The scintillating highs and crushing lows of betting on The MastersApril 9, 2018 Opinion
When a bookie offers you free money you take it. Our betting expert Steve Carroll got greedy on Masters Sunday and paid the price
I’m not a lucky person. I won a raffle once but that’s scant reward for 30 years of shoving fistfuls of fivers into various buckets.
My lottery winnings come to a grand total of £3.60.
In a poker tournament I’d spent the best part of eight hours playing, I lost with four queens to runner-runner quad kings.
I was so angry I hurled my laptop against a wall.
It smashed into several pieces. It’s probably the only time you could ever say I’ve caught a break.
Every week I plough out my betting tips to you on the PGA and European Tours.
At one point, during the back end of last year, I think I had 20/1, 18/1 and 9/1 winners in a month. I didn’t back any of them.
My logic for that has been very simple. Money has always clouded my opinion and once you allow the finances to take charge of your choices you are in trouble.
But for The Masters I thought ‘sod it’. So I ran through the form, watched and read every interview I could find with every major player and asked experts how they had their own success.
I put together a carefully considered portfolio. There were all sorts of Augusta heavyweights in there – Rose, Mickelson, Kuchar.
No stone was left unturned. All of them were sunk by the weekend. Well, all but one.
Discovering I had a £20 free bet, by virtue of opening an account with one of the few oddsmakers who didn’t already have their claws in my bank account, I absent-mindedly plonked it all on Rory McIlroy.
Even though I’d written a column surmising that he probably wouldn’t win.
So when McIlroy shot 65 on Saturday, and it looked like it was between him and Patrick Reed for the Green Jacket, I was in something of a quandary.
I hadn’t handed over any cash but, when I logged on after the third round, the bookie was actually offering me real money.
I could cash out for £43.74 – and almost save my betting week – or I could let it ride and take the chance of winning £200.
After a night of tossing and turning (get that thought out of your head), I decided to go for death or glory. If Rory went down, so would I.
We’d both need a bit of luck. Oops.
Here’s how the evening (bet) went down…
7.40pm: 1st hole – Patrick Reed puts his drive by a tree off the first. This is happening.
7.41pm: Now Rory’s up… Oh God, I’m doomed.
7.51pm: I feel for Reed. I thinned a bunker shot just like that this morning. Welcome to the Masters – for handicaps 28 to 54.
7.52pm: It’s only two shots now! Cash out value: £58.31.
8.05pm: Rory stiffs it at the second. What a hit. He’s going to do it, isn’t he? Cash out value: £82.39.
8.12pm: Rory! It was only five feet. That feels a big moment. He’s picked up two shots in two holes from Reed and yet I’ve just ‘lost’ £14. Cash out value: £68.62
8.23pm: – 3rd hole – 40 minutes of wasted nervous energy. For nothing. After all that, it’s as you were. A three shot lead for Reed. Why didn’t I cash out?
8.28pm: – 4th hole – Rory: Great from 240 yards. Rubbish from 100. I’m not sure I can take this all evening.
9.09pm: – I’m not sure I’m going to have to. That’s a heartbreaker for my bank balance. Reed rolls a chip to a couple of inches from the cup. Cash out value £28.45
9.30pm: Rory bogeys the 8th. It’s all over for him and it’s all over for me. Already. I thought the Masters was supposed to start on the back nine on Sunday.
Only if you’re Jordan Spieth, it seems.
Like Rory, I will live to fight another day. So what lesson did I learn? Don’t bet? Don’t be silly.
It’s that when a bookie offers you no strings attached cash, take it. Don’t get greedy.