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Leading Las Vegas

The World's Most Successful Sports Bettor Tells How He Uses Computers and Guile to Move the Line
Michael Konik
From the Print Edition:
Michael Richards, Sep/Oct 97

You're in Las Vegas. You've got money in your pocket. And you've got a strong opinion on the Monday Night Football game.

You wander into a sports book, where virtually every athletic contest in America has a price on it. You scan the boards, skipping over college football and a World Series game, searching for the big NFL matchup.

There it is: the Giants are favored by 13 and 1/2 points over the Buccaneers. You like the Giants, playing at home. But 13 and 1/2 points seems like a lot to spot the Bucs, even though you're certain the Giants will win the game. That's almost two touchdowns, you think, fingering the money in your pocket. You hesitate, weighing the pros and cons. Can the Giants win by two touchdowns? Well, on paper they should dominate...of course, Tampa might get a lucky last-minute break...on the other hand, the Giants usually play well at home on Monday night...hmmm. Finally, you convince yourself the Giants are a good bet at 13 and 1/2. You approach the window, minutes before the kickoff, ready to slide your stack of hundreds across the counter.

And then it happens: The 13 and 1/2 changes to 14 and 1/2.

"Wait a minute," you tell the clerk. "I wanted to bet the Giants at thirteen and a half."

"Too late," he says, shrugging. "The line just moved. Should have bet five minutes ago."

Indeed. Now the Giants don't look so attractive. Now they have to win by more than two touchdowns. Now you might even bet the Bucs.

"What happened?" you ask the clerk. "What happened to the odds?"

"Sir," the clerk says, smiling, "you just got stung by the Line Mover."

Welcome to the club.

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