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Howard Schwartz

Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

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Getz's Underdog Theorem a fresh approach to betting pro football

26 Jun 2008

By Howard Schwartz
One of the most unique and refreshing new "how-to" bet pro football books to hit the stores in many a year is Eddie Getz's The Underdog Theorem: How to Bet on the NFL and Win While Outperforming Wall Street (214 pages, paperbound, $14.95). Well-priced and under-hyped, the book may be the sleeper of the year.

Getz takes a rational approach to risk-taking and betting - "You should never risk more than you can afford to lose" - and examines both the upside and downside of gambling, while emphasizing that without money management all is lost in the end run. In conjunction with this approach, he finds parallels between gambling and Wall Street. (Which is the riskier or more respected venture?) Getz probes, offers examples, underlines hypocrisies and compares betting pro football vs. investing in the stock market.

This book requires more than just a fast reading. It describes more than a decade's journey as Getz gradually uncovers his theorem through hard work, examination of box scores, statistics, questioning and testing. For example, one of the questions he concentrates on concerns the debate about betting the money line versus pointspread.

Getz's work is divided into two parts and reaches back to 1993, showing his thought progression and experimentation.

The book really gets rolling in the fourth chapter, where he discusses NFL Parity. Getz calls it "the state of being equal" and moves quickly into Statistical Dependence -- Borrowing From Blackjack. He admits this may be the most "technical" chapter because it deals with statistical concepts such as the Gambler's Fallacy and statistical dependence. He calls the Martingale Strategy the "best worst gambling strategy around"; offers a fascinating discussion of the origins of the pointspread (a math teacher named Charles McNeil gets credit here); the spread's purpose; and he examines "vig" (the bet-taker's edge).

After the detailed explanations, the book hits high gear in Chapter Nine, where Getz puts his theorem to the test beginning with an important discussion on establishing a bankroll, then using the 2006 NFL season as examples of each segment of the theorem.

Well organized, The Underdog Theorem should appeal to readers involved in everything from day trading to anticipating trends in futures and long-term stock market patterns and definitely to those looking for a new approach to wagering on football. (In the final segment, Getz lists his Internet site so readers can find his theorem's latest progress and developments.)

Copyright Gambler's Book Shop. All books reviewed in this article are available from Gambler's Book Shop (Gambler's Book Club), located at 630 South 11th Street, Las Vegas, Nevada 89101 and online at

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