NFL Handicappers
ave No Idea
What They're Doing

Edward D. Collins

If you can't spot the sucker within the first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker.



No offense to anyone in particular, but the overall lack of knowledge in the football handicapping forums I participate in is almost unbelievable. It's really amazing.

Maybe my expectations are too high. Maybe I expect more. Maybe I expect a group of members who all have a common interest and goal (winning money) and a love for the NFL and sports betting in general, would be a little more versed up on the subject.

1)  There are no such things as "trap games."

An NFL line is never put up in an attempt to "trap you" or make you pick the wrong team. The line is, and always has been, a number to try to generate equal action on both sides.

That's all it is. That's all it ever has been. Contrary to what you might think, a bookie would VERY MUCH like to have an equal amount of money on both sides. They want to EARN their vigorish, not try to WIN your money. Which brings me to item #2...


2)  Winners pay the vig, not the losers. Casinos/bookies make their money on the vig they earn, not on the bets they win.

From an article by Bob Stupak in an old Gambling Times magazine, circa 1983:

There are two inter-related concepts about casino profits that most players, and even many longtime casino executives, don't really understand. First, players are paying the house edge only when they win - never when they lose. Put another way, you might say that the house makes money not on customers' losing bets but on their winning bets because the house pays slightly less than the true odds on those winning bets.

If a fellow comes in and makes one bet for $1,000 on the craps table and loses it, he pays nothing for it. But if he wins the bet, he should get approximately $1,028 for his $1,000. Then he would be getting true odds. Instead, he wins only $1,000. So by winning the bet, he pays a $28 vig. By losing, he doesn't. Customers are often a little flabbergasted when I tell them, "I only make money when you win, not when you lose." That may be hard to believe, but nevertheless it's true.

The second thing people don't realize is that a casino does not make its profits by winning money. For example, a fellow came into Vegas World with $28,000 a few Saturdays ago, and lost it in about 10 minutes. Now, we didn't EARN that money. We just WON it. We were GAMBLING and we got lucky. But I can't survive on WON money. I can only survive on EARNED money. That guy's $28,000 is just in escrow. Sooner or later somebody is going to come in and win it back.

Everyday some people win and some people lose. One day per week or month there might be more winning bets than losing bets, but in the long run they even out. The only thing the casino EARNS is the money it retains from winning bettors by paying them slightly less than true odds.

If that's not enough, you can look at it this way, if this is easier for you:

You make a bet with a friend, for $110.00, who doesn't charge you vig. You win. You win $110.00.

You make a bet with a standard bookie, also for $110.00. You win. You win $100.00.

See the difference? You won both times, and yet with the bookie you only won $100.00.  Why?  Because you, the winner, paid the bookie the "vig."


3)  I see far, FAR too many sports bettors playing parlays; two-team parlays, three-team parlays, four-team parlays, or more.

You shouldn't be playing parlays. The reason should be obvious... the house edge is higher than it is for normal straight bets. And it's all about the house edge. No matter what sport or game you like to wager on, you want to lower the house edge as much as possible.

I'll bet that most of these members of this forum have no idea what the house edge is on parlays, nor do they know how to properly compute it. (Heck, few people here even know what the house edge is on straight bets. Hint: It's not 10% nor is it 5%.)

Parlays are fun? Bullshit. Winning is fun. Stop playing parlays and after a very short period time see how much more fun you're having.

Here's some general information on parlays:


4)  I see far, FAR too many sports bettors playing a three-team parlay (for example), and then, after winning the first two legs, "hedging" their bet.

You should never hedge in this situation... it reduces your long term profit. (And yes, we're all in it for the long term.) If you are going to hedge then you should have just left that final leg (game) off the ticket in the first place! If so, you would then already have your profit/win and you could then make an additional, smaller bet on that final leg if you wanted to "guarantee" yourself a small profit for the two bets.

Does anyone know what the the Wizard of Odds #7 Commandment of Gambling is? Yep, you guessed it: "Never Hedge."

This entire website is devoted to nothing but gaining an edge on the casinos. If they tell you to never hedge, don't you think there's a valid reason why?

It was also well said in an epic thread right in the Covers forum. "If you find yourself in a POSITION to hedge, you've ALREADY made a fundamental error."


5)  Most of the time, as a rule of thumb, teasers also should not be played. They are also a "sucker bet" - a bet with a very high house edge.

However, I said "most of the time" because AT TIMES, when properly done (crossing a 3 or a 7 point margin of victory, for example), it is possible to reduce the house edge substantially on certain teasers.

More information on teasers can be found here:


6)  It is almost certain that most bettors do NOT take the time to compile their OWN statistics from the NFL games. And with today's easy access to online box scores and today's computer spreadsheets which make everything easier, their is no good reason why a player shouldn't take an hour or two each week and keep their OWN set of statistics, for whatever stats and numbers interest them. (Scores, yards gained, yards given up, yards per point, number of turnovers, strength of schedule, etc., etc., etc.)

Don't give me any shit by saying, "I have a website or a service do it for me." That's a copout. You will gain a much, MUCH better understanding and feel for each team/game when YOU do it YOURSELF.

A good source for past NFL box scores can be found here:  A website which lists past pointspreads and results can be found here:


7)  NFL games aren't "fixed." The outcome is not known ahead of time. The game is not scripted in any way. 

Just because a underdog wins outright or because the refs made a terrible call (re: Green Bay/Seattle!), or a wild play near the end of the game results in a swing of the pointspread winner, is not in any way "proof" that the "fix was in" or that "Vegas called in that result."

These games and calls are going to happen eventually. It's inevitable.

Every time I see someone talk about "a fix" no one ever offers any proof or gives any facts. Who is in on it? The refs? Some or all of them? Are the players in on it? If so, how? Are they all in on it or are some sworn to secrecy? Are the coaches involved? If so, who? How far does the fix go? Are the bookie's involved?)

Give me a freakin' break.

If you think the game is fixed, then why don't you get in on the fix and start betting on that side? And if you don't know what that other side is, then it really doesn't make any difference to you then, now does it?

Anyone who talks about the game being fixed, might just as well just post a sign on their back saying, "I'm not only a whiner, I have no idea what the hell I'm talking about."


8)  Never go "all in." There is never a game that is attractive enough to warrant betting your entire bankroll, or even a large percentage of your bankroll. Proper money management calls for something, far, far more conservative. This might be at most, 2% of your bankroll on any one game, if you subscribe to that system or maybe it's as much as 5%. But whatever it is, stick with it and ignore the desire to chase or step up your bets, especially when losing. (And no, betting 10 "units" on a game is NOT proper money management.)

Without proper money management, even as something as simple as a five or six game losing streak, that happens all the time, could wipe you out.

There are lots of sites on proper money management, when it comes to betting.  Google it.


As I write this, this year's NFL season is still very young.  If you want your best chance to show a profit betting on NFL games this year then follow this simple recipe:

  • Understand that there is no such thing as a trap game.
  • Understand that the WINNERS pay the juice, not the losers.
  • Always look for the lowest possible house edge, which means...
       ...don't hedge your bets.
       ...don't play parlays.
       ...don't play teasers.
  • Start compiling your OWN statistics. (Just do it. No excuses. You'll be amazed at the results.)
  • Understand that NFL games are not "fixed."
  • Utilize proper money management. Ideally, you should probably be betting no more than 3% to 5% of your bankroll on any single game.