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Review of Sharp Sports Betting

Title:
Sharp Sports Betting
Author:
Stanford Wong
Publisher:
Pi Yee Press
Date:
2001
ISBN:
0-935926-24-0
Pages:
384
Price:
$19.95

Reviewed by Nick Christenson, npc@lvrevealed.com

December 29, 2001

Stanford Wong is rightfully regarded as one of the most well-respected gambling authors. While he is most noted for his books about beating the game of blackjack, he has also written books on Pai Gow Poker, Video Poker, Casino Tournaments, and other topics. In his first new book for Pi Yee press since 1993, Wong examines the mathematics of advantage sports betting.

The book begins with the basics, explaining the terminology of sports betting and how to interpret the numbers on the walls and screens in a sports book. Wong follows this with a discussion of money management, some information and advice about betting sports on the Internet, and a discussion of mathematics. These sections are all very well written, but I was surprised that there wasn't more information on proportional betting in the section on money management. Wong mentions what is commonly referred to as Kelly betting, but instead of providing some details about how one would apply this to advantage sports betting, Wong refers the reader to the blackjack literature. Overall, the math is presented in a clear style that should be palatable to anyone who doesn't have nightmares of their high school math courses. Wong manages to thread the needle pretty well by presenting powerful techniques in a clear manner that doesn't require an advanced degree to understand.

While Sharp Sports Betting is primarily about selecting good sports bets based on mathematics, the next few sections provide a brief discussion on some aspects of sports handicapping. One of the things Wong points out here is just how difficult it is to gain an advantage through handicapping, especially on NFL games where the results are so thoroughly analyzed. While it's still possible to find good bets based on expert handicapping, Wong's reasons for approaching this aspect of advantage sports betting with some trepidation are well founded.

The next few chapters cover some specific situations which on occasion can be exploited. These include parlays, season win totals, and proposition bets. In my opinion, these chapters include excellent information, perhaps the best sports betting advice I've seen in print. In fact, I believe that these chapters by themselves would be well worth the price of the book.

Since the bulk of sports betting in the United States is on professional football, several chapters of specific advice and statistics on the NFL season are included. A great deal of very good information is presented here. There are several tables in these chapters that I believe are well worth copying down and having handy when on makes a trip to the sports book. The book ends with several statistical tables which are likely to be quite useful to those looking to evaluate proposition bets, a glossary, a brief bibliography, and a much appreciated index.

If the reader is looking for a book on sports handicapping, Sharp Sports Betting isn't it. Despite this, this is probably the single best book on sports betting I've read. It provides enough background to inform a true beginner, while providing a great deal of well thought-out and detailed information on the topic. Wong is careful to draw a distinction between information he states as fact and information that is his opinion. What he states as fact appears rock-solid to me, and I'd expect nothing less from Stanford Wong. It's possible that what he states as opinion may not always be true, but he always thoroughly explains his well considered ideas and, in fact, I can't point to a single significant flaw in his reasoning. Add to this the fact that the book is quite reasonably priced, and, in my opinion, you have a real winner.

Capsule:

While Stanford Wong's latest book, Sharp Sports Betting, provides little information on handicapping by its own admission, that's about the most negative thing I can say about this book. The information it provides on the basics, the mathematics of betting, finding advantage bets, and reasons why certain games are hard to handicap are at their worst very well reasoned. On top of this, the book is quite reasonably priced. While there is certainly other information that the advantage sports better might want to have, in my opinion this is the best single book on sports betting I've read. I recommend it highly.

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