Breaking Stride: Five plays for the neophyte

by Trey Nosrac

Episode #4 — Buckeye Banter

Another unorthodox method to attempt to connect with people who do not know our sport exists. Each entry targets people who might be willing to have a gambling fling but will not endure agonizing over a race program.

Each November, a dozen of my cohorts gather around the warmth of a gigantic flat screen to watch Ohio State play Michigan in the big annual football game. We go a tad overboard into a bacchanalian display of gluttony, guzzling, gloating and in our case, a little gambling.

One of our mindless rituals is a simple gamble called “Buckeye Banker.” Just before kickoff, you hand five dollars to the designated banker. In exchange, the banker reaches into a bowl with folded slips of paper numbered from zero to nine. He pulls out a paper and gives it to you; you open it and see your number.

The game begins. At the end of the first quarter, the person holding the numbered slip of paper that matches the last digit of the total number of points scored takes the money. The winner gloats, the losers groan and everyone repeats the process before the second, third and fourth quarters. We find this activity wildly amusing.

These little wagers are completely random. There is no thinking involved, which is perhaps a good thing since our ability to think fades as the day wears on. The side betting is not the feature of the day. It is just an extra where the host uses the football game as part of the entertainment.

The simple premise of Buckeye Banker could transfer to any clever party planner. You could just substitute the numbers the banker hands out to the entries in a harness horse race. Every 15 minutes or so, attention is paid to the flat screen to watch a race. Once again, the winner is gleeful, the losers are good sports and they head to the banker for a number for the next race.

The ability to live stream our races to a large screen is relatively new. Our races should all be in HD and the presentation has room for improvement, but the ability to offer a very simple, real-time gambling play in front of everyone is something that can help push the harness rock up the hill.

The banker at our football games handles the transaction for fun. Fun is good.

However, some enterprising people might see opportunities. What if they took this simple concept to another level, did some calculations and acted as a more professional bookie, used the collected money to place real bets, charged a small party hosting/administrative fee, and returned a few dollars less to the winner.

There would seem to be many ways that astute people could use the simple Buckeye Banker concept more productively. After all, my crowd finds great enjoyment in holding a numbered scrap of paper and hoping the scoreboard total is the same as their number. A horse race would be a major upgrade. Any time we can get a harness horse race in front of a new audience is beneficial for our sport.

Next Play…. Elevator Pitch