By Buzz Daly
Special to The Sports Network
When It Comes to Picking Winners
There's Lots of Ways to Skin a B.M.
(Sports Network) - As the college and pro football seasons approach their finales, bettors are either playing with house money or tapping reserve bankrolls in a desperate effort to just break even. Coming down the home stretch, this is the last hurrah for many players who bet only during football season.
A significant cadre of punters rely on outside help--tout services--and there is a lot of coming and going among customers who are unhappy with the results. During the course of the last few months, I received several requests for the names of touts from players seeking services that are "honest" or who "pick lots of winners."
I am not inclined to provide recommendations because that would essentially make me a shill. Full disclosure: I know lots of handicappers here in Las Vegas and elsewhere who sell their picks. I can attest that many of them are honest and dedicated in serving their clients. However, I have no idea of their winning percentages, and even if I did, I still wouldn't recommend anyone.
Since I started betting in junior high school, my policy has always been to never pay for any picks. That's not as arrogant as it might sound. I didn't say I never look to others for help in making selections. Only that I don't pay for picks. Once you start buying them, it raises the break-even point substantially. Using the standard -110 vig for football, you need to hit 52.38 percent just to break even
There are lots of reasons why some bettors pay a sports service; not everyone can handicap at a profitable level. Some speculators just don't have the time to analyze stats and other info. Still others bet so high, they feel the need to get what could be considered more informed opinions than their own. If other investors can get outside help, why not football bettors.
The problem is that there are so many touts seeking your business, it is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, or the good guys from scamsters as they are commonly referred to by their victims. There is no universal rule of thumb that will lead you to a good service.
Some touts put more effort in marketing than in handicapping. There are small operations with limited marketing which mean well, try hard, but still rely on another source of income to make a living. Many services cite monitors who authenticate claims of excellence. I'm not a fan of these companies. The only monitoring service that makes sense to me is tracking the picks you pay for. Either your bankroll is growing or shrinking.
Many years ago, when I was more judgmental and less thoughtful than I am now, I used to write enthusiastic pieces that bashed touts. Since I was not privy to their picks, I used sarcasm and ridicule to belittle their advertisements, which were well over the top. "Crush your man!" "Lock of the century" "10,000 star pick." Those were just some of the come-ons which were grist for my mill.
Now I realize that I was simply preaching to the choir. Some folks pay for picks, others don't. That's the way it has been, is and always will be. All I can suggest is that the buyers heed this old chestnut: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."
Ironically, touts point out that customers are not as pure as Rex Ryan's ego. They too have some faults. Picking say, 57-58 percent winners is a most profitable batting average. But potential clients won't respond to such an unsexy number. Unrealistic and unattainable claims like 85 or 90 percent gets their attention, several touts told me.
But investing this column with nothing but a bias against paying for picks would be much too negative, as well as misleading. Most of us can definitely use help in trying to keep our bankrolls from crawling under a duck.
To wit: There is an abundance of genuine expertise available to most of us, and it is absolutely free, if I can borrow a well worn tout phrase. Newspapers, radio and the Internet are rich sources of picks by folks whose batting averages are publicly available for all to scrutinize. Right here in Vegas, there are weekly selections from 'cappers whose publicized picks show a profit.
Whether these public picks are made by journalists, touts who are trolling for customers by giving out freebies, or just serious bettors, it doesn't cost a dime to take advantage of this good stuff. Moreover, the plays are generally accompanied by analysis, on which we can either accept or pass.
I have a variety of local "experts" whom I follow and frequently use their plays. No fees, no contracts, no obligations. And it has been profitable.
Like many bettors, the results of my attempts to handicap are frequently less than stellar. But I have no qualms about checking out plays from folks I respect, and pulling the trigger on some of their picks.
If you haven't created a go-to list of 'cappers whose free plays can supplement your own, you might consider doing so. It works!
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