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Top-10 things you can bet on this Thanksgiving

19 November 2012

By Aaron Todd

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, because it's one of the few days a year when I have a chance to get together with family, share a nice meal and have no other obligations that require me to leave the house.

If you live in the United States and will be celebrating the holiday this week, I encourage you to savor the meal and the company and spend the day home with your family. Please, for God's sake, don't do any "Black Thursday" shopping, and even if your local casino is open or offering great incentives to come in and gamble, avoid the temptation to take advantage of the deals and stay at home.

That doesn't mean, however, that you can't have fun placing a wager or two on Thanksgiving Day. Some of the best bets are the ones that are made between knowing family members, because the winner is able to celebrate and gloat in a way that would be socially unacceptable in a casino environment.

Here are some wagers that you can make right from home with your siblings, your significant other, your cousins or your parents as you enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday.

10. When will the thermometer pop on the turkey?
The best way to run this bet is as a pool. Get people to estimate when they think the thermometer will pop on the turkey, letting you know it's time to take it out of the oven. Make sure the rules are clear from the start, however, so people know if their guess is valid if the thermometer pops before (or after) their estimate.

9. How much football will you be allowed to watch?
If your family is anything like mine, there's a constant struggle between the men and the women regarding the role of football on Thanksgiving Day. The men feel like we should watch every play of every game. The women feel like the television shouldn't be on at all, and if it is, we should really only be watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. It's an annual tradition to have this battle, and if you know your family history, you should be able to accurately predict how much football you'll see on Thanksgiving Day.

8. Total points in all three football games
Obviously you can bet on individual football games, but where's the fun in that? You can do that at a Vegas sportsbook on any given Sunday. But with three Thursday games, why not make it an all-day sweat and run a pool on the total points scored in all three games? And if you're not allowed to watch all of the games, having someone subvert the football ban by getting score updates on their phone will add some fun drama to the day as well.

7. When will Grandpa fall asleep?
There's nothing like a little tryptophan to make you sleepy after a big Thanksgiving feast. And when Grandpa leans back in his big La-Z-Boy, you know it's only a matter of time before you're turning up the volume to hear the game over his snoring. Since you know it's going to happen, why not see who's got the best guess as to when it will happen?

6. Will someone shoot a deer? And if so, who?
I realize this is probably a bet that is unique to my family in upstate New York, but it's one we could most certainly make. Every year on Thanksgiving, my father and my two brothers go out hunting (I've never been much of a hunter, so I stay home and help wrangle all the children). Every year, almost without fail, someone in my family will shoot a deer, and it almost always throws off my mother's plans for the family meal, because they're usually delayed getting back home. If Vegas were to set a Yes/No line on this bet, it would probably be -400 to pick "Yes" in my family.

5. Who will be the last to arrive?
There's nothing worse than having to wait for someone to arrive before you can start Thanksgiving dinner. And if you live in a family where this happens often, you probably know who you're going to be waiting for. If you're going to be annoyed (and hungry) because of a family member's tardiness, you might as well place a wager on it.

4. Who will be the first person to bring up the election?
Whether it's a Democrat gloating about the reelection of President Obama, or a Republican complaining that America picked the wrong man for the job, there will be a lot of families discussing election results at Thanksgiving dinner this year. The discussion might get heated, so I suggest avoiding the topic if possible. But if you think politics is going to come up, make your best guess on who will be the one to broach the topic.

3. Will there be any major announcements? If so, who will make them and what will they be?
Thanksgiving is one of the few times in a year that an extended family separated by distance can get together. And it's a time when people tend to make big announcements, like an engagement, a pregnancy, or that they're coming out of the closet. Add some intrigue to this year's holiday and bet on who will be making big announcements, and what those announcements might be.

2. Will Mom have a Legitimate Freakout?
Cooking a feast for the family is stressful. And despite major changes in gender roles and expectations in our society over the last few decades, in many families, the onus is still on Mom to provide the bulk of the meal. And when she (rightfully) feels that she's not getting the help she deserves, she's going to let it be known. The question is, will she request help in a calm and reasonable manner? Or will she have a Legitimate Freakout? Pro tip: Always bet against calm and reasonable.

1. When will the first bottle of wine be opened?
If you're able to accurately predict #2, you'll have an edge on question #1.
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd has covered the gambling industry since 2006. 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 (his personal favorite) Badeuci.

Since graduating from St. Lawrence University, Aaron has worked as a journalist covering the gambling industry and as a communications specialist in college athletic departments.

A native of a small town in New York just south of Ottawa, Aaron lives in Needham, Mass., with his wife and three children. Write to Aaron at aarontodd@casinocity.com, and follow him on Twitter @CasinoCity_AT.