I have come to realize that I am not cut out for gambling. Not at any level.

I’m too cheap to find slot machines, pull tabs, or PowerBall entertaining. My face is too honest for any card games. Roulette just makes me think of Casablanca and craps makes me think of Guys and Dolls. I’m not a sports betting aficionado like Andy Jerome Carlson (but if you wanted to become one, these reviews will help you stop being dead money.)

But probably the worst form of betting, at least for me, is the personal wager.

With other betting you lose money, but the personal wager isn’t about money, it’s about crushing someone’s spirit. These are the bets we make, not for money, but for good, old-fashioned humiliation with the people with whom we are closest. And I’m lousy at these too.

You know how it works, you’re there with that friend, relative, significant other who cheers for a different team and we decide to make a “friendly wager” just to make the game more interesting. Not that there is anything friendly about it. The stakes involve the loser having to do, wear, or say something they never would under normal circumstances. It’s essentially a “friendly” way to try to destroy someone’s soul.

Okay, not always to that extreme, but it has to be something sufficiently difficult or unpleasant or it isn’t so much a wager as an apathetic trade.

My history in such wagers is not great, likely because they involve Vikings football. Football fans know what it is like to have their teams disappoint them, but I feel like Minnesota Vikings fans appreciate that more than the general public. Vikings fans have seen a sure thing or destiny fall apart in heartbreaking ways (see Darrin Nelson or Gary Anderson), and have hope snatched away in such creative ways that you’d think the circumstances were being scripted by M. Night Shyamalan on absinthe (like the Metrodome roof caving in or Teddy Bridgewater’s catastrophic non-contact knee injury).

In college I lost a bet with my boyfriend who was a Denver Broncos fan. Having lost I was supposed to wear his Broncos hat for a week or something. We actually broke up before I had to pay up on that wager and I always saw that as a silver lining. Sure, I was heartbroken, but I didn’t have to represent the Broncos so it was a perk.

Years later I was not as fortunate. In 2015 I was at the Vikings’ season opener against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium with my 49ers fan ex-boyfriend. It was a straight forward wager about which team would win. Despite the Vikings playing on the road, on the west coast, late at night, this seemed like a safe bet. I was still telling myself that as I had to wear a 49ers shirt out of the stadium. Although, that was the game where a Vikings fan got beat up in the parking lot by 49ers fans, so it might not have been the worst thing in the world to leave the stadium incognito.

And, in fairness to that ex, he paid up promptly on a wager from a previous game when the Vikings won. I had him paint his face like John Randle. He was a former guy-liner who man-crushed pretty hard on Robert Smith from The Cure so I’m not sure it was all that soul-crushing for him to have to paint his face, but it was still awesome.

Yes, I think I’m finally cured of making wagers on Vikings football. I’m just not cut out for games of chance. They’re just not worth it, or maybe I’m cursed. It’s a toss up. Nope, not for me.

Unless you want to make a bet about Teddy Bridgewater…

Random Wager Guidelines

  1. The thing you’re wagering on needs to be something you care, at least a little bit, about.
  2. Terms must be detailed before the wager is agreed to, otherwise the loser could try to wiggle out of the wager or the winner could attempt to add terms to the wager.
  3. Remember that, no matter how sure a thing it may seem like, if the Vikings are involved you could very likely lose your bet. They can’t be counted on to either win or lose when you expect them to.
  4. Pay up promptly. Dragging it out probably won’t make anything better, but there are could be exceptions.
  5. If you actually win, enjoy the moment but beware of over-gloating. You might set yourself up for a worse future loss.