Football Handicapping Books Score Touchdowns for Savvy Bettors . September 2010 . Vol 11 . No. 9

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Football Handicapping Books Score Touchdowns for Savvy Bettors

By Dana Smith (for Howard Schwartz) - Gambler's Book Shop Las Vegas.

Ms. Smith is also the Senior Editor of Cardoza Publishing (an affiliate of GBC).

J.R. Miller’s How Professional Gamblers Beat the Pro Football Pointspread (232 pgs, $24.95) is endorsed by enough handicapping experts to fill any sportsbook in Vegas. Kicking things off by debunking common misconceptions about sports wagers, Miller deftly moves across the field with 12 how-to chapters of info and advice, including:

Miller’s opening chapters can be especially valuable to new sports bettors in understanding the purpose of the pointspread (to divide bettor opinions); how the opening line is set and why it often moves; and the bookmaker’s vigorish (always deducted from winnings). But the meat of this book is in his chapters on how to recognize key pointspreads and how to beat over/unders. Miller warns readers not to follow their instinct and lay a bet when the pointspread is within their prediction, but to shop for the best deals before wagering. He scores a field goal with his “no-think over/under system,” and advises bettors to take the over/unders when they have a choice between betting sides or totals.

A significant strength of this book is Miller’s clear and concise writing style in demystifying otherwise difficult concepts such as standard deviation and profit probabilities, which he presents in multiple easy-to-understand charts. He uses quotes and examples from respected handicappers such as Lem Banker, Buzz Daly and Sonny Reizner to back up his advice. Recommended by Jack Short (past president of the American Library Trustee Association) as core reading material for libraries, Miller’s book crosses the goal line with accurate information and trustworthy advice.

The Unemotional Football Bettor (182 pgs, $39.95) by Scott Kellen is another sports handicapping tome that scores a touchdown with stats, info and advice on placing wagers on college and NFL games. After making costly mistakes during his early career as a professional handicapper (he warns readers against committing the errors he made), Kellen went into the huddle and came up with 27 successful, unemotional betting strategies that have led him to the winner’s circle.

Heavily dotted with charts and stats, the book explores these handicapping strategies, including a strong chapter on money management: “You could throw away everything you’ve read up to this point and everything after this chapter,” Kellen avows, “… and this book would still offer unbelievable value.” He may be right about that, but his other chapters are equally important. He explains “fundamental,” “revenge” and “contrarian” approaches to college and pro football wagering, going into detail on factors such as whether teams are bouncing back from losses, letting down after wins, either gaining or losing momentum, and playing against perennial rivals.

Kellen’s NFL chapters concentrate on team stats and how to place optimal wagers during the pre-season, week one, the playoffs, and the Super Bowl. His summary chart listing the 27 strategies detailed throughout the book puts his advice in a nutshell for easy reference. Experienced bettors will find this expertly written volume a valuable tool for building a winning season.

The Big Book of Slots and Video Poker by Marten Jensen

Reviewed by Howard Berenbon

Cardoza Publishing, well known publishers of all types of games and gambling books covering casino, sports and even horse racing, just newly updated "The Big Book of Slots and Video Poker" by Marten Jensen. This is one important book for anyone who roams the casino floor lookng for that winning machine. Before you bet, it's best know what machines to bet on and how to play them, and that's part of what Marten Jensen offers. This 287-page book (selling for $14.95) offers 20 chapters packed with great information including what machines you should try, and how to play them. If you don't want to read it from front to back and just want to play, you can jump to Chapter 9 for a simple slot strategy. You can always go back for more details later.

The book starts out with a little history, and then on to Chapter 1, Slot Machine Overview with information on the old spinning reel machines. The it's on to the types of video slots and progressive machines. Chapter 2 through 8 cover a lot of preliminary details like elements of the machines, money and payouts, some general playing advice and details on the different machines you should expect to see. For example, Jensen advises joining a slot club where they keep track of your game activity. If you don't join, you will miss out on some very nice comps, like free meals, a show or even a free night in the hotel. You'll also find sound advice on how and where to find the "loose" slots that payoff, and where to avoid those "tight" slots that hardly ever pay.

Once you make it through to Chapter 9 (or you've jumped ahead), you're on track for some winning strategies. For example, Chapter 13 offers progressive strategies. Progessives are a group of slot machines linked to a large jackpot, which increases as the machines are played. When a person hits, the jackpot reset back to the starting amount.

If you're video poker fan, details start at Chapter 15 with video poker basics, information on finding the best poker machine, and some strategies.

Finally, Chapter 20 offers payback information on all the current slot machines, listed in alphabetical order, with betting advice. HB

These books are available at Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas. You can order them at 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.