Phew. Two days until the 2013-14 season kicks off, and I finally feel like I have a moment to breathe. Archives are updated, mailing list is transferred, expert team is working on their picks, Dora and Diego are babysitting my daughter for the next twenty minutes, and you and I finally have an opportunity to sit down and talk football.
Originally, the Spread Zone's blossomed my love of sports, gambling, communication, and writing, and as time-consuming as the website may be, I don't want to get away from that. For the dozen or so of you who have signed up to be Insiders so far, I know that was not solely because of handicapping prowess, and I appreciate that. For the rest of our readers, please know that we're still giving almost everything away and we love it when you light up the comments boards and get the dialogue going between our community members. I think we only had one almost throw-down last year, and even that was kind of fun. Thanks Todd.
When I was a child I had a wonderful mother who told me that I can be anything I want to be if I just apply myself and work hard. Although I now know that there are physical, mental, emotional, and blood/heights/9 to 5 related limitations to word "anything," the part about applying myself and working hard was sound advice. With this in mind, it is one of my lofty goals this football season to continue to study, work hard, apply myself, and become the best degenerate NFL handicapper a young-ish man can be.
In this spirit, Tuesdays are classroom days. Get out your notebooks, your smart phones, your tablets, your Crack-berries, or your heiroglyphic stone post-its, and lets take a look at what Dan Gordon, author of Beat the Sports Books, describes as the most common obstacles in a bettors path - besides money and loving support of friends and family.
Obstacles in a Bettors Path (Chapter 6)
1. American society & sports wagering: the stigma
Oh how I long to be a Canadian - free from the rigid confines of private health insurance, liberated from hockey ignorance, full to the brim with Molson Dry or Labatt 50, and just gambling at will without the disdainful glares of my fellow countrymen.
In all seriousness, I get this one. I don't know how much of an obstacle it is now with all of the secret online gambling you can do, but perhaps that kind of shadiness is exactly what Dan's talking about. According to a Sports Illustrated article years ago, the American people consider sports betting a societal evil and believe all sports bettors end up broke. Many also believe sports are fixed and there is a seedy underworld behind the scenes controlling it all. According to Dan, the main reason gambling is outlawed in so many American states is that the government can't compete with illegal bookies (i.e. decriminalizing gambling and putting it in the hands of the government) so they just ban them. Or try. Stigma or not, however, over one billion dollars a week is bet during the NFL season, so let's all try to end up on the winning side of those bets.
2. How the media often costs normal sports bettors money
The game of football can be made to appear very complex. Letters, numbers, telestrators, offenses, zone blitzes, nickels, dimes, and other forms of currency can make the game seem overwhelmingly intricate to the novice sports bettor. Television and radio analysts are authoritative, use the fancy words, break things down, write all over the screens, rank the players, offenses, defenses, coaches, water boys, cheerleaders, and appear as though they know what they're talking about, which can be a little intimidating to beginners.
Keep in mind, however, as you're barraged all week with the same handful of stories, statistics, betting trends, etc. that it is one thing to describe what happened and another thing entirely to predict what has yet to take place. Even Marco and I have been guilty of this - especially in the early days of TSZ - and continue to be so in supporting our picks with ATS stats and headline stories. We try to remain objective, look at teams as a whole, but this early in the season it's difficult to gauge exactly what teams have to offer.
Another thing to be wary of with the media is the big market or popular teams, the attention they get, and how that influences the betting lines. With teams like Dallas and the New York Giants, the odds makers will sometimes inflate their value because of the additional media attention and fan base.
3. NFL Tout
An NFL tout is someone who gets paid to help bettors make wagers. For those of you who have signed up to be Insiders, The Spread Zone is your NFL tout. I had no idea that there was a specific name for what we were doing until right now. Many people ask, "Well if touts know what they're doing why don't they just bet for themselves and make a ton of money."
The answer with us is two-fold. First of all, it takes a ton of money to make a ton of money sports betting. And secondly, we will be betting every single Friday Five Confidence pick we give you this season. The reality of sports betting is that very few make a living of it. Rarely do cappers and touts eclipse 60% on a season, which makes generating a large income difficult. It also makes our Friday Five 51-30 ATS last season (63%) look pretty darn attractive for $1/week.
According to Dan Gordon, the pressure of customer satisfaction can lead touts to go out on a limb or avoid certain picks, and ultimately the sports bettor buying the advice suffers. We're keeping this part clean at The Spread Zone by asking our experts to rank their top 8 confidence picks and we'll combine the scores of our team members to come up with your Friday Five.
4. Sucker bets
Ah, the attractiveness of the infamous parlay: two bets, one card, nail them both and you'll triple you'll triple your money. The truth is, the parlay is almost always a sucker bet. Here's why:
1. First of all, most two team parlays you are actually only given 13 to 5 odds. For example, wager $50, get both bets correct and you win $130
2. Unfortunately, your odds of winning both games is mathematically 3 to 1. The payout should be 3 to 1 or 15 to 5, so you're already on the short end of the stick.
3. Finally, when you bet a two-team/game parlay, you need both Games A and B to go your way. If you break that down, only one good thing can happen for you - covering both games. On the other hand, if A loses and B wins, you lose. If A wins and B loses, you lose. If A and B both lose, you lose. As you can see, three of four possibilities don't work out for you on average. That being said, they're still a lot of fun when you nail them.
Just think of the parlay as one of those drunk nights in the bar where you're flirting with two women (or men for you ladies) and you think you're going to get action from both. What happens more often than not is no sex or begrudging jealous sex from one or the other who feels a little insulted that you were going for gold. The latter may not sound like a loss, but run with the analogy, okay? Other bets like teasers and reverses are also sucker bets, so just keep that in mind as you embark upon your sports betting careers.
Here's my advice:
1. Keep it simple.
2. Do your research.
3. Read The Spread Zone.
Vinny and Marco