Luck

A couple of years ago, I was visiting my sister in Banff over the Super Bowl. She had to work on the night of the big game, but during my time in God’s Country, I had made friends with some of her buddies, and so that evening I went over to one of her friend’s houses for a Super Bowl party.

I didn’t know anyone there that well, and it was kind of them to allow a relative stranger to join in their festivities, so I decided to ingratiate myself by participating in their squares game, knowing full well that I was most likely pissing away my money.

For the uninitiated, squares is a common Super Bowl party gambling game in which there is absolutely no skill whatsoever involved. It’s well explained here, but basically, you purchase sqauares on a nine by nine board, with random numbers on the x-axis and y-axis that are made to represent the last digit in either of the team’s score. At the end of every quarter, you look at the score and reward the person who bought the square that matches up with a quarter of the total pot.

For example, if one of the squares I bought ended up having a seven on Team A’s y-axis and a 4 on Team B’s x-axis, and the score at the end of the quarter was Team A with 7 and Team B with 14, I would be the winner. Anyway, it just so happened, that I won the first quarter squares game with my new friends.

In a way I kind of felt badly taking their money, but they seemed to like the idea that a newbie was enjoying himself and winning made me feel like I was a part of the crew, giving me something to tease the others about. Then, at the half, I won again. It was a little bit more awkward this time because the jokes turned progressively more sour, and as we all know there’s a little bit of truth attached to every bit of joking.

Comments went from, “Oh, beginners luck” to “This new guy is taking all of our money.” Still, I think my reluctance in victory shone through and likely quelled any serious bitterness at my completely random success.

Then, as the third quarter wound down, I was again in a place to win, and the crowd pretty much turned against me, with everyone in the room rooting against every play that made my score line appear more likely and loudly cheering in favour of any play that increased anyone else’s chance at winning. I felt like an outcast, an unintentional villain.

Of course, I won again, but this time my reluctant victory act was getting old. I suggested that I could take everyone out after the game for a couple of rounds on me, but the offer wasn’t received the same way in which it was intended, and instead of people taking me up on free drinks all I received where¬†stupefied¬†glares of dislike.

By the time I won the final score line, it was almost expected. People began avoiding the mere mention of the squares game as though it was an elephant in the room. I tiptoed through the entire final quarter, not really caring who won the game just so long as it was by any score other than one that would bring me more of these people’s money. It didn’t happen. I ended up walking away with the entire pot.

I left shortly after the game, again extending an offer to pay for anyone’s drinks at the bar. No one took me up on it, and I imagine that no one wanted to see much more of me. So, I departed, and spent the rest of my time in Banff avoiding those people.

A fan at the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds game last night caught two home run balls hit to almost the exact same spot in the stadium on back-to-back at bats. Amazing.