Thursday Godspicks

Thursday, August 31,

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South Carolina-Mississippi

Say what you want about South
’s head coach Steve Spurrier, but the man
knows how to use this strength’s on offense.
Mississippi State
is much better on the defensive line than USC is on the offensive line. But Spurrier has two weapons.

Blake Mitchell is back at quarterback after passing for
2,370 yards and 18 touchdowns last year. The difference-maker is Sidney Rice, a
sophomore wide receiver who had 70 catches for 1,143 yards and 13 scores a year

The Cocks won’t be able to nickel and dime, but they will
be able to do a quick strike. We look
for big plays each way, be it a pick six or quick six.

MSU though should do well
against a young and not overly impressive South Carolina
offense. Seven starters are gone and an eighth has been moved to offense.

Labor Day Weekend Previews

Expected Blowouts and Close Games Saturday Offers Opportunity
for Online Gamblers This Weekend

Joe Duffy (

If you want a Labor Day “Winathon”, you must remember our
theme song: “You’ll never win alone”. 
With some help from the editors of, we take a look at
some big games Saturday, at least from the standpoint of the bettor.

North Texas-Texas

North Texas’ chance of pulling off
the upset of historic proportions took a serious hit when it was announced
their starting QB Daniel Meager has not fully recovered from a concussion.  Sophomore Matt Rivers gets the start.  Rivers did practice well, throwing four
touchdowns in three scrimmages.

Stevie Vincent, one of the handicappers on notes the
numbers favor the defending National Champions. North Texas
is 0-9 to the number in non-conference games the last three years, while Texas
is 10-1 ATS on grass.

Notre Dame-Georgia Tech

The Irish come in with very high hopes, ranked No. 2 in
the country. But their high powered offense goes up against a GA Tech team
ranked 13th against the run last year on defense. Tech has a recent
history of winning games they were not expected to.

The Irish defense returns nine starters. Checking the
databases at, we
see that Tech has covered both series meetings the last 10 years.  

Akron-Penn State

Everything went right for Penn
last year, but they must
replace QB Michael Robinson, the Big Ten offensive MVP. New starter Anthony
Morelli will have four fellow new starters in front of him on the offensive
line. Note that Penn State
has gone under 26-11 to non-conference foes since 1992.

Thursday’s Report

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NFL betting picks and college football betting to beat the online sportsbooks for Thursday, August 31, 2006

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NY Giants Preview

NFL Team Preview: Giants

By Mike Brody


Contributing Writer

After finishing 11-5 and winning the NFC East last season, expectations are very high in New York for the Giants. New York addressed its 26th-ranked defense from a year ago by overhauling its secondary in the offseason and adding depth at linebacker. QB Eli Manning has another year under his belt and plenty of weapons on offense. If they can survive the competition from the toughest division in the NFL, the Giants just might fulfill those lofty expectations.

Key Additions: DBs Quentin Harris, Jason Bell, Will Demps, R.W. McQuarters and Sam Madison, LBs Brandon Short and LaVar Arrington, QB Rob Johnson, DE Mathias Kiwanuka, WR Sinorice Moss.

Key Subtractions: DTs Kendrick Clancy and Kenderick Allen, DBs Shaun Williams and Will Allen, LB Nick Greisen.


Sportsbook Odds: The Giants will again be a playoff and Super Bowl contender. If they win their division again, they will be a favorite to reach the Big Game heading into the playoffs. They could be a value bet at this point in the season.

has New York as +$175 to win the NFC East, +$700 to win the NFC championship and +$1400 to win Super Bowl XLI.

Player to Watch: As Manning enters his third season — second as a full-time starter — he should continue to improve and make better decisions. But the key player for the young QB and the Giants will again be RB Tiki Barber. The All-Pro is coming off his best NFL season, rushing for 1,860 yards and 9 TDs and another 540 yards and 2 TDs receiving. Barber should have another huge year and knows that his window to reach his ultimate goal is closing quickly. “There is probably more sense of urgency for me now, as I approach the season, because I know there isn’t a lot of time left for me to be ultimately successful, and win a Super Bowl,” said Barber, who, despite getting better with age, has withstood 10 seasons of pounding. “It’s not a big window, ever, for a player or a team in this league. For me, I’d say two years, and that’s probably it. I’ll be 33 then and … well, you know.”

Outlook: The Giants improved their biggest weakness by adding Madison, McQuarters and Demps to the secondary. Kiwanuka has looked like a young Michael Strahan in the preseason, and Arrington will only help a solid linebacking corps. If the defense improves to at least middle of the pack, the offense should again be one of the better ones in the NFL, making the Giants a team to reckon with. Manning will need to take a little bit of the load off of Barber by stretching the field. The team is hoping Moss will fit that bill as TE Jeremy Shockey and WRs Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer move the chains. The Giants could be a very dangerous team and will have a say in the NFC playoff picture.

College Football is Here

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Mark Your Calendars

By Jim Johnson


Contributing Writer

After weeks of talking, toe is finally ready to meet leather and kickoff the 2006 college football season next week. The next 14 Saturdays will be overflowing with exciting football to watch. To help your planning and theodds of you winning negotiations with your significant other for TV time, here are the games you don’t want to miss. I’m restricting my list to the games actually played on Saturdays. There are a lot of quality games during the week this season, but since few of them overlap they don’t take much effort to sort out and prioritize.

Sept. 2: Notre Dame at Georgia Tech is the big game of the weekend. It will be a good test for Heisman favorite Brady Quinn on the road against Tech’s tough defense. A game that might tell us more about what is to come, however, is Cal at Tennessee. If the Golden Bears go in to Knoxville and pound the Vols, it will legitimize Cal as a contender for the Pac-10 and quickly turn up the heat on Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer. Keep an eye on Northern Illinois at Ohio State as a trap game for the Buckeyes.

Sept. 9: The rematch between Ohio State and Texas, this year in Austin, should be every bit as important and exciting as last year’s clash in Columbus. The winner comes out of this game with legitimate national championship hopes. Georgia’s hopes of winning the SEC East could suffer a blow if its young team can’t escape South Carolina with a win. If the Gamecocks can pull the upset, they would have a leg up on winning the division themselves. LSU needs to be wary of visiting Arizona. A victory in Baton Rouge would be a coming-out party for Coach Mike Stoops’ Wildcats.

Sept. 16: There won’t be many windows of time loaded with better football than 3:30-7:00 ET on this Saturday. Michigan travels to Notre Dame, LSU visits Auburn, and Miami heads to Louisville, and all games are scheduled to kickoff at the same time. The LSU-Auburn game will be critical toward determining the SEC West and possibly a national championship spot. Miami-Louisville provides a great matchup between the Hurricanes’ suffocating defense and the Cardinals’ unstoppable offense. Michigan-Notre Dame is always great to watch, especially when both teams are strong like they are this year. If you’ve got anything left after those games, check out the Clemson-Florida State battle. The Bowden Bowl could have the ACC Atlantic Division title riding on it.

Sept. 23: Penn State at Ohio State is the best of a relatively weak group of games this week. Arizona State at California is likely an elimination game to determine the primary challenger to Southern Cal in the Pac-10. Notre Dame at Michigan State could be a shootout with two outstanding quarterbacks leading prolific offenses against mediocre, at best, defenses.

Sept. 30: Another light week with only one marquee matchup, Ohio State visiting its toughest challenger in the Big Ten, Iowa. Among the other games, these conference matchups look like the most attractive ones: Oregon at Arizona State, Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech, and Alabama at Florida. All of these schools will likely be heading to bowls, and these games will help determine which ones.

Oct. 7: The annual Texas-Oklahoma throwdown highlights this week. LSU at Florida should also be a critical game Oklahoma will be gunning for revenge after Texas laid a whipping on the Sooners last year and will need to win that game to reach a BCS bowl. LSU and Florida will also be jockeying for position in their divisions and the BCS standings. Nebraska’s visit to Iowa State could decide the Big 12 North division –someone has to win it.

Oct. 14: Florida-Auburn and Michigan-Penn State will vie for the best game of this Saturday. The Gators and Tigers both start the season in the Top 10, and the winner of this game is likely to stay there. Penn State will be looking to avenge its only loss last season to the Wolverines, and both teams will be looking to stay within striking distance of a Rose Bowl bid.

Oct. 21: There’s no single can’t-miss game this week, but there are several good ones. Texas could have some trouble at Nebraska, Boston College’s visit to Florida State could be a determining factor in the ACC Atlantic Division winner, Iowa’s trip to Michigan could have a lot to say about the Big Ten race, and Fresno State’s game at LSU will be one of the last opportunities this season for a non-BCS school to claim a major BCS scalp.

Oct. 28: Georgia’s trip to the Swamp to play the Gators could decide the champion of the SEC East and carry major BCS implications. Miami heads to Georgia Tech trying to avenge the physical beating the Yellow Jackets administered to the ‘Canes last year. This will be Tech’s chance to be a major player in the ACC Coastal Division.

Nov. 4: Virginia Tech at Miami is this weekend’s most important game, with the winner likely claiming the ACC’s Coastal Division. Tennessee will look to improve its bowl standing by knocking off visiting LSU.

Nov. 11: Georgia at Auburn appears to be the only game this Saturday that could impact the BCS. Both teams could be trying to wrap up their divisions and set up a rematch in the SEC Championship Game in three weeks. South Carolina at Florida could be interesting if the Gamecocks are still in contention. Texas Tech’s trip to Oklahoma will also impact the bowl positioning for both teams.

Nov. 18: Many of the traditional rivalry games take place this weekend, but the biggest matchup is California at USC with the Pac-10 championship on the line. Michigan-Ohio State could decide the Big Ten title as it has countless times before.

Nov. 25: One of the must-see games of the year is on this day: Notre Dame at USC. If you watched last year’s game for the ages between these schools, one that actually exceeded the hype, then the only thing you need to know is what time it kicks off. Of the rivalry games this weekend, Florida-Florida State is the best of the bunch.

Dec. 2: This is conference championship weekend. Along with the ACC (my pick: Clemson vs. Miami), Big 12 (Nebraska vs. Texas) and SEC (Auburn vs. Georgia) will be the game that oozes more tradition than any other in college football: Army vs. Navy. The records of those two teams never matter, this game is worth watching.

In addition to these games, there will be ones bubble up during the year that become more important than anyone anticipated. It all adds up to another exciting year of college football, one with a plethora of important games since there is no clear cut front-runner for the national championship.

Collecting Debts

Casinos As Debt Collectors

By I. Nelson Rose


Contributing Writer

A large casino may be stuck with more than $10 million every year in bum checks and bounced markers.

How to collect?

Debt collectors often make their money by, well, collecting debts. They are not paid by the hour, but depend for their livelihood upon their ability to extract money from reluctant customers. In the past, this sometimes led to problems. Debt collection is consistently one of the top consumer complaints.

In 1977, the United States Congress found “There is abundant evidence of the use of abusive, deceptive and unfair debt collection practices by many debt collectors.” It reacted by passing the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

The Act spells out what outside debt collectors can and cannot do. Some are obvious, such as not threatening violence. Others are more complicated and technical, such as normally not making phone calls after 9 p.m. or before 8 a.m. and not revealing that the call is for collection of a debt if someone other than the debtor or his/her family answers the phone. A debt collector who makes a mistake is violating federal law.

Does this Act apply to casinos? How about their lawyers?

The question is of more than academic interest. The stakes are high.

First, of course, there is the money. Legal gaming operations directly lend billions of dollars each year to their patrons, and have to chase down hundreds of millions of dollars that are not paid back in time.

The National Gambling Impact Study Commission, created by Congress, asked me to do a study in 1998 on credit and the casino industry. I found that the 12 casinos in Atlantic City that year issued approximately $2.13 billion in counter-checks, markers, to their patrons. This means that, in just this one city, players borrow more than $2 billion each year from casinos.

This does not include personal checks written directly to the casinos or to others, or, most importantly, patrons’ use of credit cards, ATMs or other forms of credit used to get cash to gamble.

Most patrons were able to pay off most of their loans by the end of their trips, and the markers were canceled as paid in full. Players redeemed more than $1.58 billion in markers prior to deposit.

For some, however, luck was not as kind. So $543,174,000 in markers remained unpaid after the players had left the casinos.

Most of this money was recovered through the normal procedure of depositing the markers for collection through the banking system: The casinos collected $424,400,000 from the players’ banks in this way.

This means that $118,774,000 bounced. Having to chase down more than $100 million in bad debts every year turns casinos and their lawyers into major collection agencies.

Successful collection agencies, I might add. Casinos eventually collected more than $91 million of these bum markers. So, of $2 billion lent by Atlantic City casinos, only 1.3% was not repaid. Still, that means $28 million had to be written off.

Obviously some of these bum markers are from people who cannot pay. But some of this money is owed by people who, for one reason or another, simply refuse.

Casinos sometimes have to sue their (former) best patrons. Or they sell the debt to an outside collection agency, which then files a lawsuit. But gambling debts are not always collectable in a court of law. What’s a debt collector to do?

Today’s state licensed casinos do not break kneecaps. In fact, in states like Nevada there are detailed regulations covering how gaming debts may be collected.

But if the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act applies, casinos are opening themselves to civil damages and fines if they don’t strictly comply with federal technical requirements as well.

Any debt collector subject to the Act may be liable for actual damages suffered by a person as a result of the “abusive” collection practices. It is obviously hard to put a dollar figure on being awakened at, say, 3 a.m. So Congress added an additional fine of up to $1,000 per violation, plus having to pay court costs and the debtor’s attorneys fees.

It might be worth paying $1,000 to collect a single debt of $300,000. But violators are also exposing themselves up to class actions. Lawyers have an incentive to sue, because the debt collector can be made to pay up to $500,000 or 1% of its net worth, whichever is less, to the class plaintiffs, as well as attorney fees and costs.

So, are casinos subject to this federal law?

The answer is probably not. The federal law is limited to companies whose primary business is debt collection. The business that is owed the money is usually not subject to the debt, unless it does something stupid, like using a phony name.

In 2000, federal District Court Judge Philip M. Pro ruled that Caesars Palace could not be sued for alleged violations of the Act, because Caesars Palace was trying to collect debts owed to it by a patron. It was not acting as a debt collector for some other company.

The one potential problem was that, legally, “Caesars Palace” does not exist. The actual company name is Desert Palace, which is doing business as (“dba”) “Caesars Palace.”

The judge said this was O.K., because its in-house debt collectors and outside lawyers always used the name “Caesars.” The patron could not claim that it was “using a name other than its own.”

So, at least in Nevada, when casinos using their own name go after deadbeat patrons, they cannot be sued under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Still, casinos tell me that they try to keep to the letter of this law — just in case.

Tampa Bay Devile Rays

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Bad News Rays

By Tom Brew


Contributing Writer

Tampa Bay’s only reliable starting pitcher, 22-year-old All-Star Scott Kazmir, might be done for the season. The Devil Rays placed him on the disabled list after Friday’s game for what they said were precautionary reasons and don’t know when he will next pitch.

Kazmir, their prized 22-year-old left-hander, was on the DL from July 24 through Aug. 11 due to shoulder inflammation. He has made three starts since and, while getting decent results (0-1, 2.25 ERA, 24 strikeouts in 16 innings), has not looked as smooth mechanically as the Rays would like. They are concerned about an adjustment in his delivery to protect the shoulder and they don’t want to risk further damage.

“The last couple outings, we’re concerned that he’s starting to change his arm stroke a little bit because of the tightness in his shoulder on occasion,” Manager Joe Maddon said. “So we don’t want to risk him doing anything improper by throwing in a different manner.”

Kazmir said it seems to be an issue when he is warming up, a process that has been taking longer than usual. But he said he actually has been feeling better and is not concerned about potential further injury.

“It’s a good idea to take some time to let this run its course and get rid of it completely,” he said. “I’m fine with it.”

What the Rays don’t know is whether Kazmir’s season is over or if he will return as he hopes for the final three weeks.

“It’s possible (his season is over), but if he feels really good, I’d like him to (pitch),” Maddon said.

Kazmir, 10-8 with a 3.24 ERA, has thrown 144 2/3 innings this season. Meantime, continue to

bet against the Devil Rays on the road. They’ve been respectable at home this year, but they are horrific away from Florida. They just got swept in Baltimore, and I don’t see this trend changing.

Since the All-Star break they are 1-18 on the road, and it doesn’t get any easier when they leave Baltimore. After that, they make their only trip to Chicago to face the White Sox, so keep going in that direction. It’s easy money.

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Barlow’s Baggage

By Tim Sullivan


Contributing Writer

They both grew up in the football-frenzied town of Pittsburgh. They both decided to stay home, and attend the University of Pittsburgh. They both orchestrated tremendous college careers which, in turn, led to

NFL careers. And now, thanks to a trade last week, they’re both on the Jets.

But make no mistake. That’s where the similarities end between Curtis Martin and Kevan Barlow.

Either way, Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum and Coach Eric Mangini threw caution to the wind by agreeing to ship a fourth-round pick to San Francisco for the combustible Barlow, who will attempt to take the place of Martin, a likely Hall of Famer whose career is in jeopardy with a right knee injury.

But Martin — a five-time Pro Bowler who has 10 1,000-yard seasons — is so much more than statistics to the Jets. He is a team leader, a fan favorite, a media darling, and maybe more important than anything, he’s not a troublemaker.

Barlow is.

“I’m a great guy,” Barlow promised the New York media this week. “A character guy.”

And then, of course, he went out and bashed 49ers coach Mike Nolan, comparing him to Adolf Hitler.

Now — as is the routine in the NFL when players cross the line with quotes — an apology soon followed.

“If I could take it back, I would,” he said. “I’m a passionate player, I’m an emotional guy when it comes to on the field and off the field. Sometimes it gets the best of us. I put it behind me, and I’m glad to be a Jet.”

Eventually, his teammates may be glad, as well. Especially if Barlow breaks out early for the rebuilding Jets, who have a hill to climb in order to surpass their season total of six wins.

In the interim, though, Tannenbaum and Mangini saw just a glimpse of Barlow’s baggage. And there’s a lot of it.

Where to begin. Well, there’s the seemingly never-ending feud with his former blocking back, Fred Beasley. Then, there were the disagreements with his first coach, Steve Mariucci, and then his second coach, Dennis Erickson.

Through it all, the Jets (+$1000 to win the AFC East; +$4500 to win the AFC; and +$9000 to win the Super Bowl on are saying the right things about this former third rounder who has just one 1,000-yard season in his five NFL years. Of course, with Martin, 33, on the Physically Unable to Perform List, they didn’t have much of a choice but to acquire Barlow, 27.

“With everybody we bring in, we do a lot of research on background,” Mangini said. “We talk to other people that worked with them, whether they be coaches, players, front office. When we brought Bryan Cox here, there was a lot of talk about the problems he had had. I can tell you he was one of best guys I ever worked with.”

Who knows, with a young, hungry offensive line in front of him, perhaps Barlow can put up Martinesque numbers for the Jets, who have a last-place schedule in front of them.

Then again, he could lose his job to relative unknowns Derrick Blaylock, Cedric Houston or Leon Washington.

“I bleed green and white now,” Barlow said. “And I’m happy I’m here.”

Nolan is too.

ROD LIKES MIKE: Broncos Coach Mike Shanahan, of course, will have the final say when it comes to determining his No. 1 running back. Shanahan, after all, has given that label to Terrell Davis, Clinton Portis, Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson and Reuben Droughns in the past, so he has a tad of experience in that area.

But just in case he needs a little guidance, he can turn to veteran wide receiver Rod Smith. The three-time Pro Bowler has a soft spot in his heart for Mike Bell, an undrafted free agent out of the University of Arizona.

“I’m partial to the undrafted guys,” said Smith, an undrafted free agent out of Missouri Southern in 1995. “But he’s running hard. And with the offensive line we have here, he’s capable of having success.”

Shanahan agrees. After all, he has temporarily placed Bell at the top of the depth chart in front of veterans Tatum Bell and Ron Dayne.

“He plays pretty consistently,” Shanahan said.

THE HEFTY LEFTY: You can excuse Jared Lorenzen if he’s sick of being viewed as a circus act. Sure, when you’re a bruising 6-foot-4, 285-pound, left-handed quarterback, it kind of comes with the territory.

But when you’re trying to make an NFL roster, enough is enough.

“I’m used to it,” said the former Kentucky Wildcat who is trying to become the Giants’ No. 2 QB behind Eli Manning. “But I just want to be able to do whatever I’ve got to do to be known as just the quarterback, instead of the big quarterback.”

He’s on his way. Lorenzen, who threw for 10,354 yards and 78 touchdowns in college, has played in all three preseason games, and on Friday, against the Jets, he replaced Manning.


Offshore Insiders For Wednesday

Online sports betting rundown for Wednesday, August 30, 2006.

has ended their first slump since early June. 
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You can get advanced notes for this weekend’s football
games at, and
the top three free sports gambling matchup databases all on one page at, news from
around the sports gambling world at
and the most thoroughly recommended and vetted sportsbooks
by clicking here


offer, the new five day UNIVERSAL pass is extended to six day for the Labor Day
 Get the Universal Pass: You can now purchase TOTAL ACCESS
to the top three sites on the Net, the Bet
It Trinity
Vincent’s Knockout Picks, top
sports service plays at Alliance
, and the world’s greatest sports service God’s Picks for more than 50 percent off
the daily price.  You get access to all
three. Buy here or at
any of the Bet It Trinity sites.