Football books

August 10, 2010 7:01 AM


Handicapping for every level of football fan

With football season nearly upon us, fans and bettors alike can enhance their enjoyment of the games with timely new books.

J.R. Miller’s How Professional Gamblers Beat the Pro Football Pointspread (232 pgs, $24.95) is endorsed by enough handicapping experts to fill any sports book in Vegas. Kicking things off by debunking common misconceptions about sports wagers, Miller deftly moves across the field with 12 how-to chapters of info and advice, including:

• How to recognize key pointspreads

• How to beat over/unders

• How to profit from parlay bets

• How to pencil-in predictions

Miller’s opening chapters can be especially valuable to new sports bettors in understanding the purpose of the pointspread (to divide bettor opinions); how the opening line is set and why it often moves; and the bookmaker’s vigorish (always deducted from winnings).

But the meat of this book is in his chapters on how to recognize key pointspreads and how to beat over/unders. Miller warns readers not to follow their instinct and lay a bet when the pointspread is within their prediction, but to shop for the best deals before wagering.

He scores a field goal with his "no-think over/under system," and advises bettors to take the over/unders when they have a choice between betting sides or totals.

A significant strength of this book is Miller’s clear and concise writing style in demystifying otherwise difficult concepts such as standard deviation and profit probabilities, which he presents in multiple easy-to-understand charts. He uses quotes and examples from respected handicappers such as Lem Banker, Buzz Daly and Sonny Reizner to back up his advice. Recommended by Jack Short (past president of the American Library Trustee Association) as core reading material for libraries, Miller’s book crosses the goal line with accurate information and trustworthy advice.

The Unemotional Football Bettor (182 pgs, $39.95) by Scott Kellen is another sports handicapping tome that scores a touchdown with stats, info and advice on placing wagers on college and NFL games. After making costly mistakes during his early career as a professional handicapper (he warns readers against committing the errors he made), Kellen went into the huddle and came up with 27 successful, unemotional betting strategies that have led him to the winner’s circle.

Heavily dotted with charts and stats, the book explores these handicapping strategies, including a strong chapter on money management: "You could throw away everything you’ve read up to this point and everything after this chapter," Kellen avows, "… and this book would still offer unbelievable value."

He may be right about that, but his other chapters are equally important. He explains "fundamental," "revenge" and "contrarian" approaches to college and pro football wagering, going into detail on factors such as whether teams are bouncing back from losses, letting down after wins, either gaining or losing momentum and playing against perennial rivals.

Kellen’s NFL chapters concentrate on team stats and how to place optimal wagers during the preseason, week one, the playoffs and the Super Bowl. His summary chart listing the 27 strategies detailed throughout the book puts his advice in a nutshell for easy reference. Experienced bettors will find this expertly written volume a valuable tool for building a winning season.

These books and thousands of other titles are available at Gambler’s Book Club in Las Vegas. You can order them at, where you can view the store’s complete line of books, or by phone at 1-800-522-1777, Mon-Fri, 9-7 Pacific time. Opened in 1964, GBC is located at 5473 S. Eastern between Tropicana and Russell, just a short drive from the Strip.