However, recently I learned just how expensive this table can be. Like any great sport, this place is run by greed and corruption. I had no idea that behind the scenes, an intricate betting system was making students rich. When I started playing foosball here several semesters ago it was all for fun and games. Those times have changed. In its stead, is a very serious betting ring run by ruthless thugs.
This syndicate is well hidden from the general student body. But one way or another they always have an ear in the halls or an eye on the table. Once you start winning games and become a regular face on the circuit, you are forced to join. This unofficial network is a tightly knit organization which prides itself of secrecy and high stakes games. On any given lunch period Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, hundreds of dollars can swap hands.
I first caught wind of this underground operation when I returned back from reading week. I had been playing very well and was starting to pick up a reputation for my strong defensive play. I began to notice that the attendance at my games were starting to rise rapidly. These educated foosball fans were always taking notes or making phone calls during my matches. Now I’ve come to realise that these were in fact foosball bookies. They had been placing bets and mathematically determining my odds as a player. Later that week I was approached by a very tall student in an overcoat.
He introduced himself as Donald, but I knew this wasn’t actually his name. We had taken several Spanish classes together the year before but I understood his reason for secrecy. He told me that he was working undercover on behalf of the CSA in the hopes of dislodging the bookmakers who were running the table. The plan was to stage a high stakes game so ambitious that we would each walk away with upwards of $218.75 and cause the betting circuit to crash. Donald had been waiting for a new defensive player who still had the odds against him. He wanted to pair my stability on defense with his deadly skills and tricks upfront. He wanted to create the ultimate doubles team. Seeing as I badly needed money for a Snoop Dogg concert ticket; I quickly agreed.
The top earning team was a Serbian pairing from the drama department. They hadn’t lost a game in 3 semesters. They were the safest bet in school. Whenever they came out to play it was always a large buy in. Our new team didn’t have enough street cred yet to justify a game. We had to pull off a quick upset to raise our stocks. We lined up a game with one of the top 5 clubs in the school. This team consisted of two philosophy students. We had heavy odds against but came up with a heavy upset and won in 4 games. Already, this unexpected win had a huge ripple effect on the school economy. Chicken burger prices in the caf shot up by nearly 13%, and vending machine prices also skyrocketed. Bookies were now seriously worried that an upset against the Serbs could result in a tuition hike. The result of this next game had a bigger outcome than we might have thought.
Sure enough, we were given a shot at the title. Again, this was still a stretch. Regardless of our earlier upset, were we still given long odds at pulling it off. Our game took place during peak season at the foosball table: Friday afternoon at 12:15 pm. Word had quickly spread about this very lucrative and interesting fixture. The game began with over $838.12 placed on the game. This total didn’t include the numerous new and used textbooks which easily find their way onto the school black market at events like this.
With that, the stakes were set and the ball was dropped into play. No foosball game at Concordia had ever seen such a wager. However, the top Serbian team did not disappoint. They defeated Donald and I handily in only 5 games. We didn’t stand a chance. We had just financed the group we had planned on destroying. In a high stakes game like this, once you lose a critical game you are placed at the bottom of the ranking pool. Our quick rise to fame was heavily contrasted with our fall from grace. We became a Concordia Foosball urban legend.
The black market continues to thrive, but it had learned a valuable lesson from our title shot. Never again would they allow a new team to rise the ranks so quickly; we had almost cost them dearly. Ultimately, I choose to retire from foosball. Regardless, I encourage you to go play at this historic table and meet some new friends.