By Mark “Ticky” Smith
Enchantment Sports Editor in Chief
I guess it’s time to finally come out of the closest.
Or I should say, return through the back door after a forehead-slapping bad beat.
If you’re thinking about making a sports wager, and you’re not familiar with the phrases back door or bad beat, you soon will be soon.
Those are the worst ways of losing what looked to be a winning ticket.
But it can be pretty darn hilarious to be on the other side of those ditties.
And how would I know about that?
Well, let’s just, uh, say I’ve dabbled in the sports gaming activity before. At least when it comes to the NFL.
Then again, I’ve only been dabbling about four decades.
And the sky is blue
It’s not like my admission surprises anyone from the MGM Grand to the Rio Grande or the Rio Hotel & Casino.
It’s not a shock to folks from the Palms to the petroglyphs or from the Fiesta to a fiesta.
You get the point.
I’ve kind of had a reputation for, well, being a tad enthusiastic about NFL sports wagering. Real sports wagering. Not just picking game winners. Not just being a fantasy fool (although I am also guilty of the latter).
I’m referring to true sports betting – handicapping against the Vegas spread – and backing it up, not just mouthing it up.
OK, I’ve been guilty of that latter, too.
But since the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize sports gaming across the United States, expanding the activity from just Las Vegas, I no longer need to be as judicious when I’m mouthing it up. Especially here.
I have no more need for those late Saturday night/early Sunday morning flights to the city that truly never sleeps, or to deal with folks and businesses that have the credibility of a Saudi prince.
Hello old friend
Obviously, with sports gaming now legal and spreading across the nation, you know darn well it will be all over the sovereign nations that have long had a huge head start.
Last week, Santa Ana Star Hotel & Casino became the state’s first casino to place a bet on being a sports book winner. The casino opened a couple of wagering windows, operated by USBookmaking, and has a big board and tons of wagering cards.
Meanwhile, it seems I’ve renewed some old friendships.
This past week, I had at least a dozen calls, texts and emails from friends asking me questions about point spreads, money lines, parlays, teasers and just about anything else that deals with sports books.
OK, who else, really.
From “Tick’s Picks” columns in the Daily Lobo in the late ’70s (thanks Ed Johnson), through television and radio sportscasting careers, I’ve done plenty of public picking. At times, I even made a few forecasts with that other local paper – before it became such a taboo topic (future column? Maybe.).
Here on Enchantment Sports, I’ve scratched my handicapping itch with the “Spread the News” column. But now it makes sense for “Spread the News” to deal with much more than just bad beats and miraculous wins. It will be much more than NFL predictions.
It’s past the dating stage, it’s time to elope
This website and local sports books are a marriage made in, well, Las Vegas.
Believe me, it ain’t heavenly when you’re giving 7.5 points, your team leads 20-13 in the final two minutes, has the ball at the opponents 5-yard-line — and is taking a knee.
And a memo to the Glory Days Gang; just because you played prep football (heck, college or even pro), it doesn’t make you an NFL betting expert. Don’t quit your day job.
But do have fun with it.
Unlike one roll of the dice, a flip of the card or push of a machine button, one NFL wager can give you three hours of gaming entertainment.
I will continue writing “Spread the News” columns, but with sports wagering being local, the topics are endless.
I hope to write about my 40 years of sports wagering – which will include actual experiences, views from professional gamblers and professional sports owners, advice for getting the best bang for your buck, how to place wagers, how you’ll watch a game in a much different way with a ticket in your hand and so much more.
Which leads me to my first tip: it’s time to ditch that Cowboy crush, Pittsburgh passion or Donkey devotion.
It can be fun to root from the heart, but it’s better to bet from the head.
But at the same time, if you’re one of those fans who refer to your favorite pro team as “my,” “we” or “us,” now you are finally justified. You now have a reason to feel like the team you bet on is playing for you (but not always, see above).
Chances are good that calling a team “we” will still make you sound like a loser – but if that ticket comes in because of that team, it won’t matter. You’ll be cashing in a winner.
Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports journalism for four decades in television, radio and newspapers. He has also produced numerous NFL prediction segments, as well as providing sports wagering information, for all of the aforementioned media. He is editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. If you have questions, interesting stories or any tidbits about sports gaming, contact Mark at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.
First New Mexico sports book