On Monday, I wrote about the upcoming football-wagering season and my views on sports gambling in general. That engendered an e-mail from a former colleague; he and I had many years’ worth of discussions about picking games and projecting win totals in baseball, football and basketball. Here is the salient part of his note to me:
“You mentioned hunch bets and you know my position on those kinds of bets [For the record, he hates them and thinks people who make hunch bets should not be allowed to breed.] but you neglected to mention the gambling that I think is the worst of all. What about “system plays”?
He is correct; I neglected to mention “system plays” and “players with systems” in my discussion earlier this week because “systems” fall into two categories and neither is particularly attractive.
Category 1: The “system” is infallible; it cannot fail to make money in the end – so long as you have a large enough bankroll to see it through to the end. For example, suppose you wager enough money on the home team on the money line in every NFL game such that every time the home team wins, you win $500. If you lose one week with Dallas at home, no worries; the next time Dallas is at home, bet enough to make back what you lost last time plus your desired $500 profit. Keep track and keep betting. You may need a sizeable bankroll here but you are going to make money if you can keep it up financially – and you can stand the monotony of the “system”.
Category 2: The “system” works over a short period of time but not over the long haul and the question for the bettor is whether he knows enough about how to get off that “system” as soon as the “system derails.
My former colleague included this link in his e-mail and it relates to Category 2 above. If a system bettor wanted to bet on a quarterback in every game that QB played, here is how he would have done against the spread (since 1983) depending on which QB he decided to “partner with”. [The stats are only for QBs who started 100 games or more.] In order for this system to show a profit, a QB would have had to beat the spread 52.4% of the time to cover losses with “the vig”. Here is the list of “Profitable QBs” and their winning percentage ATS:
Joe Montana 61.4%
Tom Brady 59.6
E. Manning 56.7
D. McNabb 56.7
Phil Simms 55.8
Drew Brees 55.1
John Elway 54.3
P. Manning 53.8
Jim Kelly 52.5
There are some Hall of Fame QBs on the “not profitable” list to include Steve Young, Dan Marino, Kurt Warner, Troy Aikman and Brett Favre. The thing about Category 2 systems is that they always look amazingly clear and simple as you view them with 20/20 hindsight; and yet, they rarely jump out at you as obvious before they start to happen.
Bob Molinaro had this item in a recent column in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“Hypemeister: ESPN’s Ron Jaworski must have been spending too much time in the sun when he said that the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick “can be the best QB arguably of all time.” Someone with Jaws’ experience knows that you can’t slap all-timer status on a quarterback with 10 NFL starts. Unless the only point was to attract attention to yourself and your network – never mind how silly you look.”
I have to agree that a 10-game sample is a bit thin if you are going to project any QB to rise above players like John Elway or John Unitas or any of the demonstrably great QBs in NFL history. For example, I recall not all that long ago analysts were saying that Michael Vick was going to revolutionize the way people would play the QB position in the future. Vick is still in the league and is still a valuable commodity at the QB position, but I doubt anyone now considers him as a player that will be considered one of the best ever to play the position.
Everyone knows about the Nigerian scam e-mails where some politically disadvantaged rich guy there wants to forward you his $200M just to get it out of the country if you will only send him your bank account number. Well, this website gets a lot of spam e-mails – some of the Nigerian money scam type in addition to others – that are filtered out so no one ever needs to see them. In the process of cleaning out the “spam list” yesterday, I accidentally clicked on one of the links in one of the spam e-mails.
I found myself at a website that had a very official looking NFL logo on it and a headline that said this was the place to go to get “official NFL gear at reduced prices”. Were I in the market for “official NFL gear”, the idea of getting it at a reduced price would sound like a great idea. Then I looked at the pictures of the gear that I could order and the jerseys were those of the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers. Hmmm… If anyone gets caught up ordering “official gear” from those guys, I sure hope they are using money they got from that Nigerian rich guy to pay for it.
Finally, Dwight Perry had this item in the Seattle Times last week before the San Diego Chargers won their first Exhibition Game this year:
“Considering the furor over San Diego mayor Bob Filner’s alleged misconduct — not to mention the Chargers’ 0-2 exhibition record — is this the week to Win One For The Groper?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………