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Pointspread Playbook and NFL Teasers & Totals, Book reviews

by Howard Schwartz (Manager of the Gambler's Book Shop in Las Vegas)

Here are two vital tools for the crafty pro football handicappers who are looking for potential angles and situations.  They are the 2005 edition of Al O'Donnell's Pointspread Playbook (111 pages, paperbound, $19.95) and Andy Iskoe's NFL Teasers & Totals (73 pages, plastic spiral bound, $29.95).

O'Donnell's book, subtitled "The Informed Player's Reference," has been providing bettors with information for more than 20 years. He doesn't tell you what to bet or against whom, but simply outlines what has happened in the past. Samples: "Last year, the Eagles had their sixth-straight money-making campaign covering at a 12-7 pace. ... They have been particularly effective as a visitor on artificial turf, covering in 14 of the last 17."

He also provides good information about betting over-unders. "Minnesota as a visitor on artificial turf has gone over in 11 of the last 13 trips."

O'Donnell offers three years of results, records against the spread and totals for each team, with a quick way to see if the game was at home, away, on grass or turf. The book can be used to keep records during the regular season, with room for scores, totals and whether the team covered. You'll be able to spot if a game is a conference, inter-conference or divisional battle and if the game is a Sunday or non-Sunday game.

For those who want to compare the money line to the pointspread, a chart makes it ever so clear. All the Monday night games are listed including the playing surface for each game; there are summaries showing how teams did overall on Monday nights since 2000; how a team which played on a Monday night performed the following Sunday; how teams did a week after the mid-season break; how underdogs did overall for the past five years and how underdogs did against spreads varying from three or less to 10 points or more, just for 2004.

The book contains a complete Super Bowl history with totals and spreads and how teams which won the Super Bowl did in the following season.

Overall, this is one of the finest reference sources ever produced for the beginner or experienced player who wants a one-volume resource packed with data.

Andy Iskoe's Pointspread Encyclopedia NFL Teasers & Totals examines the tendencies for teams to perform in a variety (more than two dozen) of situations for six years -- year by year from 1999 on, for the past three years overall and for the last six years overall. Simply, short-term or long-term.

Some teams are extraordinary in certain situations. The question must be asked -- why? A statistical quirk? Something about a home-field advantage or a linemaker who erred? Look at Green Bay. As a home favorite with a six-point teaser, the team is 31-13 for the past six years; as a road dog for the same period of team, with a six-point teaser, they are 16-4 since 1999.

Iskoe does the same analysis for totals. Look at the Saints. For the past three years, they have gone over 13 of 18 times against conference teams. Do they try harder in these match-ups or is there extra emphasis on winning these key games? The Steelers seem to have a lot of over pep in their first four games of the year, Iskoe's book shows. They have gone over in eight of the first 12 games played for the last three seasons.

For those who want a bigger picture, the book shows how the entire league has done in two dozen teaser and totals situations since 1999, or for the past three years and then again, the last six years overall.

For the absolute purists who demand a breakdown even more infinite for totals, Iskoe shows how often games landed on numbers ranging from three to 106 since 1981, followed by a chart clearly showing why key numbers will continually be 37, 41, 51, 30 and 38 in that order all the way down the line.

This is a must-have book for the totals or teaser bettor with a theory, angle, situation worth testing. The work by Iskoe, a master craftsman of numbers and statistics, is a recognized time-saver, well worth the price.

Note: The books mentioned here are available from Gambler's Book Shop, 630 South 11th Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101. Call l-800-522-1777 from 9 to 5 Monday through Saturday Pacific time to order, using only MasterCard, VISA or Discover card (no Amex accepted). You may order through the store web site at and view the store's 1,000 books, videos and computer software. You may also call or write and ask for the free 80-page catalog to be sent to you. The store, founded in 1964 by John and Edna Luckman, is located about two miles from Downtown Las Vegas, and the same distance from where the Strip begins, a block west of Maryland Parkway, just off Charleston Boulevard.