The English language has many wondrous, often euphonious collective nouns ready to serve as descriptors for sets of objects, especially animals. So we have, for example, an exultation of larks, a murder of crows, a gaggle of geese, a cloud of bats, a flutter of butterflies, a cackle of hyenas, a smack of jellyfish, a deceit of lapwing, a richness of martens, a parliament of owls, a watch of nightingales and - a personal favourite - a prickle of porcupines.
English lacks, however, a collective noun for a group of bets, a deficiency I feel needs to be remedied. Accordingly, I'm nominating the word 'clutch' for this purpose.
Its appropriateness can be argued on a number of fronts.
Firstly, the word clutch evokes images of an anxious punter, betting slips gripped tightly in hand, attention riveted on a large screen that's beaming the performance of some two- or four-legged determiner of his or her fate. Surely such a punter can be said to be in the clutch.
The word's also evocative of the notion of 'clutching at straws', a desperate and generally futile exercise, which can seem an especially apposite metaphor some weekends.
Further and more positively, the term 'clutch' already has a sporting pedigree as an honorific applied to the exalted few who can be expected to perform when it matters - hence 'clutch' putter, 'clutch' hitter, 'clutch' pitcher and, more generally, 'clutch' player.
Clutch it is then.
This weekend Investors most certainly face a clutch of bets, 21 in all for the second weekend in a row, and 8 of them on underdogs priced as high as $3.
Chi-squared's own clutch is the scariest. Three bets totalling over 44% of the Fund, the two largest on Essendon and Fremantle both at $3 and both facing teams that are fighting for top 8 and possible top 4 positions. The remaining bet is on Richmond, also the underdogs, but they're only at $1.95 and the bet is relatively small.
New Heritage is also putting a large proportion of the Fund at risk - just under 63% of the Fund on 6 teams, all of them favourites and all but one of them home teams. The largest wager is just over 13% of the Fund on Geelong at what others might call an unbackable $1.04. The smallest wager is just over 2% on the Roos at $1.80 away to the Tigers.
Prudence, as has been its habit for most of the season, has this week nibbled on a smorgasbord of teams rather than gorging on just a few. It has 7 bets totalling a little over 30% of the Fund, 2 of them on underdogs and including a surprising 2% wager on the Dons at $3. The largest wager is for a trifle under 7% of the Fund on the Cats at $1.04.
Line Redux has four wagers representing 20% of the Fund. Two of these wagers are on favourites (Geelong and Port Adelaide) and the other 2 are on underdogs (Essendon and Fremantle).
(There is still one line market to be posted - that for the Tigers v Roos clash - but I don't expect we'll have a bet in it.)
Hope, whose selectivity has been its hallmark this season, has only 1 bet this week, its 20th of the season and its 6th on the Dons. It has 5.5% of the Fund on them at $3.
Together these bets yield the following Ready Reckoner:
The entire tenor of the weekend will be established late on Friday night for all Investors except MIN#017, though even a Dons win won't make the weekend entirely pot-hole resistant.
Next we move to tipping where we find:
- Essendon are 8-5 favourites over the Dogs. Amongst our top 5 tipsters, Silhouette, BKB and CTL have sided with the Dogs, while Shadow and STM II (along with a cadre of anxious MAFL Investors and a badly-bred Pomeranian) are riding the Don train. Chi could definitely be more convincing in his Dondom - he has them as only 1 point winners making this game one of his two Games of the Round.
- Carlton are unanimous favourites over the suddenly unpopular Swans.
- Geelong are 8-5 favourites over the Dees, the narrowness of their favouritism due mostly to the shortness of the memories of many of our heuristic-based tipsters. Amongst the cream of these tipsters, only Shadow and STM II are lining up behind the Dees in what will surely be the shortest of queues.
- Collingwood are 8-5 favourites over the Hawks. Once again it's only Shadow and STM II from the top 5 tipsters who are supporting the underdogs.
- Brisbane are 11-2 favourites over Fremantle, the sole support for the Dockers coming from HSH and Chi, who has this as his second and final Game of the Round.
- Port Adelaide are unanimous favourites over the Eagles.
- The Roos are 8-5 favourites over Richmond. The Tigers' following amongst our top tipsters is thin: only STM II is in their corner. ELO is another Tigers tipper, though only by 6 points, making this its Game of the Round.
- St Kilda are 11-2 favourites over the Crows, with EI I and II the only ornithologists amongst the MAFL tipsters.
On line betting, ELO will surely improve on its 0 from 8 record last weekend, though I'm not as certain that Chi will better his 3 from 8 performance. This week:
- Chi's on: Essendon, Sydney, Melbourne, Collingwood, Fremantle, West Coast, Richmond and Adelaide.
- ELO's on: Essendon, Sydney, Geelong, Collingwood, Brisbane Lions, West Coast, Richmond and St Kilda.
One last statistic before I go. Which teams do you think have the best and worst win-loss records this year in games that have been decided by fewer than 12 points?
Three teams have perfect records: Essendon (2-0), St Kilda (2-0) and Adelaide (1-0). The Hawks (3-1) also have a strongly positive record. The worst, or perhaps the unluckiest, team in these situations has been Carlton (1-4), followed by 5 teams - Collingwood, Port Adelaide, Richmond, West Coast and the Western Bulldogs - all with 1-2 records.
No team has failed to register at least one result where the margin of victory or defeat has been 11 points or fewer.