Handicapping Books . October 2012 . Vol 13 . No. 10

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By T. Dana Smith (for Howard Schwartz) - Gambler's Book Shop Las Vegas

Las Vegas sportsbooks are celebrating the return of the king this week, as thousands of avid handicappers line up to place bets on football games. “In the world of sports betting, football is king,” claims Ted Murray, author of The Inside Scoop on Football Betting (144 pgs, $20).

In his 2008 entry into the crowded field of how-to handicapping books, Murray presents the best advice of sports betting pioneers, online sources, and his personal experience to help you develop your own winning systems. In his basic and clear journalistic style, Murray kicks things off with how to decide which types of wagers offer the best chances of winning and which ones are sucker bets. Then he lays out the best print and electronic sources to get info on power ratings, injury reports and other factors that influence your picks. At the end of each of his 11 chapters (a coincidence?), Murray includes a valuable index of the sources he used for each of his topics.

If you’re looking for “88 powerful winning concepts for making money at football, basketball, baseball, hockey and more,” pick up Michael Kochan’s Secrets of Professional Sports Betting (252 pgs, $19.95). A self-professed professional sports gambler who “breathes, lives and dies for sports betting,” Kochan gives you some hard-hitting strategies for finding value, including money-line wagers, buying points, hedging your bets, over/under plays, connected wagers and prop bets.

“Football, especially the NFL,” he says, “is the sport in which buying points means the most. NFL games are so often won by 3 points that 3 is the most important number in buying points.” Kochan also includes the nitty-gritty nuts ‘n bolts of handicapping: record keeping, money management, and analysis. Especially interesting are his 50 real-world examples of great bets.

The College Football Handicapper (140 pgs, $19.95) by Bill Bravenec, CFA, explains handicapping methods in an easy-to-understand format. Bravenec’s picks in the 2005-06 college football season were correct a to-die-for 67 percent of the time. With that enviable record under his belt, he gives you guidelines for which collegiate teams to bet each week (and which ones to avoid); why you should focus on college rather than pro games; good bets and bad bets; and which statistical methods to use.

Most of the book is devoted to the reasoning Bravenec used in each of his picks in the ’05-’06 season so that you can see how a winning handicapper thinks and adjusts. You get the good, the bad and the beautiful of the full spectrum of his choices: what led him to the winner’s window and what caused his football faux pas. (Check out the Boston College-Virginia Tech game: “My pick went against my own method of selecting teams with a better defense and turnover margin.”) But hey, nobody’s perfect, right?

Note: The Last Natural (356 pgs, $26.99) by Bob Miech, highly touted by Sports Illustrated and other pubs, has just hit the shelves. The story of Vegas phenom Bryce Harper, the book’s subtitle is “Big gamble in Sin City and the greatest amateur season ever.” Haven’t read it yet, but Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review Journal says it’s “terrific stuff. Miech has done what Harper is known for—hitting a spectacular homerun.” You can find it in stock locally at Gambler’s Book Club.

These books are available at Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas. You can order them at www.gamblersbookclub.com or phone the store at 1-800-522-1777 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific time. Opened in 1964, GBC is located at 5473 S. Eastern between Tropicana and Russell, just a short drive from the Strip. View the store's complete line of books, CDs, videos and software at the web site.