Richard Roeper Blog

Bet the House

Yesterday was Day One of the 30-day gambling experiment known as “Bet the House.” I’m going to save most of the material for the book itself, but suffice to say that on the very first day, I was up and then I was down, and then I was even, and then I was up a little. I won two games by the absolute slimmest of margins. And when you’re taking Binghamton plus the 25 and they lose by 24, it just proves the whole gambling thing is very silly and arbitrary. That’s part of what makes it so addictive.

To answer a few of your questions about the book:

*Yes, “Bet the House” is an obvious title for a book about gambling, but surprisingly enough, a search on reveals that there’s never been a gambling book with that title. I had a similar experience with my first book on urban legends, published in the 1990s. There were dozens and dozens of books out there about folklore, urban myths, tall tales, whatever—-most notably the works of Jan Harold Brunvand. But Prof. Brunvand always titled his books after a specific legend, e.g., “The Vanishing Hitchhiker.” No one had ever called a book on urban legends “Urban Legends.” So I went with that title. Helps a lot when people are doing searches.

*Some have questioned how I can do a minimum of two hours of gambling per day if I’m betting on sports. After all, it takes only a minute or two to place the bet. Yes, but it takes hours to watch the games and then make additional bets, halftime wagers, parlays, etc.

Same thing with the lottery. I could purchase $1,000 worth of lottery tickets at one stop, but my plan is to drive through Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, buying tickets in batches of 30 or 40, picking up stories along the way.

*Yes, I will participate in some forms of gambling more than once. I’ll bet on sports at least five-six times, and I’ll play poker in three or four different tournaments. On some days, I’ll do more than one type of gambling. For example, today I’m going to continue to be on the NCAA tournament, but I’m also going to play a casino game such as Pai Gow Poker or Blackjack for an hour or two.



11 Responses to “Bet the House”

  1. ricky Says:

    Don’t forget Baccarat, Keno, Video Poker, and Bingo…loser.

    Gambling is arbitrary and silly? Then you must think people become drug addicts because herion is arbitrary and silly. Nice try at justifying your actions. Gambling addiction is a mental disorder just like drug abuse and other compulsive/impulsive behavior and it ruines lives. I think your book is pointless, useless, and just plain self-serving. And in the economic times we live in now, many thousands of people out of work struggling to pay their bills, you are writing a book about wasting $1,000 a day on gambling? Dude, you live in a bubble.

    How about a book entitled “I gave up gambling for 30 days.” But I doubt you can do it.

  2. Chris Says:

    Day 1
    “I was up and then I was down, and then I was even, and then I was up a little.”
    Days 2 – 30: See Day 1.

  3. Mark P. Says:

    Ricky’s right on. The saving grace is that not a single soul would buy any book whatsoever written by this lightweight.

  4. richard Says:

    Dear “ricky”:

    Thanks for the lecture. I never knew gambling addiction was an actual problem until you called me a ‘loser’ and set me straight.

    Also, thanks for judging a book by its cover—literally. Your drug addiction analogy is specious and heavy-handed, but I’m sure you’re aware of that. I have no need to ‘justify my actions.’ I have an interest in the gambling culture, and I’m going to explore it in a book.

    As for “Dude, you live in a bubble,” give me a break. I’m fully aware of the times we live in. If you think I live in a “bubble,” you don’t have the faintest idea of who I am, where I’m from and what I do from day to day.


  5. richard Says:

    As for “Mark P,”

    The “lightweight” thing is hackneyed and weak. If you’re going to make a point of visiting the site and ripping me, bring some substance to the argument. I approved your comments because you seem to have the need to express your loathing for my work, and it’d be a shame if you kept that rage bottled up inside—but really, what’s the point? This is my eighth book. To say “not a single soul would buy any book whatsoever written by this lightweight” makes you sound, well, sad. And delusional.

    Come on guys. If you’re going to bring it, be prepared. Have some intellectual ammunition. Make some rational arguments. If not, you sound like a million other disenfranchised, bitter, anonymous commenters on message boards all over the Internet. Have some self-respect. Don’t be a cliche.



  6. Amanda Says:

    Hey you guys, cut Roeper some slack!

    You really don’t know what his angle on the subject is going to be, he could very well do a “Super size me” on gambling without you knowing it and here you are bashing him because of the topic. I don’t have an interest in gambling (although I’d like to learn how to play poker) but could still think of a couple of ways this book could deal with the subject without embellishing gambling – not even the title of the book “Bet the House” sounds especially glorifying to me.

    What I think could be interesting about the book is to see what the benefits of gambling are (economical, social?), who the gamblers are (who’s betting on what) and if you really can make lots of money on it or if the ups and downs will cancel each other out. Who knows, maybe he’ll find a real poker-granny who’s greatest interest happens to involve a deck of cards and chips – that would be something to read about!

    In my book it’s not about the subject, it’s how you deal with it, and now I’m going to be a complete ass by bring up Richard’s old Dove column as an example of this. In that column he criticised Dove’s commercials with “natural” women but for the wrong reason in my opinion. What I dislike with those commercials is that they make curvy – without being fat, mind you – equal normal when there are naturally thin women as well, who probably has had their fair share of anorexia comments, but you don’t help these women by callling the ones in the commercial “chunky”.
    Richard Roeper obviously put his foot in it by calling the women in the commercial “chunky” but based that opinion on something concrete while you are closer to slander than simple rudeness by calling him a gambling addict with no proof whatsoever, it’s not like you just can look at someone and say “I think he’s a gambling addict” just like you comment on someones looks.

    This turned into a rather long post, but I think that it’s plain stupid to criticize a book that hasn’t even been written yet, so instead of two cents you got a quarter.


  7. Annie Benson Says:

    Richard likes to gamble. Presumably he’s doing so within his means since I don’t see a “Please Donate!” button on his webpage. Other people certainly like to gamble as well, since there are so many venues both leagal and non for them to do so. This book might very well be very interesting to them. If you’re not interested in the subject and don’t particularily care for the writing style of the author the solution is very simple. Don’t buy or read the book. Not everything has to appeal to everyone.

    I work in a factory, making about $10 an hour. I have no desire to waste even a single of my dollars buying lotto tickets. But I do like to play an on-line computer game, City of Heros, that has a monthly fee. I usually spend at least a few hours on the weekends playing it. I’m not being the least bit producive by pretending to be a superhero fighting crime on my days off. I’m sure that in these bad economic times many would consider the monthly fees for two accounts (my husband plays as well) of around #30 to be a waste of money, pure and simple. But we enjoy it, and can afford it. For us, it is a good value for the amount of entertainment we get.

    I wonder if the people who are critizing this book’s subject material can honestly say that they don’t do anything on a regular basis that someone might not find to be a waste of time or money.

    Richard’s money, his choice.

  8. Don Says:

    Hey Richard.
    Are you moving out of Chicago?

  9. Brad Says:


    I remember playing poker at the Belliago and you were at the table. As poker player and regular guy I am looking forward to reading your book. Good luck with the book and make lots of money. Anyone who is writing negative comments is probably jealous of you profiting from a book about gambling.

    Keep writing your great!

  10. Sport Information & Guide Says:

    Fascinating post, having a little hassle accessing the RSS feed. I would quite like to subscribe to your blog. Will try again tomorrow, hopefully it is fixed by then – Otherwise send me an e-mail and I might be able to help. Thanks, the guys from Sport Information & Guide

  11. Eric Says:

    Heard Richard on Howard Stern and look forward to reading the book. Gambling is on the uptick and quite topical. Might be a fun read. I’ll throw my few bucks at the book and get a couple hours of entertainment…is my bet. Down the road if Richard ends up a broken degenerate gambler…..we can all point to this thread.

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