“The Smart Money” is a fascinating voyage through the world of big time sports betting. This is not the average fan betting $10 or even a $100 or a $1000 dollars on a football game, but a little-known subculture where $10,000, $20,000 and even $100,000 is wagered on the outcome of a sporting event and where gains and losses of half a million dollars over a weekend is commonplace. The author was drawn in to an exclusive club, the “Brain Trust”, who used inside knowledge of the teams, highly paid handicappers, and computers to determine what contests to bet on and how to beat the bookies at their own game.

Though it does not go into too much technical detail of the wagering process (i.e. the actual algorithms that the Brain Trust used to beat the system), this is a well written account of the author’s years working as an agent for a large betting cabal. His main responsibility was to find a way to place enough bets of high enough value to make it worthwhile which involved weekly trips to Las Vegas, hidden identities, and large bags containing bricks of cash. Once someone starts winning in Las Vegas, however, the casinos are no longer interested in taking your business. Yet, the Brain Trust was not to be denied, moving their action to offshore organizations where the seediness factor increases significantly.

Truly an inside look at a level of sports betting that the average fan never sees, “The Smart Money” weaves its way through the largely hidden labyrinth of how point spreads for football games are set and, more importantly, the mysterious forces that change these critical values during the week before the game and sometimes only minutes before kickoff.

After reading the first third of this book, which covered his first foray to Vegas to make bets, I doubted that the author could fill the rest of book with similar stories and keep the reader riveted. While the following seasons of betting and the move to using offshore accounts pretty much mirrors the action early in the book, it is told in such a style that it kept my interest right to the end. The author manages to realistically convey the tension and anxiety of large sums of money riding on a meaningless touchdown by a team that is hopelessly behind or the shock of watching an interception being returned for a score knowing that $50,000 was lost in that instant. I highly recommend this book to those who are interested in learning more about how sports betting actually works.

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