Imagine the orchestra playing the theme to 2001 Space Odyssey. A more appropriate theme to use for the GamingToday Bookies Battle than for South Carolina’s pathetic last three quarters in failing to cover against Central Florida.
The 2006 edition features defending champ Johnny Spot, the race and sports book manager at Barbary Coast, gunning for his third title in the last four years.
"When you have been betting for 40 years, it sort of just comes to you," Spot said last week. "I don’t have much of a system other than to bet smart, on a small money scale and paying attention to good information."
Spot posted an impressive 157-99 record, two games ahead of runnerup Will French of the downtown California and Palace Station’s Hugh Ledford. Last year’s 65-member panel was a solid 59.2 percent (149-107) in consensus picks.
For Week 1, Spot offered a couple of recommendations on the house.
"I really like the Bengals against the Browns," he said "We put the line up two weeks ago at Barbary and a lot of people were laying points on Cincy. They do look like one of the best picks."
Spot also offered a three-team parlay — Bengals, Arizona and Jets/Chiefs under.
"There’s no pressure," Spot said. "You can’t let the betting get to you. I have eight grandkids. That’s where my priorities are. But, I love this time of season."
As for me, I’m going to limit my NFL choices to five in order to simulate the Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook’s prestigious handicapping contest that features the best in the business. If I do well (and GT is my documentation!) I may give that contest a shot next year.
NFL WEEK 1
Broncos +4Â½ at Dolphins (38Â½): You know the Dolphins have sunk to a new low when they are getting this many points at home in September. In the first six games last year, Miami did not score more than 13. The Broncos are off a 4-0 preseason and expectations are, well, a Mile High. Denver in our eyes is clearly the better team, but the value is clearly with the Fish. Therefore we’ll take a dip at South Beach.
Texans +4Â½ at Bills (39): Buffalo head coach Mike Mularkey is 7-0 ATS versus an opponent below .500. Houston finished 7-9 SU last year. Also, the Bills were a stellar 11-5 ATS in Mularkey’s rookie season a year ago. Buffalo owns one of the league’s top defenses and a potential 2,000-yard rusher in Willis McGahee. Houston QB David Carr was sacked 49 times last year.
Jets +3 at Chiefs (48): Chad Pennington’s shoulder is 100 percent, an absolute must if the Jets are to entertain Super Bowl hopes. Beating out New England in the AFC East would do for starters. The Chiefs have been overrated at home in the Vermeil era due to a lack of defense. Trent Green is now the more banged up QB, which affects stud TE Tony Gonzalez. Priest Holmes is faced with carrying the load alone.
Cards +2Â½ at Giants (37Â½): We suggest betting the G-Men now, while the line is favorable. The Giants played inspired ball the last two weeks of preseason, defeating the Jets and pounding the Patriots in New England. QB Eli Manning is carrying a lot of emotion over New Orleans and the players have his back. Arizona brings Kurt Warner back to Giants Stadium, but he’s the enemy now.
Cowboys +4Â½ at Chargers: This could be one of the more entertaining games of the day. If Dallas RB Julius Jones can match or exceed the production of LaDainian Tomlinson, the Cowboys have a shot. Dallas is quick, hungry and apparently buying into the tough Bill Parcells program. The Chargers are good, but we believe Parcells has a big edge over Marty Schottenheimer.