DPD Bettor’s Guide – Glad I gave up gambling Super Bowl edition

Our resident handicapper will be sitting out Sunday’s Super Bowl, but still has some thoughts on what to do if you will bet on the game.

The American Gaming Association predicts bettors will wager $4.7 billion on Sunday’s Super Bowl, up 11 percent from last year.

I’m just thrilled and thankful that I won’t be one of them. Two years running.

After a lifetime of sports gambling,  I pledged in The Wall Street Journal  before the 2015 NFL season to kick betting to the curb. Not just on Super Bowl Sunday, but one Sunday at a time – no teasers, no parlays, especially none of that “more filling, less satisfying” drug of fantasy football.

Sparky and Our Gang sang it right: “Sunday’s Have Never Been the Same.”  I used to waste from noon Sunday to Monday Night Football checking point spreads, calling multiple bookmakers, scouring off-shore websites. Now, freed from the obsession, I cherish every Sunday – even as a Cleveland Browns fan.

In the twisted thinking of a compulsive gambler, I’d regularly bet the Browns to lose – or certainly not to cover the spread – rationalizing that my winnings would soothe the pain of another Cleveland loss. Financially it was profitable since betting against the Browns, Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Cavaliers delivered T-bill returns at less risk as I cashed in handsomely over decades of named Cleveland sports debacles: John Elway’s Drive, Earnest Byner’s Fumble, Michael Jordan’s Shot, Jose Mesa’s Blowup.

But like other drugs, the highs from a winning bet never made up for the lows stretching over a half-century-long championship drought that began on Dec. 27, 1964 – the day after my Bar Mitzvah. Now I’m on Medicare.

Then almost two years ago to this day, I committed to recovering from gambling and other compulsive attitudes and behaviors. Life’s better on all counts – physically, emotionally, spiritually –  and call it karma, coincidence or dumb luck, but some higher power finally lifted the Cleveland sports curse.

The reigning NBA champion Cavs ended my hometown’s 52-year championship drought and the Indians took the World Series to a historic Game Seven. Even the Browns avoided the ignominy of a winless season while earning the NFL’s No. 1 draft pick. All taste much so much sweeter without wagering a dime on or against any of them.

As a student member of NAADAC, the Association of Addiction Professionals completing my Certified Substance Abuse Counseling (CSAC) education at Northern Virginia Community College,  I’m also learning there’s no one magic road to recovery. Therapy, group support, Twelve Step Programs – they all can work if you work them.

While we Clevelanders have never experienced the joys of a Super Bowl Sunday, every football fan should be wary about the dangers of overindulging on what has become America’s National Holiday. From benign consequences like indigestion and a hangover, to the life-threatening crimes of drunk driving and physical assault. For problem gamblers, this Sunday is, well, the Super Bowl.

Not all of that $47 billion will be wagered by compulsive gamblers – even my wife will kick in $20 for the couple of squares at our neighborhood party (that always came “5” and “2” for me). Other casual gamblers will call their bookie, go online or even bet the guy in the next cubicle – all equally illegal – on Sunday’s current game lines of the New England Patriots at -3 and the 59-point total. But it’s not illegal or a slip from my sobriety regimen to advise how you should bet.

So as Dawg Pound Daily’s resident handicapper (although a 2-8 playoff record might justify my editors “going in a different direction”) using my proprietary “Browns Fan Rooting Interest” algorithm, here’s my Super Bowl LI prediction:

Why to root against the Falcons:

Why to root against the Patriots:

  • The “pre-genius” 1991-95 Bill Belichick
  • You know the Pats pulled a fast one when the Browns pay Jamie Collins $50 million.
  • Another title and those annoying Boston fans will sink to even lower levels of insufferability.

As many Americans may have felt during the last election, there is no good choice on Sunday’s  ticket. Pick your poison, but one of ‘em is gonna win: Matt Ryan throws a late game pick to preserve a 30-27 New England win, a “push” for bettors and a narrow “under.”

Regular season record: 36-34-3; Playoffs 2-8

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