Stab Magazine | The Troublesome Art Of Surf Betting

The Troublesome Art Of Surf Betting

And the quest to become the world’s greatest surf handicapper. 

style // Mar 24, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

I love betting on horses. Drinking cold beer with friends, watching muscled beings in bright colours and big numbers try to outperform each other and risking money on something you have no control over. Hell of a way to spend a day.

Professional surf events are similar, except the men riding on the backs of these beings are only doing so metaphorically, and they typically aren’t as small as jockeys. At least not physically.

For me, the consequential difference was that I couldn’t wager on surfing. None of my gambling sites offered surf, and I couldn’t tap into the Australian sites with an American bank account.

But that changed recently. I finally swindled my way into an account and started wagering at the 2017 Quiksilver Pro In Loving Memory Of Kirra. Figured I’d get rich quick. Felt like I’d been kissed by an angel.

I stuck with my trusted sports betting formula of picking underdogs (not longshots) that had a fair chance of winning while avoiding big favourites unless I was factoring them in with a few others in a multi-bet. I soon realised that the angel kissing my neck had a mouth that tasted like Newport cigarettes and her wings were tattooed on. I got trampled. It left me equal parts devastated, confused and drunk.

How could this happen? The answer I came up with is pretty simple. I was betting on what could happen instead of what probably will. I looked at the John John Florence vs Mikey Wright Round three heat and scratched my chin. Hmmm… One of these men has a license to fly a plane. The other would probably seek a license to drive a tank just to run shit over with it. Should have known that the defending World Champ wasn’t going to take a 13th in the first event of the year at the hands (mullet) of a wild card, but I saw how Mikey had been surfing and thought maybe…

Maybe doesn’t work.

Surfing — or at least the WSL version of it — ain’t the toughest nut to crack. In the grand scheme of things, upsets seem somewhat rare. Trends are easy to pick up on during events, and the contest format makes it easy for a gambler to take advantage of that. For example: by the final day of the Quik Pro, you probably could have figured out that anybody standing with the right foot closest to the nose of their surfboard was going to be OK.

This whole thing led me to a revelation: I am going on a quest to become the world’s greatest surf handicapper — my picks will be prophetic. I will theorise and test, theorise and test, theorise and test. I will become a statistician, even using Excel for the first time since the last time I got a hand job.

And I’ll share my findings with you. I want you, the little people, to get rich too. We can all buy yachts and ride surfboards not made in Thailand and have wild sex parties with mountains of cocaine. The Caribbean sound alright?


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