"I lost it all." Yeah, as you can probably guess, that line didn't go over too well with my mom. Following that up with the words "online" and "gambling" didn't do much to help my case either. So how am I still attending the University of Richmond? How did I weasel my way out of being berated for my mild addiction to sports betting? The answer is simple: CentSports.com.

CentSports is a free, online gambling Web site founded in 2007 by Texas A&M graduate Victor Palmer. Palmer created a place where sports fanatics, like myself, can attempt to string together miniscule bets into significant payouts. The Web site provides each user with 10 cents upon the creation of an account. From then on, you can wager on anything from basketball to NASCAR in pursuit of the $20 mark.

Once a better has $20 or more, they are eligible to a) compete in a bracket to cash-out their winnings, and b) receive envious glares from their friends. These payouts are funded by the site's advertisement money. More often than not, you'll plunge back to zero and be given a new 10 cents, leaving you mumbling about the upset of the century or swearing at your buddies for "forgetting to mention" that LeBron James was taking a night off to rest his ankle.

The secret to CentSports is not to view it as a way to make money. Although some people do cash-out, making profits of up to $635, I'm convinced they did this sometime in between fixing the NBA's financial troubles and convincing Brett Favre to retire. They just had some time to place a few bets before setting out to find the Holy Grail.

The reality is that CentSports is primarily a fun way to stay involved in the sports world. It gives you stakes in random games and a reason to keep track of all sports in general. We've all been there, flipping from game to game that we couldn't care less about on television, but these days are gone.

CentSports gives you a reason to watch and makes you an instant fan of random teams like the College of William & Mary or the Washington Capitals. Say your bracket's busted and your squad didn't make the Final Four this weekend; have no fear, CentSports.com is here. Drop a dime on Butler and make life interesting. In short, the Web site is pretty lame on its own, but it complements an interest in athletics nicely.

Don't get me wrong. You'll care about the money. In fact, be warned that the site does have a tendency to skew your conception of money. You'll pull over your car to pick up a nickel on the freeway or bet your friend a quarter to jump into the lake. People will inevitably ream you for crying over losing a dollar or for using your phone to follow Na Li's first round tennis match, let alone knowing who Na Li is in the first place. You'll learn to love Serena Williams and to hate inconsistent teams like the Utah Jazz.

Just last week, I saw one of my friends moping around. He looked like death. His shoulders were sunken and he probably hadn't showered all day. We were all concerned that something might have happened. Had his girlfriend dumped him? Had he failed an exam? No one wanted to break the ice and just ask, so we sat there on the couch hoping he'd bring it up. Finally he cracked, "Really Roger Federer? Marcos Baghdatis? I'm writing him a letter, he's got no business losing to him."

It all became clear. There's only one thing you can say during a time like this. "Damn you, Victor Palmer. I'm quitting CentSports." Then, after a long pause: "At least until baseball gets going."

So, when I said, "I lost it all," I'd really only lost $3, playing on house money. But let me tell you, it felt like it all. I'd earned those $3. After researching the spreads for Olympic curling and European rugby, that money became my lovechild. I watched it grow with pride and hid it passionately from my real girlfriend. Word to the wise, fellas: CentSports isn't helping anyone with the ladies. It's a fun way to capture the thrill of betting without the financial repercussions. In short, if you like sports, you'll like CentSports.

Contact staff writer Brenton Lewis at brenton.lewis@richmond.edu