Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Updated: April 19, 2:17 PM ET
Tuesday Morning Wakeup Call
By Alyssa Roenigk
Last Monday, Guadalupe Lopez sat down at a dollar slot machine in Atlantic City and, two dollars later, left New Jersey a new woman. In one swift pull of the arm, she was transformed from "J-Lo's mom" to America's newest millionaire. Who has that kind of luck? A superstar daughter and two million bucks?
So we started thinking, if anyone has lady luck on their side, it's the athletes we cover. These guys gamble every day, but they're betting their bodies with every hand. So we went to the source, the guys who like to gamble at their sport and for sport. We woke up these six riders to find out ...
What's your best gambling story?
T.J. Lavin, BMX, Las Vegas, NV
"I play poker a lot. But it's only gambling if you don't know how to play. The most I've ever won is $350 playing craps. Fuzzy (Tim Hall) and I held the dice for over 30 minutes making small bets, and then we walked away.
But that's not my best story. One time, Fuzzy and I were flying back from Salt Lake City and ran into this guy. He tells us how he drove his truck to the airport and how it's his only possession. He just got divorced and lost everything to his wife. He's only got $6,000 on him, and he says he wants to come to Vegas with us. We gambled with him and watched this guy lose every penny he had. Then we ate dinner together, and Fuzzy and I each gave him $5 to get a cab, fly home and live in his truck. Moral of my story: don't gamble."
Bucky Lasek, Skateboard, Carlsbad, CA
"On last year's Boom Boom Huck Jam tour, I was up about $1,700 playing C-Lo, an illegal dice game, with a bunch of the guys. Everyone had it in for me. I had dice in my pocket at all times. We'd be at McDonald's like, 'Ready to roll?' But I was up, so I wanted to quit. I was done.
Then all of a sudden, everyone wants to win their money back. They're crying, 'You've gotta give me a chance to win it back.' I stopped carrying dice and gave the 'Sorry, no dice' story. They started carrying their own dice so I had to gamble. By the end of the tour, I was probably a grand in debt.
I took the most money from this guy Kenny, who worked on the Moto tour, Tony Hawk and Sergi Ventura. Tony and Sergi wouldn't leave me alone. Sergi's the kind of gambler that when you beat him, you feel bad. But when he wins, he's a total jackass, throws it in your face and gets all cocky. He tormented me so much that I stopped gambling for good. I still owe Kenny about 300 bucks, but I told him we'd take it up next time I see him. We'll roll for it."
Mat Hoffman, BMX, Oklahoma City, OK
"My best gambling story would be my life story ... using my body as the wager.
In Vegas, I finally accepted that there is no winning unless you change the rules, so I changed them. When I lose money, I win. But if I win money, I lose. It worked perfectly.
I was always the biggest winner at the table, but I got really concerned looks because I celebrated when the dealer took my money and got bummed when he forked cash out to me. But I've never since left Vegas as a 'loser'."
Carey Hart, Motocross, Las Vegas, NV
"I never gamble, except when I'm with my agent, Steve. He is a big-time gambler and I have horrible luck.
The last 10-or-so times I gambled with him, I lost $500 to $1,000 and I watched him win $10,000 to $30,000. I'd get so pissed.
But the last time we gambled, he lost his butt and I made $200. I know it's not much, but it wasn't really about the amount I won. For once, he was pissed and I was gloating. It was a great feeling."
Parks Bonifay, Wakeboard, Orlando, FL
"I won $300 when the Bucs won the Super Bowl. I grew up in Tampa, and my family and I are diehard Bucs fans, so we were on cloud nine. I was betting with friends from Oakland, so that made it even better. Beer was on me that night.
Last year, I lost $500 putting money on Miami when I was in Vegas. They were on the one-yard line and didn't even go for it. They kicked a field goal. I would've won $600 if they'd scored a touchdown, but I lost $500 because they sat on the one-yard line. The Dolphins had to win by three to cover the spread and they only won by two. That's what I get for betting on the Dolphins."
Billy Marks, Skateboard, Corona, CA
"One night at Casino Morongo, I was playing a little blackjack ... with money I had to pay my taxes with. If I lost any money, I was pretty much screwed. As the night went by, my girlfriend Kim and I kept winning and winning. After numerous hours at the same table, I realized I was unstoppable. I couldn't lose.
I knew I had to stop sometime, so I counted my money and was up around $5,500. I said as soon as I lose $500, we're leaving. Sure enough, I lost it in like two minutes. But I left that casino a happy man. I had enough money to pay my taxes and still have some left over. It was a really good night."