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As I See It

9 July 2002

With this being the last year that the so-called "pre season" college games will be featured in August, a thought came to me.

I am sure your mailbox or e-mail address will be bombarded with a lot of brochures, letters, etc., for the upcoming football season. I know because we all get stuff from sport services and sportsbooks. Not to hide, but include me among some of the publications that will hit your door.

That is a big part of the marketing process, because football is the hi-octane fuel that keeps the engine running. Promotions, bonuses, gimmicks are all created to drive home the same point: How can we get you to sign up at our book for the upcoming season? A lot of thought and money are the main ingredients in this paper blitz, but I believe sometimes they get too deep and miss opportunity that is staring them right in the kisser.

The lineup in August from the 22nd to the 31st involves matchups that would play well in the middle of the season: Colorado State at Virginia, Texas Tech at Ohio State. How about an early revenge game on August 23rd with Fresno State going to Wisconsin? How about Florida State against Iowa State with Seneca Wallace on a neutral site? Point being there will be a lot of interest in these games, which will be played dead in the middle of NFL pre-season.

What I am trying to say to the books is that there is a vehicle already out there to get some early signups. Put numbers on these early matchups as soon as possible.

Now, we know the exercise. Here in Nevada, the Stardust has been putting the first numbers up for foots for years and it is their niche. It worked 20 years ago and will work for the next 20. When you say "early Vegas numbers" your brain automatically thinks the 'Dust; offshore it belongs almost entirely to CRIS and OLYMPIC. Two outstanding joints but, yes, we know everyone wants to see where all the smoke settles before they post their openers.

During the season I would not have a problem and that will not change at least in the near future. BUT there comes a time when you must think on your own, and especially if you can capture the moment and put your book on Front Street and get players talking about you and nobody else.

When I was posting numbers for these joints I was never first but I took advantage of spots where I did not have anyone around me. It paid off in spades down the line, and trust me, a lot of these experiments do not always work out dollar-wise but it showed big time for the big picture.

Here I go telling stories but maybe it will explain itself a little better by this example.

Many years ago, the Plaza Hotel - Bob Martin was the oddsmaker and his right-hand man was Johnny Quinn who, by the way, was the best dressed bookmaker ever - had a show every Monday at 12 noon in the Plaza showroom. Bob would go over the schedule and give out his openers to a panel that was hosted by Tom Kelly and had some legends on like Bobby "The Tower" Berendt, who would give their opinions. Bob might or might not make an adjustment after their comments; mostly he did not.

The room was packed with every aspiring wiseguy including yours truly, but the effect was always the same. You made a bet on your way out the door because you were there and it whetted your appetite.

Now, every living human knows that Bob Martin and Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal actually dealt the line on Sunday night to an exclusive group that "ironed out" the numbers before they were distributed to the masses. Today the masses still get numbers secondhand.

So put them up now, and let someone take a crack. You do not have to take $10,000 to a number … $3,000 should be sufficient. And don't worry about the bigger outfits stepping in because they usually do not want to tip their mitt that early. And if they do, so be it. Even if they play early and double back, whoever is at the switch will pick up on it - and if they don't it still will not be the end of the world.

This would be something that you can use for a marketing tool at least until someone else starts throwing these numbers up.

If a guy goes through the trouble just to play the early games he can lose his cheese, and if he wins there are still plenty of games in front of him. I am sure you might run into one or two who will take their money and run, but if they think you are the sucker they will probably stick around to see what you might do next.

Either way, you got a new customer. Here is advertising that you might get some return on, instead of always shelling out cash to get your name out there. Remember, this guy most likely will be around a long time if you get him in early and treat him right.

You have a chance to overcome the usual inertia by going early with these college games, and from what I understand this will be the last of the August games for college. So as I said earlier, there are times when you have to do things for your own identity and learn to zero in on these spots.

I will never be critical of how anyone runs their operation because it has never been, nor will it ever be, part of my makeup. But sooner or later I would hope that the herd mentality slacks off a little. Remember that you cannot do anything unless you have some business.

And I will throw in my two cents on these openers for August.

Virginia -5 over Colorado State

Wisconsin -7 over Fresno State

Florida State -17 over Iowa State

Ohio State -5 over Texas Tech

Nebraska -17 over Arizona State

If one of the joints I deal with puts them up, I'll give them a little kiss to get the ball rolling.

Made my reservation for La Costa to go to Del Mar later this month. Will keep you informed.

Stay smart,

Jimmy V.

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