Once a gambler…

As tempting as it is at this time of year to simply hide indoors, eat more chocolate than is sensible and wait for January to roll round so that furniture shops can reduce their prices and supermarkets can start selling Easter eggs, this year I promised the wife I’d take a break from the world of online gaming and heartily embrace the festive period.
Last year Christmas pretty much came and went without me looking up from the screen (well I was on a hot streak!) so this year I promised Mrs B I’d do my very best to look interested in all manner of yuletide whatnots, even agreeing to go with her to a number of Xmas faire things in school halls (you know: rickety tables covered in home-made tack that you buy for 50p and give to someone you truly hate).
I even went as far as to promise that I’d leave my beloved online poker to its own devices for three whole weeks (including weekends!). Obviously missing out on all that lovely rakeback would hurt, but profit-wise three weeks off might actually improve my figures (I’m not on a hot streak currently). However, not thinking about gambling proved far harder than I’d first imagined.
First on the calendar was some dreadful xmas craft fayre thing. Unfortunately a local ‘artist’ caught the wife’s eye and I was left standing next to a lonely woman who had clearly wasted hours of her life making DIY greeting cards that looked like slices of three-year old toast with glitter on. I was tempted to sign her up to BingoCams so she could make some new friends, but didn’t have my affiliate code on me.

I decided to kill time by walking around the hall with my hands clasped behind my back. I do this 1) to look superior, and 2) to make it QUITE clear that I won’t be dipping into my pockets for change to buy some scented candle a child made at home out of their nan’s melted dentures.
After circling a ‘stones-from-the-garden-that-someone-washed-and-painted-a -fairy-on’ stall for five minutes, I happened upon an old gent by a table upon which stood a plastic tub full of random keys along with the lock mechanism from a door. The accompanying sign said: “Open the door and win £50. 50p a go”. Hmm… I thought. I wonder how many keys are in that tub? I’m getting 100:1 for my key, so if there are less than 100 keys I should just keep playing until I open the door, because even if I had to get through 20 keys, it would still have only cost me £10 to win £50 so I’m getting 5:1 for my money and… OH NO! I’m calculating my pot odds! The wife’ll kill me!!

Moving away from the key stand for the sake of the Broughton Christmas (and because the old man looked like he was about to stick a key in my eyes for loitering and blocking the thoroughfare) I then came upon a chocolate tombola stall. This looked vaguely promising as it was simply a table covered in chocolate goodies with a raffle ticket stuck to each item. Buy a ticket for £1 and walk away with whatever chocolate had your number on – how could that go wrong? But then of course I thought… if I bought two tickets at £2 and got a twix both times (which sell for roughly 60p) I’d be approximately 80p down, but if I bought a third ticket for a total of £3 spent and won the big tin of Quality Street (RRP £4.99) I’d end up about £3.20 up on all the chocolate bought so… OH NO! I’ve accidentally calculated the Positive Expected Value of a chocolate tombola stall! RUN AWAY!
I stood by the door and tried to avoid eye-contact with anyway just in case I accidentally placed a bet on something, when someone asked me if I had change of a £10 note. I ran screaming into the car park in case the wife saw me handling cash and thought I was running an illegal bookies.

I survived for nearly two weeks until one of the bar staff in my local pub approached us the following Saturday night and asked if we wanted to play in their ‘Bonus Ball Bingo’ game. Pick a number from one to 49 and if that was the bonus ball drawn in that night’s National Lottery you’d win the entire kitty of £245.
I eyed the wife for a reaction. She twitched a little but was fortunately a few red wines into the night so I went for it, adding: “That’s 48/1 my love. That’s better odds than the lottery itself my sweet darling”. She gave me a ‘oh go on then you sick degenerate’ look and reached for the merlot. KERCHING! The deal was done and the number 38 was mine.
I’d invite you to check what the bonus ball from that Saturday night draw was, but I have a feeling you’ve already guessed the result. Needless to say the missus didn’t complain too much when I used my £240 profit to buy her dinner, along with a king-sized tin of Quality Street for myself.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!