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Best of Howard Schwartz

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Football's Just Around the Corner; New Books, Magazines Arriving

2 June 2005

It's two months into the baseball season and the hardcore football crowd is already asking when the new books and magazines will arrive for their favorite sport. Well, a few have already reached the shelves of the Gambler's Book Shop, with many more on their way.

Andy Iskoe's Pro Football Statistical Pattern Report (20 pages, 8x11 stapled, $10) and his College Football Statistical Pattern Report (16 pages, 8x11 stapled, $10) have both landed, along with two magazines -- Street & Smith's Pro Football ($6.99) and Pro Football Weekly (NFL Previews) ($6.99).

Iskoe, long-respected Las Vegas handicapper, focuses on 16 statistical patterns during a 17-season study (more than 4,200 games) which answers the question of what causes teams to cover the pointspread. Using key box score statistics such as rushing attempts, rushing yards gained, passing yards gained, turnovers lost and total yards gained, he shows "indicators" that translate into domination. Simply, if a particular team can move the ball while stopping the opposition, that team will cover.

"The best way to use this material is to develop a 'feel' for situations in which one team is likely to exhibit the positive characteristics," Iskoe emphasizes. He suggests for the pros, to wait for the third or fourth game to develop a profile of that team's characteristics -- "either positive or negative."

It is "this accumulation of edges, and knowledge the general public doesn't have, that separates the winners from losers," he adds.

The same principles apply to handicapping the colleges -- also a 17-year study, and in this case, more than 10,000 games have been analyzed.

Iskoe's books are for the disciplined, dedicated player with patience and record-keeping skills who can be selective as the season progresses.

The value of any magazine months before a season starts is to help prepare the serious player for pre-season betting as well as regular season action. Knowing the impact of trades and the draft, returning players who have been injured and are now in or out of shape, of new coaches or a new playing surface, all these things may add up.

For those who like to look back at last season, Pro Football Weekly's magazine looks at the scores and spreads of all 2004 games (no totals listed), while offering a projected depth chart, should a key player be injured. Should Leftwich the probable starting QB for Jacksonville be hurt, just how good are Garrard, Gray or Hybl, the numbers 2-3-4 backups?

Looking at each team's roster you can see how many veteran players are listed and note how many are in their peak third or fourth year. The magazine also lists each team's web site should you decide to glean material from there.

This publication is an excellent starting point for fantasy leaguers and for those who like to relive the 2004 season game-by-game, looking at team and individual statistics.

The magazine does contain the 2005 schedules -- by team and by the week for all pro teams.

Street & Smith's magazine contains schedules by team and by the week for all teams; rosters; rookies to watch (Pro Football Weekly does also); excellent material for fantasy leaguers with profiles on who to choose and why.

For those who bet Canadian football, there's a quick four-page section (no statistics, rosters or schedules -- just thumbnail profiles of each team).
Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com
Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com