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Movers and Shakers - Anticipating Line Adjustments - Part I...By Nelson Lardner

(AUTHOR'S NOTE: In large part, this piece will touch on the influence that certain notorious individuals and groups have on the daily evolution of the betting lines involving North America's major team sports. Excepting nom-de-plumes, names will not be used in this piece - to protect the innocent, and the guilty. Comment is invited, and should any such input mention the trade names/identities of any of the industry's legitimate sports advisors, those individuals may be referred to in passing, as appropriate, in Part II of this offering).

You can play, or you can be played.

Let's reference current circumstances. Each evening, the opening basketball numbers are posted for the following day's action. The well-capitalized stat guys, those who swear by their personal/group sets of power ratings, jump on numbers they deem to be out of line. The situational/database guys, who are well-aware that certain teams are in spots conducive to their likely success, based on opinions formed by years/decades of hard won experience and copious computer-aided research, jump in on their chosen sides, so long as the number(s) posted offer positive projected returns.

I'm simplifying aggressively here, for purposes of brevity, but virtually all major operating "syndicates" proceed in one or both of these ways. Whether you prefer the power-rating approach, or the situational/database way of life (our distinct preference), establishing a solid mental grounding in either or both disciplines is a must to keep a step ahead of moving numbers.

Take heed: the most vastly-underrated factor influencing major line swings in all major sports are the selections (a) posted on certain major sports-handicapping websites, and/or (b) disseminated by specific sports-handicapping services that have earned the respect of serious money-movers through the combined acid tests of time and winning analysis.

Take the primary modern example from MW: Poster Brett's posted NFL sides and totals (many injury and/or weather-related) virtually all move - some substantially. To affect the NFL market to the extent Brett's positions do is enormously impressive. Much of the stuff crawls from Key Number A to Key Number B, making this information manna to those interested in trying to corral the elusive NFL middle or side.

The kind of influence "Brett" wields is by no means unique in Cyberworld. Basketball is a fascinating laboratory for this brand of influence, due in large part to the extreme volatility of the numbers when prodded by one-sided pushes. There are NCAA games, which are virtually left untouched by powerful Toutworld residents, that move sharply in the marketplace at or shortly after the moments that emphatic endorsements of a side or total are posted on certain websites.

Do not discount Toutworld out of hand; it's ignorant, not to mention dangerous, to do so. There are a double-handful of paid public advisors who have enormous influence at significant sportsbooks. The more highly-rated plays from such operatives get virtually immediate attention. Outsiders can debate the "chicken/egg" aspects of this endlessly . . . whether there are followers who are pounding such releases virtually instantaneously, forcing line movement - or whether books are moving numbers "on air" the moment such selections are exposed to the world. It's clearly a combination of both, but the "on air" moves are obvious, and anyone denying that books do this are kidding themselves. Notorious so-called "Game Of The Year" releases over the years from certain well-known operatives have provoked 3-4 point line moves in seconds in a manner clearly not solely dollar driven. Look at it from the books' perspective: if you know from what direction the enemy is going to launch its attack, why the hell shouldn't you make it as expensive as possible for them to do so?

You cannot assume that simply because you are aware that some heavily-marketed tout has released a big play, that the market will move. The market knows who has a clue. A number of the biggest names in Toutdom no longer move the lines one iota -- if they ever did. The market is acutely aware of those out there who are all advertising bluster and zero substance, and discount their pronouncements entirely. Indeed, so many of today's clown shows remain full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

But anyone who tells you that no paid advisors have any line influence are either wholly ignorant, or disingenuous. A surprising number of touts are granted considerable respect. Pinnacle's frugal number contradance performed in defense against the selections of certain successful advisors is a powerful endorsement of the sustained proficiency of those individuals.

If you like a side or total, and you're aware that influential parties share your views, you need to move fast. A game opens -1, and you like the -1, and you're not alone, speed of action is imperative. If you like the OTHER side, and have good reason to fade the move inspired by a known winner, and/or you're seeking to middle/side the piece, wait for the +2 1/2 or the +3. Just don't wait too long if/when you see that +3, because barring injury-inspired moves, there'll be buyback, and you don't want to be late there, either. There are the quick, and there are the dead, and the meaning of those half and full points mounts up over the course of the long, long hoop season.

There's more to discuss here, and we shall in Part II. I already have an outline in mind, but suggestions are welcomed, and we will seek to incorporate same in the second installment . . .

Nelson Lardner

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