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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Review: Year of Betting

Shock of the world, I am in a Bowl pick 'em with all my buddies, against the spread, where all the games are assigned points.  All non-BCS games are 1 and 2 points.  "Mid-Major" bowls are 3, BCS bowls are 5 and the BCS championship is 8 points.  All games are listed, all point spreads are listed, and everyone picks against the spread.  If the spread is 3 and the teams wins by 3, you get no points.

My history is pretty bad.  I have bet on bowl games on sportsbook.com or bodog.com, and as someone who tries to watch 90% of every college game on tv, you would think I would be able to make some money on betting on college kids playing football.  During college, I would give myself a $50 limit and once it is gone, it's gone.  I started out betting on single games, then Hale explained what a parlay was and of course, when I have 3 or 7 "can't miss" games, I put them together for $25 and look at a payout of near $100.  Well, as it turns out, I normally lose half of (if not all) those games, and sometimes the other team wins or loses straight up.  Then Hale pointed out what a teaser was, and giving myself 6 points is full proof.  Again, Vegas kicked my ass. 

I'm glad I don't have an addictive personality because I can see how people start betting and end up losing their rent or mortgage.  Once I'm done, I'm done.  I do it more for fun and I enjoy having something on a random game.  I try to stay away from big spreads because I like to bet on a game where the actual outcome could factored.  I don't find joy watching a 40 point blowout and having the 3rd team give up a touchdown with 1 minute left to lose the 37 point cushion they had on a 34 point spread.  I usually take the favorite or high scoring teams that have spreads from 7-20 and take the top teams week after week (see: LSU, Bama, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin this year).  I am a huge sucker for taking the favorite.

Anyway, for bowl games, I have taken the huge favorite, thinking they would ride the same momentum they had at the end of the year.  However, there are disappointed teams, coaching moves and underdogs that want to end the season with momentum and have had a few weeks of rest and practice.  This year, I have mostly gone with the teams I have taken the entire year expect for a few (Oklahoma State) and gone with teams I am actually rooting for because when the bowls kick off, coaches coach differently and some teams show up and some teams don't.  It's really a coin flip, so I might as well bet on teams I am rooting for. 

This year, the same buddies and I are in a weekly college football pick em (see: Straight Ca$h Homey) and have been infused with the Bowl pick 'em.  I took a 2 game lead over Brad so I kept track of my weekly picks along with his.

I needed to stay within 2 games of him.  That was aided when we both picked Boise -14, Baylor -9 and Alabama +1. 

I am normally around .500, but this season has been amazing.  Here are a few recient examples that I have enjoyed...


Bowl Season miracle cover #1:

Belldozer made me some mooluah

One of the games I took, almost as my money game, was Oklahoma -14 over Iowa in the Insight bowl.  A huge favorite with a strong offense over a Big Ten team that is very average, but with a stingy defense.  This game started at 10PM after a full day of bowls.  OU was up 21-0 in the 3rd without having done much.  If they would have actually showed up for the first time under Stoops since the 2000 title, it could and should have been 35 or 42-0.  Iowa scored, and scored again, making the margin 21-14 in the 4th quarter.  OU got the ball, marched down and kicked a field goal, icing the game 24-14.  However, Iowa would have to basically throw a pick 6 for the Sooners to cover.  Iowa was stopped and all OU had to do was run out the clock.  With less than a minute left, it was 4th and 1 on the 21.  OU kept their goalline set on the field, with their run-only big quarterback in the game.  They ran up the middle.  HE BREAKS IT AND SCORES.  OKLAHOMA COVERS. 31-14.  Unbelievable.  What you didn't know: I had fallen asleep and DVR'd the game.  I watched it the next morning while feeding my daughter oatmeal.  A freaking miracle cover.  A pointless touchdown on 4th down with their goalline package on the 20 when they are up 10 with seconds left.  Usually betting is like a kick in the shin.  This time, it was a nice handy.  That took me to 3-1 for the bowl season.


Bowl Season miracle cover #2:

After 15 weeks, this was
the game of the year. Huh?

The only game we went head-to-head on was Texas A&M (-10) against Northwestern in the Car Care Bowl.  The entire season of picking 7 games a week for 15 weeks came down to the Car Care Bowl.  As is tradition per 2011, TAMU raced out to a big lead, only to let NW back in with 10 minutes to go.  The Aggies were up 30-7, then 30-15, then 30-22.  Nice.  A cute little 20 plus lead is now 8 with 5 minutes left.  The Aggies complete a third and long to get into the 20 and kick a field goal with 30 or so seconds left with their Lou Groza Award winner.  NW throws a Hail Mary into the endzone down 11 and it is knocked down.  I do a jig.  Texas A&M in their last game as member of the Big XII conference, covers by 1 on a field goal after giving up a huge lead.
Nail meet coffin.  I go to 4-1 and Brad loses the pick.  A true double-whammy.


Bowl Season miracle cover #3:

Nice W. Nice non-cover.

All year long, I have rode the Pokes.  High octane offense, 28 year old quarterback, Blackmon, MAN as head coach.  They put just under 80 on everybody, except when they went to Ames and were a 27 point favorite.  They played Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl and were 3.5 favorites.  I did not take them because 1)Their defense is dogshit 2)Andrew Luck puts up points and 3)The Pokes may have been disappointed to not be in the championship game and are not used to a BCS game and all the stuff that goes with that.  As you would know it, Stanford gets up 14-0 and Weeden throws a pick.  Then the Pokes go Pokes and give the ball to Blackmon.  Game goes to overtime and Stanford kicker misses.  Pokes go Pokes and throw to the endzone.  Dude catches it for a touchdown.  Pokes win by 6.  Replay overturns it.  Down at the inch line.  Instead of a sure quarterback sneak touchdown, the Pokes go Pokes and end up taking a knee out of the shotgun, kicking an extra point field goal and end up winning by 3.  Pokes win and I cover in overtime.  Best result ever.

Bowl kicks in the dick:
Rose Bowl-Wisconsin +6.5 (L 45-38 to Oregon, clocked ball after time ran out)
Sugar Bowl-Virginia Tech +2.5 (L 23-20 to Michigan in OT, 3rd string kicker missed OT FG)
Champs Sports Bowl-Notre Dame +3 (L18-14 to Florida State after 14-0 lead)
Poinsettia Bowl-TCU -10 (W 31-24 over Louisana Tech, season pick 'em Bowl Week Money Game)


Hefty Lefty goes with his gut.
You should too.

Here are a few things I have learned after betting each week this year...

Go with the gut:
The number one thing I have learned is to go with my gut.  When the lines first come out on Tuesday, there are about 4-5 games that stick out the first time I look at them.  I write them down (spreadsheet) as my gut picks.  Then I look over the lines again and again and again and pick about 4-5 more that I "like".  I get my final 7 with the alternates included at the bottom.  Then I wait until the picks are due to see if there are any changes such as a played getting suspended or an updated weather forecast.

Resources:
Along with my own knowledge and research of the college season and the top teams, I head to the Internet to see what the nation is feeling.  For betting purposes, I check out these sites:
Beyond the Bets Twitter: @BeyondTheBets
Vegas Insider
I like beyond the bets because it gives tips, trends and overall help to inexperienced bettors.  Vegas Insider gives national trends and what the lines are currently compared to what they opened at so you can see what America is betting on and how the lines have moved.  Pretty helpful when you are struggling with a game.  If I had no job, I am sure I could find more resources, but I am a big "film" guy and watching the games are my biggest resource.  Then I go with what I feel.  You can do all the research you want, but if a guy falls down or misses a kick, you lose.  I have come to the realization that half the games come down to a coin flip anyway.  If .500 is a good record for picking games, you might as well have some fun with it and don't bet more than you can.


NFL cheerleaders: Yes
NFL betting: No

Betting on the NFL:
No way in hell will I ever touch an NFL game, other than betting on the Super Bowl coin flip or some other stupid prop bet.  Any team can crush any other team and you would think betting on professionals is easier than college kids who cry when one of their hunnies gets with a teammate, but every game in the NFL is either going to overtime or it's over by halftime.  I don't even look at the lines.  Good luck with that.  I try to play fantasy football where no lines are involved, just players, and I suck at that.  Once they get their name called in April, I am done using football players for a quick buck.


Everything looked so good

Betting on Ohio State:
I have bet on Ohio State twice in my life.  One time was in 2004.  They were playing Marshall.  I don't remember the spread, but it was well into the double digits.  The outcome: Nugent hit a 55 yard field goal to win.  Bucks win. I lose money. WTF.  The second was this year.  Ohio State had come off a horrible game against Michigan State and had to go to Nebraska, who were rolling.  Nebraska was a 10 point favorite at home.  I took Nebraska because I was pissed at Ohio State and if they were going to lose, I might as well make some money off of it.  Ohio State got up 27-6 but lost 34-27.  21 point lead lost, game lost, spread not covered.  That is the last time I will ever bet on Ohio State ever. 
I'm too emotionally involved and it's not even fun.  I'm getting pissed as I type this.

Conclusion:
This post is pretty long, I've typed it over 2 days.  But I am glad to share my new interest.  Now that I am a family man, I can't go out every weekend (nor really want to), so without the booze and bars, this is something I can get into every weekend in the fall.  It has been one of the funnest things I've done.  With twitter and Internet, scores are available everywhere other than the Ohio State tailgate I go to (which needs to be looked at).

Oh and by the way, after starting 0-5, I am currently at 14-15-1 for the bowls.  I have 31 total points and sit 11th out of 16, 9 points behind the leader McBride.  I am out of it after the Sugar Bowl, but I'm not in a bad place, compared to last year when I started 0-8 and I don't think I picked 10 games right.  Anyway, here are the rest of my picks:

Orange Bowl (5 pts):
Clemson (-2.5) vs. West Virginia

Cotton Bowl (3 pts):
Kansas State (+7.5) vs. Arkansas (also weekly pick 'em)

Compass Bowl (1 pt):
Pitt (-5) vs. SMU

Go Daddy Bowl (1 pt):
Northern Illinois (+1) vs. Arkansas State

BCS Championship (8pts):
Alabama (+1) vs. LSU (also weekly pick 'em)

Enjoy the last remaining college football games we have left and always remember; don't bet what you don't have.