The first time I ever made a bet I was sixteen years old. I looked a lot older than my age and I had no trouble placing the bet. I had saved up $500 I had earned at the Dairy Queen that summer. As my father was a gambler I knew all about the ponies. By the time I was 12 I knew how to handicap a racing form. My father had taught me. Those were the things that we talked about over dinner.

There was a horse that I had been following that summer. The horse’s name was ‘Don’t Tell Helen’. The horse rarely won but always seemed to place or show. For some reason I took a liking to this horse. Maybe it was because I liked the name? Or maybe because the horse was always an underdog and I sympathized with it?

It was a Tuesday in September when I decided to place my first bet. I cut school in the afternoon to go to the race track. ‘Don’t Tell Helen’ was running in the third race. The odds were stacked tremendously against the horse. It had been moved up in its class for this race. And everything my father had taught me told me that I should not bet on this horse in this race. But something inside me, call it a hunch, told me to take the chance.

So I bet my $500 on ‘Don’t Tell Helen’ to show.

I didn’t watch the race. I went inside to the bar and had a cup of coffee. When the race was over I checked the tote board. ‘Don’t Tell Helen’ had finished dead last. I ripped up my ticket and left the race track.

I wasn’t angry. My father was a gambler and he had taught me easy come – easy go. But I had learned my first valuable lesson in gambling.

Never go with your emotions. If it is a feeling or a hunch don’t follow it. If you are going to gamble be a professional. Follow a system and stick to it. And that is what I have done ever since.

Copyright Pamela Pompeii. All rights reserved.
Pamela Pompeii is a leader in a new breed of stylized journalism.


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