Avoiding The Sucker’s Bet (Again …)

October 9, 2022

avoid the sucker's bet

A few months ago, Dad weighed in on the idea of avoiding a sucker’s bet. It’s the kind of topic that Rent A Dad (presumably, any dad) would have opinions on, and wish to share.

At the time, the bet was simple to understand, but you needed to have some specific familiarity with statistical analysis in baseball for it to really make sense. Not this time. This lesson in avoiding a sucker’s bet is as simple as understanding that betting is never actually a great idea unless you’re the house—or at least have a way of similarly turning odds in your favor.

For example, Dad was in college during the 1980 Winter Olympics and when a kid who didn’t realize that the hockey game being shown on TV was a tape delay and everyone else in the room already knew who’d won …

But I digress.

In the image above, the betting service being pimped in the baseball game being represented was presenting the opportunity to wager on how many batters one of that day’s starting pitchers would record. The “under/over” was 4.5, meaning that you could bet either that he’d strike out four or fewer opposing batters, or at least five.

And either way, the house would win.

That of course is the best position you can be in when gambling; there’s no real gambling at all. In this case, if you took the over you needed to bet $130 to win $100, and if you took the under you needed to bet $110 to win that same $100.

The Sucker’s Bet (The House Always Wins)

When the house always wins—and that’s the point of being the house, by the way—every bet is a sucker’s bet. But the thing about being the house and holding out the opportunity for others to give you their money is that your targets aren’t supposed to see that they’re being played. Sucker’s aren’t supposed to know that they’re suckers.

The real point here isn’t that Dad thinks you’d do better not to gamble; if you have the means and can keep your losses in a place that doesn’t bother you, then have fun! Even better, though? Figure out how to be the house, rather than beat the house.

At that point, it’s someone else placing the sucker’s bet and you who wins.


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