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04. What about the tout services that sell picks? Are there any good services at reasonable rates?
The Philosopher:
I guess the easy answer here is "no."

Now, in principle, there's nothing impossible about it being fair and appropriate for one person to sell his online sports betting line picks to another. If I put 40 hours a week into sports handicapping, and you lack the time or skills to do so yourself, then we might enter into an agreement for you to pay me for the results of my labor. If I have a good sports handicapping system, the upshot is we both benefit from this deal. I get whatever I win on my gambling plus this additional fee from you, and you get winners you wouldn't have been able to pick yourself, and end up ahead gambling even after paying me for them.

But in the real world, this almost never happens, for a number of reasons.

The main problem is, these tout services you see advertised are 99% marketing and 1% sports handicapping services. Pure and simple, you don't make money as a tout because you are good at picking games, any more than Miss Cleo receives the most paid calls seeking psychic guidance because she is the most skilled at divining the future. You make money because of how much and how well you market yourself.

You might say, "Well, I'll just go with the ones with the best past record of online gambling picks," but that's not as easy as it sounds. Those that report their own record are often lying or at least being misleading. Those that are monitored by some "third party" might secretly be affiliated with the third party (or actually be the third party). Even if you monitor the picks for awhile yourself, you have to remember that if thousands of touts picked games by flipping coins, according to probability theory a certain number of them would go on superficially very impressive, but ultimately utterly meaningless, hot streaks. So what does it really tell you that so-and-so is 12-3 on his last fifteen "Pick of the Weeks" since you've been monitoring him?

You'll probably find it at least as challenging to figure out who is and is not a skilled handicapper as it would be to simply make your own sports handicapping system.

Furthermore, there are many handicappers who share their picks publicly on sites like Major Wager and countless other sports betting sites. You can get those for free. Are most of these picks worthless? Probably. But no more so than those of the average tout you have to pay. If you must let someone else pick your games for you, go with the freebies.

Almost everyone around a place like Major Wager will tell you flat out, "Never buy sport gambling picks from a tout." For the most part, I agree.

I am going to agree with you here, Philosopher. I got started on this path over 20 years ago with one of the legendary sports touts. He sold my name to other touts (some of whom I suspect were actually the original tout in a new disguise). To make a long story short, I found out there is no free lunch. In fact, it was a very expensive "lunch" in the end.

With the Internet today, sports online gambling is a new avenue for these touts to market themselves. It has also opened up access to talented handicappers who sell their sports betting picks. But as you point out, Philosopher, even these people have to spend time marketing themselves, a task that takes away from precious handicapping time.

But why pay at all? For the net is also a path bringing us information and resources we never had before, and much of it is free. The guys on Major Wager are a great example. Newbies should definitely become acquainted with the regulars who have posted internet betting picks for the benefit of others and have stuck around. They should learn to avoid the touts who come in, post a few picks, and leave if their record goes south.

There are also countless other sites that offer free online betting picks, many of them belonging to touts. A fellow at the website Cappers Access lists his own picks and has literally dozens of links to other free sports betting pick sites if that's what you're interested in.

However, the time spent "handicapping the handicappers" might be better spent in learning to sports handicapping one or more sport yourself.

I use tout services when they offer free online gambling picks. I like to see how they arrive at their selections and sometimes that information is useful. I don't have the time or wherewithal to research how Towson State has done the last three times they've played BYU at BYU, or how their leading scorer is coping with that sexual battery charge he's facing, so that kind of information is useful and sometimes it will lead me to play a Towson State when I normally would pass the game.

But to pay for touts is just not in my vocabulary for the same reason that I don't sign on with any stock broker who calls me up during dinner to tell me about a hot stock that I must jump on. If they were so good, they'd just make the plays themselves and not call me and interrupt my veal piccata.

I also think paying for internet sports betting picks is a waste of time and money. There are some services and newsletters that provide stats and analysis and angles, not just trends. Those I would consider paying for, if the fee is nominal. Many touts are salesmen, as Philo noted, much more than handicappers. I am interested in why you like Seattle, not just that you like them, particularly if I am expected to pay for such information.

Even some previously successful handicappers see their performance drop off when they turn tout. Some speculate that it messes them up, as they now have the marketing aspect to do and they "sweat the picks" more and change their techniques and criteria and end up failing.

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