How To Win Big In Happy Valley

Like I said before , I first learned about Hong Kong through the stellar James Clavell novel Noble House. Many key scenes took place over big dollar betting at the Happy Valley Racecourse. Alas, I was left without a private VIP room (and millions to bet with) but I had a damn good time at Happy Valley.

I could see the racetrack from my hotel window so my cousin and I rambled over after dinner one night. Lucky for us it was Oktoberfest! ( In November but I’m not complaining!)

How to Win

Step 1.

Buy large pitchers of beer. Consume said beer. ( Alcohol is a key factor in the enjoyment of the races.)

Step 2.

When you’re starting to feel pretty fine pour an indiscriminate amount of brew into a cup. Chug that beer to the best of your ability. The number of seconds it takes = your lucky horse number.

Step 3.

I bet the minimum of 20HKD on win .

The winning ticket.

Step 4.

Profit and bask in the glory!

I discovered this foolproof technique on my first ever attempt at betting on anything.
I placed the bet and did the worst possible thing you can do on the first time you ever bet. Win.
Winning the very first time , who could just walk away?

AFter waiting in line in between hardcore gamblers wearing sunglasses at night , clenching their horse-betting newspaper with vice-like grips , we fought our way through the crowds thick with the young , beautiful , and business-suited.

Straining to see , up on our very tiptoes, the gates open and the horses are off! I can’t see anything! Dang , being on ground level at a circular track leaves at least 50% of the race to the video screens!

My beloved horse #2 (2 second chug!) was quickly behind. Nooooo! We felt dejected , let-down , cheated. Until #2 had a surge of power in the last quarter and overtook the pack to win by a body length! All those previous negative energies disappeared and we were left ecstatic , amazed by what just happened , and slighty drunk.

Waiting in line to cash in the ticket, I was saying there is no way we can win anything big ( totally not understanding the system that lets you know exactly what you win) . My 20HKD turned into 146 HKD , that’s $2.58 USD to $18.83 for those who don’t have the conversions memorized. 7 to 1 payoff on win!

AFter winning, we committed a grave error. We switched to the mathematical principles of addition , multiplication , and parity ( that’s odd or evens . Don’t feel bad , I had to look the word up.) We foolishly dismissed our winning strategy as luck or chance. It’s not. Trust the beer. Fear the math.

By the end of it we were down to our initial cash levels minus the beer but plus a Gangnam Style dance competition, so I’d say we left ahead.

Unfortunately the place in Shanghai named Happy Valley is a mere amusement park. The original horse racing track was at People’s Square prior to 1949. Communists don’t like betting or fun so they tore it down. I really wish they hadn’t. It would great to be able to go once or twice a month. Instead I’ll have to wait till the next time I’m in Hong Kong.

NBA Chinese Team Names

I was always a baseball fan although today I barely follow any kind of sport. Being a Cleveland sports fan tends to do that to the soul. It’s been more than 60 years for the Indians and might as well be another 60. The Cavs shoulda gotten it done when they still had Lebron , and the Browns hahaha the Browns. Fun times.

The Chinese ,however, love basketball. They have their own league , the CBA, which is loaded with foreigners playing , and they follow the NBA quite intensely. Every morning on the subway commute to work, when I can actually see the television screens through the wall of people, the news plays and the NBA games are given a quick recap.

Ever since the first time I saw these scores , I’ve had fun trying to read the Chinese equivalents for the teams and figuring out which team it is in English. The names make sense in Chinese and I’m surprised how many I can read and figure it out. Especially surprising that I remember the team names in English since I never payed close attention.

So here we go with a list of the teams’ Chinese names and an English translation . See if you can figure them out!

1. 快船  Fast Boats

2.国王 King

3.湖人 Lake people

4.太阳 Sun

5.勇士Brave Person

6.灰熊 Gray Bear


8.小牛Little Bull

9.火箭Fire Arrow

10.马刺 Horse Thorn

11.爵士Jue shi (transliteration- it’s trying to sound out the word)

12.掘金Dig Gold


14.森林狼 Forest Wolf


16.76人 76 person

17.凯尔特人 Kai er te (transliteration) person

18.尼克斯 Ni ke si (transliteration)

19.篮网 Basket Net

20.猛龙Ferocious Dragon

21.山猫 Mountain Cat

22.老鹰 Eagle

23.热火 Heat Fire

24.魔术 Magic

25.奇才 Genius

26.雄鹿 Male Deer

27.公牛 Bull

28.骑士 Horseman, Knight

29.步行者 Pedestrian

30.活塞 Piston

Alrighty , here are the answers:

1. Clippers














15.Trail Blazers







22.Seahawks  Hawks(Update – Thanks Pat! I prove my ignorance of sports. This is especially bad seeing as how this is now the number 2 google link for Chinese NBA teams haha. I saw 老鹰(Eagle) and the first thing that popped to mind was Seahawks but that would be (American) football. Atlanta Hawks everyone , sorry!