Saturday, September 25, 2010

NFL Picks Week 3 2010 (sport, gambling)

No paired bets this week. Just straight picks.


NE-14.5 (line opened at -13 early in the week)

Sticking with the theme of high powered offense laying lots of points early in the season. I expect the Pats to be angry after last week's loss to the Jets. Also, Brady, the guy with three Superbowl rings, might have something to prove what with the recent discontent among Boston fans with his hair and all. The injury to Faulk will hurt their efficiency, but if it leads to them playing more wide open 4-5 receiver sets, it might be easier to blow out the Bills. The Bills changed their QB once again, but as all Buffalo fans know, their problem lies with the O-line, and they could be in a world of trouble if they get behind early.

Well what about the other double digit favorites this week? While I wouldn't pick against either of them per se, neither team has actually lived up to the hype about their offense.



The absence of Revis will definitely be a factor, as I think Cromartie will have trouble handling the big strong possession receiver that is Brandon Marshall. While it's yet unclear whether the Dolphins are any good (they barely beat both Buffalo and Minnesota, though both were on the road), I'm looking at this game from the Jets point of view. It seems to me that without a focus on running the football, they live and die with Sanchez. Last week he did well against a Pats team that couldn't generate a pass rush late in the game. However, I expect more from the Miami defense at home. Also, he played well in the two meetings last year against the Dolphins, yet the Jets still lost. Imagine if he has a bad game?

Running total -.3 units

Saturday, September 18, 2010

NFL Picks Week 2 2010 (sport, gambling)

Didn't start off well, but even though my main plays were off, the extra paired bets helped cut the losses.

For this week there's another paired play as well as a regular play.


Under 37

Even though Tennessee scored a lot of points last week, I expect this to be a defensive contest. Last year, Chris Johnson had his worst game of the season against the Steelers. However, with home field advantage and more weapons, if Chris Johnson does not get absolutely shut down like last season, the Titans are much more likely to put up points than the Steelers on the road.



I haven't gone through the actual numbers, but my gut feeling is that weeks 2-5 are the best times to take a big favorite with a loaded offense. Vegas cannot extend the line too much since it's early in the season, while the big favorite is usually still fresh and in a groove. Teams that come to mind are last year's Saints and the Pats in their 16-0 year. Even though there were execution problems last week, the Packers still managed 27 points. I don't see how this Buffalo team keeps up with them on the road, even if Green Bay is missing their lead running back.

Running total -1.2 units

The Frugal Gourmet (food, diet)

Back before the Food Network (and now the Cooking Channel), almost all the cooking shows on TV came on PBS. Of course we all know Martin Yan from Yan Can Cook, but I specifically remember a show that my mom watched a lot called The Frugal Gourmet. Looking at his wikipedia page, it seems that he knew what he was talking about, not just the Sandra Lee or Rachael Ray crap.

Some of my readers may have noticed a lack of restaurant review posts recently. That's because I, too, have become kind of a frugal gourmet. I began a new diet and exercise plan, and focused on making it wallet-friendly as work has been terrible of late. It's not just about eating rabbit food and spending less money to get less food. Rather, I try to keep the flavors going to avoid monotony, while not going all out at once because I want to be able to switch up and surprise the body, which tries very hard to avoid fluctuations.

Let's start with the weekday lunch. I eat a chicken kebab wrap 4 days a week during the work week.

I start with whole wheat roti from Tawa Foods, not far from where I live. $1.50 for 5 rotis. I didn't take a close up shot, but the rotis are definitely spiced and seasoned, meaning that they don't taste like cardboard after reheating, like many whole wheat pitas often do. Tawa Foods is an interesting little store. It's run by one guy who sells the packaged breads while three women are in the kitchen constantly making rotis and parathas. That's all they do every time I'm there. Constantly making bread and chatting. If the guy isn't in, they don't deal with customers. The flavored parathas go for $2 for 4. My guess is they do a wholesale business to the many nearby restaurants in addition to selling the retail packaged stuff.

Next is the chicken kebab at Kababish right around the corner from Tawa Foods. $1.50 each. There are many kebab places in the area, but I find this one the best at the price. It does get dry upon reheating in the oven, but to an acceptable degree. Of course actual pieces of chicken would be better (and healthier) than ground chicken meat, but it'd also be more expensive and probably not reheat as well.

Next is a package of pre-washed baby spinach from any supermarket. One box (5oz) will be split over 4 lunches so that I get some nutritious greens in.

All assembled after heating up the roti and the kebab in the oven and piling on the spinach. I don't actually fold it into a wrap that often, making it more of an oversized taco.

For dinner, I go to the Chinese supermarket on the same block as my gym, and get the steam table stuff of three choices over rice plus soup for $5. The photo above is a pretty good example of what I usually get. Two staples that I always get include the fried flounder/sole pieces cooked with celery in the upper left and the broccoli cooked with garlic in the upper right. The stuff in the middle will usually be a second protein that I choose from a rotation of meatless ma po tofu (above), chicken in black bean sauce (not fried), or brisket and tendon with daikon.

So that's what I've been eating and why I have no restaurants to report on of late. I do the above lunch and dinners (I tend not to eat breakfast) 4 times a week, with one day off to eat as I wish (within reason). On the weekends, I tend to also eat local food, and usually try to stay within a budget of $7 per meal. So one pho or bun at the nearby Vietnamese place or three tacos (suadero, lengua, oreja) from one of the local taco trucks.

I do still believe, however, that the fastest way to lose weight is with a low carb diet, so I've begun to add a low carb component recently. Two of the dinners are now substituted with salmon sashimi and broccoli.

I get the salmon from Citarella. They say it's safe to eat as is, and I trust them since they're a well regarded market. I know farmed Atlantic salmon is far from the healthiest fish I could eat, but it's cheaper at 1/3 the price of wild Pacific salmon. I ask for something from the belly and they cut it right from the belly of the fillets they have.

I take it home, rinse it, pat it dry with a paper towel, and cut it up like so. I pour some konbu flavored sashimi soy sauce over it and I get healthy, tasty salmon sashimi at home for far cheaper than at any sushi joint. The fish costs about $12/lb and they can also pack it with a small ice pack to keep it cool for the commute home.

I've been doing this for about a month and a half now, and while there's been a little plateauing, there certainly have been results and I'm not bored yet with the food options. I also allow a little flexibility, so I will go grab an extra taco any time I really want one.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

NFL Picks Week 1 2010 (sport, gambling)

Here we go.

For my first picks of the 2010 season, I'm going with two paired bets. I briefly mentioned paired/hedged bets in this picks post. Essentially, I'm betting on P(both events occur) >> P(both events don't occur), while if I win one and lose one, I lose a little juice.


Over 47.5

The play here is the over, as the Packers offense looked unstoppable in the preseason (and was actually quite unstoppable for most of last season) and the Eagles have some great receivers if they have to play catch up. But if one of the offenses were to stall, it would more likely be Philadelphia's.


Under 37

A lot of road favorites to start the first week of the season, but the 49ers do look improved while Seattle has a long rebuilding process to go through. I just don't see how Seattle puts up points, having let go of a legit receiver and their O-line coach right before the start of the season. So if Seattle keeps it close, it'll probably be because of some struggles from the SF offense, especially since the noise at Qwest Field is still one of the bigger home field advantages in the NFL.

Break a bookie, everyone!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New NFL Season (sport, gambling, horseracing)

The new NFL season starts tonight and it couldn't have come at a better time for me. I welcome the distraction from the other failures going on in my life right now. I know that each week, I will spend enjoyable time poring over the lines, setting up my fantasy team, and watching the games on tv and sweating other games online.

In fact, it reminds me of growing up in Hong Kong with horseracing. The Hong Kong horseracing season is about three quarters of the year (used to be shorter) and it's a big deal. I would actually say that horse racing is Hong Kong's unofficial national sport. Back in secondary school (those who know me know that I started on gambling early), I could barely wait for the barrier draws and racecards to come out every Monday for a Wednesday meet and Thursday for a weekend meet. In the same way that I go over the NFL lines now, I went over all the horses, jockeys, trainers, and course and distance stats. There was at least one year where I knew every single horse's name (around 600 horses) in both Chinese and English. But it's not really just about the gambling. I enjoy both horse racing and American football as sports by themselves. And even though I could spend just as much time on them as other things in my life, they are/were a welcome distraction from the grind of school/work and lovelife.

Since I'm comparing the NFL season to the Hong Kong horseracing season, there's one interesting horseracing tidbit that I wonder whether it applies to the NFL. It's frequently noted that older horses have the best chance of springing an upset early in the season, when the racing season begins again after the summer break, because it's easier to get them in shape and they've made the most out of the rest they got over the break. Younger horses, on the other hand, frequently need to race and grow into fitness. So does this mean that an older, veteran-filled NFL team, would have a better chance against a younger team in the first two weeks than they would later in the season? Would this be reflected in the line? For example, this week's Detroit at Chicago game is interesting. Detroit has a lot of big young names in Stafford, Megatron, Best, and Suh, while Chicago's defense is carrying guys like Urlacher and Peppers. The line started at 7 but has moved to 6 now as people start to think that Chicago's not really that good and are getting more and more excited about the potential of that young Detroit team. They may be right in the long run, but perhaps the veterans of Chicago will get a good jump on them this early in the season. We will see, but it's certainly an interesting thing to consider.