Sports Betting: Truth and Myths About “Inside Information”
I was mulling over the idea of covering a lot of ground over the Miami area for the Super Bowl. You know, to hang around with the rich and famous at some of the pre-game parties, find some players out on the town having a good time, perhaps pick up some good “inside information” that will help me make a decision on that game on Super Sunday.
I’m only kidding. Well, half-kidding. Not about wanting to canvass the area, mind you, but about gathering that inside info.
It is a common song and dance sports bettors. Maybe even some who wager with the folks at BetAnySports – will hear from those who run so-called legitimate “handicapping services”. Apparently they know what’s going to happen in a game based on something they know that no one else does; something from the “inside.” Maybe it’s a player’s injury that supposedly doesn’t show up on the standard injury report. Maybe it’s an official that is supposed to be “on the take.” The more creative the story, the more the unsuspecting sports service customer will fall for it – hook, line, and sinker.
Of course, 99.99% of the time, these guys are lying about all of it.
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Sports Betting: Why Inside Information Can Be a Hoax
The idea of inside information is highly overrated. Sure, you could hang out at the hottest clubs and run into some players, but unless you catch them drunk or strung out the night before a game, or if YOU are the one partying with them, you really don’t have anything.
Of course, there are some instances in which one can benefit from knowing something before others do. Such an instance happened in the 2019 season, when the Louisiana Tech football program – headed up by Skip Holtz, son of legendary coach Lou Holtz – suspended four players for a game with Marshall, including quarterback J’Mar Smith, who’d been having a successful season, with 65% completions, 2483 yards through the air, and a 14-4 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions.
These suspensions were known to certain individuals on the Wednesday before the game (maybe even sooner), but not to others, and certainly not to the general public. Oddsmakers may have been caught by surprise, as heavy action brought Marshall from a two-point favorite to a 4.5-point favorite. That is a considerable shift in one day. The problem is, the suspensions were not even announced until Thursday, which gave some people a very nice head start.
What perhaps the athletic department didn’t understand is that now, with sports betting now having been, in effect, legalized on a federal level and implemented by many states, a greater spotlight shines on things. And so questions were asked, with investigations launched.
Meanwhile, the line eventually got as high as Marshall -7 at some online sports betting sites. And the Thundering Herd won the game 31-10. So that was a pretty good example of a select few having real “inside information” and being able to capitalize on it.
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Truths and Myths
I’m going to give all of you BetAnySports patrons another great example – and a personal one – of genuine inside information – the best I’ve ever received. We go way back to December 1988 for this one; I was hosting a radio show at the time, and occasionally my show was pre-empted by basketball games at Florida International University, which had just moved into Division I play but was not really “on the big board.” Because I gave up some of my airtime, I got to piggyback onto some of the pre-game shows. Once in a while, the radio crew would go out to dinner with the team after the game.
One night, a member of the coaching staff was talking about an upcoming game between FIU’s crosstown rival, Miami, which was in its fourth season after returning to Division I play, and traditional basketball power UCLA. This guy knew something about a little drama leading up to the game because it had somehow landed in his lamp.
Jim Harrick was coaching his second game for the Bruins, and he had inquired about his team being able to conduct a practice in Miami’s gym the day before the game. This is something that is relatively routine, but apparently Miami coach Bill Foster had refused. So Harrick got on the phone with the FIU athletic department and was able to get access to the Golden Panthers’ gym. The FIU people were actually kind of honored to have UCLA using their facility, and in a conversation with this FIU coach, Harrick happened to mention that he was so incensed at Miami’s disrespect that he would unquestionably run the score up on the Hurricanes if he got the chance.
That’s an interesting piece of insight to have; UCLA was the better team and was probably going to have that opportunity. The FIU coach had mentioned this to me (and the others who were sitting with us) innocently enough; he had no idea what anyone might do with the information.
What I did, as this was in the pre-internet era (remember those days?) was called an associate of mine in Las Vegas who had a line service. I told him what I had heard, how adamant Harrick was, and that we had to do what men do when they get a good piece of information. As we were watching the movement, the line, which had stood with UCLA the seven-point favorite, inexplicably moved DOWN to 4-1/2. He asked me what would make the number move in the other direction. I told him all I knew was that Harrick would leave his starters in for as long as he had to in order to exact some revenge.
As it turned out, that’s exactly what happened. UCLA, which was not even a Top 10 team, jumped out to a 21-point halftime lead. In the second half, that lead grew to as much as 29 points and Harrick didn’t slow things up all that much. The final score was 91-66. It was UCLA’s biggest margin of victory on the road in two seasons. It’s too bad FIU wasn’t on the big board back then. I might have come away with a few more gems.
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