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August-18-2007,
Post-UIGEA Wagering: An Analysis of Online Sportsbooks Options for Football Wagering in an Uncertain Climate (Part I)...By David Stalcup

Many American recreational bettors have joined the mass exodus away from offshore betting since the passing of the UIGEA. Most bettors that have left the online sportsbetting market have chosen to pull their money from online sportsbooks for two main reasons:

1) Fear of not being paid if they win

2) Difficulty making deposits and withdrawals

Although both the above concerns are legitimate, the fact is that almost all of the "top tier" books are operating at or near their pre-UIGEA levels. Although deposits and withdrawals in general take longer since the passage of the UIGEA, the fact is that all of the books listed in this article offer the same wagering options as before the UIGEA (and in some cases more wagering options) and are processing deposits and withdrawals in a reasonable time frame. As always, bettors should be using as many different books as their bankrolls/situations will allow to limit exposure and to get the best number available to them at the time they make a bet. With that in mind, here is a list of books this writer considers "must haves" for this football season.

Part I of this article will focus on the wagering options of certain sportsbooks; Part II will focus on the safety ratings and deposit/withdrawal options of said sportsbooks.

Bettors have their own individual wagering styles; therefore they require different books that cater to their individual needs. This article will attempt to cover all of the major categories of wagering and speak in detail about which books will cater to specific wagering needs. The categories are:

1) The opening number
2) Low juice
3) Lines that move on action ("off numbers")
4) Props
5) Interactives (betting a game in-running)
6) Halftimes

As mentioned above, bettors should be using the most sportsbooks available in relation to their wagering style/bankroll to ensure they get the best line available. Shopping lines is key when trying to grind out a profit, so at least two books will be discussed for all the categories listed above.

1) The opening number

As always, most opening numbers on full game sides/totals/props are generated by TheGreek.com or Bookmaker.com. The Greek and Bookmaker are must haves for any bettors trying to bet in to soft opening numbers (both pregame and second half). Both books are very highly rated by all the online "watchdog" sites, and a bettor's money is as safe with these two books as any others on the net.

2) Low Juice

Of course Pinnacle is no longer available to American bettors, but there are still a few good options when considering which low juice books to trust your money with. Matchbook.com (an exchange fully backed by WSEX.com) is the American bettor's best option for reduced juice. Matchbook only charges a flat 2% commission on net profit, the absolute lowest commission rate available to Americans. Another option is Tradesports.com. Although Tradesports has lost significant volume on pregame betting since introducing its new commission structure (a flat 4% commission on net profit of all wagers---pregame bets used to be 0% commission), value can still be found there on a daily basis at reduced juice. Both of these books are highly rated by almost all the online watchdog sites.

A few smaller books that are slightly less highly regarded than Matchbook and Tradesports that offer reduced juice are: LooseLines.com (-105) (part of the DPT group that also owns Jazz and ABCIslands), 5Dimes.com (-105) (has reduced juice on all CFB/NFL games during a certain timeframe), ThePig.com (-108) (Owned by Legendz Gaming), BetGuardian.com -105. All of these books are rated a "B" or better at Sportsbookreview.com, and all will take at least $500 bets on their reduced juice options.

3) Lines that move on action ("off numbers")

In a perfect world, sportsbooks would only move their lines when they receive action. Of course this isn't the case. All books move their lines at times "on air" (moving lines simply because other books moved their lines), but some books are committed to moving their lines when they get action. The Greek and Bookmaker very often have "off numbers" that appeal to all levels of bettors. The Greek has never been shy about hanging a line that is off the consensus, and Bookmaker has been very aggressive about moving lines off the consensus since the passage of the UIGEA (especially in-running and halftime lines) .

4) Props

5Dimes is the undisputed leader for props. They have more props available than any other book on a daily basis. The Greek also has a wide selection of props available on most games of interest (and many obscure sports, at times). Bettors that are interested in 1st quarter betting for football can always count on Bookmaker, the Greek and 5 Dimes. All three books offer all four quarters lines for the NFL; and they all have all four quarter lines available for many college games.

5) Interactives (betting a game in-running)

There are a few good options for betting interactive games. Matchbook, WSEX (the first book to offer interactives on the net) and Tradesports all offer interactives for most football games of interest. The Greek will offer interactives on big games (playoffs, bowls, etc.) and Bookmaker will offer interactive quarters wagering on those same types of games.

6) Halftimes

The Greek is usually the first book to post the opener on a halftime, sometimes it's Bookmaker. When considering outs for halftime bets it's important to have books that will either move slowly or offer a unique number. Some books to consider for halftimes are: ABCIslands, Las Palmas (Part of the Horizon group), WSEX, Sportbet (slow to move and/or offers a unique number).

All of the books mentioned in Part I will take at least a $500 bet on major sides and totals, which is plenty for most bettors. However, bettors will be limited at some or all of these books if they chase steam too hard or win a lot over an extended period of time. But the average bettor can't go wrong with all of the books mentioned above when a long term relationship is a consideration.

As stated, Part II of this article will address the safety ratings and deposit/withdrawal options of the sportsbooks already mentioned (and three more books not previously mentioned that this writer considers worthy of being in your stable of football books).

08-18-07
David Stalcup
Editor-in-Chief, MajorWager.com
editor@majorwager.com

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