Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Week 3 sucker bets: Beware of the Texans

Last week: 1-3
Overall: 1-3

It was a tough start to 2009 for the Sucker Bet Theory (SBT), as it went a dismal 1-3 in Week 2. To be honest, it should have gone 1-4, seeing that Colts -3 at Miami fit the SBT mold pretty perfectly. And it easily could have gone 0-5, if it weren’t for Jeff Reed’s pair of missed field goals in Chicago.

The Chiefs couldn’t hold of Darren McFadden and the Raiders; likewise for the Lions with Adrian Peterson. And the Falcons covered by two at home against the now-0-2 Panthers.

One of three conclusions (I like Nos. 2 and 3) can be made from last Sunday. 1) SBT is false. 2) The bookies are a bit rusty and still gauging just how good each team is. Or 3) What I like to call SBTII, a sub-theory, if you will. SBTII says that the bookies screw up on purpose early in the season to entice more gambling as the season progresses. If you bet on Indianapolis Monday night and thought, “Hey, this is easy,” you should probably quit while you’re ahead, according to SBTII. Trust me, it’s not that easy. Vegas lost a lot of money Monday night. After all, who bet on the Dolphins? Don’t expect the bookies to continue making those mistakes.

Three games stick out to me as sucker bets in Week 3. So without further ado:

At Jets -2.5 Titans
New York
is coming off of an emotional win over the Patriots. Mark Sanchez looked great. The defense looked great. They’re 2-0 and Tennessee – whose defense had no answer for Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson & Co. – is 0-2. The Jets should be able to cover at home, you think.

But this is a must-win game for Jeff Fisher’s Titans. Call it the hangover effect in the Meadowlands, if you must. The Jets still have a rookie coach and a rookie quarterback, no matter how good they looked against New England. Bet on the team that needs the win the most. That’s Tennessee.

At Texans -3.5 Jaguars
’s offense just torched Tennessee for 34 points on Sunday. Jacksonville is 0-2, coming off of a blowout at home to the hands of defending NFC champion Arizona.

My question: Who in the world is betting on the Jaguars in this game?

Exactly. All the money will be on Houston. People would bet on the Texans at -6, so why is the line only 3 1/2?

No way Vegas screws this one up. If the Texans cover, the bookies will lose a lot of money (unless SBTII is still in effect in Week 3, which is a possibility).

Biggest sucker bet of the week. Bet on Houston at your own risk.

Bears -2 at Seattle
Matt Hasselbeck is hurt and probably out, leaving Seneca Wallace at the helm once again. Jay Cutler and the Bears are coming off an impressive win against the defending champs. And the line is only two.

Do not underestimate home field advantage in the NFL. Or Lofa Tatupu, for that matter.

You love Chicago. Don’t grab the trapped cheese. The bookies love the Hawks at home.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Zetcast premiere

Derek talks to Frankie V (click here), Los Angeles/San Diego DJ, host of Frankie's Neighborhood, about his journey to stardom and the future of the media industry.

Check out his site at

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Sucker Bet Theory: Beat the bookies by being the bookies

The sports gambling industry is a multi-billion dollar sector and football season is center of the sports gambling universe, no doubt, as gridiron fanatics try and beat Vegas every Saturday and Sunday all fall.

My roommate Jordan and I have been working on a theory for about two years now, called the Sucker Bet Theory (SBT). It’s time it becomes unveiled.

What gamblers must realize is that in the long run, you’re not going to beat the bookies. I’ve given up. You’re not going to outsmart the bookies and they didn’t overlook the line you think is a gimme. Ever thought, “I can’t believe that line is so low, no way they can stop Adrian Peterson; the Vikings will definitely cover 6 1/2”?

Heed my warning: extinguish that thought process from your mindset. But look on the bright side: there is money to be made during football season. I invite you to continue reading.

In order to beat the bookies, you must think like a bookie. Typically, bookies make money on juice. Think of juice like a tax, which is usually 10 percent. In other words, you bet $110 to win $100, or $55 to win $50. In most cases, the bookie’s job is to set a line to initiate even money on both sides, his profit then being the juice from the losers. Think of it like the casino’s rake in poker.

(This is why I hate when people credit the bookies for making a line equal to or close to the eventual score, as if they get more money for being accurate. It’s actually quite the opposite: if they nail the score exactly, everybody pushes, gets their money back and the bookies make no money.)

But SBT exists in a different environment. SBT is when the bookies are so sure that one team is going to cover a spread, that they bait gamblers into choosing the other side with an enticing line. In this case, more money is on one side than the other, and the bookies profit off of losing bets rather than the juice.

Sucker bets come in all forms, but are most prevalent in road teams, teams coming off big weeks or whose opponents had uninspiring weeks. “Wow, Mark Sanchez tore it up Sunday. He’s definitely going to do it again next week, I’m taking the Jets.”

You and everyone else. 70/30 bets are in favor of the Jets. Jets don’t cover. Bookies clean up. Behold: you are a sucker. Does your cheek hurt? You just ate the worm.

It was hard to recognize sucker bets in Week 1, seeing that no one really knew what to expect. But there are some obvious ones for Week 2. Let’s take a look:

Raiders +3 at Chiefs
The Raiders played the Chargers, one of the AFC’s best teams on paper, down to the wire. The Chiefs lost by 14 points to the Ravens.

“If they Raiders almost beat San Diego, they can definitely beat the Chiefs,” you say.

You’re not alone. The Raiders are playing on a short week and traveling from Oakland to Kansas City. Arrowhead Stadium is always a tough place to play, not matter how good or bad the Chiefs are.

Bet Kansas City. Whether Matt Cassel plays or not.

Vikings -9.5 at Lions
Adrian Peterson looked unstoppable against the Browns. The Lions got smoked against Drew Brees and the Saints. Looks like another blowout, right?

Not so fast. The line is an enticing one, a half-point below 10. In other words, the bookies want you to think, “Minnesota can definitely win by 10.”

But 9 1/2 points is a ton to cover in the NFL. I’m not necessarily saying bet on Detroit, but don’t fall in love with the Vikings. That’s what they want you to do.

At Falcons -6 Panthers
Matt Ryan was impressive against the Dolphins in Week 1. Jake Delhomme threw four picks against the Eagles. Looks like a no-brainer.

Need I throw another fake quote in here? You get it by now. Under a touchdown is enticing. But it’s a division game and I’m not sold on that Atlanta defense just yet. Expect DeAngelo Williams to show why he was a consensus first-round fantasy pick.

Steelers -3 at Bears
Speaking of four picks. Steelers coming off a good win against a solid Titans team. Jay Cutler looked like Brett Favre in last season’s finale, only worse. Game’s on national TV in Soldier Field.

Everybody and their brother like the Steelers. This will be Vegas’ biggest Week 2 win.

Granted, SBT is not 100 percent accurate. One or more of those teams will probably cover on Sunday. Just be hesitant in choosing any of them. They bookies saw Cutler’s performance in Green Bay. They know what they’re doing and they realize that more than 50 percent of gamblers will likely take the Steelers laying only three points. If the Steelers cover, they will lose money.

Most bookies aren’t in the money-losing business.

This week's "Student Section" show:

September 15, 2009 show:

Plenty of Wisconsin football talk, plus some Big Ten scheduling and bowl discussion. Jeremy Hyman (aka Jimbo from Ann Arbor) calls in just after the halfway point, plus Tom Henson informs us all about the Wofford Terriers, Wisconsin's next opponent.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Zetcast coming very soon

I've had this idea for a while, just haven't found (or made) the time to execute it. But now that school is in full swing and I'm not working 14-hour summer days, the Zetcast podcast will be starting very soon. Allow me to explain.

The Zetcast will essentially be my own "radio" show that I record via Skype from my bedroom on my laptop. I will make outgoing calls to guests via Skype and record them using an application called Pamela Recorder. Pamela records the entire conversation -- myself talking, the dialing, the ringtone and when the guest picks up. Skype enables me to make conference calls, so I can call several people at once during any given show. Shows' time lengths will vary.

I will post each show here, on my blog as an individual post, as well as on Facebook and Twitter (derekztlin) as a direct link to my UW webspace (the host of the MP3 file, which has streaming capabilities) and on iTunes, so listeners can upload each show to their iPods and listen to it in the car or on the way to class. I also encourage listeners to post the link on their Facebook pages, to help spread the word of the show and attract more listeners.

(Each two-hour Tuesday "Student Section" show on WSUM Student Radio will also be posted here each week and can be streamed at any time, as you can see below from last week's show.)

More about the Zetcast: The reason for it is simple; I know too many interesting people whose stories, ideas and opinions need to be shared to a variety of listeners. Though my expertise revolves primarily around sports, the Zetcast is not a solely a sports-realted broadcast. Topics will vary from sports to politics to finance to technology to business to travel and college life, depending on the guest(s) of each show.

I have a long list of guests whom I plan to invite onto the show, all of whose dialogues should be worthwhile to listen to for all. Guests will include anyone from my lifelong friends to professional writers to people perhaps I've never met before.

The Zetcast is designed to teach people about things they may not know anything about, as well as provide entertainment to listeners. Its direction will be entirely based on listers' ideas and interests. If you have a topic or guest you'd like to hear, comment on this blog. All (well, most) ideas will be taken seriously.

I'm very excited to get the Zetcast up and running as soon as possible, maybe even tonight. I hope you enjoy listening. Feedback is highly encouraged.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First "Student Section" of the Year:

September 8, 2009 show

Lots of Badger talk plus some NFC predictions. Listen live on Tuesdays from 4-6 p.m. Central (5-7 Eastern) on