Sometimes, I'd rather be lucky

According to the Chinese, today, with all its eights, is a lucky day.

The Chinese chose today - 8-8-08 - to open the Olympics because they consider the number eight to be good luck, so obviously three of them should be triple lucky. Considering all the human rights violations, pollution and other negatives the Chinese are going to try to hide over the next few weeks, they're going to need all the luck they can get.

But it's a funny thing luck. Some people don't believe in it. Some people make their own. Some swear by it. I'm sort of in between the last two. Most of the time, it's best in any given situation to make sure you've prepared yourself. As Johnny Unitas said, nothing is dangerous when you know what you're doing.

But every once in a while, things just fall your way.

Daily Post sports writer Ben Beitzel went to Las Vegas on Saturday. Before he left work Friday night he jokingly asked if anybody had any bets they wanted him to place. I took him up on it.

I gave him $15. I told him to make two $5 bets on the NASCAR race and to put the other $5 on double zero on the roulette wheel. I had much more faith in my NASCAR bets than in the roulette one, which any gambler can tell you is the longest longshot on the board.

Ben took my money, laughed and said if double zero hit he'd only take a 10 percent commission. Knowing the odds on a double zero, I told him I'd go one better: If it hit, he could have half.

Then I promptly forgot about it until Sunday when the race came on. I remembered my NASCAR bets and wondered what the odds were on the two drivers I'd backed because both were among the leaders for part of the day, but then it turned out not to matter because neither won.

Then Sunday night my stepson and I were watching television about midnight (he doesn't go back to school for another week) when my cell phone beeped. My wife was in bed asleep, so I couldn't imagine who could possibly be sending me a text message at midnight on a Sunday night.

When I looked at the screen it read, "1 Message from BenB."

No way, I thought. He wouldn't be texting me to tell me I lost. But I know I didn't win the race bets and 00 never comes up. No way.

Well, as they said in "Wayne's World," yes way.

There were only a couple of other people at the table when Ben walked up to it. He bought $10 worth of chips for himself and a $5 for me. He scattered his chips around the table and placed my bet.

"I put it on double zero and those two people looked at me like I was insane," Ben said. He then told them it was for a friend back home. I imagine them both nodding while thinking to themselves, "Ah, his friend must be a little cuckoo."

Ben said he wasn't even watching the wheel when the little ball fell into one of the slots. Then he heard someone say, "Heeeeyy..." And then someone said, "Remember, that's for your friend."

And there it was, the worst bet on the table had just hit. A ship named double zero had come in, at 35 to 1. $175 for a $5 bet.

Well $80 because Ben took his half, plus there was a $10 minimum on the race bets, which he'd spotted me. But still, I'd hit a longshot. Those don't come around very often, and it was worth half just for the story, which the gamblers among you, at least, probably enjoyed. The rest of you will probably just e-mail to tell me about the evils of gambling.

But the point is, occasionally, luck smiles on you. And any gambler can tell you that when luck smiles on you like that, you have but two quick thoughts. One, I can't believe I won. And two?

I wish I'd bet more.

E-mail Nate McCullough at nate.mccullough@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Fridays.