My name is Kevin, and I've got a thing for gambling.
I'm not trying to be a Gamblers Anonymous member, as I'm pretty bad at anonymity. Nor am I trying to make light of people who have serious gambling problems and need all the help and self-control they can get.
I think my attitude on gambling was formed because I had my first Las Vegas trip when I was 18. When you can't gamble, you notice the lavish buildings, the homages to ancient architecture and the warm, inviting ambiences … and you realize they weren't funded by the profit margin on a $2.99 prime rib.
I've never helped furnish one of those buildings. I've never needed gambling winnings to pay a necessary bill, and I've never wagered money that should have gone towards those bills.
But I do have a thing, and not a problem, for gambling. Just a look around your everyday life reveals so many things you can post a wager … first person to clock out at 5 p.m., number of guys that cute girl shoots down at the bar before closing time, the number of 100-degree days in July.
With those bets, I try to make sure it's about the gamble and not the winnings. Most bets at the office never get beyond a 12-pack of a beverage. A football bet I made with a friend won me dinner, but when it was time to collect I just ordered soup. And I bet some of you thought of Kenny Bana, while others will Google it right now.
It's about finding the perfect wager — exciting to win, but not crippling to lose.
Perfection came to me while I was driving to Albuquerque a few weeks ago. My friend, an Arizona Diamondbacks fan, contacted me and noted that my team, the Texas Rangers, would host Arizona for a three-game series starting Monday.
He asked what a fair wager would constitute. I thought it over for the next hour, and realized that embarrassment is much better than money.
The wager was proposed, and accepted later that night: The losing fan changes his Facebook profile picture to the team logo of the winning team, and keeps it that way for a week.
If we had bet $20, it could have been spent on a few gallons of gas with nothing to show for it but a few trips to and from work. But the Facebook profile follows you. The Rangers won the series, and my friend was forced to either:
- Post for the next week, knowing friends would see another team's logo and be compelled to say something.
- Stop using Facebook for a week.
He did the former, and I got to publicly enjoy the bet every time he posted something. I saw the Rangers logo at least a dozen times, with each sighting funnier than the last.
That wager won't work for everybody. But if you look hard enough, you'll find the wager that works right for everybody. If it's fun and you can afford it, it's not a problem.
Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Clovis Media Inc. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by email: