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Covering Every Angle

Vegas handicapping seminar reveals timeless tips and new, high-tech tactics

By Buzz Daly


In the technological wonderland that envelops the world of sports betting, TMI—or “Too Much Information” — is an occupational hazard. When you add the glut of deliberately misleading tout missives filled with manipulative story lines, bettors can really get dismayed in their efforts to find reliable, credible handicapping information.

Recently, an organization that sells picks, Vegas Insider, held a handicapping seminar in Las Vegas, which admittedly was a marketing vehicle for its services. However, other than a cursory mention of its business during the introduction, the event was all about offering genuine tips and insight to serious bettors. Several panels were composed of legitimate sports authorities who provided pragmatic approaches to the art and science of trying to pick winners against the spread.

Although much of what was covered was time sensitive, relating to this season’s football teams and schedules, there was also a plethora of valuable and timeless information. Here were some of the most interesting takeaways from the event.

The use of social media like Twitter and Facebook has emerged as new territory for finding inside info that is not otherwise accessible. But it’s important to filter it by relying on credible sources, rather than just clueless opinions and observations. Football players are not necessarily reliable, since they often have a not-so-hidden agenda for what they tweet.

But beat writers for NFL teams and online journalists can be excellent sources of good info before it gets disseminated to the general public. Developing a database of such sources can pay off in winning plays.

The consensus among the assembled handicappers was that Facebook has become a non-factor in obtaining worthwhile information. Twitter, however, is considered a great time-efficient way to be in front of events if you are following the right originators. In the area of injuries, it’s especially useful to get updates in real time.

One issue that is relevant throughout the football season is betting futures. The house hold can be prohibitive. Bettors must comparison shop, since there are some attractive plays to be had. Slow-acting casinos can be taken advantage of by sharp players. Conversely, some casinos post lines for stupid bettors.

Look for books that overreact to one-sided action on a few teams. The value of a half-game is 50-80 cents, and odds reflect the ratio of money taken by the house on specific teams. When you find variances at different casinos, you can speculate, or hedge. Look to bet any good numbers; then, if you wish, get out of it with a hedge that lets you win both sides, or at least break even. Hitting a middle on a future bet is easier than on a game.

When analyzing whether to bet the over or under on a team, the most crucial factor is strength of schedule. Studying the sequence, or dynamics of a schedule is the best way to get an accurate barometer of which way to bet. This is the key that book makers use in setting over/unders.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, teasers are not sucker bets. Sure, you must pick two winners, but by limiting your plays to the NFL—where lines are tight—there is a bonus to betting teasers, because sometimes both sides of a game win.

Parlay cards, meanwhile, aren’t necessarily the bad bets that some say they are. The cards come out on Wednesday or Thursday, and their static lines shift value to the player. Each sports book skews lines relative to the opinion of its own bookmaker. Add the built-in edge offered by ties-win cards, and shoppers will find some games with as much as a two-point spread.

However, the books can protect themselves with evasive action against bettors by taking games off the card due to volatile line movement, injuries or weather. So act quickly on these games before they are removed, which is generally on game day.

If there is a ploy by bettors that sets off book makers, it’s betting correlated parlays. This is simply a bet that is tied into another, in that if one wins, the odds of the other bet winning is increased. For example, a correlated parlay that no book would accept is a wager on a money line side, going to the side with points. If the money line wins, the other bet automatically wins.

A more standard correlated parlay is the favorite to the over, or the dog to the under. The books normally take these bets, but there are occasions when this action will be refused. Finding an acceptable correlated parlay is not easy, because many bookmakers are paranoid about getting beaten this way.




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