One of the more recent, and more dramatic changes to professional surfing, has been the arrival of surf gambling. Depending upon your point of view about such things, it is either an affront to the legitimacy of the sport you love (purist!) or the perfect way to put a little sugar on the webcasts.
But one thing that both sides can agree on is the sharpness of the companies who hold the dice. Let's zoom in on Tom Waterhouse (tomwaterhouse.com) for their take on the 2014 world title.
Kelly Slater is the favourite (four-to-one) followed by Mick (seven-to-one), Joel and Jordy (eight-to-one) with Julian at nine and John John at 10. Taj Burrow, meanwhile, a relatively unlikely but not impossible chance, is 16 with Kolohe Andino at a radical 151-to-one.
Now, betting on the world title isn't an instant kick, but it can make the year even more interesting than it already is. Let's say you've got a hundred and fifty bucks. Twenty on Kelly. Twenty of Mick. Twenty on Joel and Jordy. Throw 10 on Julian; 10 on John John with a dark horse 50 on Kolohe. Kid gets up and you're up nearly eight large.
Doesn't that make the year better already?
And when the game starts, here's one piece of advice on betting event to event. Go to aspworldtour.com and read the stats of every single surfer. Know 'em like you know batting averages, OPS, WAR, QBR, completion percentage, and other Moneyball minutiae that pundits and General Managers so often reference. Know where a surfer performs, where he fails. Go through all the event heat sheets from last year. Know what rounds a surfer breezes through. Know the surfers he (or she) continually beats.
Know. The. Stats.
And for the big-payouts, make a multi-bet where you predict the outcome of, yup, you guessed it, multiple heats.
Say, Taj in round one, Adriano in round two, Mick in round three and Kelly in round four.
There's money to be made. And lost. Play for fun and play safe. But most of all, if you play, play smart.