Sunday, December 4, 2011

Three and out

In 1996, I was playing blackjack on the second floor non smoking section of Harrah's Northern Star casino riverboat cruise. Though it was not like the time I lost 12 hands in a row I was not ahead.

As with what was happening that evening, I was dealt an 18 but the dealer had a 10 which means I would win only 1 out of 3 times. The last player before the dealer had a 13 and instead of taking a card which is considered mandatory by all blackjack instruction manuals, decided to stand being afraid of going over 21 which will lose 5 out of 6 times while drawing will win about 40% of the time. (Yes, I figured out those odds when I started playing blackjack in casinos in 1993)

The dealer uncovered a 4 and then drew a 6 making 20 taking most of the money off the table. I was so upset about what that player did, as the dealer was about to pass out the first card of the next hand, I looked at him and while pointing to where the first card was going to be placed in the same voice I now use when I want to get a point across to my daughter sounded "TEN!".

The smugness of being correct wore off while the hand was being played and I thought to myself, "What the fuck am I doing?" It was not the first time another player, including one who split 5s two times in 10 minutes, aggrivated me at a blackjack table. I knew I had enough and after winning that hand collected what chips I had left and walked away realizing that watching others playing blackjack with me irritates me so much that it is no longer worth the effort to play and I have never played regular blackjack at a casino since. (note: I have played embellished versions of the game but not one hand regular blackjack)

I hit the point of "TEN!" in fantasy football in October 2007. Though the competition was never "fun" I have played the game increasingly angry over the past 4+ years most notably when I spent the evening of opening weekend this season in the ER due to chest pains or when I sent multiple emails complaining about 2 extra points from a blocked kick that was only deflected being given to my opponent in a week where I won by 35. My anger over fantasy football has even materialized when hearing about other leagues and their formats and decisions people make in those leagues. Things got to the point where I want to know what is happening during every game ASAP especially during the 7 out of 13 Sunday afternoons this season I was not home watching the games.

Last weekend, my fantasy team, the Misfit Demons (named after the Mutant League Football representation of the 1972 Miami Dolphins) clinched their third straight division title having their best season ever. I was unhappy with how the draft went since I missed out on a number of players I wanted and ended up limiting myself due to making a mistake in the third round. However drafting the best scoring RB in the second round and the second highest scoring WR in the 6th round along with the top one in the first more than made up for that:

In spite of my dominance this season, I was nervous about winning the division until late Sunday afternoon when I clinched this week's victory which gave me the division title and the #1 playoff seed. Since I put in the effort that others don't, I have gotten to the point where victory is the only acceptable option and anything short of a division title would be a complete failure.

The obvious question is "Why does it matter how other people play?" People making mistakes in blackjack allows casinos to have rules that provide a smaller house edge against me. Needing to take off my shoes to count the number of times one of the other teams in my league has an injured or bye week player in their lineup increases my chance of winning over a 14 week span even if it might determine who I face in the playoffs. My fantasy team this year benefitted from other teams releasing players who I had in starting lineups and discovering the 49ers defense was good before others. I also know that if everyone else in the league puts the same committment into fantasy football that I do then my chances of winning would be based on luck and timing which is the exact reason I quit playing Scrabble. To be honest, I really don't know why it matters; I just know it does.

Eight weeks ago when my team was 5-0 and I was upset about the league, I realized it is time to cash in and walk away like I did 15 years ago. The money I can win from playing fantasy football does not compensate me for the time, energy and effort I put into everything especially considering that I need to send a $100 copay to the hospital for the ER visit last September.

On Sunday, I told my daughter I am not going to play fantasy football anymore after this year and she asked me why. I told her it gets me too upset. She said it makes sense.

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