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ales of Team Carborundum
11th June 2001
Jesse May
Jesse May, multiple author in the gambling field and sometimes dubded the "voice of poker", writes a bi-weekly column.
Most people know Jesse as "the voice of poker" from his colourful commentary in CH4's late Night Poker. Jesse is also the author of the widely respected novel, Shut Up And Deal, which looks deep into the poker playing life. Its the hard faced 21st Century Cincinnati Kid.

Jesse is also the creator of The Gambler's Guide to the World, an insiders look at the action and games around the world.
Email : Jesse May
    It’s gotten weird. In the long running and silent war between bookmakers and gamblers over Tiger Woods, where bookmakers dare the public with ever more ridiculous prices and the public defies the bookmakers by betting on Tiger Woods anyway, they’ve just cranked it up a notch. Victor Chandler has taken the game into the fantasy realm by installing Tiger Woods as an odds on favorite to win this weeks US Open with a 125 runner field. Bet eleven to win ten, to be precise. And I say, raise.

It’s an established fact that the shortest price a favorite can be in a hundred runner golf tournament is about seven to one. And that’s if the golfer is absolutely on fire with a huge following, and the price is a sucker price anyway that sportsbooks are eager to lay because no one can win one out of eight golf tournaments. Golf win markets, or outright markets, have long been hugely profitable for sports books precisely because they’re so hard to hit. The book has many sweep weeks where it doesn’t pay out at all. They loved the golf markets until Tiger Woods came along.

About two years ago, a high stakes poker player named Johnny World made a bet where he was sure he had the nuts. He laid 4/1 on a standing $5000 bet against Tiger Woods every time Tiger played in a golf tournament for the following two years. When World made the bet, Tiger Woods was still five and six to one against when he played. By the time the World settled the bet, and not a good result for him, you were lucky to be able to get 2/1 on Tiger. Johnny World has laid off of the golf a little since then.

A very sensible approach would be to make bets on the golf that don’t involve Tiger Woods at all. Like betting on Mickelson to choke or Lee Janzen to have a twelve on one hole, or the quirky Duval to beat the field not including Woods with a parlay on him cracking a smile. But all that stuff is just avoiding the issue, isn’t it? I mean if you have the television on at all this weekend, if you pick up a paper or have a conversation or tune in on Sunday, then there’s only one possible issue of consequence. And that’s is Tiger gonna win.

The venue is Southern Hills Golf Course in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Golfer Lee Westwood commented, “Being a US Open means you're going have to drive well, be a good thinker and putt well.” How does Tiger Woods stack up in those three areas? The best, the best, the best. He’s the best driver, the best thinker, and the best putter. And he’s also the best under pressure. He plays better under pressure. Much better. Like earlier this year after he lost to Thomas Bjorn in Dubai and the press is all over him, they are absolutely hounding him because he hasn’t won in six tournaments and they’re screaming slump and just attacking him in every interview, and Tiger goes out and wins three tournaments in a row, including the Masters and the Player’s Championship.

When Michael Jordan was playing in his last professional basketball game, the seventh game of the NBA finals between Chicago and the Utah Jazz, were there any odds at which a gambler could have taken Utah to win, to foil Michael Jordan in his bid for final glory? Apparently there was, because I was on Utah that day. But not this time. It’s a little late to say this has the earmarks of something big, it’s tardy to say, “This guy could really be good.” It’s happening now. I don’t know when it will end or where it will go from here, but it’s happening now. And logic doesn’t even enter into the equation.

My favorite description of a pool shot was from a one pocket game with the cue ball wedged in on the lip of the corner pocket and the narrator he said, “Throw physics out the window.” You take all your stats, your charts, your record books and your past performances, just throw them out the window.

There’s only one sort of person who can win today betting on golf. It’s the blind fool. And I say follow the fools. If it’s foolish to actually lay money on Tiger Woods to win this golf tournament, if it’s crazy to say that he will do what no one has done before, if it’s financially insane to put good money in his name against the rest of the field to win the US Open, then I will die a lunatic. I will spend the rest of my days raving into a trash can, because I am betting on Tiger Woods.
Editor's note

US Open, Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa Okla. June 14-17, 2001

Defending Champion : Tiger Woods
Winner's Prize : $800,000
Winning Score : 272  (-12 )  Yards: 6,925
Winning Margin : 15 strokes ( a record )