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J.V. Miller is widely recognized as one of the world’s top sports handicappers.

The New York Times


“The Millers are a small percentage who have made a career out of gambling…earning all of their income from gambling.”

Business, November 9, 1997

Article: EARNING IT. Life’s a Gamble. A Few People Make It a Profession

By Staff Writer Andrew Bluth




 “We sought out a few pointers from people who have made a living from sports betting…Mr. Miller likes to focus on four key numbers…”

January 29, 2012

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Winning Sports Betting Systems and Strategies | Tips For Being Successful at Sports Betting



If teams with the best records won every time, we’d all soon be batting a thousand, the bookies would be broke, and that would be that.

Many sports handicappers, when looking for evidence of upcoming winners, remind us of the drunk crawling around under the streetlight. When the policeman asked the drunk what he was doing, the drunk answered, "I’m looking for my wallet."

The policeman helped him look for the wallet awhile, then finally asked, "Are you sure you dropped it here?"

The drunk answered, "No, I dropped it up the street, but the light’s better here."

Many handicappers are like that drunk insofar as they don’t want to look for evidence where it’s difficult to find. They don’t want to tackle the difficult stats and interpret the tough stuff, so they look wherever "the light’s better." They cite such nonsense as so-called ‘trends,’ and other mathematical glitches without a shred of logical explanation. Take a look at this bit of advice concerning a Monday night game with Dallas visiting Minnesota. This was published on the internet by a prominent sports tout as his ‘free pick’ of the week. We won’t publish his name because there’s no need to be that hostile:

Tip of the Day:
          The Dallas Cowboys are 6-1 ATS OVER as Monday Night dogs off a loss. Minnesota is 6-1 ATS OVER
their (sic) last 7 games vs Dallas.
          Play On: Dallas/Minnesota OVER

We don’t know how many years you’d have to go back to collect Dallas as a "Monday night dog coming off a loss" seven times, but we bet it’s plenty. In fact, we suspect the tout made up those figures out of thin air. It doesn’t matter, anyway, because what happened 2, 4, 6 or more years ago has nothing at all to do with what’s happening now. Such reasoning is laughable.

Probably the most outrageous claims I’ve seen concern the use of the paranormal. We’ve seen at least one tout claiming to use astrology. If you believe in astrology, my advice is to keep sports betting only as entertainment; do NOT risk serious money. Check this advertisement by a guy actually claiming to use biorhythms:

(Tout’s name) analyzes players (sic) performance (sic) level based on biorhythms. This somewhat-unique system has produced some amazing results as he is documented No. 1 in NFL for the last 6 years combined ('93-'98) as documented by Sports Watch and is also No. 1 in college football as documented by the Las Vegas Sporting news last year.


Don’t be suckered by these wanna-be phonies. If calling winners were as easy as keeping track of such superficial things as won-lost records, anybody could do it and the bookmakers would be out of business in no time at all.


One of the most popular forms of handicapping used by beginners is to spot "trends." For example, let's say the 49ers are 9-1 against the pointspread the week after playing on Monday night. That's a "trend," and many non-professionals would need no more evidence than that to place a bet on the 49ers.

Allow me to cite a parallel. Let's say you have 100 quarters, each of which you flip 10 times, keeping careful track of each quarter's results, heads or tails.  After you've flipped the 100 quarters 10 times each, you will definitely see "trends" in the "performance" of the individual quarters. In fact, the odds of going 9-1 (or 1-9) with one or more of the quarters is almost 2-to-one!

Such a 9-1 (or 1-9) "trend" figures to happen about 2 percent of the time when flipping a coin. That's one time in fifty trials. For one thing, the first toss can be either heads or tails; it doesn't matter. It only matters if the following 9 tosses happen to match the first toss.

The point is, after tossing 100 quarters 10 times each, you cannot after the fact look back and think there is special significance to an individual quarter's performance. Most likely, at least one of the quarters (probably more than one) has produced 9-1 (or 1-9) results simply because of the probabilities involved. That particular quarter is no more likely to continue that "trend" than any of the other quarters.  

In professional football, all manner of these types of "trends" can be found to have happened. Teams can suffer losing streaks of 1-9 after playing in a certain city, or winning streaks of 9-1 after playing in the same city, teams with gold jerseys can go 9-1 against teams from west of the Mississippi, teams can go 9-1 in their "home" uniforms or 9-1 in their "road" uniforms, and on, and on, and on. You cannot after the fact look back on such an event and attach significance to it without more substantive supportive evidence. It's no surprise that such trends occur; it would be impossible for them not to occur. Trouble is, they are almost always meaningless. 

Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts when it comes to forecasting the outcome of professional football games. Biorhythms won’t help, astrology won’t help, and what happened years ago won’t help. When handicapping the NFL you’ve got to evaluate those stats that are proven to be the most ‘predictive,’ such as offensive and defensive yards-per-rush, offensive rushing yards gained, defensive rushing yards allowed, offensive total yards gained, defensive total yards allowed, etc. In other words, forget about finding some sort of 5-minute magic formula. Effective handicapping begins with the simple application of common sense.

And common sense dictates that no mathematical formula nor any other kind of formula will predict winners as much as 70% of the time against pointspreads. At least 75%-80% of all NFL games v. pointspreads are decided by sheer luck; a bad bounce, an unlikely fumble, a miracle interception, a panicky Hail Mary pass, a penalty, or whatever. That leaves only about 20% that figure to end in a manner predicted. That 20% and half of the 80% which you figure to win by luck could possibly give you a 55-59% winning rate, but most probably no more than that.  

--J.V. Miller

Related articles:

Are You Geared to Gamble?

A Good Handicapper...Broke

Binomial Distribution & You

Winning Percentages


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