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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

The Betting Doctor; NFL Teams & Situations--Good Advice, Stats

31 August 2005



Reed Hogben is a Canadian physician who bets sports and writes about it well. His new work, The Betting Doctor (119 pages, paperbound, $29.95) covers not only football, but baseball and basketball handicapping, and is a fresh arrival at Gambler's Book Shop (Gambler's Book Club), along with a solid, time-saving favorite from Andy Iskoe, NFL Teams & Situations (141 pages, 8x11 plastic spiralbound, $29.95) which examines six years of pro football results for each team plus the whole league.

Hogben, a sports bettor since 1986, discusses betting on pro and college football, pro basketball and major league baseball. His sections on money management; shopping for prices, understanding value and looking for a positive expectation are some of the best you'll find. In addition, he illuminates the point that there may well be a correlation between certain statistics you'll find in a box score (or elsewhere) and team performance, straight up and against the line.

He has some interesting things to say about betting the colleges, including evaluating team personnel; defining offenses and defenses; categorizing powerhouse teams and those less powerful by "tiers" and evaluating team "goals" like winning a conference or going for the national title, compared to just having a winning record.

Hogben's thoughts about team personnel mismatches and getting down to your final picks before betting are right to the bone.

His section on betting pro hoops has value, including applying and updating team depth charts; understanding power ratings; categorizing results (nail-biter, foul-fest, blow-out for example). He discusses power ratings; why "smart teams" cover; the importance of defense; and the viral role offensive rebounding plays in every game.

On baseball, Hogben discusses the role of earned run averages; how to rate players offensively; keeping a "performance meter" on strikeout pitchers and watching walks per game. He underlines factors like home field advantage; streaks; injuries; the bullpen.

There's a short but vital section for those who like to bet parlays and teasers -- with advice on when they are really worth it -- and a final section on the line and observing movement.

Overall, a thought-provoking work with value for the thinking handicapper who finds a balance between new ideas and statistics the most valuable type of advice.

NFL Teams & Situations looks at more than 1,500 pro football games played from 199 to 2004. There are more than two dozen categories listed for each pro team, year by year, for three years or for the last six years combined.

For example, Arizona's Cardinals are 4-2 against the spread in 2004 as home dog, 12-7 for the past three years: They are terrible as a road dog for the past three years (with a 7-17 mark) against the spread. Baltimore is 10-2 for the past three years in their second four games; while the New York Giants are 1-10-1 in their third four games against the spread since 2002.

One extremely valuable section is titled Analysis of NFL Victory Margins (1981 to 2004). Here you can truly see why there are "key numbers" like three, seven and 10.

Later, Iskoe shows us why pro football is almost a coin flip in the differences between home favorite or home dog or road favorite or road dog is many categories--they "even out" in many cases.

Iskoe helpfully isolates some of the strongest situational performances for short, medium and long term tendencies--one of the most remarkable time-saving and analytical compilations I've seen in more than two decades.

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