring.
But let me just say, I’m bad at gambling. I have an online account with one of the betting agencies sure, but it’s in my wife’s name. When we each started an account on Melbourne Cup day a few years back with $50, in order to get a free $100 bet that was on offer, I quickly chewed through the cash in my account and she was nice enough to let me take over hers.
There’s one thing you shouldn’t do when you bet, and that’s bet with your heart, yet I continue to back the Tigers in loss after loss, year after year. The account was down to its last $10 early last year, so I placed one last bet, telling myself if it didn’t pay out then that’d be it, no more gambling. Once again I ignored all logic and this time backed Cadel to win Le Tour. I talked myself into it by thinking Contador would be shagged after the Giro and that Schlek can’t timetrial, probably because his brother’s not there next to him. Cadel gets the win, I pick up $190 and fool myself into thinking I’m pretty awesome at this gambling thing.
But gambling on cycling is crazy. If you’re pretty sure someone is going to win, then their odds are likely to be pretty short. For example, Cavendish was paying around $1.60 to win the first stage of the Giro. Me, I put a sneaky dollar on Goss (they’re always sneaky), because, well, he’s an Aussie and I’d rather cheer for him than Cav (don’t tell Brendan I’m patriotically cheering for GreenEdge or I won’t be invited back to the New Timer). Also, he was paying $15, which I thought was way above the odds for someone who was coming into good form (see Tour of Turkey results) and has shown he can be just as fast as Cavendish (see last year’s World Champs). Of course, I lost my dollar.
And, if you wanna throw your money away in a more ludicrous manner, then multibets are for you my friends. This week, I combined my ridiculous love of backing the Tigers with a cycling punt, and put $5 on the Tiges to beat Port Adelaide (score!), into Ivan Basso to win the Giro. Richmond were paying $1.80, Basso $4.50, giving a payout of around $40 on my $5 layout. The burritos will be on me James!
But what I’m getting interested in now is having a punt on amateur cycling. There was a bookie at the Austral the other month, and there was something oddly satisfying about putting $2 on Duggan to win knowing full well there was pretty much zero chance of this happening, especially given he was riding for Olly Phillips. And so I got to wondering; traditionally Australians love a punt so I’m guessing that there would have been bookies at a lot of amateur track racing through the years, taking bets on the handicaps. And in these handicaps, it would have been pretty common for the guys racing to agree before the race who was riding for who and who’d be in the chop. But were they backing each other on the tote? Are there stories of betting plunges and dudes throwing races back in the day?
I’m gonna try and find out some of this cycling history for you folks. Leave it with me.
Also, listen to Kevin Sheedy, he wasn’t always crazy.
Unless you think Sheeds was always crazy, in which case get on Vincenzo Nibali each way for Le Tour. He’s paying $26 for the win, and $5 just to make the podium. If you don’t have faith in Wiggins’ ability to stay upright for three weeks, or Cadel’s ability to stay healthy for more than a few days, then Nibali is your man.