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Comedian Norm Macdonald, though not placing bets, still able to pick winners

Norm Macdonald used to be such a degenerate gambler, he never cashed in his casino chips. He’d fly home to Los Angeles, put as much as $186,000 in chips in his refrigerator, then fly those chips back to Vegas on his next trip.

Since those old days, Macdonald has rid gambling chips from his lifestyle — but not from his fridge.

"I’m ashamed to say I still have some chips, which presents a little bit of a problem," Macdonald says. "I’m not going to cash them, I know that. So whenever I do Vegas, I’ll probably lose some chips."

He’s coming to Vegas this weekend, performing stand-up tonight and Saturday at The Orleans. Soooo … is he gambling or not?

"I’m not," he says.

But you know how the universe works. Now that he’s not placing bets, he’s picking winners left and right.

On Twitter, before the NBA Finals, he predicted the Dallas Mavericks would upset the Miami Heat. Before the U.S. Open, he predicted golfer Rory McIlroy would win. But he didn’t bet on those paydays. He’s on a dry hot streak.

"Rory would have paid 15 to 1. Suddenly I can pick winners!" he says.

So he’s thinking of gambling again, but not on the table games that used to put him under their spell.

"I’m buoyed by my sports predictions. I think I’ll stay away from the tables and do a future bet."

But wait. He can’t do a proper future bet on the NBA or the NFL because players have been locked out during labor negotiations.

Dagnabbit!

Macdonald is an intuitive bettor.

"It’s all hunches with me," he says.

(Gamblers should never follow hunches.)

But he did feel very confident in picking McIlroy to win the U.S. Open.

"I think he’s the best golfer in the world. I’ve always been saying Tiger’s problem is: The kids caught up to him," he says.

That is: Tiger Woods started out in golf against fat old guys. McIlroy is part of a strapping young generation inspired by Woods.

"When I was a kid, everybody that played golf was an old man. Until Tiger showed up, they weren’t in very good shape."

That’s true. If you remember, Woods blasted onto the scene in the 1990s by out-golfing chubby old guys such as Fuzzy Zoeller. Woods didn’t have a belly to swing around. That was a plus.

"Exactly," Macdonald says. "He lifted a weight at some point in his life."

The thing Macdonald enjoys about sports is it has finite answers. That’s the same reason he liked math classes when he was young.

"When I was in school, I would get infuriated. I would do something in English, and I would get a B or something, and then I’d get so mad because it was just the (teacher) guy’s opinion.

"But in math, you could get 100 percent. It was very fair. That’s what I liked about math. You could figure it out, and the teacher couldn’t have a stupid opinion about it.

"That’s why I like sports," he says. "In terms of merit, sports has mathematical statistics. That’s how you know who the best player is."

Anyway, sadly, predicting the NFL is complicated by the lockout. So I ask Macdonald to use his powers of prescience to instead predict the next presidential election.

"I’d say Obama will take 52 percent of the vote, and Romney will take the rest," he foretells.

He’s not concerned that some voters say they won’t vote for Romney because he’s Mormon, since JFK faced similar problems with his Catholicism.

"Yeah, that’s what they said about Jack Kennedy — until somebody reminded them he wasn’t Mormon," he jokes. "But I don’t know anything about politics. I wouldn’t put too much into my prediction on politics."

Any other prophecies?

"I predict another season for ‘The Simpsons.’ "

Doug Elfman’s column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Contact him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

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