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As I See It, by Jimmy Vaccaro

11 September 2002

Well, the NFL's opening weekend gave us just about everything you could think of, and more. There were some big moves, both in the pros and especially in the colleges, that got you back nothing but a receipt.

You saw Cleveland linebacker Dwayne Rudd cost his team a victory when he removed his helmet in jubilation and got nailed with a 15-yard penalty. But to be fair to Dwayne, the more costly penalty was the unsportsmanlike call after Cleveland had kicked a field goal to take the lead. It made the Browns kick off from their own 15 instead of the 30, which I rank just as bad as Rudd's mental lapse.

When the expansion Houston Texans were putting the final nail in the Cowboys' coffin, the TV cameras picked up Dallas owner Jerry Jones on the sideline. The look on his face could be used in that commercial for one of those credit card companies where the last word is "priceless".

Bettors however have to get through all the excitement and the ups and downs and take away something each week, and hope to use it at the right time, in order that their diligence pays off by January.

I have talked about line moves in the past and the significance it will have on your cash flow if you continue to pile on after the number gets away from you. Last week there were a number of such moves but we will isolate two.

Tennessee opened up 28½ over Middle Tennessee State and by Wednesday was as low as 21½. Michigan State was 23 over Rice on Sunday night but Saturday in some spots was as high as 32. We can use these two games because one had people who won and the other game had people who lost chasing down a number that got steamed up 10 points.

When a number moves at least 3 points in any game you are basically giving up a possession of at least a field goal no matter what side you are on. If you got involved in the Michigan State game you were basically chasing down two scores that you need just to be close to the opening number. You cannot survive doing this. People who have tried in the past go lame and broke.

Example. As flat as Michigan State played with the final score being a non-cover 27-10, you still had a glimmer of hope for a mistake by Rice or a last second run out score by State. That can occur, if you had something near the opening number. Check the UCLA game. Point being that you still had a chance to win or push if you would have played the game at a decent number. If you piled on at 29 or 30, you're cursing the TV in the fourth quarter and you should be. Middle Tenn. got the money if you played early and the late field goal even helped if you followed at +27 or a little less. Once again, the good number got the money; the bad number got you aggravation.

Now there are a few out there who wait for these big moves and after a certain point buy back because the value does lie with the comeback number as much as the opening number for Team A. There is much logic to that scenario as most people, including myself, do not believe a line can be off 10 points in normal circumstances. There is nothing wrong following if you think the guy can pick winners but you must use sound judgment.

Let me try to break it down one more step and maybe it will make sense. Let us use the Michigan State game again. We all know that certain outfits move on these games first and while you are watching the pro games Sunday they have all their guys doing work on the college games for the next week.

After all the work is done and whenever they strike - whether it is on Sunday night or Monday or whatever days they release their plays - they have certain numbers or parameters they go by. They have an order on the game to buy Michigan State at between 23 and 26. Just like you buy stocks, they buy games. If the number comes out the movers know what to do and do it very well.

But let us say the game opened at 27½. Well now you would probably not see any whatsoever early because it did not fit into their handicap of the game. Still, that does not mean that Michigan State could not win the game by 50 … it simply meant that their value was in the 23 to 26 range. And I guarantee if the game opened 32, the number it closed at, the first move would have been on Rice.

The bookmakers who truly understand do not mind when there is a run on the game, as in any business if the consumer is willing to pay through the teeth sooner or later they will be wearing dentures.

I had a college Saturday that did not go well for me but it could have been much worse. My key games were Boston College, Texas A&M and Colorado State. I won a matchstick at -6½ on B.C. and pushed the rest of my bet. You saw this game climb as high as 11. I actually gave this game out to some friends but by game time the value that at least I perceived was all gone. I bet A&M early but lost my bet, and Colorado State was a tough one, but that is the way it goes. Still, a small winner, a push and two losers is better than three losers. Anyone who understands this racket knows if you save two or three bets a month it surely shows at the end of the year.

It is hard enough to win when you feel you have the right side and the right number but impossible to win if you do not understand the number movement aspect of betting.

There is still a long way to go, and keep an eye out for those monster moves and mark down the outcome for future use.

Take care and keep in touch. Jimmy V.

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