Simple questions determine if a handicapper's worthy

Aug 6, 2013 3:00 AM

“This pick can’t lose! Sell your house, sell your car, sell your kids, and bet this game!” said a man whose name I don’t remember on a score phone 20 years ago.

I’ve never forgotten that turn of phrase.

All but the most naive sports bettors know that such a selling approach is a scam. Many have been victimized (yep, it happened to me my senior year in High School). Typically it happens one time, but never again once the lesson is learned.

The Internet has made great strides in hindering such scamming. Back in the day, victims would tell maybe 5 or 10 friends about what happened. Now, on Twitter, Facebook, and posting forums, a victim can warn hundreds and even thousands – putting a stink upon a scammer’s name at lightning speed.

Recently it was announced that CNBC is planning a reality show featuring a sports betting character named Steve Stevens. The Internet has done an amazing job of quickly uncovering his history, including reports of jail time for a telemarketing scheme. I’ll certainly be interested to see how all this plays out – but the surrounding discussion uncovered another matter which has my interest.

How is what I do with different? It would be easy – too easy – for the answer to be as simple as knowing my business mission is to provide true value to the sports bettor. You can’t read my mind.

Sure, one visit to the site will show that there are no extreme claims – will show the focus is on providing expert content (most of it free). But such assessments are subjective, lacking black and white lines. The answer could be that Colin Cowherd has me on each week during the football season, that we have an ESPN radio show in Vegas, that I am a columnist for Grantland.

All achievements that make a statement of legitimacy, but the same could be said for having a show on CNBC!

I’m a big fan of local radio host Steve Cofield. Last week, he was on with Adam Hill of the Review Journal, and they were talking about Steve Stevens. The gist was that Vegas listeners were savvy enough to tell the difference between a scammer and legit handicapper.

A few simple questions need to be defined to determine if a handicapper is worthy of your consideration.

First, can you truly say that you know of no instance that that the pick seller lied to you? Information is worthless if you don’t trust the source. If the source is a liar, you can’t know which records to believe or be sure of getting his honest picks.

Second, are you provided with a pick history to confirm his record claims? If not, you have no way of knowing if he is lying. For example, provides every pick ever made from every pro.

Third, does he spend a majority of his time proving his worth by providing free content to help you win? If so, he’s no tout. The term “tout” implies advertising and boasting. Many focus on touting, and deserve the name. Others focus on providing expert content, and are different.

If you can answer yes to all three, a handicapper deserves your consideration. You may like the style and approach of some more than others, but the scammers can be separated from honest handicappers.

RJ Bell is the founder of - and co-host of FIRST PREVIEW, heard Monday through Friday at 10 am on ESPN 1100/98.9 FM. Follow on twitter: @RJinVegas. Discussion of this article continues at Contact RJ at [email protected]

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