Richard Nichol’s Betting Baseball: A Solid Addition to A Sports Bettor’s Library

There are few good sports betting books out there. Stanford Wong’s Sharp Sports Betting and King Yao’s Weighing the Odds in Sports Betting are two of the better ones. The rest are typically garbage. Most are from touts who want to build up credentials for their business. The main goal of these writers isn’t to teach the sports bettor; it is to show how sharp the writer is and turn the book buyer into a client.


Wong and Yao’s books aren’t like that. They are more like textbooks, showing a bettor the methods of handicapping. Betting Baseball by Richard Nichols belongs in this category as well. It comes at sports bettors from two directions: a beginner’s guide to the advanced sabermetric stats now available in today’s game, and how to use those stats to create your own line and build your own model. It shows specific formulas in Excel, and explains nicely how baseball and bookmaking works in general. A baseball fan with no knowledge of building a model will have no problems following along.

The more experienced bettor will have no interest in building a model or what the xFIP formula means. He or she will already know this. However, the book does offer a lot to these bettors. Nichols discusses a catcher’s impact on the strike zone, and even gives how much a catcher who excels at framing is worth on the money line compared to a regular catcher. He also breaks down the sportsbooks in Las Vegas, splitting the city into sections and showing what sportsbooks are available in each part of town. Even better, he lists what line originator runs what sportsbooks, and how much vig they charge.

There is also a good amount of details on umpires that can be useful to the sports bettor. While not a determining factor in making bets, an umpire can turn a lean into a play, depending on his tendencies. The book lists the career over/under record of each major league umpire, as well as which ump might be influenced by the home crowd or weather conditions.

Another section includes a layout of the ballpark, a good thing to know when it comes to the weather. If the wind is 20 miles per hour out of the west in St. Louis, a quick glance at the book will tell you that the wind will be blowing straight out to right field. I can look that up online, but it will be a lot quicker and easier to have it in a book format.

Overall, this is the best book an aspiring baseball bettor can read to learn the game. One other great benefit: despite a heavy emphasis on math, it is written in plain simple english that even the most math-deficient person should be able to understand.

The Legend of Haralabos “Bob” Voulgaris, the World’s “Greatest NBA Bettor”

It seems to be a story too good to be true. A college kid bets his entire life savings on the Lakers at long odds, wins his bet, and uses that money as seed stock to becoming a millionaire, earning the label as “greatest NBA bettor in history” in the process.

But is it true? Some of it certainly is. No one is arguing that Bob Voulgaris is one of the great gamblers in the world. But what about his story about making his bones betting on the Lakers to win the 2000 NBA championship? Is that the true story?

Only Voulgaris knows for sure. But what we do know is Voulgaris, in his numerous interviews with the mainstream media, downplays and often fails to mention his involvement in the online sportsbook Wagerstreet in the early 2000s.

According to Business Insider, “He bet his entire life savings on a 6.5-1 bet that would take over six months to decide. Then he waited. Six months later, after many nights of eating ramen noodles, many days of slinging luggage, and a 15 point deficit in the 4th quarter of game 7 against Portland, the Lakers were crowned NBA champions, and Haralabos Voulgaris had a half a million dollars. From there Voulgaris gave up on the skycap business and started betting more and more on each game. He limited his gambling primarily to NBA basketball, but not because it was the easiest game to bet on.”

An ESPN article written by Scott Eden tells a similar story . “In 2002, he discovered one that would line his pockets for years. It all had to do with how most bookmakers set their halftime totals, the predicted number of points scored in each half of the game. Each half, of course, is its own discrete period of play, and the fourth quarters of close games can end in elongated foul-clogged stretches of free throws, timeouts, fast play and, hence, a burst of scoring. But incredibly, bookmakers at the time didn’t account for this fact; they simply arrived at a total for the full game and cut that figure roughly down the middle, assigning some 50 percent of the points to the first half and 50 percent to the second. For years, Voulgaris exploited this edge, playing both sides of it repeatedly. It is possible to say that it alone made him millions, combined with some keen observations regarding the game-management tendencies of three head coaches: Eddie Jordan, Jerry Sloan and Byron Scott.”

“Those were three coaches I had nailed perfectly,” Voulgaris, now 37, says. “I knew exactly what they were going to do. I mean, it was a joke, it was so easy.”

Voulgaris and the articles failed to mention a key component of his gambling resume. Voulgaris was a primary investor in Wagerstreet, an offshore sportsbook who’s domain was registered on April 7, 2000, two months before the Lakers won the crown and Voulgaris supposedly won his huge gamble.

It is not a huge secret to sports bettors that Voulgaris was the brains behind Wagerstreet. When he sold Wagerstreet to TheGreek.com in 2005, some were hoping Voulgaris was still going to be involved.

To the public at large, however, Voulgaris is a man who made his fortune beating the books. That certainly is a better story than being the primary player in an off-shore sportsbook.

Voulgaris doesn’t deny his involvement in Wagerstreet. He just doesn’t like to talk about it.

“I never really felt comfortable disclosing the fact that I was an investor in a gaming company,” said Voulgaris in a TwoPlusTwo.com post. “At the time I invested in said sportsbook it seemed like the legality was grey or quasi legal (similar to poker) a few years later it was clearly not legal as the US was seizing sportsbook money and shutting down processors left and right.”

Nothing wrong with that. But like many gambling legends, what one is told is rarely the full story. Voulgaris’s path to wealth is a bit more complicated than simply winning a monster future bet in 2000. Those who don’t read TwoPlusTwo.com, and get their betting news from ESPN, will have the wrong idea. Voulgaris will be speaking about the effort to legalize sports betting at the Sloan Conference on February 28; will he mention his own involvement in Wagerstreet? Will he even be asked?

So what kind of sportsbook was Wagerstreet? Some claim they didn’t like big bets and didn’t like winners. One gambler had this to say after Voulgaris sold Wagerstreet to TheGreek.com. “Does that mean Wagerstreet Bob, that sorry excuse for a BM, is gone now…or will he still be around to reduce the offerings even further and cut more players down to $50 and $100 limits? Wagerstreet used to be a pretty good book until Bob developed that yellow streak down his spine.”

“Wagerstreet – average book, lightning quick software, good customer service, low limits”, said one bettor.

Another gambler called Wagerstreet a small, recreational bettor shop. “I like the Wagerstreet/SIA model of looking for “square action only”, and accomplishing this by selective booting of customers and limiting bet size to $500 a pop.”

Here’s a good debate between one gambler and a “Bob” from Wagerstreet, thought to be Voulgaris.

Their lines are unique, only problem is they don’t like it when you bet them. I was cut down to $200 max phone and internet because I bet too many “different lines” (thats what some guy working there told me when I asked him why my limits were cut). Mind you I wasn’t betting stale lines that they didn’t bother moving after they had moved on don best, just betting value, 1st halfs etc. I withdrew all my money from the joint and don’t plan on returning,” said a poster known as Pancho Sanza.

Bob replied: “Pancho’s account was limited because we don’t really need his type of business, here is the usual way Pancho bets –

The game line steams from 1 to pick, we move the game line but haven’t yet moved the 1st half line so its still at +.5 pancho likes to bet +.5 and pick some place else (who can blame him). Same goes for quarter lines. I have no problem with Pancho betting these games, the only issue is that we have about 50 panchos /pseudo wiseguys so if we have a limit of 1000 on 1st halfs but 50 players who all seem to bet the same games we have to limit our exposure. By limiting them to 200 we can still take about 5 bets (the bets seem to all come at around the same time – I’ll chalk that one up to the phenomenon of steam) and not really over expose ourself. I will say that we frequently offer unique NBA totals and have no problem taking bets on these including halfs through our approval queue.

Pancho gave another example of when his bets were limited. “Hey Bob, heres an idea, move the first half lines. Besides your post is a bit misleading, I don’t wait for a game to be “steamed” and then hit the first half. Sometimes you guys haven’t moved the line after a day has passed. To me that means you are content to leave the halftime line as is. I called in a bet on the jets Monday night and the guy would only give me $200 max, this was well after Mcnair was announced as the starter and you guys had the Jets +3. If you want to cut me off from betting halfs/quarters, thats fine but why straight sides?

Bob answered, “Actually in that Jets game I told the clerk to let you bet whatever you wanted, it just so happened you had some pending bets tied up (with all the slow moving halftime lines) and could only really bet around 200-300. I just assumed when you called and the clerk said username XXXXX wants a bet for more than 200.00 it was on some stale halftime or quarter. That was my mistake and I apologize.

How Touts at Pregame.com Beat the Line Move

Las Vegas is a 24/7 type of town. Las Vegas sports books are not, however. Most of them close early. The Palms, for example, closes at 9:00 on weekdays and 10:00 on weekends (non football season).

While that is a pity for Las Vegas sports bettors, it is a godsend for touts. While the sports books might close down for the night, their lines at closing time don’t.

Overnight line moves, common in the fast-moving college basketball world, don’t come into play at Vegas sports books. The line manager comes into work on Wednesday morning, takes a look at the current lines, and adjusts his old numbers to come into line with the rest of the world. A -5 Duke line at closing time in Las Vegas that was bet hard overnight might become a -7 Duke when the Cantor sportsbooks opens back up in the morning.

Touts take advantage of these dead lines by sending out overnight picks using the pointspreads offered by these closed books. The Sports Options and Don Best screens still show Duke -5 at the Westgate and Cantor books, so that’s what they give out.

A prime example of this is at Pregame.com, a company that uses every trick in the book to give its touts a winning record. On February 8th, Fezzik released a pick on Oregon St. -3. The time was 12:04 am (just after midnight) Pacific time, hours after the Westgate (old Las Vegas Hilton) closed up for the night. Oregon St. had been heavily bet on overnight lines, all the way up to -4.5 in some spots. The Westgate, upon opening back up in the morning, changed the line to -4. Fezzik, by using the stale line (-3) from the Westgate, had just grabbed a ton of non-existent value unavailable to any of his customers.

Some Pregame posters noticed the problem the following day. “Steve Fezzik is grading against lines that are unavailable,” said Don Whitman. “His Oregon St picks states he got a line of -3 at the Hilton at 3 am est. unfortunately that casino does not have a sports book open that late. He is cheating his customers.”

Tom Patterson, a Pregame employee, stated he would look into it and reply soon. Nine days later, we are still waiting.

NFL Season Win Totals Have Been Released: Seahawks, Patriots Again Rule the Roost

The Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots will win the most games in the NFL next year, according to futures odds posted by the CG Group in Las Vegas. The Seahawks and Patriots both have 11 wins as the over/under number next year, with the under juiced at -130 for both teams. Green Bay’s number is 10.5, the third highest in the league. Denver, expecting Peyton Manning to return as QB next season, has 10 wins listed, with the over juiced at -130.

The Raiders are expected to be the worst team in the NFL, with 4.5 wins as their O/U number. Tennesse isn’t going to be much better; they have 5 wins listed.

2015 NFL season win totals, odds, 2014 actual wins
49ers 8.5 wins (OVER -120, UNDER -110); 2014 wins: 8
Bears 7 wins (OVER -115, UNDER -115); 2014 wins: 5
Bengals 8.5 wins (OVER -105, UNDER -125); 2014 wins: 10
Bills 8.5 wins (OVER -110 , UNDER -120); 2014 wins: 9
Broncos 10 wins (OVER -130 , UNDER +100); 2014 wins: 12
Browns 6 wins (OVER -125 , UNDER -105); 2014 wins: 7
Buccaneers 5.5 wins (OVER -130 , UNDER +100); 2014 wins: 2
Cardinals 8 wins (OVER -110 , UNDER -120); 2014 wins: 11
Chargers 8.5 wins (OVER -115 , UNDER -115); 2014 wins: 9
Chiefs 8.5 (OVER -105 , UNDER -125); 2014 wins: 9
Colts 9.5 wins (OVER -120 , UNDER -110); 2014 wins: 11
Cowboys 9.5 wins (OVER -115, UNDER -115); 2014 wins: 12
Dolphins 8 wins (OVER +100 , UNDER -130); 2014 wins: 8
Eagles 9 wins (OVER -110 , UNDER -120); 2014 wins: 10
Falcons 8 wins (OVER -120 , UNDER -110); 2014 wins: 6
Giants 8 wins (OVER +100 , UNDER -130); 2014 wins: 6
Jaguars 5.5 wins (OVER -110, UNDER -120); 2014 wins: 3
Jets 6.5 wins (OVER -110 , UNDER -120); 2014 wins: 4
Lions 8.5 wins (OVER -110 , UNDER -120); 2014 wins: 11
Packers 10 wins (OVER -145 , UNDER +115); 2014 wins: 12
Panthers 8.5 wins (OVER -110, UNDER -120); 2014 wins: 7
Patriots 11 wins (OVER +100 , UNDER -130); 2014 wins: 12
Raiders 4.5 wins (OVER -140 , UNDER +110); 2014 wins: 3
Rams 7.5 wins (OVER -110, UNDER -120); 2014 wins: 6
Ravens 9 wins (OVER -120 , UNDER -110); 2014 wins: 10
Redskins 6 wins (OVER -115 , UNDER -115); 2014 wins: 4
Saints 9 wins (OVER -110, UNDER -120); 2014 wins: 7
Seahawks 11 wins (OVER +100, UNDER -130); 2014 wins: 12
Steelers 8.5 wins (OVER -115, UNDER -115); 2014 wins: 11
Texans 8.5 wins (OVER +100 , UNDER -130); 2014 wins: 9
Titans 5 wins (OVER -130 , UNDER +100); 2014 wins: 2
Vikings 6.5 wins (OVER -120 , UNDER -110); 2014 wins: 7

Pregame.com Handicapper Attacks College Player On Twitter After Losing Bet

What happens when a Pregame.com employee loses a bet? He attacks the 19 year old player who cost him the cover. Dave Essler, long-time employee of R.J. Bell’s Pregame.com, threw a tantrum yesterday after Seton Hall basketball player Isaiah Whitehead hit two three pointers late in the game, drawing the 8.5 point underdogs to within four points. Seton Hall lost by seven, costing Essler and his Pregame.com clients their bets. Essler was not happy.

Twitter member @AnonymousGamblr caught the meltdown in process.

This type of behavior is par for the course for Mr. Essler, who gave himself an “Uncle Dave” nickname for his ‘mentoring’ abilities. “Total, and I mean TOTAL, offensive ineptness. This isn’t f’n Harlem anymore. Get better players,” he tweets the Syracuse basketball team.

“@AF_Falcons Anytime you want to guard McCaw would be fine with many of us,” he says to the Air Force twitter account. To the Detroit basketball coach, Essler asks “Does Coach have an explanation for gagging a 16 point lead in five minutes? Help me out here……oh, yes, #focus or lack of.”

To Purdue’s basketball twitter account: “STOP turning the ball over. Just because OSU has suspension, u still gotta play the game.”

“It’s actually not the first time he’s done something like this,” said one poster at Pregame.com. “He has tweeted at several college sports teams in the past complaining about effort, free throws, defense, etc. … only differences this time were the targeting of a specific player and using profanity (both of which caught the attention of several groups on twitter with large followings).”

No one notices the rants most of the time. That wasn’t the case yesterday, however. As a result, R.J. Bell ‘suspended’ Essler from Twitter for 10 days. His picks may still be purchased, however. You just won’t get his top-notch commentary.

Some are not happy about this slap on the wrist.

“I work for a Sportsbook,” said one poster. “If I tweet abuse at someone I get called in by HR. When you work for a company you do still represent them in a small way. That tweet would get you a warning and serial offences would seriously damage your reputation and career prospects. I’ve heard of people not getting interviews for jobs because of their Twitter ‘personality’.”

The King Speaks: Lebron James Talks State of Game at All-Star Weekend

LeBron James spoke at his press conference on Friday:

Q. Everything would be on the table, make changes to the game, moving everything, what would you suggest?
LeBRON JAMES: What do you mean?

Q. To improve the game.
LeBRON JAMES: To improve the game? I think the game is at an all-time high right now in our league. I don’t see us improving the game or anything right now. I think the league is great. Both conferences are doing extremely well. We just want to continue to grow.

Q. LeBron, can you talk about the difference in your role now compared to the beginning of the season and the factors?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, I think the problem sometimes in sports is everyone — they want instant success. And I understand, being a part of the process before, that it takes time. It takes time for a team to gel. Especially a new team to gel and come together and build camaraderie. That’s exactly what we’re going through. We were going through early season struggles because we didn’t know each other both on the floor and off the floor. But over the last month or so it’s clicked. And I think it has a lot to do with us gaining each other’s trust and learning each other, and we’ve played some really good basketball, winning our last 14 out of 16 before the break.

Q. Can you tell us about your relationship with your coach.
LeBRON JAMES: Every day we get closer and closer. I think he’s great. He’s handled his first stint in the NBA extremely well so far. And I’m happy to be playing for him.

Q. Do you think he’s the guy to bring multiple rings to the Cavaliers franchise?
LeBRON JAMES: That’s what we hope. That’s what we all hope for.

Q. What about Shumpert?
LeBRON JAMES: I think the three pieces we have to start with, J.R., he’s given us a knockdown shooter and a defensive guy. He’s very underrated defensively and very underrated with his passing. Shump is a true professional and only cares about winning. And that defensive grit he has, we don’t have many guys like that in our league. And that’s just added to our success.

Q. What’s the difference of being a star player having a great year and taking the next step to be an MVP or worthy of being an MVP?
LeBRON JAMES: Consistency. You have to do it over and over and over. Every year. It’s not just doing it one season or one month. You have to do it year after year after year. And you know when teams gun for you and you’re still able to produce every single night, I think that’s what defines it.

Q. Can you talk about the responsibility, the stake in whether this team wins or loses
LeBRON JAMES: Absolutely. Absolutely. Winning is everything.

Q. Can you talk about Klay Thompson and the improvement of the Warriors and steps they’ve taken this season.
LeBRON JAMES: It’s obvious; they’re winning because of those two guys. Their motor, their ability to make shots, their ability to have fun, and they — you can tell they play with so much chemistry and camaraderie because they love each other. From outside looking in obviously I don’t know, but it looks that way. And everyone just follows their lead.

Q. I’m from Cleveland. I’m a huge Cavs fan. Can I give you a hug for coming back to Cleveland?
LeBRON JAMES: Yeah, off camera.

Q. Please, just one tiny hug.
LeBRON JAMES: You get me off camera.

Q. It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, what are you hoping to Savannah gets you?
LeBRON JAMES: Nothing but love. That’s all I need.

Q. What are you going to get her?
LeBRON JAMES: I can’t tell you. Because if I tell you, she’ll know what I’m getting her.

Q. Not only to provide a championship to the city of Cleveland, but to the whole state of Ohio, how difficult is it?
LeBRON JAMES: Unbelievable pressure, man. You go out, you do what you were taught, you always go back on your fundamentals, and you play hard. Everything else will take care of itself.

Q. Still you’re like a messiah. All the people just looking at you. Learning from you. They want to see a championship. Is it difficult for you to know that you have to fulfill everyone’s expectations?
LeBRON JAMES: I carry a lot of responsibility. I understand that. I’m only one man, and I’m going to do the best job I can. I’m going to leave it out on the floor both on and off the court. And whatever happens after that I can be satisfied.

Q. Is the All-Star Game still fun for you?
LeBRON JAMES: Absolutely.

Q. What’s your communication like with Coach Blatt after games, preparing for next games?
LeBRON JAMES: Very well. We communicate every day.