We have all come across a handicapper claiming to be on hot streak, and for a fee he would be willing to share his secrets with you. Let's examine when it's acceptable to pay for betting information and how to spot a "Tout".

Definition of Tout (noun)
1. Someone who solicits customers, votes or patronage, in an especially brazen way. 
2. Someone who buys tickets to an event in order to resell them at a profit.
3. Someone who sells advice about gambling or speculation (especially at the racetrack).

The Pitch

Joe Tout is a perfect 17-0 on Sunday afternoon NFL games that are played on turf when there is going to be a full moon on days when he has eaten Cheerios for breakfast. Don’t miss out on this amazing can’t lose Play! This 42 star game is only 200 dollars but you only pay if you win! Most of us have seen these salesmen offering their picks. You have to give them credit because some of them are damn good sellers.

By the time you are done reading one of their pitches, like the above dramatization, you almost forget everything you know about probabilities and the reason a handicapper claiming to pick 75% doesn’t own the world. Ideally, when we are handed a turd in a chocolate wrapper we would smell it before we bite. Unfortunately for some of us we have to learn the hard way leaving the experience with a bad taste in their mouths.

Safety in Numbers

One of the reasons a player might get fooled into buying from a tout service is that every capper listed seems to be on a hot streak. Big Charlie is 6-0 on NBA picks while Mark Sparks is hitting 7-0 in hockey totals and Nick Nichols is 17-2 in his last 19 water polo match plays. It appears that the group knows what they are doing and this cannot be luck.

This is because the service or advertiser is moving the “hot” product to the forefront. For every coin I flip that results in heads there will be one that comes up tales. For every scamdicapper that shows you a winning streak there is a losing streak. Most capping services that are gracious enough to keep an honest documented lifetime record will show 48-52% win rate.

This means the plays passed on to the player have the same chance of winning yet the record put forth to the viewers usually tally up to something like an astounding 85%. To me, that is misrepresentation. I don’t expect to see commercials for Kia automobiles doing 130 MPH and I don’t expect handicappers to only show rare recent records. Sure, they may be on a winning streak which happens but means nothing for the following play. 

Why Sell Picks?

Anyone can sell picks. What product is easier to sell than sports plays? It’s a product with virtually no overhead outside of marketing. There is little risk to the seller’s own wallet and you get to have your picture taken in a sports car, smoking a cigar with girl who somehow thought it was warm enough to wear a bikini on the same day you are wearing a double breasted suit. (Maybe it’s because you’re red hot in your last 13 bowling plays) In all seriousness, you can’t fault people for supplying the demand which brings me to my next question.

Why Do People Buy Picks?

There are many reasons why people buy plays but they are hard to pinpoint on a case-by-case basis. You can usually spot a sucker/victim in the posting forums because their name is next to a topic like: BillDozer? more like BillShitozer!! They are impulse posts which represent the haste they used to hand over their credit card to Joe Tout.

You may also have seen a fellow employee mutilating a tout’s picture in a computer paint program. (You always feel bad for those guys since you know their kid will now be attending Northeast Southern Central Community College) Here are some of the reasons people may have taken the bait….

  • They are trusting and don’t know what a realistic win rate is.
    This applies to all salesmen who succeed by misrepresenting their product. Some people do not believe that others would actually take their money for nothing in return. In our case players may not realize yet that if someone claims to be winning 80% in the last 10 they very well may have won 20% on the 10 bets before that.
  • No Confidence in their own plays.
    There are bettors who need to get down on Monday night football but don’t feel qualified to make a NFL pick. By buying the play it relieves them of the guilt of throwing money around. Win or lose they feel they had a solid angle for the event even though they didn’t actually know what it was.
  • They believe the capper knows something they do not.
    Many picks advertised are rated by stars. The pick peddlers suggest they know inside information that the rest of the public is not privy to by adding a lot of stars in the description. What else could it mean when a capper has 3 five star plays but also has a 20 star play? That must be the one!! I knew a guy who sold things in the classifieds and every time he listed his product he would list the same thing next to it at half the value. Anyway, Last time I saw 20 stars I was hit in the head and on the ground
    with my wallet missing. Hmmm….
  • They fall for the image.
    Believe it or not, the guy with the 200 dollar haircut did not make his money betting on his own 10 star games. Actually, many of the decent cappers I know would rather go to Supercuts and invest 195 dollar back into their bankroll. Being a good salesman is more likely responsible for his riches if they exist. 

    Yes, it is possible that a Vegas legend has someone marketing his plays for him and is actually a profitable handicapper but that poses other problems. If he is now selling his plays, you may wonder if he has given up betting them himself. A player who actually has inside information or is the real deal would move the line with his action. So by the time he tells you to play Team X -6 you would have -7. 

    Line movement is a big reason why advertising a play three days in advance is not realistic. The pick peddler can’t foresee where the line is going in the next couple hours and every half point lost in the long term equates to a loss on your winning percentage.
  • Laziness
    They would buy high risk mutual funds but they don’t move fast enough. These people just want to invest in something but any leg work is beneath them. They may have enough money to throw around in order to sound smart to friends. They root for the scenario that was suggested when they bought the pick. I have friends like this. They aren’t interested in any in-depth game stats and game scenarios from me but would pay to hear a pick based solely on the weather report at that game. Some people don’t care about odds when everyday is a new day.

Recognize what you are investing 

There is nothing wrong with paying for handicapping tools. I am not saying that buying assistance makes you less of a success. People pay for things like stats, betting line updates and information everyday. If a handicapper is selling detailed write ups with stats and game scenarios that conclude with an opinion on the outcome it may be of value to you.

One of the keys to handicapping is assessing which stats and factors apply to each individual event. This person might not apply the same factors as you might but may open your eyes to something of importance. This pick and write-up may be cost effective to buy if the capper regularly digs deep but you should not feel pressured to play a game because you invested in information about it.

In any venture, one should always take into account his overhead to potential return ratio. If you need to win 80% of your plays to be profitable after purchasing the Don Best service you should realize that that investment is not a viable option. If your goal is to obtain a 56% win rate over the course of 100 plays at 10% juice you are looking at a profit of 760 dollars. That hardly leaves any money to spend on each play yet many people who buy picks are small players. Usually the best play is your own.

Take it from someone who can remember defacing Joe’s picture with horns and a goatee!