This column represents my return to reality after a week relaxing on the beach at Cape Cod. So my mind isn't completely off the sun, sand and surf.
As a result, I'm easing my way back into the gambling world with a beach-themed column. Here are 10 great bets you can make on your next pilgrimage to the beach.
10. When will we get there?
This is a great prop bet you can make on any trip. It works especially well for the Cape because it can take a long time to get over the bridge. Experienced travelers who know the route will have a distinct advantage in this bet. Just make sure that the driver is impartial because he/she has too much power to control the outcome.
9. License plate contest
This is another great bet you can make on any road trip. During our week on vacation, my wife, 7-year-old son and I identified license plates from 28 distinct states. We were surprised just how many we were able to find.
Obviously all the New England states were found in the first 15 minutes, as well as states such as New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But we saw quite a few California plates, as well as one from Kentucky and another from Alabama. It helped that we attended a Cape Cod league baseball game (we saw quite a few players' cars from all over the country), and we were at a resort the draws people from all over the world.
To turn this game into a betting contest, keep track of the number of states each person identifies. Once a state has been found (and verified by another person), that state is no longer eligible to be found again. If you want to add some intrigue, assign point values for each state based on how difficult you think it will be to find. And depending on where you live, you can add in Canadian provinces for bonus points. On our recent trip, we nabbed Ontario and Quebec fairly early on, which wouldn't have been worth a whole lot more than any New England state. But had we assigned point values prior to the trip, my wife would have hit the jackpot when she spotted a car from Manitoba.
8. Guess where people are from prop bets
One of the cool things about the resort where we stayed is the most of the seasonal staff is made up of international college students. The resort provides travel to and from their countries. It's a real win-win, as the students go home with an amazing experience, and the resort gets some pretty cheap labor. Many of the guests we met were from all over the United States and the world, and it was interesting to meet so many people from so many different places.
If you're at a real touristy beach (or any other place, for that matter), make guessing where people are from a betting game. Listen to people talk and see if you can pick out the language. Learn your flags so you can be better informed when looking at peoples' hats and clothes. Then strike up a conversation and find out where they are from. It's a fun way to meet new people and find out about new places, and of course, settle some prop bets along the way.
7. Sand castle building contest
Settle on a wager amount and time limit and start building. The award can be for size, detail, or overall impressiveness. Find an impartial judge, or better yet, get a passersby to vote on their favorite. Whoever wins gets the prize.
6. Over/under catches before a drop
One of my favorite beach pastimes is playing baseball with my seven-year-old son. Since the beach is crowded, we can only play catch, but since he's seven, we have our fair amount of drops or bad throws along the way. We reached 37 consecutive catches before a drop last week. If you're watching other people play catch (whether it's baseball, football or Frisbee) on the beach, set an over/under line with a friend and take opposite sides. Watch them play and count as they go, then settle up on the next drop.
5. Line in the sand
This is a fun wager for a group of four or more people. Set a wager amount and have everyone draw a line in the sand close to the ocean, then set a time limit (somewhere between 2-5 minutes). Whoever's line is closest to the water without being erased by the waves wins the pot.
4. Hermit crab catching contest
If it's low tide and you're in a location with lots of tidal pools, give everyone a bucket and collect as many hermit crabs as you can. Whoever collects the most in a set time limit wins.
3. Beach volleyball
Betting on games is one of the best ways to pass the time on the beach, and there's no more fun way to do it than beach volleyball. Play at least 2-on-2 (more is usually better, unless you've assembled some really good players) and pick your wager amount and get playing.
If you're a little less athletically inclined, Beersbee is another great recreational game that only requires players to have the ability to throw and catch a Frisbee. It's a great game to play on the beach, because beer bottles aren't likely to break (unless you're on a rocky beach, in which case you should probably play another game).
Similar to bet number five, betting on the tides is a fun way to pass the time. But it requires a little more patience. If the tide is coming in, draw a line in the same and make predictions about when the tide will reach the line. You can also bet on how high the tide will get or, if the tide is going out, when a sand bar might appear. The variations depend on the beach where you'll be, so do your research and be ready to make your wagers on your second day there.
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 Badugi. Follow him on Twitter @CasinoCity_AT.