As we enter NFL season, the extensive machinery dedicated to separating you from your money begins operating in full force. It is a system comprised of touts, operators, sportswriters, talk shows, other media folks, and so on. All will be giving you advice that figures to assist you in one endeavor: damaging your bankroll.
That may not necessarily be the intent, but it will most likely be the result.
My attitude about a great many things is that if a person is going to walk through a minefield, it is best to follow someone who has been out in that minefield for a long time and has not blown themselves up. For this reason, in this article, I will introduce you to some betting people I have met over the last several decades.
Shrinkage, Barbie, and rooting for laundry
Let’s start with one of the most significant influences contributing to male shrinkage … of their finances. This is the male ego.
As the movie Barbie was launched across the nation, pink was in. There was a strong element of derision about this fashion choice on social media by many males, and interestingly enough, in the same social media vehicles, many men were pictured wearing their NFL colors. Through some curious twist of male logic, being a pink fanboy or fangirl was totally uncool, whereas being a fanboy decked out in an NFL color and logo was super cool and very manly. Devotion to a team and its uniform even seems to make people want to fight at games — and how cool and manly is that?
If you, as a bettor, have a favorite team (or teams) or are emotionally attached to certain teams, players, or coaches, do not become overly attached to your money, for you will soon be shipping it to an operator. My friend Roxy Roxborough, a recent inductee of the Sports Gambling Hall of Fame, can help you remember this point:
Four words to better health: Eat Less, Exercise More…..Four words to better sports gambling: Bet Prices not Teams.
— Roxy Roxborough (@RoxyLasVegas) May 12, 2018
If you don’t know who Roxy is, well, you probably should not be risking real money on sports betting.
Related to this is the following quote from professional gambler Captain Jack Andrews:
"The single sharpest thing you can do as a sports bettor is to shop for the best price."
— Unabated (@UnabatedSports) September 1, 2023
To punctuate this point, I will add the thoughts of an incredibly successful and respected bettor, my friend Gadoon “Spanky” Kyrollos:
I’m reading lots of debate and advice and chitter chatter on top down betting and bottom up betting (two phrases I happen to coin).
No matter what kind of bettor you are, there will always be only two things that truly matter for longevity and success.
— spanky (@spanky) August 31, 2023
The point is that while the Beach Boys wanted you to be true to your school, when it comes to betting, learn the importance of price, and why it is important. Do not get emotionally attached to anything — not your team, or a coach, or a player — and especially do not get too emotionally attached to your bankroll.
If it sounds too good to be true …
Once you are out of your own head and understand how your ego can destroy your bottom line, other folks will try to get into your head. These are the touts. If you realize that your picks cannot beat the market, you may be inclined to use the services of a tout. These are people who will sell you picks. Spanky, who has been betting for a very long time with material success, has this to say about touts:
As much as I love the start of the football season, this is the time the scammy touts are in full guerrilla marketing mode with their bullshit records and empty promises.
Pro bettors extract money from bookmakers.
Pro scammers extract money from bettors.
— spanky (@spanky) August 27, 2023
My favorite tout story goes back to the mid-1980s. A friend of mine ran a picks service in Las Vegas, and he would offer a low-priced pick to the market to introduce his services. He would give half of the U.S. one of the teams, and the other half would get the other. At the end of the day, half of his customers were winners.
The next week, he would divide the winners by splitting them into two halves, and then repeat that again the third week. He now had one group with which he had a perfect 3-0 record. He would offer this group his “lock of the decade” for $59. Let’s just say that he did very well with this business model.
The natural question is, if the service is so damn good, why don’t these folks just bet on the picks? The answer is that they are better marketers than they are handicappers, so, as Spanky suggested, they find it easier to talk you out of your money than to actually pick winners.
Of course, no topic in sports betting would be complete without another word from Roxy:
Pick/Tout services will never die. People don't want to learn how to fish, they want a fish. Get a bad one? Then buy another.
— Roxy Roxborough (@RoxyLasVegas) October 13, 2021
Writes and wrongs
Next on the list of people who can help you lower your net worth are the journalists and media types surrounding the betting space. There are exceptions, of course, but most of the people explaining sports betting to you have never worked in a bookmaking environment or made a living on the other side of the counter. They are writing about betting because that is what they do to make money.
They would probably prefer to bet for a living or book for a living, but being successful at those endeavors is confined in the long run to a very small circle of people. So, the media members write about it or talk about it instead.
Many years ago, I was involved with the Stardust Hotel & Casino. That facility had an amazing book. We were legendary for taking huge bets and handling tons of money.
Scott Schettler, another recent inductee of the Sports Gambling Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, ran our book. Scott took an old closet that was accessible from the book, had it fixed up so customers could enter it, and on the walls hung betting articles, weather reports, tout sheets, and the like. We called this the Bettor’s Library.
Scott believed that a person needed two things to make a bet. One was a bankroll, and the other was an opinion. The Bettor’s Library often gave them an opinion. Ka-ching.
That is the main value of the betting media, understanding that in the betting space, by the time the information gets published or aired, it is old news to a serious bettor. It is important to understand that most of the people writing in the betting space will probably be writing in the betting space next year and not retiring to the south of France as a beneficiary of their betting insight.
There is also a variant of the betting press that acts as a conduit from the books. They will publish the status of game action for a book, listing the money flows and the bet counts, what the “late” money is doing, and such things. I always find these discussions interesting and am glad they are provided, but for the real bettor, this is information that has already been cooked into the different markets by the time it is published.
I believe the betting press — again, with some exceptions — will generally help a player win about 50% of the time on two-way action. Unfortunately, 11 is bigger than 10. (That’s the power of the vig.)
Based on all this, most bettors must understand that they should keep their day jobs. “Nick the Greek” Dandolos observed: “The house doesn’t beat the player. It just gives him the opportunity to beat himself.”
There has never been a time in the U.S. where the house has had so much help. And its main season starts this week.
So, if you go out into that minefield, I suggest you find someone to follow who has been out there for a long time. Surviving in betting is a tougher task than most can imagine.