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Commentary Archives - 2005

The Opposite Picks (11/19/05)

Well, so far this year my picks have not been working.  This conjures up memories from fifteen years ago when it seemed none of my picks were working out either.  Back then I made selections ATS that were against my first inclination.  So far this year injuries have played a key role in this, making picking games more volatile, so I would not advise switching now.

This talk of selecting the opposite team reminds me of an episode of Seinfeld that ran some ten or so years ago.  George Costanza has been experiencing a run of bad luck and he decides to try the opposite of whatever his instincts tell him to do.  Below is an excerpt of the script from this episode (George is in the process of interviewing for a job with the New York Yankees):

Mr. Cushman : Why don't you tell me about some of your previous job experiences?

George : Alrighty. Ah ... my last job was in publishing ... I got fired for having sex in my office with the cleaning woman.

Mr. Cushman : Go on.

George : Alright, before that, I was in real estate. I quit, because the boss wouldn't let me use his private bathroom. That was it.

Mr. Cushman : Do you talk to everybody like this?

George : Of course.

Mr. Cushman : My niece told me you were different.

George : I am different, yeah.

Mr. Cushman : I gotta tell you, you are the complete opposite of every applicant we've seen.

( Mr. Cushman gets out of his chair )

Mr. Cushman : Ah, Mr. Steinbrenner, sir. There's someone here I'd like you to meet. This is Mr. Costanza. He's one of the applicants.

Mr. Steinbrenner : Nice to meet you.

George : Well, I wish I could say the same, but I must say, with all due respect, I find it very hard to see the logic behind some of the moves you have made with this fine organization. In the past twenty years you have caused myself, and the city of New York, a good deal of distress, as we have watched you take our beloved Yankees and reduced them to a laughing stock, all for the glorification of your massive ego!

Mr. Steinbrenner : Hire this man!

Every time I see this episode I laugh and remember taking the opposite approach on some occasions (it worked for George).  Sometimes this may be the best way to go during a losing streak.  However, please thinks about:

  • Developing and thinking through a complete thought process be used to develop how and why the losing streak is occurring.

  • When would one stop using the opposite theory?

As for now, we'll stick with our system.

Good Traits to Possess  (11/5/05)

When suffering through a losing streak (even the best of handicappers have these whether they want to admit it or not), one must possess a certain degree of each of the following components/traits in order to survive financially (and emotionally as well):

  1. A good money management program.  In order to survive through a losing streak, funds are needed to see you through.  Throughout the time period of this web site (since 1995) we have suffered through two similar streaks.  These occurred during the 1999 and 2001 seasons.  In each of these occasions we emerged from them and survived without having to borrow anything.  This was done by realizing that there would be times when tough times would happen and incorporating sufficient funds in our money management plan to cover the losses.

  2. Nerves of steel.  It is tough on ones nerves to place wagers when times are not so good; however, one should stay the course.  Use an analogy that is similar, the stock market.  Generally speaking, when is the best time to invest?  Answer, when times are tough.  Keep this in mind when placing your action because you never know when you'll start a winning streak.

  3. A firm belief in what one is doing.  How many times have you met someone who was considered to be successful?  Probably several times.  How many of these people who were judged to be successful did so without believing in what they were doing?  Probably none.  Even someone who plays the lottery does so with the belief they will be successful.  That is why they bought the ticket in the first place.  Who ever heard of anyone hoping to buy a losing lottery ticket in favor of a winning ticket?

To be honest, a losing streak, if not too prolonged can be a good thing.  It affords one an opportunity to self assess the manner in how they conduct their business.  Once someone digs themselves out of a hole, one of the most important things that person can do is to remember the following things:

  1. How they got into that situation (so they hopefully will not do it again).

  2. How they got through the difficult time (so that its impact won't be as severe should it happen again).

Granted, this is all easier said than done.  But it is important to recognize these facts in order to succeed.

Shop Around  (10/29/05)

During this season of close games that make predictability even more difficult than it already is, it is important that a bettor shop around for the best value for his/her money.  This shopping is true for side bets, over/under propositions, and money line wagers.  Over the last ten years the ability to shop has become much, much easier.  The internet, off shore sports books, and Vegas casinos have all seen to that.  Now, if you get on to almost any sports page you can get live odds from several casinos on most any sport.

One should not limit their shopping to just a moment in time either.  A wise bettor will look at the early line and look for a line that does not appear to be correct.  Of course the bettor is making a risk on an injury that may occur during the week and/or an injury that may be slow to heal.  The best way to get around this obstacle is to do your homework early by looking at injury reports early as well.

What the savvy bettor does is recognize the value in shopping at various points in time during the week as well.  NFL side wagers can vary up to 3 and 4 points over the course of when the opening line is posted to the actual game time and as much as a whole point at any one moment in time during a given week.  The value in both of these cases may not appear to be very significant, but given the slim line between a winning week and a losing week, it could make the difference of being in the black as opposed to being in the red.

Winning - A Thin Margin (10/21/05)

Take a look at our picks last week (Week 6):

Dallas Cowboys New York Giants Cowboys -3 Cowboys -3 T
Detroit Lions Carolina Panthers Pick Lions Pick L
New Orleans Saints Atlanta Falcons Falcons -5.5 Saints +5.5 W
Chicago Bears Minnesota Vikings Bears -3 Bears -3 W
Kansas City Chiefs Washington Redskins Chiefs -5.5 Redskins +5.5 L
Tennessee Titans Cincinnati Bengals Bengals -3 Titans +3 L
Pittsburgh Steelers Jacksonville Jaguars Steelers -3 Steelers -3 L
Baltimore Ravens Cleveland Browns Ravens -6  Ravens -6 W
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Miami Dolphins Buccaneers -3.5 Buccaneers -3.5 W
Denver Broncos New England Patriots Broncos -3 Patriots +3 L
Buffalo Bills New York Jets Bills -3 Jets +3 L
Oakland Raiders San Diego Chargers Chargers -1.5 Raiders +1.5 L
Seattle Seahawks Houston Texans Seahawks -9 Seahawks -9 W
Indianapolis Colts St. Louis Rams Colts -13.5 Rams +13.5 L

Our record was 5-8-1.  Lets examine the losses and push.

Cowboys (-3) and Giants, a push.  The Cowboys dominate the game but give up a late touchdown at the end of the game forcing overtime.  The Cowboys get a field goal to win the game, but a win becomes a push.

Lions (pick) and Panthers, a loss.  Lions give up a late touch down to lose the game.

Redskins (+5.5) and Chiefs, a loss.  Redskins significantly out gain the Chiefs, but wind up losing (mostly because they fumbled the game away.

Steelers (-3) and Jaguars, a loss.  The Steelers (and their backup quarterback) pretty much hand this one over to the Jaguars via interceptions, particularly the one that was run back for the winning touch down in overtime.

Rams (+13.5) and Colts, a loss.  The Rams jump out to a 17-0 lead only to have their quarterback go out with an injury and lose by 17 points.

The other games were solid wins (5) and losses (4).

The results showed that we did not get a single break last week.  If we had gotten a break on three of the marginal five games our record would have gone from 5-8-1 to 8-6 or 8-5-1 depending on what game the break came on.  In other words a losing week could have easily been a winning week with a little bit of better luck

This lack of luck for one week is no reason to throw in the towel.  If you're into placing bets with the belief that you'll be the beneficiary of all of the types of circumstances mentioned in our losses, you had better get out of this business.  It won't happen.  The best thing to do is to analyze what happened, see if you can learn from it, and move on.