для читателей старше 18 лет
Inspired by real events
Rise of London Gambler
Novels by Serik Jumanov
This is the second edition of “Rise of London Gambler’. I deeply apologize for grammar errors, misprints, etc, contained in the first edition. Also, minor changes were made in the original text, and some additional information was added. However, you are very welcome to leave your feedback and remarks on Facebook page of “Rise of London Gambler”: https://www.facebook.com/riseoflondongambler.
Many times I was asked to write a book or brochure about my experience and business tactics. Sixteen years ago I wrote one brochure about trading techniques and investment risk assessment but, in my opinion, it had a very limited impact. For someone, the brochure was too brief and could not express all the details I usually share when I talk in person — for others, it had too many technical details making understanding difficult. Therefore, I did not have a proper motivation to write a new book.
However, a couple of years ago I wrote a script based on my novel called “You-lia” for Biennale Cinema College script contest in Venice and, surprisingly, it had relevant success which inspired me again. After some hesitations, I decided to write a book which had to be both entertaining and informative.
“Rise of London Gambler” is a story about a student who pursued his Master degree in Finances and decided to apply his skills to gambling. You will read about his scientific approach, elements of psychology in the gambling, his exciting life, and, finally, his way to success. So, I hope, you can spend some time reading this book and have fun, and some of you could read between the lines and/or pay attention to some details which could be useful for you.
The term “football” in this book relates to association football (soccer). Knowing of its basic rules is desirable for readers, but not necessary.
“Schizo” novel was adapted from a script.
The book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Rise of London Gambler
London. Sunday, July 6, 2014
“So, what is this vanity fair all about, Ben?” asked Chris, starting to sip his cocktail at “Seven Bells” pub in Putney. On Friday Ben invited him and his two other friends, Neil and Bruce, which was a bit of surprise for them. Free drinks offer was pretty tempting too, so Chris, who usually prefers spending his Sunday evenings at home and recovering for a coming business week, decided to come. Ben also texted there will be gifts for everyone.
“Let’s wait till Neil arrives,” replied Ben. “I have great news for you, and I wanna announce it once for all of you. Can’t wait to see your faces!” he laughed. “And yes, especially for this event I brought — tada! — a, here you are, the box of amazing dark crème flavored cigars from Costa Rica called ‘Senior Diaz’! You’re gonna love it, I’m sure! Buenas noches, caballeros!”
“What happened, Ben? One of the Arab Sheikhs became your client or your robbed a bank?” asked Chris, smiling.
“Not really, but it’s a good idea!” laughed Ben. “Come on, just wait. For God’s sake, where is Neil? Can he learn how to be in time, at last?” Ben was dying to tell them the news.
“Oh, I’m sure, it’s again one of London Tube closures or something. We’ll find it out when he arrives. This guy never misses freebies,” added Bruce, smiling.
“Good stuff, I like it,” said Chris, tasting the cigar. “Class A shit,” he said with Latino accent. “How much is the box?”
“He-e-ey!” exclaimed all of them, seeing Neil entering the pub. They could see he was rushing as he was all flustered.
“Sorry, sorry, guys,” was saying he, greeting his friends. “I was late for a train so had to wait for the next one…. How is it going? Good? So, what is the reason of this party for the crème de la crème? Did you get a promotion or salary increase? Or you married a millionaire’s daughter, Benny, you lucky bastard?” Everybody burst into laughter.
“Words ‘Ben’ and ‘luck’ in one sentence is the last thing in the world I would expect,” said Chris, smiling.
“Okay, take seats. Now each of you will get an envelope. It is my gift for you, guys.” Ben distributed the envelopes. “You can open it right now if you wish, or you can do it later at home.”
Neil already opened his envelope:
“One thousand?! Oh God, Benny, you’re… you are the best friend! Where did you get it?”
“Look, Ben, thank you very much indeed, but I’m not accepting it,” said Chris, shocked. “This is very nice of you, but this is too much for me and… you need money and Laura…”
“Laura? You said ‘Laura’? ! Benny, come on, yesterday it was Liz!” All guys started laughing at Neil’s joke — they all knew that in fact, Ben was pretty conservative when dealing with women.
“Please stop, okay? Give me five minutes to explain something to you.” Ben stood up to calm everybody down. “Just relax! Everything is legal and fine. I didn’t kill anybody and my ‘new girlfriend’ Laura is happy about everything. Do you guys remember how many times I borrowed some cash from you and never gave back? Mostly because I just forgot about it, but I know, Neil hates me for that!” smiled Ben.
“No-no, I just asked if you can…” said Neil but Ben stopped him.
“So, this is my compensation to you for the years in debt, if you will. And, the last but not least reason is I made big money! But to tell you about it I have to come back to one particular subject not so pleasant to talk about, no ladies but gentlemen! This is World Cup in Brazil…”
“Booo! Shut up, Benny!” Chris pretended like if he was disappointed — which in fact he was. Recent results of England national team were…
“Pain in the ass! Assholes! I can play better if I had a professional coach!” Neil now looked pretty angry.
“Yeah, yeah, enough! We all know about it and we talked and shouted about it many times. They’ve been eliminated, so what can we do?” asked Ben impatiently.
“Erh, fuck it,” said Chris. “So, what’s your point, Ben?” Clubs of smoke now were covering the guys’ heads.
“Have some of you noticed that tonight we are smoking cigars made in Costa Rica?” Ben raised the box of cigars. “Reason why is now I am enjoying everything Costa Rican is their national association football team helped me to win £80,000!!!” shouted he and slammed his fists on the table. Everybody in the cafe turned their heads to see what’s going on and, noticing nothing special, continued their chats, flirts, whatever.
“80 grand?! Are you kidding? Did you bet?” asked guys.
“Yeah, exactly! I just placed few bets on Costa Rica. You know, they were playing pretty well, and I felt like they were underestimated. I won £2,600 when they beat Uruguay, then £5,000 when they beat Italy and £15,000 when England couldn’t beat them. I thought it would be good compensation for me if England is eliminated so I placed my bet on it, why not? I just was securing myself from this kind of frustration! Then I continued to bet on Costa Rica till they got eliminated by Netherlands — but it happened only after a penalty shoot-out, so Costa Rica did not lose in regular time and thus I made money anyway.” Now Ben looked satisfied.
“Cheers! For Benny!” Guys raised their glasses with cocktails. “That’s really lucky, mate!”
“I have a plan now,” continued Ben. “I’d like to sponsor one amateur football club, New Eltham Blazers FC. My nephew plays for them. They are in Kent League now, and I’d like to help them get promoted to a higher league and go as far as possible in English FA Cup. That is my nephew’s dream — to play versus Premiership team. Where else can he do it with his club if not in FA Cup?”
“Unbelievable! 80 grand in two weeks?!”
“It all started by mistake,” replied Ben, starting a new cigar. “I wanted to place a bet with £10 stake, but since I was rushing, I typed ‘100’ instead of ‘10’ and hit ‘Place bet’ button. Odd for Costa Rica to win was already 26 since it was already 60th minute of the match, the score was 0—1, they were one goal behind, but I thought they had some chances to win. 26 was an attractive odd to bet on, considering the character of the game. I liked them, really. Just an underdog team, but they played with passion! I enjoyed the match. It’s like a strike of intuition, you know what I mean? Oh God, I got so nervous first, but after the equalizer, I calmed down a lot.”
“It’s like winning a lottery! Very lucky of you, Ben! Don’t bet again, keep some money! Take Laura to Florida or Hawaii…” advised Bruce.
“Well, I knew one guy who made his living on bets,” said Chris. “We studied together at business school and I used to meet him at Finance lectures. Really smart guy, analytical mind. I remember he won 5—6 grand once. We played football together for our business school team, a few times. I lost any connections with him after that semester, and I heard he ended up in a mental hospital being totally broke. What was his name — John, James? I mean that is not so unlikely to make living on bets and gambling.”
All evening they shared the wonderful stories of lucky bets they or their friends once made. Finally, they ended up talking about girls, and Chris felt like it’s time to go home.
“Okay, guys, tomorrow is Monday. It’s time to go to bed, kids.”
“Oh come on, grow up, man! It’s 10pm only! All fun is just beginning! Look at those chicas, man! I bet, in an hour there will be a dozen of them!” argued Neil. “Come on, we have money now!” added he, smiling.
“Neil, my dear friend, you can stay here as long as you wish, but I’m definitely going home!” replied Chris.
“Yeah, dear Chris is going home to clean teeth, jerk off, and sleep!” laughed Neil.
“I will drive you home, guys,” said Bruce. “Don’t worry, I am not too drunk.”
They got in the car and drove the night streets of Wandsworth. For them, streets looked great tonight. Gorgeous young girl in a miniskirt was standing alone at the bus stop.
“O-o-o-o-o-oh!” shouted Neil when he saw her. “I love her legs! Look at these legs!”
“Wow! Fuck, yeah! Fuck me, baby! Please, fuck me, please! Yee-haw!” Now everybody, except Bruce, was staring at the poor girl.
“What? Where?” asked Bruce, as he seemed to be concentrating all his attention on his driving.
“We have to come back! I wanna see it again! Turn left, Bruce! Turn left! U-turn!” shouted Neil.
Bruce readily U-turned. He drove back to the bus stop. Indeed, the girl was gorgeous.
“Oh, yes, baby, do it for me. I’m so horny tonight!” said Neil in the tone of fake excitement and dropped his pants, pretending as if he was going to jerk off in a backseat, making Chris who was sitting next to him, burst into laughter.
Ben turned back to see what’s going on in a backseat. “Oh, come on, stop it,” he smiled.
“Shit, it’s just a pussy belt! What a hot chica!” said Bruce, while driving to the bus stop.
Then he U-turned again coming back to his normal route. Neil prepared his mobile phone to shoot the picture of the girl and opened the car window.
“Look at me, sweetheart!” shouted he.
The girl looked at them embarrassedly and turned her back.
“Come on, Neil, go and get her number!” said Ben.
“Me? No way!”
“Oh, come on, Neil, this ‘Slovenian supermodel’ is dying to see you, man!” said Chris. “Bruce, stop the car!”
Chris pretended to push Neil out of the car, but he desperately wanted to stay in. This caused another burst of laughter because now Neil looked like a chicken.
“Okay, let’s go. I’m afraid we never get home if we continue,” said Bruce.
“I don’t mind to continue this night with the girl, man!” laughed Chris.
“Okay, maybe next time, guys. If I make some more money, I’ll take you to massage saloon with ‘happy ending’. I know one place in Ealing. But be careful, don’t say anything if Laura is around,” said Ben.
“Oh yeah! Little Benny’s grown up!” laughed Neil and said with a lady’s voice: “Hello, this is Happy Ending Paradise. Can I talk to Mister Ben regarding his order? Our models cannot wait to see him again!”
Ben laughed and turned to Neil, pretending like he is going to punch him.
“Okay, okay, I’m just kidding!” shouted Neil, protecting himself.
Bruce increased the volume of the radio. “You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful / beautiful, it’s true” was the song.
“I saw your face in a crowded place.” Guys started to sing too. “And I don’t know what to do/ “Cause I’ll never be with you.”
Three years earlier. London riots, Monday, August 8, 2011
“Hi, man! How was your job interview?” asked Mike. John was sitting in a kitchen and having his five o’clock tea.
“Another waste of time, and money,” replied John sadly. “Three hours of my precious life and effort are spent for nothing.”
“Was it that bad, mate?”
“Well, thing is, they don’t hire people at all. All they want is you to invest money in stock trading, and then you can either trade by yourself or appoint them to manage your account and trade on your behalf. Plus, there are no guarantees your money will be safe since it’s a high-risk business, and there is no fixed salary except commissions. A few years ago I worked as a FOREX trader so I know this shit. That’s not what I am looking for.”
Mike and John were roommates who shared a two-bed room flat in Tooting, a small town in South West London. Both were students — Mike was pursuing a Bachelors degree in Social Studies, and John was attending a business school for a Masters degree in Business Administration or “MBA” for short. They were good friends; both loved football and had many common topics to converse on. Mike was a 20-year old British citizen with Jamaican roots, and John, 28-year old, was from Russia. John’s real name was “Ivan” but he preferred when people called him “John” as he wanted to look like British.
“Hey, John, what the ‘MBA’ stands for? Managing the banks and accounts?” Mike asked him once.
“Nope, but you’re close. I’d say it stands for ‘Master of Being an Asshole’, ” laughed John.
“How is that?” laughed Mike too.
“Well, they teach you how to make cuts if your company is struggling with finances, how to fire people or hire only one of thousands to fire him in a month anyway and keep searching for a better candidate, and so on. Plus they teach you how to make more profit, more dividends, to keep shareholders happy even if workers have to suffer.”
“Is that the case? I always suspected that!” smiled Mike.
“Yeah, Mikey, you know I’m kidding.”
Recently, John got his redundancy payment from his employer who was having a hard time, and it has been a couple of months since John started looking for a new job as he didn’t like to ask his parents for help, as he usually did. Moreover, despite his parents, it was his decision to take all his savings and go to England to pursue MBA degree as he thought it would help him to find a better job than the dead-end career of microserf he undertook before entering the business school. Borrowing money from his parents would feel like a defeat.
“I have a friend who works in a cafe, and he says they always need cleaners,” said Mike. “The job involves cleaning the cafe in the evening when it’s closed. Not big money, but it’s something you could be doing till you find something.”
“Oh, thank you, Mikey, but they make only £400, maybe £500 per month. I can’t even pay my rent with that. The minimum I’m willing to take is £900 or so. Is that too much to ask in this hopeless city?” A dejected John showed signs of despair. “Well, don’t worry, Mike. I have money; I just didn’t plan on being unemployed, that’s all.”
In fact, John was running out of money. He was already planning to move to a cheaper room, and also calculated the expenses a room change normally incurs. Now, every time he went to the grocery store, he spent some time reading ads on the shop windows. Some ads read, “Looking for a roommate”, “Philippino only”, “One room in a house for six” — the cheapest option he found was a room for two in a house for eight, only for £200 per month with no security deposit. He saved the phone number from the ad, just in case.
“I see these FOREX ads everywhere. What is it, for God’s sake? Please tell me!” Mike’s voice brought John back to reality.
“Well, it is pretty simple, in fact. You just need to buy currency which is going to go up, i.e. increase in value.”
“So how do you make money then? I heard some people got rich doing that.”
“Okay, for example, let’s say, one pound costs one dollar. You expect that tomorrow one dollar will cost two pounds. So today you borrow one million pounds from the bank, buy one million dollars, and tomorrow you buy one million pounds for half a million dollars, return one million pounds to the bank, and the half of million dollars is now yours.”
£1,000,000 => $1,000,000 => £2,000,000
“So, you can keep $500,000 as a profit.”
“Sounds like a good deal for me!” Mike burst into laughter. “Five hundred grand! Why did you quit the job then? People should be doing great money out of it!”
“You see, it’s not that simple to predict the future. If you predict right, then you make money. If not, then you lose. Once I saw one guy who made sixteen thousand pounds overnight trading a Japanese yen versus American dollar. I swear that’s true! But when you work for commission, you don’t really care about clients’ money since you have constant pressure to make commissions money for yourself and for the company you work for…”
Mike’s mobile rang suddenly. He picked it up and his face changed dramatically.
“Hello? What?!!! You’re kidding! Shit!!! Okay, we’ll be there, man! Shit!!!” exclaimed Mike.
“What… What happened?!” asked John.
“Somebody held up the bookie, Ladbrokes! People went on riots! Our guys are there. It was Santiago just now, he said shops are closed, but people break in and take anything they want! Let’s go!!!”
In a moment Mike and John were running down Rectory Lane towards Ladbrokes betting shop. Different thoughts were in John’s mind at that moment so he decided to talk to Mike.
“Listen, Mikey, it is not a good idea. The police station is just a couple of blocks from here. CCTV is everywhere, you know this. I don’t know if it’s the right idea, bro. They’ll find us before we even get back home!”
“Come on! I’m not saying we are going to hold up some shop or break in, let’s just take a look and leave. By the way, Santiago said he already got nine or ten smart phones and PlayStations!” Mike looked really excited about things happening. “And he also said that Derek got a gun so we’ll be safe, innit!”
“Gun?!!! Is he crazy?! Fuck, they can shoot him if they see a piece of weapon in his hand! Remember that guy shot dead in Tottenham, Mark sumthin’?”
Mike slowed down a little. “Yeah, you might be right… Okay, we’ll just go and see. Fuck me; I never saw anything like this in my life! We’ll be careful, okay? But some day we will pay back to those rotten cops!”
“Oh, come on, chillax, Mikey! You don’t really mean it, right?”
They arrived at Ladbrokes shop. Windows were broken, all office equipment was gone, and a mess was everywhere. On the floor, there was a calendar with a date “August 8, 2011” and a billboard saying “Bet on Man City — Swansea correct score 4—0! Odd is 15.0!”
“4—0?! Do you think we’re idiots?!” John smiled skeptically. “No wonder they broke in your shop, guys.”
“Cool, let’s go!” said Mike. “There’s nothing left in here. Let me talk to Santiago, let’s find him. He should be around.”
They went out the shop and walked down the street. Sounds of sirens were in the air but they seemed to be far away. All small shops were closed with their steel shutters locked, but one shop remained open. Young guys were looting the shop while a lame old woman with a walking stick in her hand was shouting at them:
“That’s disgusting! Shame on you! Is this what Martin Luther King was fighting for?! Shame on you! You don’t deserve to have proper human rights; you’re just plain old scum! You hear me?! Animals! Vandals!”
Some youngsters who were approaching the shop started to hesitate. The old woman stood near the door and looked straight into the eyes if anyone who was trying to enter the shop. Some guys were recording her on a video with their smart phones and having fun.
“Well, you know, she might be right,” said John. He continued, “Why rob somebody’s shop if you have a problem with the police? Shop owners aren’t responsible for shooting that poor lad dead. I hope the shop owner has insurance.”
“Insurance?!” exclaimed Mike. “Fuck sake, what insurance you talking about, man? I am sure the guy can’t afford insurance because they can’t even pay minimal wage to the men that slave in their shops! This guy is really fucked up now, and there’s nothing he can do about it! Fuck, they have to get some supermarkets like Tesco, not the poor Indian man’s shop! Now rich people will get richer again, and poor people will get poorer. This country is really fucked up, that’s what I think!”
There lingered a short silence.
“Look, it’s Santiago!” Mike pointed out to the other side of the street and they ran towards each other.
“What’s up, bro! What a fucking day, eh!” Mike smiled to Santiago and his mates. “We just saw that bookie, it’s totally empty. Nothing left except chairs and tables!”
“Do you see this?” Santiago wasn’t listening. He looked high and overexcited. There was a gun in his hand.
“Where’d you get that?!” asked Mike, but at that very moment, the siren of an approaching police car could be heard. Santiago turned his head like a hunting cat.
“C’mon, let’s fuck it! I’ll shoot those fucking bastards! Eye for an eye! Let’s have some fun!” Santiago was shaking his gun in the air. John pounced on him and caught his hand with the gun, trying to put it down and cover it from the sight of the oncoming police car.
“For God sake, hide it!!! What are you doing?! Santiago, hide it!!! Are you in a fucking movie?! You’ll be safer if you don’t show them your gun, believe me! You’re not John Wayne. This is South London, not a bloody Western movie! Hide your gun and let’s fuck off from here!”
Santiago calmed down a little. The police car stopped at the guys, and a policeman asked:
“Everything’s alright, guys?”
“Yes, sir, we’re just watching why there’s so much noise around here”, said Mike, pretending to look like a good schoolboy.
The policeman looked over the guys thoroughly. “Come on, they have nothing in their hands, let’s go, Tom!” said a voice inside the car.
“You better go home, guys,” said the policemen and drove to the Indian’s small shop.
“I’m going home, Mikey. I’ve had enough for today,” said John angrily. “Shit, this is only a Monday. See you, guys!”
“Okay, see you, bro!”
John left the “scene” and headed towards the flat. He did not want to stay with the armed guys as you never know what is going to happen next, and he thought the best decision in this situation is to come back home.
“Fuck, if somebody had told me about it a week ago, I’d have never believed…”
Saturday, August 13, 2011
The referee pointed for a corner kick.
“Shit, it’s going to be a goal” murmured John, taking a position near the post.
His height did not allow him to be successful with headers when playing football so he always took position near the posts when an opponent team had a corner kick. He looked around to see where Mike is and found him marking a tall guy, a central defender of the opponent team. The corner kick was taken, the ball was crossed to the area of penalty kick where the opponent striker was the first to head it — just into the net — goal!!! Goalkeeper looked helpless. The opponent team roared and began to greet each other, crawling around the striker.
It was only a couple of minutes to the end of the match. Score now was 1—1, and it was really unlikely to score again in such a tight game. The wind became stronger and colder, blowing the leaves towards John’s opponent team goal. Darren, the manager of Fulham Compton Football Club — the team John and Mike were playing for — looked satisfied, though.
The game restarted, and John, who was in a position of a central midfielder, got the pass from a teammate. He dribbled into the opponent half but nobody seemed to be supporting him. He took a quick look around — no; there were no options in the attack. Another moment of intuition struck him as he was dribbling alone. The defender was approaching to block and tackle him. John shot intuitively from long distance. The wind blew the ball and it lobbed the opponent team goalkeeper — right under the crossbar!
“Goaaaaaaal!!!” He cried, being intoxicated with joy, and ran with raised hands to his teammates who were jumping and running to greet him.
“Great, man! We fucking did it!!! High five! Yeah!!!” Congratulations and cheering were coming like a waterfall.
“I can’t believe it!” John was laughing happily. “It’s just my lucky day!”
“Heads up!” shouted opponent’s manager to his players. “Let’s play!!!”
The match soon finished, and the players went to the dressing rooms and showers. Darren, the team manager, John and Mike decided to meet at the clubhouse near the pitch to watch a football match on TV.
“It’s a good idea to talk to a manager. Darren seems to be an adequate guy, and if he invites you to have a beer with him, there are strong reasons for that, believe me,” said John talking to Mike. “Also, the waitresses are Fulham Compton’s women team players!” smiled John.
“OK, let’s go. Do you know, how much is the beer at the clubhouse?” asked Mike but John didn’t hear him since it was very noisy in the dressing room.
Darren was sitting at the table in the bar and taking probably the best seats to watch TV. He waved his hand once he saw John and Mike, inviting them to his table.
“The first half is almost over, it’s going to be a break now, so let’s talk,” said Darren, chewing.
“Let me be brief with you, guys. What are your plans this season? I’d really want you to stay with us. Club President — you can see him at the bar, he is also a bartender here — told me he will sponsor the team only if we have a strong one. Last season our team earned only one point throughout a whole season, the team was shit, and the only reason why they decided to keep it is my promise that I am going to make a successful team this season. We are doing okay by now, but if you leave — I know you might leave, let me be straight with you — we are not going to have a team. I know you have friends who can play ball really well. You can invite them to play for us, right? So, guys, if you stay with us this season, I can confirm to Club President we will participate in the League…”
“Of course, Darren, we are with you,” said John, turning his eyes to Mike who nodded his head affirmatively. “You can rely on us. What about new players, I have some…”
“Great!” exclaimed Darren with a smile of satisfaction. “Let’s have a drink! The club pays for all drinks today! Okay, let me introduce you to our Club President, Andrew. I think he will be happy to hear the news.”
Club President was a nice guy, approximately fourty years old, plus he was an effective communicator. They had a brief but intense chat. “So, if we need you to play for our first team, we can call you, right?” he asked the guys who happily nodded their heads. “OK then, we’ll keep in touch, Darren. Any more drinks? Meatballs and pasta are going to be ready soon.”
The guys returned to their table. Next hour was spent in discussion on the match finished and the teammates’ performance.
“Darren, we need to talk to the keeper. I know he is a nice guy but if he continues playing like that, we…”
“Only person I need to talk to right now is that girl over there, you see?” said Darren, laughing. “The waitress, her name is Zaida. She is a midfielder of Fulham Compton Ladies team.”
“Manchester City — Swansea: 4—0, fulltime” read John on the screen.
“Wait! Oh my God!!! Is it real?! Is it final score?” — he asked the people around him. “I just won one hundred fifty pounds!!!”
The first step
“How did you do that? Come on, tell me!” John and Mike took the seats in the bus back home to Tooting Broadway and began to discuss John’s lucky bet.
“Remember that night when we went to Ladbrokes shop? When I came back home, I thought about things like predictions etc., and it came up to my mind that the score 4—0 which was written on that Ladbrokes board (remember?) might be a good deal since the future is pretty surprising and shocking sometimes. So I registered at bookie website, checked few odds, and placed bets on correct score (4—0), -3.5 goals handicap (i.e. Manchester City are to win with at least 4 goals margin), total number of goals in the match (more than three) — you know, just for safety of my stakes if something goes wrong — and you see, all the bets won! Damn, this is just exactly when I need money most!”
“So, what you’re gonna do now? Become a professional gambler?”
“Come on, this is too early to talk about it. This is only one bet! When I get home, I’m going to see the odds and use my intuition. Oh God, please… If I am same lucky again, in a month I’m gonna be a millionaire!”
“H… How is that??”
“Look, my balance increased by 10 times today, and I started with £10. Now I have £100, okay? Next week I’m gonna win £1,000, and in two weeks it’s gonna be 10,000! In four weeks I will have £1,000,000 if everything goes fine. But this is in theory only.”
“This would be amazing,” said Mike after a moment of silence. “I’d wish to have such money-making ideas too…”
“Don’t worry, Mike, your old buddy will help you,” smiled John.
Last corner kick
The following month John spent all evenings and nights checking odds, reading statistics, players’ and football managers’ interviews. Many times when Mike saw him, John was either smoking in a backyard or watching football with his earphones on. “What are you listening to?” asked Mike once just to have a chat with John since he started to worry about him. “It’s trance, best DJ’s compilations,” replied John, showing that it is the end of the conversation but Mike wasn’t leaving.
“C’mon, please, one more corner, please…” murmured John.
“What are you watching?”
“It’s a match I found online on this bookie website. They accept in-play bets during the match so I checked them and decided to bet on a total number of corners in the match. They seem to have lots of corners — the match is intense, attacking football, and the pitch looks relatively small,” replied John with a concerned face. “It’s the 93rd minute, the match is about to end, and I need one more corner, please…” said John.
Mike joined him and started to watch too.
“Did you say ‘size of the pitch’? How is that related to a number of corner kicks?” asked he.
“Well, this is my theory only but it works well. Since the size is smaller, it takes less time to get from one box to another and earn a corner kick. It also depends on the character of the game so I need to spend some time watching the match to see if it’s worthwhile,” replied John.
“How much is your stake?” asked Mike after a while.
“£44, it’s a half of my current balance. My tactic is to bet half of my balance every time, just for safety so you keep your balance active as long as possible. The odd is about 5, which is cool for such game, I think. They had 5 corners in the first half, and another five by 60th minute — so I decided to bet that there will be more than 16 corners in the match since usually, the teams in such intense games tend to earn more corner kicks in the last 10 minutes of matches.”
“Look, look!” exclaimed Mike impatiently. Attacking team was approaching the opponents’ box. Striker shot on goal but the ball was blocked by a defender. The ball bounced from the defender and crossed the goal line.
“Corner! It’s a bloody corner!!!” exclaimed John and smiled. “Ref is giving a corner kick! Yeah!!!”
A player who was now going to take the corner kick placed the ball and raised his hand to signal his teammates. At this moment, the referee whistled for the end of the match.
“Cool, man! Let’s have a tea!” said John happily. “Would you like some tea, Mike?”
“Great! Where are my cigarettes…?”
They had few sandwiches, made tea, and went out to the backyard garden where John liked to smoke.
The same evening John got a message from bookie saying that as soon as the last corner kick wasn’t taken, it is not counted in the match statistics, so his bet lost.
Moving to another flat
October was approaching so John and Mike had to make payment to a landlord. Mike needed to talk about it with John who never delayed any payments due. It is why he was very happy to see John when he entered his room.
“May I? Look, we have to pay rent soon; here is my part, but… I am afraid next month I am moving to…”
“Why? How are your bets going? You didn’t make money?” asked Mike, starting to worry.
“No. The things did not go so well. I tried everything, but the things went crazy. It’s like a spell on me, I don’t know. I did everything according to statistics and match expectations, but I always needed either one more goal scored or one more corner taken. All shit like that. I decided to stop,” said John sadly. “It was a nice try anyway.”
“Sure, John. You will make it, I feel it.”
“Thanks, mate. We’ll see. Maybe some day… I am planning to place small bets, just for fun and experience. Listen, I am sorry for causing these troubles you’re gonna have — you know, finding a new roommate etc — but now I cannot afford £500 per month to rent a room.”
“I see.” sighed Mike. “Come on; tell me, how bad is your situation? I can lend some money…”
“No-no, it’s all right.”
In fact, John’s situation was pretty bad now. He lost not only the money he won at the beginning but also a significant part of his savings. Now, he had only about £1,000 which would let him survive for a couple of months if he finds a cheaper room, plus he was expecting to get back his £750 security deposit from a landlord. He had 6 months remaining till the graduation, so his budget was pretty tight now.
“Okay, man, let’s have some tea. We did not talk lately; I saw you were busy and nervous, so I kept leaving you alone. By the way, Darren also asked me why you changed recently, and I said you are busy with your studies.”
For a tea, they had milk, toasts, jam and chocolate cream. That was their usual ration.
“Sometimes I was so close to winning big money. Sometimes even up to £100,000. I made double, triple, four-fold, and even fourteen-fold bets sometimes. And every time there was one bet or two bets which lost. Damn, I started to feel the matches are fixed!” said John desperately.
“Fixed? It’s against the law, isn’t it??”
“Yes, it is, but it doesn’t mean there are no fixed matches, right? Remember few cases in Italy when Juventus and Milan were relegated for fixing matches? Or in Turkey? Some clubs were fined in Turkey for fixing their matches! And I am sure there are many small clubs which fixed their matches too, but they are not on the news.”
“Are you sure??”
“Well, not really sure but I have a feeling that there is something which looks like if some matches were fixed. If I feel the match is not fixed, almost all my bets win. But sometimes match goes just the opposite way I expect, and I can’t explain why. For example, when we play in Saturday League, the matches are pretty clear and simple, right? I just dream they allow us to make bets on those matches! You can see which team is stronger and whether it can win. Usually stronger team wins more corner kicks and gets less yellow and red cards. I checked our games we had — they all are in line with my theory. Well, maybe I made mistakes in my predictions a couple of times, but when I bet with bookies, results were catastrophic!”
“Well, professionals play very tactical games, not like us,” said Mike. “We just kick the ball and run, we don’t have any tactical approach, I think.”
“Right, I thought about it too! So I bet in-play when I see how the game is going, and what to expect from the teams. Even so, many of my bets lost! How could it be?? I don’t get it! I just don’t get it!!!”