Last Thursday turned into something of a punting marathon. I knew it was a day for heavy gambling the moment I opened a tin of Alphabetti Spaghetti and it was filled entirely with letter ‘O’s. I mean I’m not 100% au fait with the laws of probability but the odds on that happening must be off the charts so I took it as a sign to get conkers deep.
My first bet – West Indies women to beat New Zealand women in the T20 World Cup at 11/8 – hosed up. I then lost all my profit and a bit more besides smashing India to beat West Indies men in their T20 semi-final.
The Premier League darts was my next port of call as I rowed into Peter Wright to beat Dave Chisnall at 10/11. As a rule you should never bet on a man with a Mohican wearing clown pants but thankfully Wright prevailed 7-5. The £100 I won there was quickly splurged however as I foolishly bet Michael van Gerwen to hit more 180s than Raymond van Barneveld at 8/13. Barney rolled back the years as he peppered the red lipstick and took out a load of maximums en route to a 6-6 draw.
While the two Dutch powerhouses were going at it I clicked that Kei Nishikori was a set down and 6/5 in-play to beat Gael Monfils in the Miami Masters. So before you could say ‘degenerate gambler’ I was all over the Japanese number one. The match went all the way to a deciding set as Nishikori somehow staved off five match points.
We were both at the point of exhaustion as the match went to a final set tie-break. Kei from going toe-to-toe with a mercurial French shot-maker in the searing Miami Heat. Me from gambling 13 hours straight in my pants. Happily he won the breaker and while we may have been separated by the Atlantic Ocean we both went to bed happy that night.
So it’s Saturday and I had West Ham down as the bet of the year. They were unbeaten in eight matches and even money at home to do a Crystal Palace side who’d taken just two points out of a possible 33 in 2016.
I smashed into them with typical reckless abandon and couldn’t believe my luck when they went 1-0 down early on. They were dominating however and two quick goals – the last an absolute worldy of a free-kick from Dimitri Payet – sent them into the break 2-1 up.
A pal I was watching the scores with said I should consider cashing out but to a punter like me the term ‘cash out’ is just a dirty phrase, rather like ‘c*nt puddle’ or ‘Donald Trump’. I let it ride and was happy enough when news reached me that the Hammers were enjoying more than 70% possession and genuinely bossing proceedings at the Boleyn. Then it happens. Cheikhou Kouyate puts a rough challenge in on Dwight Gayle and referee Mark Clattenberg has a complete and utter f*cking breakdown and sends him off. Ridiculous decision. And talk about a game changer. Palace end up equalising, the game ends 2-2 and all of a sudden I’m tensing and pulling strange faces while logging onto my Paddy Power account and chasing on El Clasico. I smashed into Barcelona (unbeaten in 39 matches) to win and both teams to score at 5/4 so when Sergio Ramos was sent off for Los Merengues with the game finely poised at 1-1 I assumed I had caught a break and Barca would go on to win. Rule one. Never assume. That’s even more important than never punting on anyone wearing clown pants. The 10-men of Madrid soon take the lead against the run of play to leave me utterly bewildered.
At that point, ‘er indoors (who knows I’ve been gambling all day but doesn’t know I’m over a monkey down) comes in and asks whether “we should go to Tesco tomorrow and do a big shop?”
A big shop? At Tesco? Sit down babe and have a pikelet. I have some bad news…
By Sunday I was sick to death of gambling and vowed not to have a bet, which is pretty easy to do when you are potless.
I was a bit restless though so after cutting the grass and perusing the broadsheets was resigned to a day of doing not much at all. Until two pals of mine suddenly pulled up after 1pm demanding I go with them “for a few orange and waters” to watch the football.
“A few orange and waters” is coded speak on the sabbath when partners are present round our way and thinly veiled means “between eight and 16 pints of lager plus shots”.
The lads knew I was short financially but both work offshore so were happy to stand me the cash until payday. We ended up in a pub out of town and it was all going OK as we watched Leicester extend their lead at the top of the table by beating Southampton. Things began to go a bit pear-shaped after England lost the T20 cricket final however after an astonishing final over as a ginger lad – who I later found out was a Marine – somehow took exception to me dancing to Black Grape near the jukebox and offered me outside. After seven pints of Stella I didn’t need asking twice and it was only the intervention of a lovely pub landlady that stopped me picking up yet another silver medal for fighting.
Cheeky’s Punt of the Week: The Druids Nephew to win The Grand National at 16/1 (bet365)