A Life Changing Book

Someone recently mentioned that one of the characters in the book, The Ultimate Edge, was based on himself. This book, written by Mark Billings, talks about blackjack in the 80s. It includes some insider tips that I haven’t seen elsewhere and ends with a discussion of the main characters’ best play.

I read the book in preparation for a Gambling with an Edge visit from the author on April 4, 2013 and came across one tiny throwaway section that has brought a lot of fun to my life. I wrote about it back then, but since I’m sure many of my readers didn’t read that particular column 7½ years ago, I’ll repeat the fun part here.

The part I enjoy involved a bar bet that a guy could do “between three and four hundred push-ups in 10 minutes.” I avoid all bar bets on general principles but would have been very interested in seeing how this one played out.

If the guy making the bet looked like a professional athlete, then maybe it would be possible that he could do 300 or more push-ups in 10 minutes. Maybe. But this guy was kind of average looking with rather puny arms.

The bet was made. The guy did seven push-ups and claimed he won the bet. I had to read that several times before I realized that the bet wasn’t between 300 and 400 push-ups (which is what most people would mean when they say “between three and four hundred”), but simply between three push-ups and 400 push-ups. And seven push-ups are definitely in that range.

Okay. It’s rather cute. But how does this change my life?

I regularly get asked how much money I’ve won or lost on a particular day. I don’t want to give an exact figure, so I often say something like “between ninety and a hundred thousand dollars,” which is usually going to be true unless my actual number is either less than $90 or more than $100,000.

When people hear “between ninety and a hundred thousand dollars,” their minds go crazy. They want a piece of that unless it’s a day where I LOST between ninety and a hundred thousand dollars! In that case, I’m on my own.

When I eventually explain that it’s just a play on words, most people seem amused and forget that I didn’t actually answer their question. If they insist on a more precise answer, I ask them to explain how this is any of their business in the first place. That usually ends the discussion.

Since it is New Year’s resolution time, I think I’ll resolve to do between three and 400 hundred push-ups every day along with a similar number of sit-ups. That will really make me stronger and healthier!

On a somewhat related note, Mark Billings has recently published a new book on Predictive Roulette. You’ll read about it here and I’m quite sure he’ll be a guest on the podcast.

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