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Movers and Shakers - Anticipating Line Movements -- Part II...By Nelson Lardner

In Part I, I noted that many line moves in major North American sports were inspired by paid-advisor activity and/or the postings of respected internet pundits. I didn't get any argument, since this happens to be the truth, and some of the web's notable disseminators of disinformation chose not to pick a fight in this arena. Syndicates wax and wane, and they have their influence, but many base their action on the same logic the wisest of public handicappers rely upon -- and you can calibrate Toutworld influences precisely, once you're hip to the release schedules of individual operators.

Some good questions were raised by some of my online colleagues, and I'm going to address below:

How can interested parties possibly access information from worthwhile pay entities, economically? I don't recommend consensus services. When time is of the essence (and for the majority of worthwhile, influential advisors, it surely is), they're simply not what you're looking for. My suggestion would be to split costs with one or more partners as dedicated as yourselves - and network the stuff via IM or e-mail, the moment you receive it.

Which pay services are most worthwhile? Your path to this knowledge lay through the Sports Monitor of Oklahoma City. You can pick nits with their methods, but their surveying tactics reflect the results of a typical diligent line-shopper, so it's hard to knock - and no one has yet to come up with a better mousetrap. Their website will take you through the leaders' records in various categories for a goodly number of recent seasons, and even more extensive information is available direct from the proprietors.

Recent examples of sources propelling lines? The final game on the main college board Sunday night was an excellent study. Arizona's Wildcats opened as a 5-point road favorite at ASU. A prolific poster at a certain website, he with an enviable record and a history of influence, posted an above-average play on the visitor. There were spots where you could get +8 on the Sun Devils before tip. It may not have been only his word doing to propelling; I've noted a frequent dovetailing of the poster's opinion, and the thoughts of a long-term power among the nation's private players. And others were certainly piling on. But this was the basis for the specific situation, as I understand it.

Zona only won by three, so the move didn't come into play - but it could have. And before you ask - I won't name those involved. It's not fair to them. But I point out the situation to illustrate the kind of movement that exists, and the motivations behind a specific bit of action.

In terms of affecting lines, the most recent winter sports cycle's Toutworld poster boy is of course Dr. Bob (Stoll), the long-established Californian with a justified reputation for moving college football and basketball numbers within moments of his releases hitting cyberspace. Even as mainstream a publication as the Wall Street Journal dedicated extensive space to a by-and-large excellent feature by Sam Walker outlining Stoll's history, reputation and effects on the marketplace ("The Man Who Shook Up Vegas", 1/5/07).

My lone serious problem with the piece came with some of the article's early references to alleged rumors (concerning what were Bob-inspired college football line moves) were actually regurgitations of uninformed internet babble. Terrorists? Hackers? Asian syndicates? Please. Early Thursday afternoon (Eastern) line adjustments based on Dr. Bob's opinion have been marked and obvious in football and basketball since 2005, and virtually all informed market participants knew precisely where they were coming from. Subscribers looking to maximize middle/side opportunities made a fetish of being poised above their laptops at release time, looking to maximize their shots at getting the best of it on releases of Dr. Bob's with which they agreed.

The value of this information has decreased markedly in the wake of the Good Doctor's ramped-up popularity, because hosts of followers pound his sides willy-nilly . . . not just the top plays, but the lesser official plays - and even the opinions! That's respect, and you only gain that kind of clout with a run of sustained, considerable success. But if one's not right on top of the game, blind followers are paying for it when accepting ravaged, value-leached lines.

Asst GM of ("Stevo") asked about fake moves. I see it on occasion in football, early in the week. Some respected website presence with a good rep but scant conscience might post a side which doesn't ring true. Maybe there's some genuine accompanying screen steam, but it's usually not emphatic or overwhelming. I long ago learned to discount the likely longevity of certain such moves when I KNOW that sound technical-handicapping indicates the OPPOSITE side should be supported. Such phonies almost always fly into the face of years of proven technical analysis. It's not surprising that such moves get reversed - certainly by game day, and usually earlier, by sound technical handicappers who know they're being handed a pre-holiday gift, and that said gift should be snatched up before it disappears.

Would be happy to hear more from y'all. Either way, it would appear there's enough extra, added material in the knapsack for a Part III. Back to the mines . . .

Nelson Lardner

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