Tuesday, May 12, 2009

House advantage

When I was in grad school, I took a class called “Advanced Financial Statement Analysis” from a professor who referred to himself as Dr. Dave. Dr. Dave wore his graying hair in a mullet and had a 1980’s porn star mustache. During one of the first class periods, he told us that sometimes he gets up in the morning, looks in the mirror, and says to himself “Dr. Dave, you good-looking son of a b!+ch, don’t you ever die!”

Dr. Dave was a great professor both for the educational quality of his lectures (if you have the audacity to call your class “Advanced Financial Statement Analysis” you ought to be able to back it up, which he could) as well as for the entertainment value of the classes.

You see, Dr. Dave had some quirky mannerisms, such as flipping his hair back or fidgeting with the chalk in a certain way. And he would exhibit these quirks often and consistently enough that one could predict with a certain degree of precision their frequency.

So my friend Bryan and I began entertaining ourselves in class by setting an over/under number on one of these quirks and then placing a $1.00 bet. The person who set the number let the other choose which side of the bet to take. Whether giving or collecting the dollar at the end of class, keeping score was a source of good, wholesome entertainment.

Some years later, Bryan actually uses his financial statement analysis skills. I, on the other hand, have taught my kids to gamble.

We live at the top of one of the most popular hills for cyclists in the Salt Lake Valley. So at nearly any daylight hour of any day, but especially on weekends, when I’m most likely to be carting the kids around, there will be someone riding up or down the hill. I set an over/under number for how many cyclists we’ll see, and the kids choose which side of the bet they want to take.

It makes for great entertainment, though nothing is at stake save bragging rights. Our 10-year-old is even beginning to understand the concept of house advantage.

Even though she can’t count, our two-year-old gets in on the action, too. Although she chooses “under” every time. I’m not sure if that’s because she understands house advantage better than any of us, or because she can’t say the word “over.”


  1. Has anyone spotted a recumbent in Suncrest? I'm amusing myself by picturing a recumbent chugging up the north side (then tipping over).

    Life is risk, so you're teaching your kids valuable life lessons.

  2. Ahhh! I can get behind anyone who teaches their children to gamble.

    Years ago I came home from work to find Aaron with the young men from our ward seated around a table with Aaron teaching them how to play poker. Nice.

  3. Nice post, and glad to hear I'm not the only one with a kiddo that locks in on one answer to a question! I'm going to start running an over/under for border patrol sightings. Yes, there are that many down here.