LAS VEGAS — On his way to the Westgate SuperBook for a date with fate, “the warden, and sailor Sam. . .” roared on satellite radio. A one-man band on the run, I pulled into the bank to make an uncomfortable withdrawal.
The mission, eight mornings ago? To secure -120 moneyline odds at Kansas State, against my 60-to-1 ticket in Florida Atlantic to make it to the Final Four. The Wildcats and Owls battled the Elite Eight the next day.
Whatever the outcome, I'm looking for a guaranteed profit.
The lowest K-State price any competitor is offering is -130. At -120, the SuperBook will lock in 8% more profit potential with a Wildcats win.
However, at 9:47 am, the bank closed. new clock. Opened in 13 minutes. Every second beats harder. I ran to the ATM, not sure I could pull out what I wanted. A woman pulled on a locked door and cursed.
I said, “Honey, if that's the low point of your day, you're going to have a great Friday and a great weekend!”
he smiled. “Bless you! Love is alive!”
The machine pulls out my C-note. I ride on a rare cloud of euphoria.
I pulled out of the parking lot to, “KC Jones you better, watch your speed!”
Turn left at the Desert Inn. Metro Police SUVs. The brakes are gently tapped. It turns right. “Clown on my left, comedian on the right. . .” sang my entry into the SuperBook parking lot.
Having no special sign, I stopped at the reserved spot near the door. Luck is with me. . . but for how long?
I rushed inside. In the window that opens at 10:02 a.m., I ask the Kansas State ticket writer's moneyline price.
I unfolded the bill. He asked about my FAU position. For the first time ever, I tipped an author just for scratching a ticket.
He said, “Clever Handmark.”
There are no tickets on the windshield.
In December, I chose to only speculate on the Final Four and title futures, in betting this match, and betting against that big catch as the situation warranted.
The goal — which I outlined in this space Jan. 28, accompanied by a photo of Florida Atlantic coach Dusty May — is to ducat the Final Four on all four national semifinalists.
I went 3-for-4, with a caveat; I have Final Four positions at FAU (60-1), San Diego State (18-1) and Miami (10-1), plus title tickets in the Hurricanes (55-1 and 80-1) and UConn (10-1 and 20-1).
The first Saturday's national semifinals in Houston pit the Owls against the Aztecs, the second featuring Miami and UConn.
SDSU, the alma mater, never advanced to the Elite Eight. Therefore, I only chose the Final Four spot because just getting there, for that, would be tantamount to winning it all.
Overall, I have Final Four spots on nine squads, title tickets on eight teams, plus three others as hedges in the tournament. Personal bias eliminates certain teams, I fire others based on the slightest chance.
That single FAU payment offsets all expenses and makes a profit, so every other winner was, and is now, the gravy.
Twice a week for years, I've updated the top and bottom 30 countries' top and bottom 30 college hoop teams across various statistical categories, with repeating squads in the former allocated as a betting game and the latter as a betting against.
Not only have the Owls fared well early on, in a few of those key departments, but they have distinguished themselves as one of the nation's top teams against the spread.
They really are elite.
My December note contains a bold arrow pointing to FAU.
The SuperBook opens Final Four betting, with 194 teams, on Nov. 15. FAU is not in it. On December 29, the Owls covered line-up play for the 10th time in a row, but received no SuperBook recognition.
On January 9, at 500-1, FAU appeared on the SuperBook title sheet. Too fairytale, I thought. Finally, January 23, the Owls appeared on the Final Four roster, going 60-1.
I'm well aware of this business betrayal, so I tread lightly. I want placing bets to be difficult, so I don't have an app. Plus, I want to hold the ticket. Old school.
And so, it was a morning race to the SuperBook.
DO NOT FORGET IT!
I spoke to veteran veteran Dave Hopepan, curious about my luck, several times on Sunday. Navigating such waters requires understanding the actual value of equity in a futures game, in order to hedge it properly. An invaluable exercise.
Guaranteeing profits, he agreed, was wise.
At that point, Miami trailed Texas by double-digit margins. I told him, if the Canes—likely my last big payout—were going to come back and destroy the Horns, it would feel like “The Twilight Zone.”
The storm did just that.
Hope called back to howl.
The San Diego State fraternity has stormed into Houston, but I have a very early Sunday deadline for Monday's title game preview for an outlet.
And if Miami wins on Saturday, I'll have one last big position to bet on Sunday morning, for the optimal guaranteed dividend.
Hope said, “Professional.”
I keep hearing Tom Petty.
“Even the losers sometimes get lucky. . .”
Most notably, though, I heard Clark Gable in “The Misfits,” the star's last film, was about a series of bad luck.
“That's the way. It's also the other way around – don't forget about it!