All posts by Ross Benjamin

Written by Ross BenjaminRoss Benjamin has made his reputation in this industry by being one of the sharpest sports handicappers of the recent decade. In professional sports handicapper Ron Raymond’s recently published book “50 Greatest Sports Betting Secrets” he probably says it best. “One of the most underrated handicappers in our industry and probably one of the sharpest ones I know is Ross Benjamin.”

Ross Benjamin’s Weekly Blog

In this age team trends mean very little compared to what they once used to. No longer do you see a core group of players stick with the same NFL team for any prolonged period of time since the advent of free agency. In college football we have seen a large influx of players leave for the NFL after their sophomore and junior seasons especially over the last 10 to 15 years. In both cases the instability of rosters from year to year has diminished the value of team trends as it applies to successful football handicapping.

That brings me to the subject of angles and systems which in my humble opinion are one in the same. When applying a system or angle it involves all teams, in all situations, and aren’t just restricted to just one particular team. Below are a couple examples of some specific systems that have been highly successful for me in recent years.

One of my favorite college football angles and the easiest to recognize involves a home favorite of 10.0 or more. This system defies some of the pure logic applied to sports handicapping. Sports psychologists and handicapping purists will tell you that teams coming off a huge upset win, and in their next game are a big favorite, are prone to be ripe for the taking. In many instances involving all sports that logic is worth its weight in gold. Thankfully there are always exceptions to the rule and this is one of them. Any home favorite of 10.0 or more that’s coming off a straight up win as an away underdog of 10.0 or more in their previous game is an outstanding 46-24 ATS (65.7%) since the start of the 1994 season. As a matter of fact there are 2 games that qualify this week. Notre Dame is a 16.5-point home favorite versus Pittsburgh on Saturday. The “Fighting Irish” are coming off a 30-13 win at Oklahoma in their previous game as a 11.5-point underdog. In addition also on Saturday Kent St. is a 19.5-point home favorite versus Akron. The Golden Flashes defeated Rutgers in their previous game 35-23 as a 13.5-point road underdog. This system qualified one time earlier this season and was a winner. Kansas St. defeated Kansas 56-16 as a 25.0-point home favorite. The Wildcats won the week before 24-19 as a 15.5-point road underdog versus Oklahoma.

There always seems to be some degree of value on NFL home underdogs. However, since 12/6/2009 there is a winning situation involving NFL home underdogs that redefines the word value. Since that date home underdogs of 8.0 or more are a remarkable 24-3 ATS (88.9%) and have actually won 10 of those 27 games outright. This exact scenario has come up twice this season and won on both occasions. On the opening Sunday of the season the Cleveland Browns were a 9.5-point home underdog versus the Philadelphia Eagles. The Browns were easily inside the number in a narrow 17-16 loss. The other was in a Monday night national telecast in which the New York Jets were a 9.0-point underdog versus the Houston Texans. The Jets were able to get the money in a 23-17 loss.

Baseball Handicapping: It’s A Numbers Game

Unlike any other sport that I handicap statistics are the most important factor as it applies to baseball. The intangible factors like revenge or emotion for example that are key components when handicapping football/basketball is of little or no importance in baseball.

It all starts with pitching. Specifically the most important factors pertaining to that subject is starting pitching then followed by the bullpen’s performance levels. Quite simply put without a good performance from your starter it minimizes how much a factor a good bullpen can be. Conversely without a bullpen that’s capable of holding a lead, or lacking the ability to shut down an opponent in order to give their team a chance to come from behind, then the strength of a quality starting pitching performance gets minimized.

There are several factors when evaluating starting pitchers. The first of which I look at are recent performances most notably the last 3 starts. A pitcher’s WHIP is a very important statistic. Quite simply WHIP stands for walks and hits divided by innings pitched. The number I use as a guideline when evaluating WHIP is 1.50. Any WHIP less than that number over the last 3 starts I deem to be good. Obviously the lower the WHIP over the last 3 starts the stronger I consider that starting pitcher’s recent performance level to be. Very seldom can I ever consider WHIP to be a misleading statistic. In isolated cases a pitcher’s WHIP will be very good and his ERA doesn’t indicate that to be the case. I can assure you if that’s the case that starter has given up his share of home runs in recent starts. The flip side of that is when a starter’s ERA is very good and his WHIP is more than 1.50 in recent starts. That’s a red flag that indicates to me that his ERA is very misleading. He’s given up more than his sure of hits, in addition to walking several hitters, but was able to work himself out of several jams over his last 3 starts. If he continues to pitch at that level then it’s a matter of time before it catches up to him.

Then we must look at a team’s recent performance level. I start with how a team has been hitting over it’s last 10 games. The most important factors being average runs scored, team batting average, and then how they’re hitting with runners in scoring position. When it applies to runs scored I put more emphasis on consistency over the last 10 games more so than a per game average. A team can be averaging 6.0 runs per game over the last 10 games but that can be misleading due to a possible huge output in 2 or 3 of their last 10 games that drives that average up to look more impressive than it normally does. I put more stock in how many times a team has scored 5 runs or more in a game over the last 10 games. Quite simply I am more impressed with a team that scored 5 runs or more in 8 of their last 10 games, than a team that averages 6.0 runs per game over that span because they scored 37 runs combined in 3 of those games, and just a combined 23 runs in the other 7.

Then there’s my list of golden rules. I don’t ask bad teams to do good things for me. I don’t play on teams that have lost 5 games or more in a row. I avoid using any pitcher that has walked more men than he’s struck out over his last 3 starts. I avoid any team that’s hitting less than .200 over their last 10 games. With very few exceptions I avoid taking any favorites of greater than -150.

Like with any good chef who doesn’t disclose all his recipes a handicapper doesn’t reveal all his secrets. However if you stick to the basic strategies I have given you in this article then rest assured you will never starve. Like in any aspect of sports handicapping proper money management and discipline are the key to success. In addition remember that wagering on sports is not a sprint it’s a marathon.

2012 College Football Futures Best Bets

1.) Clemson Over 8.5 Wins (-140): The Tigers are one of my sleeper teams to get to the BCS National Championship Game. The Tigers will be dynamic offensively. It all starts with junior quarterback Taj Boyd who comes off a terrific sophomore campaign. Boyd threw for 3828 yards last season good for 33 touchdowns versus just 12 interceptions. Boyd will have no shortage of offensive weapons at his disposal starting with 1st team preseason All-American wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins is a triple threat that comes off a sensational freshmen season. In 2001 Watkins has 1219 yards receiving, 231 yards rushing (7.2 ypc), and was one of the most dangerous kick return men in the country (838 yards). The other wideout in the tandem DeAndre Hopkins is an impact player as well as evidenced by his 978 yards receiving. Throw in the return of running back Andre Ellington 1178 yards rushing (5.3 ypc) and you have the makings of an unstoppable offense. The Tigers return 7 starters on the defensive side of the ball. The huge question marks for this club will on both interior lines.

The Tigers ended 10-3 last season after starting the year off at 8-0. The 4 tough games on their schedule include the season opener in Atlanta versus Auburn, at Florida St (9/22), home versus Virginia Tech (10/20), and home in the season finale versus in state rival South Carolina. There’s no reason not to believe this is at least a 10-win team and surpassing that total isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

2.) Georgia Tech Under 8.0 (-130): You have to applaud the job that Paul Johnson has done since taking over at Georgia Tech. When Johnson was hired after a successful tenure at Navy the critics were plentiful saying that a triple option offense couldn’t succeed in a BCS Conference. In my personal opinion this is a program that has overachieved in recent years and it will catch up to them in 2012. With a brutal road schedule that includes contests at Virginia Tech, Clemson, North Carolina, and Georgia it’s highly unlikely the Yellowjackets will reach 9 wins this season.

2012 BCS Championship Game: Oklahoma vs. USC

BCS Championship Sleepers: Clemson and West Virginia.

Sports Handicapping Short Cuts Never Win Long Term

One of the growing resources utilized by the masses is the public betting information offered by a variety of sources. There are many sports bettors, sports services, and sports betting information sites that need a short cut use this data. When given the choice the above mentioned would choose to be on the side of the “house”, or that opposite of the betting public. Alternatively, others subscribe to the theory that there is “strength in numbers”. Neither belief is far from foolproof and given some initial limited success with either can be a fool’s gold with no pun intended.

I will say this. If you’re going to use this logic applying it to basketball and football has a lot more substance than baseball. It’s a proven fact over the years that the most money wagered is on football. The books then see that money wagered on football cut by 50 to 75 per cent on basketball, and 90 per cent or more on baseball. Simple mathematical logic would tell you that books are more inclined to move baseball money lines more rapidly when a large amount of money comes in on one side because there’s just not enough volume of bets coming in that can offset the big money. My logic in this regard is simple. Not all large bets are sharp bets. Then again if it’s from a Las Vegas Wise Guy who’s a proven winner then what’s to say the public isn’t all over the same side?

There are no short cuts as it applies to what a true sports handicapper does. It strictly hours of a daily research, developing successful theories, and having the ability to recognize value. Successful sports handicappers can care less about any other opinions because they consider their wagers and selections to be razor sharp. They realize that every day or week won’t always be a winning one but that their methods will make a substantial profit over the course of time.

All of which brings me to this point. There’s a distinct difference between a true full time professional sports handicapper and a sports service. A lot of successful sports services use this simple reverse theory and then spend the majority of time dreaming up a sales pitch to deceive potential clients. The old cliché of throwing something up against the wall and hoping it sticks describes their techniques the best. A successful sports handicapper spends the majority of time perfecting his craft and then the product will sell itself. Of course besides making money on their own wagers they also still need to do some degree of marketing like any thriving business does to bring in a constant flow of new customers. The difference being the marketing is believable, realistic, documented, and done with a high degree of ethics. Then why do they need to sell their picks if they’re that good some would ask? Now that’s a good question! The answer comes in the form of simple math and is taught in Business 101. The more successful their winning percentage (product) is the greater the incoming revenue stream, and the larger the client base becomes. Consequently the larger their bankroll becomes allows them to increase their bets in a more rapid fashion. It all starts with the hardest part, which is the product, and the rest then fits like a glove.

I once had an owner of a successful sports service located in South Florida say to me that the only difference between the time I take to do my work compared to his selections only added up to between 2% to 4% winners. His point was my time would be better served spending more on selling the product than it would be to better the product. My initial response was to say he was a bit low on his estimate but I bit my tongue so as not to be confrontational. However, lets be hypothetical and say he was somewhat accurate. At 4% a $1000.00 bettor would make an additional $8400.00 more per 100 bets based on 10% juice, a $500.00 better makes $4200.00 more, and a $100.00 better makes $840.00 more. Then when you factor in the fees your clients pay you, the fact you are wagering your own money, how’s 4% better not worth the extra time and hard work? Those same types of individuals will also make every excuse as to why their selections aren’t monitored by a credible independent source. For them it’s much easier to make up records when you can’t maintain a clientele for any reasonable period of time. Then again you know what they say about pathological liars they actually believe themselves over time. At the end of the day I sleep very well and am able to wake up looking in the mirror. I’m more than okay in what I see.

Ross Benjamin’s CBB Executive Line

My college basketball Executive Line is currently 57-34 (62.6%) on the season as monitored by The Sports Watch of Las Vegas. If you are an advocate of following The Sports Monitor of Oklahoma you won’t see me monitored their for personal reasons. In any event right now I am #1 in college basketball in North Amercia. Nickel players are up $9800.00 for the year and Dime players a cool $19,600.00! Last night was a perfect 2-0 with Indiana/Wisconsin over the total and Louisiana Tech/Utah St. over the total. If you have the ability to play college basketball totals, are concerned with just winning, and not concerned with having to watch every game you wager on then don’t keep leaving money on the table.

Ross Benjamin’s Blog of the Week

In spite of wining on the Chicago Bears as my 50* Divisional Round Game of the Year on Sunday, I actually felt a bit sorry for Matt Haselback. I thought he threw the ball exceptionally well yesterday and was the victim of an inexperienced receiving corps not giving him much help. Kudos to Hasselback who took a lot of heat this season from Seattle fans but played terrific in both playoff games…Contrarily even though Jay Cutler had a fine game statistically I felt he really was lucky to get away with a few throws. If he duplicates those blunders next week against a very opportunistic Green Bay defense he won’t be quite as lucky… By the way is it me? Why would Mike Martz call a halfback option pass by Ike Forte being up 28-3. The Bears were running the ball exceptionally well and were driving inside of Seahawks territory. The ball was intercepted and the Seahawks proceeded to drive for a touchdown off of that turnover to give them a ray of hope. Again calls like this against Green Bay given the circumstances will be very costly.

For you people out there who don’t believe in NFL angles, or don’t know the difference between an angle and a trend. You can stick this in your pipe and smoke it. Any playoff away underdog (Seattle) that was coming off a playoff home underdog SU win is now 0-10 SU&ATS since the 1982 playoffs. The average margin of victory by the favorite in that situation going into yesterday was by 19.7 points per game. If you watched yesterday’s game you know the game wasn’t as close as the 35-24 score would indicate.

I took a lot of criticism from clients yesterday who questioned my selection on the Jets +9.0. There’s no way that line should’ve been that high to start with. It’s always easy to say after the fact. However the books banked on the fact the general public would jump all over New England based on their 45-3 thrashing of the Jets in the first week of December. Truth told that playoff teams that play good defense, have a solid running game, and are a touchdown or more underdog have tremendous value at this time of year. I personally thought this game would go down to the wire. I would be lying if I said I thought the Jets would dominate in the fashion that they did.

Can you believe both #1 seeds getting knocked off in their first playoff game (Atlanta and New England). Even more alarming is that both #6 seeds (Green Bay and New York) are in the conference championship games. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that both #6 seeds will meet in the Super Bowl for the first time ever. If you had the guts to make a wager on the Jets before yesterday’s game to win the Super Bowl you would’ve received 15-1 odds. Hindsight always has 20/20 vision especially in sports wagering.

I really think my Syracuse Orange are going to get exposed at Pitt tonight. The undefeated (18-0) Orange are 4.5 point underdogs and rightfully so. I think Pitt has far more offensive balance and they are just as good on the defensive end. Syracuse star forward Kris Joseph is also questionable after banging his head on the floor in Saturday’s home win over Cincinnati.

My early picks for the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament are Ohio St., Duke, Kansas St., and Texas. My Elite Eight would also include Pittsburgh, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Michigan St. Has there been a more underachieving team so far this season than Michigan St. You just have to know Tom Izzo will have this veteran club peeking at tournament time. They are currently listed at 10-1 to win it all. The most intriguing odds of my Elite Eight selections to go the distance is Wisconsin at 75-1. There’s no doubting they lack the speed and athleticism of a lot of the elite clubs. They do have size, can shoot the three-ball very well, play very good defense, are disciplined, and have an underrated head coach in Bo Ryan.