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March-03-2002,
Oh The Games People Play Now......By The Philosopher

...every night and every day now...never meanin. what they say now...never sayin. what they mean.

This was not actually written as an article per se, but just as a regular Mess Hall post. But I have had some people ask about it lately, so I decided to dig it up and include it here with my articles. Apparently there are those who believe it might still have some relevance for some of the things that go on in the forums.

The thread was .Games people play on MW (?),. wherein new poster Comp Fan asked .I have...surmised that there are different kinds of games that people play with this board. What are some of the pitfalls I should look for. Do I need to read everything with a suspicious eye? What are people`s motives behind the subterfuge?. Here was my November 21, 2001 response:

Well, here.s a few off the top of my head:

1. Shills: Poster raves about some book, generally a non-advertiser and often some totally obscure place no one has ever heard of, as if he has no affiliation with the book, when in fact of course he does and is just looking to sneak in some free publicity. Clues to look for include: 1) Few if any previous posts. 2) Often feigns a certain amount of skepticism to show that if the place won him over, it must really be good. 3) Sometimes asks questions rather than makes statements, to show that he.s just an open-minded person looking to get as well as share information. 4) Sometimes acts like there.s already considerable talk about this book, and that.s why he.s asking about it, even if it.s some turn-key operation his brother-in-law started last night. 5) Often contains an inordinate number of exclamation points, and in general is written in overheated happy prose. Example:

.Hey guys!!! I.ve been hearing a lot about Bullshit Bets lately, and I was wondering if any of you have played there yet! It looks like they could be a real up-and-comer!!! I.m super careful, though, so I only sent them $500 at first, but I.ve been doing real well (already got a payout really fast!) and I.m thinking of sending more, but I thought maybe I.d get some feedback from you guys first! I really like their parlays and teasers, and they gave me a 20% bonus!!! If you want to check them out, it.s www.betwhilecopulatingwithbovines.com !!!.

A common variation of this is to associate the book with reputable, established books. Example:

.Just wanted to get some opinions about Grand Central. I.m thinking of adding them. Right now I play with WWTS, Bullshit Bets, and Olympic, and I.m very happy with all three. Hoping to find one or two more really strong books like those three. Thanks for your help!.

2. Maniac virus posters: There are a few .regular. posters who spend a good part of their lives visiting these forums for purely destructive reasons. The main ones have been banned countless times, but they periodically re-enter by using a different computer and registering under a different name. They basically just try to damage the sites as much as possible by bombarding multiple threads with angry, obscene, or incomprehensible posts. Two to keep an eye open for are (and remember, they.ll have new names whenever they post):

.Nunzio.: Generally sub-literate obscenity-laced tirades posted in the middle of the night when he hopes the forums are least closely monitored and his posts will survive ten minutes instead of ten seconds. Rarely is there any discernible point to the posts. He.s been around forever, and I never did hear the story of what his motives are or what his original beef was that put him on this path.

.Lou Diamond.: Often chooses names that have .Truth. or .Proof. or even some variation of .Lou. in them, or names that attack his enemies. honesty, e.g., .MajorIsALiar. or something to that effect. He can actually make like a normal poster for a dozen or more posts, which adds an entertaining .Invasion of the Body Snatchers. quality to things around here, as people speculate about who is or isn.t really Lou. Sooner or later, he loses discipline and goes off on an angry rant and everyone realizes it.s him. His usual target is Grand Central. He alleges that somewhere in the misty past someone with some connection to them swindled him out of some video equipment, and since they won.t make good on it, he.s made it his life.s work to damage their reputation (and the reputation of anyone who declines to join him in his quest) in any way he can in these forums.

3. Raising public doubts about a book to further your own agenda: This is threatened more than it is done, because basically it loses its value once you actually do it. But this is what people have in mind when they talk about .blackmailing. a book.

The idea is, you let a book know you want something from them, and you threaten them with bad publicity if you don.t get it. Maybe you want them to overlook the fact that you got caught past posting, or you.re mad because they cut your limits when they found out you were moving money for a betting syndicate and you want them to raise them back to where they were, or you want them to be a little more cooperative in giving you an extra few cents on some games so you can complete a scalp, so you tell them, .If you don.t do what I want, I.ll post on all the forums that you.ve been slow paying your customers, or you cancelled a winning bet of mine after the fact for no reason.. Then you hope they.ll do a quick cost-benefit analysis, conclude that compromising with you in some small way is a lot cheaper than all that bad publicity, and you won.t have to carry out your threat.

The flip side of this is over-praising a book publicly to get something you want from them. (This is from the .you can catch more flies with sugar than with vinegar. school of thought.) A lot of times when someone raves about how great a book is, all it really means is they got, or hope to get, some break from them in exchange for providing them some good publicity.

4. Keeping your mouth shut about a book if you have money there and you.re afraid it might be in trouble: If a book is struggling, the very news that it.s struggling can potentially lead to the self-fulfilling prophecy that it goes under. If you have money there, or have any other reason for wanting to maintain whatever small chance there is that they will continue to get new post-up customers and make a comeback, or at least remain a valuable enough property to be an attractive takeover candidate for another book, you.ll want to hush up any bad news. If the news is already out, you won.t want it repeated. If it.s been repeated, you won.t want it emphasized. The fewer potential customers know of its troubles, the better.

Don Best has kept failing books on its site on the grounds that if it dropped them, and especially if it was up front about why it was doing so, then it would basically be writing their death warrant. Similarly the watchdog sites will sometimes delay revealing what they know in order to give one of their books a chance to get back on its feet. And definitely many players will not reveal publicly the problems they.re having with a book before they.ve managed to withdraw all their money from there.

Keeping silent like that gets mixed reactions in the forums, with many seemingly regarding it as an excusable form of selfishness. But actually lying seems to be more universally condemned. One notorious case of this occurred a couple of years ago on another site when a poster named Boomer revealed that he was being stiffed by a book. Someone did a quick search and found out that just recently.and right during the time he would have been fighting with them trying to get his money out, according to his account.he had posted in response to a question that they were a fine book that he had never had any problems with. Turned out he just wanted to sucker people into continuing to post up there, to increase the chances they.d eventually have enough money to pay him.

5. Posting under multiple names: The most common way to get around being banned is to simply adopt a new name. But people also do it just so that they won.t be pigeonholed according to their past posts. So if you.ve had public run-ins with WSEX, then if you post against them now, people might dismiss it because they know you.re feuding with them, and they know roughly what your agenda is. So you enter under a different identity and blast them as if you are someone else.

It.s an open secret that the site administrators themselves at other sites routinely post under multiple names to make it look like there.s more traffic at their site, or to further some other agenda. This has been alleged far less frequently concerning this site.

6. Personal vendettas: There are numerous posters who just flat out can.t stand each other, for good reasons or bad. Unless you.ve been following all the soap operas all along (and God help you if you have), you.ll fast lose track of most of these feuds and their origins, so it.ll appear that people are just taking random shots at each other for no reason. Often, though, there.s a whole history behind it, either in the forums or in real life, that explains why they hate each other.

Perhaps the most wearisome and childish of these midget wrestling bouts are the ones that go on between the watchdog sites themselves. Periodically one of the sites, usually this one, will call a unilateral halt to the bickering and announce that they will no longer sink to that level, but alas, soon enough they.re all back in the muck again.

7. The fight for the public players: Much of what goes on here is a tug of war between the sportsbooks and the few players they.d just as soon not have to deal with. These could be people who move money for large betting syndicates, scalpers, scammers, etc. Both sides want the .regular. players to side with them.

Typically these players will paint themselves as ordinary Joes just looking for a fair shake, lamenting what the books are doing to .us. with their rules about canceling bets on bad lines, chasing wise guy movers, cutting limits, making credit card transactions more inconvenient, whatever. Meanwhile the books will try to win public opinion to their side by letting us know how much better the world would be if only those bad players would go away and they could loosen up and give the rest of us more favorable betting conditions.

Like with any political debate, these exchanges often take on an unreal quality where they appear to be about principles and fairness and the greater good for us regular folks, when in fact on both sides it.s 5% that and 95% naked self-interest.

8. Bias based on advertising revenue: Like the media in the real world, these sites are paid for by advertisers, so there is an overwhelming incentive to slant things in favor of those who are paying the bills.in this case, the sportsbooks. There would be even more bias and more fudging and more compromises but for whatever personal integrity the site administrators have managed to maintain.

The only reason I associate myself in any significant way with this site is because The Major and The Devil have a track record of not selling out at every opportunity that would be in their self-interest and maximize their profits. But don.t expect miracles of self-sacrifice. Business and moral purity don.t exactly go hand-in-hand, so you still have to be on your guard and recognize that maybe truth and the betterment of mankind are not the sole motivations behind every decision that they make.

I.d recommend especially paying attention to what isn.t said as much as what is. They aren.t going to go out of their way to say negative things about advertisers and potential advertisers, but there.s little evidence that they are in the habit of lying for their advertisers. So if you see them being asked a direct, legitimate question that could potentially prove inconvenient to a sportsbook if they address it, and it generates minimal or no response from them, you may want to do a little reading between the lines.

9. Proselytizing: Some posters are here at least as much to advance some ideological agenda as anything else. It wouldn.t matter to them if this were a site about cooking or badminton or astronomy rather than sportsbetting, because it.s all just a pretense for working into the conversation their pet ideologies of fundamentalist Christianity, libertarianism, conservative racial doctrines, or whatever. Periodically there is a half-hearted effort to limit such threads to the Canteen, but since such posters know they.ll have a lot less of an audience there, they fairly often conveniently forget that rule.

Hint: If a post contains the word .Hillary,. it.s unlikely to have anything to do with sportsbetting or to have any reason for being here.

10. Perhaps the most common game of all is to trade accusations about who is and isn.t guilty of 1-9 above, since many of them involve a certain amount of subterfuge, and there really is a lot of guesswork involved.

Anyway, that.s a very partial list of some of the fun that goes on here. Interestingly, though, you.ll find that there are an impressive number of posters who are actually honest and well-motivated and aren.t playing these games at all. There are also many that dabble in these games here and there, but mostly are straight shooters. I could give you a few names of people I believe to be very reliable, but it.s probably best you gradually get a feel for that yourself by spending time here.

So you have to strike the right balance between believing everything you read, versus being a complete cynic. Ask yourself why someone might be posting something (other than that they sincerely believe it) and judge accordingly. Read with a critical eye, and you.ll end up picking up a lot of value here.



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