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Gaming Guru


"Pointspread Playbook" -- Three Years of Angles, Trends for Spreads and Totals

2 July 2004

By Howard Schwartz

For more 20 years, "Al O'Donnell's Pointspread Playbook" (111 pages, 8x11 paperbound, $19.95) has been one of the most sought-after guides and references for pro football handicapping. The 2004 edition has arrived at Gambler's Book Shop and like an old friend, it's as good as ever.

The green-and-white-covered work contains three years of pro spreads and totals for each team, showing how a team did at home, away on what date, against what opponent and whether the game went over or under the bookmaker's line.

You can quickly spot in O'Donnell's summary, for instance, that Oakland was 3-12-1 against the spread, "largely due to their failing to cover in their first eight contests," and "As a favorite in '03 the Raiders failed to cover in all four tries ..." Looking at Seattle, the book tells us immediately that last year on artificial surfaces, Seattle went under in 9 of 10, at home 7 of 8, on the road both visits.

For each pro team you have a page that shows the 2004 regular season schedule, including date, where the game will be played and importantly, if the game is a conference battle, inter-conference, divisional and when the Open Date (bye) occurs, with room to keep records like score, whether the team covered or if it went over or under, plus the type of surface the game will be played on.

How do teams do Monday night? O'Donnell shows you home teams have won 60.5 per cent straight up in the past 34 years. How do teams do the following Sunday after playing Monday night? Or a week after a mid-season break or as underdogs? It's all here, along with the results of every Super Bowl (with spreads and totals). Also, the book contains a comparison of money line to pointspread -- a commonly-asked question by beginners and those unfamiliar with the differences in betting.

O'Donnell's strength is that he tells you what has happened in the past. He doesn't tell you to bet any team (it's the Jack Webb/"Dragnet" methods); he offers only the facts and it's up to you to make a decision on whether or not to wager and who to wager on.

Reasonably priced and easy on the eyes for even the most senior of bettors, it's a must-have for the occasional bettor, the contest or parlay card person and a quick reference for the undecided seasoned pro.
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.

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