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HOW TO SHOP FOR A HANDICAPPER-THE BASICS

 One of the advantages of being a sports handicapper is that I don't have to find someone else to do it for me. Seriously, I don't envy you people. Sports handicapping is one of the few industries I can think of where a majority of the "professionals" are either incompetent or downright crooked.

Depending on what mood you catch me in, I'd say that somewhere between 50% and 90% of the industry is crooked, incompetent or some combination thereof. The good news is that there are probably more honest, successful and legitimate handicappers than ever before. The trick is finding them among the rabble of the industry. That's the purpose of this article--these are the basics of what I'd look for in a handicapper or sports service.

 

WHAT A HANDICAPPER CAN DO FOR YOU:

The first thing you need to understand is that nature of what a real handicapper does and how it can benefit you. Sports handicapping is a predictive science, and as such is similar to professions like stock advisers or weathermen. What we do is utilize our expertise and knowledge to interpret data to find wagering value that will allow us to profit in the sports wagering marketplace. Basically, its a function of experience, knowledge and hard work.

Unfortunately, too many touts try to convince an unwitting public that they have privy to "inside information", or "locks". They imply that they have mythical "systems" that have "never lost". They throw around ridiculous ratings--100,000 stars, 500,000 stars, that sort of things--and "games of the year" that come every few days. Oddly enough, many touts "strongest plays of their lifetime" seem to coincide with high profile "big games"--a fact alone that is almost completely in contradiction to any legitimate concept of finding wagering value.

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The bad guys in the industry throw around a lot of hype about fantasies of locked games and inside information, and talk very little about the things that really matter in sports handicapping. You'll never hear the boiler room guys talk about finding value, disciplined money management, and hard work. Yet its those qualities that uniformly characterizes the successful sports bettor.

So step number one is to get over the fantasy of easy money. It doesn't exist outside of a boiler room telemarketer's sales pitch. Virtually every successful sports bettor in the industry does it the same way--finding value that allows him to grind out profits over the long haul.

It takes a lot of research and a lot of work. It might not be as "sexy" as a "10,000,000 star never lost lock of the century" but it is the distinction between fantasy and reality, between what works and what doesn't. Until you get over the fantasyland nonsense pushed by many in the tout industry, you'll never be able to seriously and successfully approach sports wagering with the proper mindset.

Bottom line--the only thing that a handicapper can do for you that you can't do for yourself is to leverage their experience and knowledge to find wagering value. This is done through hard work.

 

FINDING A HANDICAPPER:

With that fact in mind, I'm going to give you a few tips on how to evaluate sports handicapping professionals. These concepts will weed out the crooks and bottom feeders of the industry, and help you isolate the guys who really know what they're doing:

1) Communicate with the guy who's name is on the marquee: If you're thinking of signing up with John Doe Sports, make sure that you talk or at least exchange emails with John Doe himself. Don't settle for a salesman, or an "account representative" or whatever verbiage they use. Insist on dealing with the guy that does the handicapping. If you can't talk to the guy who's name is on the door, don't sign up with the service.

If he doesn't have time to deal with you as a potential client, he definitely won't have time to deal with you once he has your money. There are a lot of reasons that you want to do this. First, a number of crooked services have a "stable" of handicappers who exist in name only. If one guy hits the skids some new handicapper will come out of the blue claiming to be "on fire" and "red hot". As we'll discuss below, you'll also want to talk to the handicapper about his handicapping methodologies and experience in sports betting.

 Dealing with the handicapper himself not only allows you to verify that he really exists, but will also let you get a feel for how much he has on the uptake. Also, he'll be able to make deals with you on the cost of the service, which his supplicants may not be able to.

So if the handicapper isn't available ask that he call or email you as soon as he can. I can accept someone being busy, but if he doesn't get back to you promptly it gives you a good idea of how he approaches his business.

2) Don't tell them how much you're betting per game. Simply stated, they don't need to know and particularly not before you actually become a client. This is one of the oldest scams in the sports tout playbook-you call John Doe Sports to get information on service and the first thing they ask is "how much do you bet per game?". They'll suggest they need to know this so they can determine which of their many fine services is right for you. The real reason they need to know it is so they can determine how much to charge. If you're a $1000 player you'll be paying a lot more than if you're a $100 player.

There is no legitimate reason that a handicapping service needs to know how much you're betting per game. You're paying for a service, and that service should not cost more for big players and less for small players. I've always compared my service to the Wall Street Journal--I can walk into a newsstand and get it for the same $1.00 that Bill Gates is charged for the paper.

Sports service should be the same way. In fact, I'd prefer not to know the dollar amounts my clients are playing. I try to treat them all the same and when I discuss plays I speak in terms of units and not dollars. If a handicapper seems too interested in how much you're playing per game its probably greed--not interest in your sports betting fortunes--that is driving this concern.

3) Once you pay for service, it should be inclusive: In other words, don't sign up with a service that wants to charge you more for "big" plays and the like. Obviously, I don't have a problem with a service that charges separately for individual sports or individually for the services of different handicappers (assuming they really exist). What I'm talking about are services that charge for football service and then try to get more money out of you for the "good" plays. This is also a classic sports tout scam--you sign up for the basic service and start losing money. You gripe about it, and the tout tells you that his "Silver Plays" are really kicking ass. He's hoping you'll pony up the additional money for his "Silver Package". He'll then try to repeat the process with his "Gold", "Platinum" or "Titanium" plays. Once you get wise to what he's doing he'll give your name to another tout--probably another guy in the same office--and try to repeat the process.

So don't accept unreasonable charges for service. If you sign up with my service for a year, obviously I'll expect you to pay again next year. You won't, however, be charged for anything else during that time frame. If a handicapper doesn't give you all of his plays during the season/timeframe in question go somewhere else.

4) Grill the handicapper in depth about his experience and methodology: This one is pretty simple--talk to the guy and ask him about his background in sports betting. Since there's no graduate degree program or board certification for handicappers, you're just looking for something that makes sense. If a guy has never actually bet on a sporting event, for example, I wouldn't be too anxious to send him my money so that he can advise me on my betting activities.

The more important component of the "interview" is the second part--if a handicapper doesn't have a coherent methodology that he can talk expansively about don't send him your money. Basically, you want to know how he comes up with his daily plays. If a guy tries to suggest that these are "inside information locks", the products of some secret system or information that he fishes out of the dumpster behind the Stardust, go somewhere else. This is boiler room tout hokum, and not serious handicapping.

What you want to hear is talk about line value, money management, power ratings, statistical analysis, and so forth. There's no "right" or "wrong" handicapping methodology, but if a guy doesn't have a methodology you're better off on your own. Serious handicappers can talk at great length about their theories and strategies and if a guy you're considering can't I'd definitely go somewhere else.

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