Betting Form: There are two types of bets, mutual and unilateral. A mutual bet is easy. For example, “If the Tampa Bay Devil Rays finish the 2006 season ahead of the Baltimore Orioles, Jeff will buy Dara an empanada. But, if the Orioles finish above the Devil Rays, Dara will owe Jeff an empanada.” This is a mutual bet. The terms are negotiated between both parties, who are assumed to have equal bargaining power and equal opportunity to accept or reject the terms.
Moreover, the terms do not have to be mirror images. For example, “If the Toronto Blue Jays finish in first place in the AL East standings for the 2006 season, Justin will owe Dara an empanada, but if the Blue Jays finish below .500 in the 2006 season, Dara will owe Justin an empanada."
A unilateral bet is more difficult. It is always poor manners to ask someone to buy you something. Therefore, these bets should always involve the bettor offering something to the recipient. So, instead of saying “If Royce Clayton hits a double to the GEICO banner on his next at bat, will you buy me an empanada?” proper form would instead require you to say “If Royce Clayton hits a double to the GEICO banner, I will buy you an empanada.”
No matter how ridiculous the offer, if you make it, you are obligated to follow-through.
Of course, a unilateral bet can be changed into a mutual bet if the recipient agrees to further conditions. For example, in the situation described above, the recipient can say, “Sure. And if Royce Clayton hits a triple to the McDonald's sign, I will buy you an empanada.”
Betting Currencies: There are many acceptable betting currencies, and the list keeps expanding.
Other bets include a dinner, a steak dinner, a lemonade, a hard lemonade, a Cristian Guzman bobblehead doll, and singing a national anthem backwards. (Any national anthem is perfectly acceptable, but if it's not "The Star-Spangled Banner," you should probably specify that at the time you make the bet.)
The various currencies can be combined, and such behavior is encouraged, as it makes for more interesting conversation. Specificity is equally important, for the same reason. For example, "I'll bet you an empanada," is vastly less amusing than "I'll bet you a dessert empanada and a hard lemonade."
We should not -- and do not -- encourage betting for money (except, of course, for the inevitable NCAA Tournament pool). Indeed, the only time that cash should change hands is when it (a) occurs in a bar and (b) is more accurately described as a dare. So, it is entirely acceptable to say "Justin, I will give you a dollar if you go up to a random girl at the bar and sing 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling,'" or "Inbal, I will give you a dollar if you ask that guy if you can touch his cowboy hat."
Other Issues: (1) As indicated in the prior example, bets do not have to be sports related. They can be related to anything.
(2) You can increase the bet currency up until the time that performance is no longer possible, but you cannot decrease the currency. For example, it is acceptable to make the following bet: “If Carlos Baerga hits a home run during this at bat, I will buy you an empanada. No, make that two empanadas. Make that two empanadas AND a lemonade. And, I’ll sing the National Anthem backwards.” (Although, as most everyone knows, Dan has not had much success with this particular bet.)
In that regard, however, it is not acceptable to say something along the lines of “If Nick Johnson gets hit by a pitch in this at bat, I will buy you a steak dinner. Well, on second thought, he gets plunked a lot, so make that an empanada.”
(3) You should endeavor to keep a record of your bets. While this blog is not the only option for keeping track of who owes what to whom, it is useful and available for that purpose.
(4) If someone has to sing the National Anthem backwards, you should at least make an attempt to record it for posterity, and if possible, post it to the blog. (Hint, hint.)