Cram Session: Have you upped your game?

Sep 2, 2009 |
Cram Session: Have you upped your game?

Why are you a better handicapper this year compared to last? How have you improved your game?

For most sports bettors, the kick off of college football is like New Year’s. Last year’s wins and losses are in the books. It’s the perfect opportunity to assess your handicapping strengths and weaknesses.

Do you have a tendency to try to play catch-up after a bad day? Are you managing your money poorly with erratic and unnecessary changes to the base unit (amount) of your wagers?

Maybe, like me, you lack discipline and often play too many games.

Well, what are you doing about it?

Betting NCAAF Week 1

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Covers Community Q&A with Nostradamus12

Q: Nos, why are you a better handicapper this year compared to last? How have you improved your game?

A: I plan on emphasizing this more. If a team has got the better of a matchup on only one side of the ball, I’ll bet the team total instead of the side, assuming the number is fair.

Example: Last year, I made the mistake of taking Miami -17 over Central Florida.

A better play would have been to take UCF under 15 points, because, at the time, UCF’s offense was horrible.
They ended up with 14 points on an interception returned for a touchdown and a kickoff returned for a TD. They had 78 yards of total offense.

Miami’s offense was inconsistent (still is) and therefore the team total was the play.

Later in the year, putting this into practice, I took the Central Michigan team total over 37 against Eastern Michigan. I believed CMU would score, however, I did not trust their shaky defense. CMU lost 56-52, yet was still solid winner on team total.

Q: How long have you been handicapping?

A: Twenty-five years, if you can call the first five handicapping

Q: Three teams to back this year.

A: I don't normally get locked into for or against any teams for that period of time. With that said, possible undervalued teams could include Arkansas, UAB and Arkansas St.

Q: Three to fade.

A: Possible overvalued teams might include Iowa, Utah and Oklahoma St.  They're very good, but still overvalued in my opinion.

Q: Credibility check: What kind of car do you drive?

A: 2006 Cadillac DTS, smooth yet with some power, considering the new Camaro sometime next year.

Odds/Ends

Movement: Line movements early in the week indicate sharp action. We’ll track the biggest early line moves each week to see if oddsmakers are adjusting appropriately.

As of noon EST Wednesday, the biggest line moves were:

•Purdue has dropped from a 14-point favorite over Toledo to as low as 10.5 at some books
•LSU has gone from a 14-point favorite at Washington to 17.5-point favorite.
•Boise State opened 6.5-point favorite over Oregon, but dropped all the way to 3.5.

Fact: Last year, Washington, Michigan, Fresno State, Wyoming, Auburn, LSU, Indiana and Western Kentucky each finished at least five games under .500 against the spread.

In the last 10 seasons, only three teams have ever finished at least five games under .500 against the spread in consecutive years. Expect ATS improvement from those eight teams.

Advice from a pro: “If you pre-determine how something is going to play out, you can run into trouble. Everyone looks at the season and tries to isolate teams that they think they could be play-on or play-against teams. That’s part of the process. But be cautious and don’t be too rigid in having made that decision. If you’re too stubborn, it can lead to compounding mistakes.” – Covers Expert Larry Ness.

Question: USC has lost three defensive starters, its second-leading receiver and named a true freshman its starting quarterback in the last week. But books have been hesitant to drop the line on Saturday's opener against San Jose State.
The Trojans opened as a 34.5-point favorite. Some books have dropped it down to 33.5, but it's still hovering around 34 for the most part. What gives? Was this line too low from the beginning?

Quote: "There's a lot of unknown factors. You've got to throw in a new offense and new defense and on top of that you've got to throw in 10-12 freshmen that are going to be playing, and I mean playing. Not just hitting two snaps a game.” – Auburn coach Gene Chizik in the Birmingham News.

Who the hell is David Payne?

I’m a sharp without the discipline, time or money to be a professional.

Does that make me a square?

As a member of the sports media for the last 10 years, I’m sharp in my knowledge of college football.

More than 15 up-and-down years betting sports, including two years on the other side of the table, helped me weasel a job out of Covers.com, which I believe has made me a better handicapper.

But I readily admit to being an undisciplined recreational bettor, I will probably bet too many games this year, because, well, it’s more fun. And I’m sure sooner or later I’ll play a game just because it’s on TV, whether I’ve researched it fully or not.

So let’s call me square-ish.

Who the hell are you and what do you want?

My guess is the majority of the Covers Community is in my boat.

All but a select few of you have real jobs, and do not rely on the success of our wagers for income.

But frequenting this site suggests you’re little bit above the average guy, who bets solely off of what Lee Corso says on ESPN. (Corso is recovering from a stroke, so proceed with caution.) 

A lot of you are much better handicappers than I. A select few of you make have even reached the vaunted status of tout. If so, thank you for blessing us with your presence.

Some of you might be new to our little hobby and eager to learn.

Regardless of your handicapping stature, I’ll be here to serve you throughout the season. I’m not here to pound you with picks, although I’ll make a few. My goal is to simply provide a reliable handicapping resource and a forum for bettors to share their local knowledge.

Now, I just have to figure out how do to that. If you’ve got suggestions, leave a comment or email Cram Session at davidpayne@covers.com or follow me on Twitter @Payne_Covers.

PAYNEFUL PICKS from a guy who drives a 2001 Oldsmobile Alero.

Last season: 34-28-1

South Carolina at North Carolina State (-5, 46.5)

I was eyeing this one since early August and actually jumped on it when it opened at three.

South Carolina is without three defensive starters. Neither cornerback has ever played a game in college. There are only seven seniors on the entire Gamecock roster.

Add in major revenge for the Wolf Pack, after getting embarrassed 34-0 last season, and this was no-brainer for me.

Pick: N.C. State

Nevada at Notre Dame (-14.5, 61)

Loving the Wolf Packs this week. Nevada’s defense led the WAC in sacks last year and its secondary is loaded with seniors. It looks like a good matchup against Notre Dame’s offense.

The last three seasons, the Irish have looked sluggish in their opener (0-3 ATS), including last year’s embarrassing performance against a dreadful San Diego State team. They always play Michigan in Week 2, so they may have a tendency to look ahead.

Pick: Nevada

It’s on. Let’s get ‘em.


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