My friend Milhouse is a gambling degenerate. That, plus so many other reasons, is why we get along, kindred spirits if you will.
Considering he and I have been quarantined for a while (not together, that would be weird), he suggested that some of his closest buddies gather together in cyberspace and place a few friendly wagers at the track.
What could possibly go wrong?
Since no one is leaving their house these days and, I imagine, nobody but the necessaries are allowed to walk the hallowed grounds of Tampa Bay Downs, the best we could do was create a chat room (which he appropriately named Virtual Track Day), log on to Racetrack Television Network and watch the ponies do their thing from the comfort of our own homes, drinks in hand and virtual crumpled tickets scattered all over our living room floors.
Like cockroaches in a nuclear holocaust, gamblers will always find a way to place a wager. Giddy up!
Milhouse gathered his closest friends and associates, a veritable Gamblers Anonymous Who’s Who, Partykiller, the virtual Dave Navarro, Artie Piscano, Derivative Mike and of course, yours truly, to take a stab at making some money at the eight races scheduled for Tampa Bay Downs that afternoon, all without having to leave the all too familiar confines of our own home.
The sun was shining brightly outside but we’d never know it. Far more importantly, it was shining figuratively on the inside for we were finally engaging in some well-needed, human interaction and some superfectas to boot. As I had recently re-upped with Milhouse right before the virus put a halt to the basketball and hockey games we normally gamble on, I had money in my account burning a hole in my virtual pocket.
The night before Boys Day In, Milhouse had sent each one of us a .PDF version of the day’s racing form, a link to the chat room in which to co-mingle and the website where to watch the races live. Such a gracious host. Had we all been watching together in person, I have no doubt the bottles of whiskey would have been lined up single file for all of us to help ourselves. That’s just how he rolls. Like the rest of us in this time of questioning and quarantine, Milhouse is his using his big and beautiful mind to try to figure out how to gather together socially and virtually before he loses it entirely.
That afternoon, #virtualraceday was born.
There’s nothing quite like hearing the trumpet blare “First Call” from the comfort of your own bed. Would we have preferred to be there in person? Of course, particularly under these circumstances. But this was the next best thing.
And so, we gambled. I must admit, it was quite the pleasant way to spend the afternoon, lost wagers obviously excluded. Although, in these troubled times, losing a wager didn’t feel quite as debilitating for at least, we were socializing once again.
In the chat room we gathered, as many of us probably sat comfortably in our skivvies, faces unshaven, hoping for a string of luck. We joked about heading to the bar for another drink, asking if anyone wanted anything. We kidded about having sushi delivered to our track side seat or buying a round of shots for the bar. It’s the best we could do under the circumstances.
I won’t bore you with the wagers placed, however, I can assure you it didn’t take long before I found out that losing at the virtual track took much the same form as being there in person. There were a few winners on the day but that’s not the point.
It was a way to experience the best of a day at the track without actually being at the track, which is all we can pretty much do these days. We made the most of it.
By no means did we invent gambling from home, nor did we perfect it. People have been doing this long before self-quarantining became fashionable. But it was a damn fun time and before we’re allowed to safely leave our houses, we will likely do it again.
So, bring your bankroll, folks. Find an online account somewhere and feel free to join us next time. For legalized gambling may soon be the answer to our problems in more ways than one.