In what I hope was a column that you bookmarked for posterity, I gave you my four rules to live by in college football gambling. I hesitated to share these rules with the KSR family, not because I don’t love you folks (I do) but because the power of #BBN could potentially skew the lines and take money out of my grandchildren’s pockets. But alas I gave in and told you the most well-kept secret outside of NotJerryTipton’s true identity, one of which was simple: Take Advantage of Weeks 2-5. It is the one time that you can truly beat Vegas straight up, and thus the opportunity must be seized. With that in mind, Team KSR took its own advice and went out to have its best week in five years of college football wagering. It was a glorious week, the type that I will one day do seminars on, complete with a Powerpoint presentation and box lunch from McAlister’s Deli. It was a miraculous haul, complete with zero losses and some unbelievable wins. But before we go into the actual diary of how it went down, a quick primer on the three bet types most often used by Team KSR:
The Against the Spread Wager: Everyone reading this column should know about this standard form of game selection. But actually picking which game to bet against the spread is the most important choice a lay gambler can make. Many games look appealing and there are some that seem to beg for action, but choosing which ones to actually play is as important as the actual team selection. For Team KSR, our process is simple. We get Phil Steele’s Top Seven plays of the Week, combine it with our own research (in my case how a game feels) and then pick 2-4 to go with each Saturday. Steele narrows the field, we select the final plays.
Heavy Favorite Money Line Bet: Professional gamblers will tell you this bet is stupid. I say professional gamblers molest collies. If you see a game on the money line that has a heavy favorite at home and you are CERTAIN will not lose, then this play is a safe way to get cash for your more exotic wagers. You must be 100% certain of success, as betting something like $400 to win $100 can raise the blood pressure. But so long as you (a) NEVER bet on a road team in this manner and (b) do it selectively, you can afford one loss a year and still come out on top. We skipped such a wager this week, but I am normally a fan
Money Line Parlay: Last week the comment section was filled with nattering nabobs of negativism telling you the reader that parlay bets were for suckers. Whatever. We have had uncanny success at Team KSR over the past few years and the Money Line Parlay has been at the center of the action. Pick six HEAVY favorites (10 points or more) to simply win (not cover) and you will get 3.5 times return on investment. Hit around 50% of the time (our average) and you win a great deal. Then add these same six teams with 2-3 tossup games (or slight underdogs) and that percentage can go between 20-35 times your investment. Hit one a year, and you are a winner.
There are of course other ways to play, but exotic bets like teasers simply hurt my head and ruin what is supposed to be a fun process by making it too nerdy. Instead, we stick with these three bet types and let it roll. And for the third time in 5 years, Week 2 once again was very good to us:
Because of the noon start of the Kentucky game, most of our work for the entire day had to be done in the morning. We could not wait and see how our noon picks played out before the 3:30 games, and with the evening also in question, we simply decided to make all the plays for the day at the outset. After consulting with Phil Steele, our two against the spread selections were:
Auburn (+5.5) over Mississippi State
USC (-8.5) over Utah
The first selection for me was easy. The law that defines Week 2 is simple…ALWAYS pick teams that looked worse in Week 1 than expected or who had misleading scores. Vegas puts WAY too much stock in what happens in a one game scenario and you can take advantage of that by sticking with teams who simply got off to a rough start. Auburn barely beat Utah State, and Mississippi State destroyed Memphis. But Auburn is still Auburn and Miss State is still Miss State. The Bulldogs are the better team, but going into Auburn and giving up 5.5 points? Not in my house. As for USC, Phil Steele is a USC homer and when he picks them, I am always skeptical. BUT, this was the first game in the Pac 10 for the Utes and the Trojans had a misleading score in their opener versus Minnesota. In picking USC and Auburn, we skipped over Steele’s “Lock” of the week (Texas to cover over BYU…hated it) and his other 3 star selection, Notre Dame over Michigan. Both would prove to be good choices.
We then coupled those two games with two money-line parlays I was very confident in
Alabama over Penn State
Kentucky over Central Michigan
Tennessee over Cincinnati
Georgia Tech over Middle Tennessee State
Tulsa over Tulane
Washington State over UNLV
Now do any of those games look like big reaches? Only Tennessee against Cincinnati was less than a 10 point spread and there was no chance in my mind that the Vols would lose at home to a Big East team. The best part about that bet….3.5 times the payout on your wager with very little risk. I love these.
Same 6 as above PLUS
North Carolina over Rutgers
Auburn over Mississippi State
Vanderbilt over Connecticut
Click below to see how it played out:
We take the same six safe picks and add three games that could, in my mind, go either way. North Carolina was actually a 8 point favorite over Rutgers, but I have little faith in the Heels. Still, a win seemed reasonable and worth the play. Vandy and UCONN is a tossup, but I pick SEC over Big East and Auburn became the underdog pick that helped the entire wager get HUGE odds. So with those 9 games, you get 29 times your bet, all the while really only having 3-4 games one even needs to sweat. I will take it.
Then the games began. Only two of our teams were in action early, Kentucky and Auburn. We all know what happened with the Cats, but the Auburn game was a much closer ordeal. As Hubby and I furiously texted each other at Commonwealth, Auburn took a big early lead, only to have to make a goal line stand in the game’s final seconds to ensure victory. With Auburn up 7, the Tigers stopped Miss State a foot from the end zone on fourth and goal, giving us our most risky play as a win, and our first against the spread victory.
As my postgame show raged on, our parlay teams continued to come through, with Alabama thoroughly dominating Penn State, Tennessee justifying my faith in the “S’posed to be SEC” over the Big East and Tulsa/Washington State romping. That left North Carolina over Rutgers in a game we had to follow via Gamecast. With very few major college football games not available on television now, it seems sort of quaint to actually have to follow a game by hitting refresh on your phone and finding scores. But as we set at Shamrock’s off Richmond Road, watching Purdue fall to that “food” (as Kige Ramsey so eloquently called Rice), it felt good to see the Heels eek out the victory, thus making the reality of the situation perfectly clear. We had won the 6 team parlay and were 7-7 on our 9 teamer, with only two games left to win 29 times our investment. All we needed was a Georgia Tech team to take care of business on the road at MTSU (I have no idea why Tech is playing AT MTSU, but that is another story) and then the kicker…Vandy had to win at home against UCONN.
I am a grown man. And I have long lived by a philosophy that has served me well through life. Unless they play Kentucky, I have tried to never have any interest in a Vanderbilt football game. What really is the point? The ‘Dores are simply playing a different game than everyone else in the SEC, as academic restrictions make it difficult to compete. So I would have never imagined in a million years, that on a random Saturday night in September, I would be dialing up ESPN3 to watch the entirety of a Vanderbilt football game as my night’s entertainment…ESPECIALLY if that game was against UCONN, part of the Billy Baldwin of the BCS, the Big East. But such was the scene at the KSR Compound, as the lowest of all definition pictures was reflected on a 50 inch screen for all the marbles.
Before the game, we made the intelligent decision to hedge our bet. It took a lot of explanation to get Hubby on board (he had actually tailgated for the UK game instead of working, thus making logic a bit slower for him to comprehend), but the decision was sound. Because at this point we assumed Ga Tech was a lock, we had 29 times our original investment resting on one game. To make sure we didn’t get shutout for our troubles, we placed a wager on UCONN, ensuring that no matter what, we would win some amount of money. It decreased the overall payout on a Vandy win to around 25 times our original bet, but ensured at least a 4x victory regardless.
What followed was potentially the most interest by any group of people in a Vandy football game in the history of that fine institution. We sweated through one of the more excruciating performances football has ever seen, as Vanderbilt’s quarterback (Hubby called him “Mr. Suck” due to his inept performance) tried his hardest to blow the best bet of our collective lifetimes. Vandy got up early and seemed in control at halftime. But their new black uniforms slowly succumbed to the curse of nerddom, as late special teams errors and costly turnovers put them seven points down late in the 4th quarter. I began to say bad things not only about Vandy’s QB, but the institution as a whole, wondering how one place could not only ruin my magical night, but also produce Clay Travis. But then, like a gift from the heavens, UCONN threw an absurdly risky late pass, leading to an Interception that Vandy ran back for a fame-tying touchdown. The ensuing celebration in the KSR Compound was rambunctious, and likely the loudest I have screamed since Jodie Meeks hit his 400th three pointer against Bruce Pearl and Wayne Chism. An ensuing defensive stop and late field goal gave Vanderbilt the win, and Team KSR its best result in history. I saluted Commodore football and we took to celebrating our victorious day. A late ridiculous cover by USC, in which they blocked a game-tying Utah field goal on the last play, running in back for a touchdown, 23-14 win and a cover on the (-8.5) spread, was just icing on the cake for the day that will forever be remembered around these parts.
2-2 on game picks, a 6 team parlay and a 9 team parlay. There will be those who say it is just fluky luck and will discount the method to success. But outside of seeing your favorite team win an important rivalry/tournament game, there are few more exciting sport fan feelings than seeing a huge pick come in. It is why we see otherwise normal girls in sundresses scream at random ponies at Keeneland, why various toothless people with body odor spend agonizing minutes picking which lottery scratch-off they will waste their money on and why Press Your Luck should return for another go-around. I know little about Washington State, Tulsa, Georgia Tech or Vandy, but I know that they won when I said they would…and for that, I will wear their respective hooded sweatshirts with honor.
Week 3…another week where Vegas can be beaten is coming up next.