And when I pick her up at home
To take her out on a date
Don’t have to take her to a fancy restaurant
For a five-dollar T-bone steak
I go to Las Vegas every fall with several of my law firm colleagues to attend a trade show. I think the first time I went to that show was 1991, and I’ve gone back every year since then.
Unlike most people, I don’t gamble when I’m in Las Vegas. The last time I placed a bet there was 1998, when I put $10 on the San Francisco 49ers to beat the Washington Redskins by more than seven points in a Monday night game.
When I turned on the TV that night, the ’Skins were up 7-0 and I was kicking myself for throwing away my ten bucks. But not to worry – the Niners shredded the hapless Washington defense for 504 yards and ending up prevailing by a 45-10 margin.
The next day, I went to my hotel’s sports book and got in line to collect my winnings when I noticed an employee of one of my clients waiting in a different line. He had bet on San Francisco as well, so we congratulated each other on our mad handicapping skills.
I got to the front of my line, handed the cashier my ticket, and collected my $10 in winnings.
He got to the front of his line, handed his cashier his ticket, and collected $500. (This guy was no more than 25 years old, and was nothing more than a glorified go-fer for the client – I’m guessing $500 was at least a week’s pay for him.)
I haven’t bet since then because I can’t stand to lose. Losing money at a casino would make me feel like an idiot – after all, you know you’re going to lose if you play long enough, right? I don’t care how small the bet is . . . I would feel like I was just throwing away my money.
So why was I considering a bet that might have cost me $600 on my most recent Las Vegas trip?
It all started at a business dinner with some clients and other lawyers from my firm – including a very talented and successful young female partner who I’ve known since she was hired just a couple of years out of law school. I’ll call this woman “Ellen,” since that is her name.
Ellen grew up in Pittsburgh, and she’s a big Steelers fan. After watching her team pound the Redskins a few days earlier, Ellen had decided to put a Benjamin on the Steelers to win the Super Bowl while she was in Las Vegas.
The trade show was at the Wynn, which was offering 6-to-1 odds on that bet. So if Ellen bet $100 on Pittsburgh at the Wynn and the Steelers did win the Super Bowl, she would be $600 richer. But the Wynn’s sports book was closed by the time we finished our client dinner, and Ellen was leaving on an early morning flight the very next day.
“Give me the $100,” I said. “I’ll place the bet for you tomorrow.”
If she had given me $100 and told me to play red at the roulette table, I would have simply kept the money. Better I have Ellen’s money than the casino — right?
But I couldn’t do that on a sports bet — they give you a printed ticket when you place a sports bet, and I couldn’t return to our offices without her ticket.
What I could do, however, was take Ellen’s bet myself . . . like I was a bookie. If I covered her bet and one of the other 29 NFL teams won the Super Bowl, I would be $100 richer.
If the Steelers won, however, I would owe Ellen $600.
Let’s face it — if a big Vegas hotel is willing to take a bet, it must be a pretty smart one. But I wasn’t sure I wanted to handle Ellen’s action.
For one thing, the Super Bowl is over four months away. The Steelers aren’t likely to collapse early – they are a solid bet to make the playoffs — so I would have had the possibility of having to pay Ellen $600 hanging over my head until January.
I was still mulling over whether to take the bet or not that night when I went to the Venetian to have dinner and do a little shopping. When I walked by the Venetian’s sports book, I was surprised to see that it was giving 8-to-1 odds on the same bet. So if I placed Ellen’s bet at the Venetian instead of the Wynn, she would stand to win $800 instead of $600. That’s a big difference.
I could have still covered Ellen’s bet at 6-to-1 — she would never know that I could have gotten her 8-to-1 odds. But I’m just not that kind of guy.
So I placed her bet at the Venetian. Later, I told her the whole story. I also told her that I expected a nice piece of that extra $200 if her bet ended up paying off.
I feel much better about the whole thing now. The most I could have won if I had taken her bet was $100 – Ellen will give me at least that much if she wins, so my potential upside is the same.
But my downside is limited. Now I’m not risking $600 if the Steelers win it all. And I’d rather be on the same side of this bet as Ellen rather than be hoping that she loses.
The favorites to meet in the AFC championship game are the Steelers and Patriots. I’ve had a huge man crush on Tom Brady for years, so ordinarily I’d be sad if the Steelers knocked the Pats off in the playoffs. But $100 would go a long way to assuaging that sorrow.
Don’t you just love a story with a happy ending? Where virtue and honesty and loyalty to one’s friend is rewarded?
* * * * *
The Jaggerz were a Pittsburgh pop band whose name derives from the Pittsburghese slang term, “jagger bush,” which means a bush that’s thorny.
“Pittsburghese” is one of the terms used to describe the American English dialect spoken in the Pittsburgh area. Speakers of Pittsburgh’s are sometimes called “Yinzers” because they use “yinz” as their 2nd-person plural pronoun instead of the more common “you all.” Click here to learn more about Pittsburghese and Yinzers.
The Jaggerz were best known for “The Rapper,” a fabulous single that made it all the way to #2 on the Billboard “Hot 100” in 1970. But “I Call My Baby Candy,” another track on the group’s We Went to Different Schools Together album, is almost as good. (I found that LP in a cutout bin about forty years ago -- I'm sure it cost less than a buck.)
“I Call My Baby Candy” praises the singer’s girlfriend, who would have been called a cheap date in 1970. According to the song, he doesn’t have to buy her fancy dresses or take her to expensive restaurants – a candy bar is enough to get him where he wants to go:
With a little help from milk chocolate
You should see the results I get
If the Steelers win Super Bowl LI next February 5, I’ll be expecting a lot more than a five-dollar T-bone steak.
Here’s “I Call My Baby Candy”:
As a bonus, here’s a really bad video of the Jaggerz performing the song on television. I hope they fired the director immediately after this performance aired — the visual effects he used to cover his cuts from one shot to the next are incredibly annoying:
Click below to buy the song from Amazon: