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The Gentleman’s Guide to the Uncouth: Bet Welching

  • Ricky McCrumb


Under ideal circumstances, there are sets of unwritten rules that govern how a gentleman should conduct himself in the public arena. These rules are immutable and have been pondered over centuries by great men. We here at Kempt, however, have an unwaveringly strict “never say never” policy—because circumstances aren’t always ideal.

Like when you’re a month into your fantasy baseball league and your squad “Machado About Nothing” is pulling up the rear. While your commish has yet to collect league dues, the uninitiated may opt to capitalize on the opportunity: simply go dark on that email thread and pretend the whole thing never happened. But it did. And those shamed evaders will be left wishing they’d referred to this.

By all means, disobey your family’s unofficial motto to always pay your debts when faced with...

The Blatant Rule Violation: The most common in practice, and perhaps the trickiest to prove. Your entire gut says your opponent just kicked their ball out of the rough and onto the green, or stepped out of bounds on that game-winning three, or used his position as Monopoly banker to embezzle thousands. He’ll never willfully confess, but he’ll be damn sure to demand payment in full. How to Proceed: With a firm, omniscient stare, let him know you’re hip to his game. Stay locked in his gaze until he’s palpably aware the bet is off. Then, because you’re a true sport, you’ll offer him a redo. If he was truly meant to win, the gods will favor. As they say, “Ball don’t lie.”

The Hustle: You’re in the midst of a few friendly rounds of billiards, poker, tic-tac-toe—whatever you’re into—when your seemingly stand-up opponent suggests a wager on the next round. After a whirlwind of perfect shots, slacked jaws and confused gazes, you come to realize you’ve just been taken. But you’re actually not out yet. How to Proceed: Sure, you should’ve recognized the red flags sooner, but what’s done is done. Now is a time for decisive action. Stroll to the bar, buy a round of drinks as a sign of good faith, praise their win. Use the ensuing bevy of congratulatory cheers as distraction as you promptly leave the building. Update the contact info of whoever set you up to Judas and never speak to them or frequent that establishment again. It’s for the best.

The Fix: You wouldn’t be expected to pay the sportsbook if it comes out that Caesars got one of the Klitschko brothers to take a dive in their fight. And the same rules should follow if your buddy conspires with the keeper league commissioner to allow a few less-than-savory trades championship morning. (No one trades Miguel Cabrera for whoever’s manning second base on the Astros.) How to Proceed: Decry this all-too-clairvoyant move and expose the real methodology at play—black-and-white match fixing. Tear up that check you were about to send while declaring, “Sic semper tyrannis,” and be hailed as the righter-of-wrongs by all your brethren-in-fantasy-arms.

The Wildly Outrageous Claim: Even the most refined gentleman can fall victim to a night of one-too-many. And at that point, who’s to say the Mets won’t win 100 games? Or you can’t physically broad jump 6th Street? Or the moon isn’t actually made of gouda? However, betting a year’s salary on the truth of any of the former definitely shouldn’t have happened. Because the seedy guy occupying the corner bar stool doesn’t care if you’re just trying to spice up the evening a bit. How to Proceed: Do your best Bourne impression, grab your go bag and get the hell out of there, man. You owe that dude a lot of money. He’s not playing around, and time is a-wastin’.