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Top 10 binge-watching prop bets

15 June 2015

The third season of Orange is the New Black was released on Netflix last week, to the delight of binge-watching TV fans everywhere.

My wife and I really enjoy the show, but we were so busy over the weekend that we only got through the first three episodes of the 13-episode season in four days — hardly a binge worth mentioning. To make matters worse, she left for a three-day work trip to Houston today, which means I have to wait until Thursday before I can watch the fourth episode. (There are many things we should work to improve in our relationship, but our faithful dedication to not watching episodes of a treasured television show without the other is not one of them.)

We didn't start watching Lost or Breaking Bad until the fourth season of both shows was underway, so we binge-watched those series until we caught up to the live broadcasts. We also watched the first season of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and have made our way through about a season and a half of Lilyhammer, though my wife is ready to give up on that one.

The great thing about binge-watching a TV show is the anticipation leading up to the release of the show. In the case of a show on Netflix (or any other streaming service that releases an entire season all at once), that anticipation can lead to immediate gratification as you can watch as much of the season as your free time allows. None of this waiting around to find out who's going get axed next from Game of Thrones.

Binge-watching also presents the viewer with some opportunities for prop bets, another activity that is even more fun when you can get nearly immediate results. Here are 10 great binge-watching TV prop bets you can make the next time a season of your favorite TV show is released.

10. Total minutes
One of the best things about television shows produced for instant streaming services is that the creators of these shows aren't restricted by a network schedule and can devote as much time as they need to each episode. As a result, some episodes may be 10-15 minutes longer than others.

Information about the number of episodes planned for a given season is usually released ahead of time, but the specific length of each episode likely won't be known until the season is released. You can guesstimate the total length based on average episode length from previous seasons, but my sense is that shows tend to stretch their episode length in subsequent seasons, especially shows as popular as Orange is the New Black. Set your over/under line accordingly.

9. Longest episode
Without knowing the story arc ahead of time, this is hard to predict. But again, my guess is that as shows become more popular and the characters and plotlines more complex, the longer the longest episode in a given season will be.

8. Number of episodes a particular guest star appears in
My wife and I are both huge fans of comedian/storyteller Mike Birbiglia (his show titled My Girlfriend's Boyfriend is without a doubt the best live show I've experienced in person), so we were thrilled when we heard that he was going to be part of the third season of Orange is the New Black. Unfortunately, we haven't seen him yet in the first three episodes.

If you find out that an actor is going to be part of one of your favorite shows, set an over/under on how many episodes that actor will be in. Originally I would have said 7.5 for Birbiglia, but after going 0-for-3, I'd have to revise that down to 3.5. Here's hoping we see him in episode four later this week when my wife gets home.

7. Number of characters who die
Let's face it, most of the best shows coming out now include a lot of death. Just how much there is depends on the show, but as the saying goes, the only things certain in life are death and taxes. Well, watching the arc of a character's life is a lot more interesting than watching them fill out a 1099.

Set an over/under line, and depending on whether you bet the over or the under, root for carnage or peace.

6. Odds on specific characters dying
If the show you're watching involves a lot of people dying, you can set odds on specific characters. Some of them should be obvious. If you did this prior to the last season of Breaking Bad, odds on Walter White dying would have to be -10,000. Others are a bit trickier, and the resolutions of these bets may not always be clear. How would you resolve a bet on Tony Soprano being dead in the last season of The Sopranos?

5. Number of sex scenes
We've established that taxes aren't interesting, and the only thing more interesting than death is sex. Most dramas now involve complex, evolving relationships. Orange is the New Black is no slouch in this department, but if you're looking for traditional clichéd women-behind-bars sex scenes, you're looking in the wrong place.

Set an over/under based on your knowledge of the show and then start the debate every time there's any kind of affection shown on screen as to whether it's a sex scene. This may actually be more fun than the betting itself.

4. Who will play the role of Judas?
Nearly every show has some sort of betrayal. Set odds on who will betray their friends, spouse, loved ones, mission, organization, or whatever else they could possibly betray.

3. Who will pair off/break up?
While you can't binge-watch Nashville (unless you haven't seen the first three seasons of the ABC country music drama), this would be the perfect show for this game. The prime-time soap opera has more relationship status changes than a teenager on Facebook. Figure out all the possible permutations and set the odds, then laugh all the way to the bank when the longshots come in. Who would have put Avery Barkley and Juliette Barnes together after season one?

2. Most consecutive episodes watched
The last two bets are not about the shows themselves, but rather your viewing habits of binge-watchable shows. The whole premise of binge-watching is that you sit down and watch episode after episode of the series, perhaps putting in a solid five or six hours of TV time (or more if you're unemployed or don't have kids) to reveal all the plot twists all at once. What will your record be? Will you watch the whole series in one shot? Half the episodes? Or will you lose interest or lack available free time and only get through two or three in a shot?

1. Over/under date when you finish the season?
Since my wife and I have three young children and are both pretty busy people, it's unusual for us to actually "binge-watch" a series anymore. On a real crazy night, we'll get through two episodes of any given show, so this is a good bet for us. As for this season of Orange is the New Black? Despite my wife's trip and the fact that we rarely get in more than two episodes at a time, my best guess is we'll polish off season three before my next top 10 column is due.
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Best of Aaron Todd
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.