Believe Very Little of What You Hear
Whether or not an individual person can identify the source, most people are familiar with the Benjamin Franklin quote, "Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see," and while this is largely true in many facets of life, it is almost undoubtedly true in gambling. In the world of gambling, there is an abundance of misinformation to be found if one doesn't look very hard at all, but there is some good information to be found if one does a little digging. For this Article, we're going to take a look at certain sources of information and gauge their credibility:
Touts + System Bettors
The fact of the matter is that touts have very little credibility whatsoever. One of the best tout scams is to offer to send you some, "Guaranteed Picks," for free so that the tout can demonstrate his/her skill in whatever sport it is that the tout supposedly bets. The trick to this is that the tout will get multiple E-Mail addresses and send picks on one side to half of the recipients while sending exactly opposing picks to the other half. While the tout is guaranteed to give out some losing Picks with this method, the tout is also guaranteed to give out some winners. In fact, if the tout has sixteen initial contacts and splits the picks accordingly, then:
As you can see here, if the tout Picks four, "Guaranteed games," then the tout will have one player of the sixteen believe that the tout went 4-0, and at this point, the tout will be asking that player to pay for the picks. Also, the tout can, "ABSOLUTELY GUARANTEE," that he will win the next three games to the players with whom he lost the first game and be right once. For the four players who won the first game and lost the second, he can guarantee that he will win the next two, and, you guessed it, he'll be right once. For the two players who went 2-1, the tout can GUARANTEE to win the next game, and he'll be right once.
As a result, the tout will effectively have one bettor who thinks he went 4-0 and three players who'll think he went 3-1. (one of whom thinks he went three in a row, so the first loss really looks like a fluke!)
Most people with any gambling knowledge under their belts will see through such a ruse immediately, but members of the general public who have an interest in dappling in sports betting will be taken by the alacrity of this guy's Picks.
With respect to people peddling gambling systems, they are all completely full of crap. If you see anyone asking you for hundreds of dollars for a guaranteed gambling system, the simplest question to ask is, "Instead of sharing your system with everyone, why don't you just go to the casinos yourself and be completely unstoppable?"
Honestly, all systems are equally worthless (from an Expected Value basis) on a negative expectation game, but systems can serve certain purposes. For instance, the Martingale is a great system for a player who wants to trade frequent small wins for the occasional devastating loss.
Another thing about systems is that they are very easy to come up with on your own and are also a great exercise in Math. If you want a system to achieve a certain objective (but not winning) send me a PM with your game of choice, session bankroll and objective, and I bet I can come up with something that you will like. I will very likely do it for free as long as you don't want anything ridiculously complicated with completely arbitrary and nonsensical rules (like the way I play Video Keno!)
If you are on good terms with an Advantage Player, then that person can most assuredly be an excellent source of information. However, if you do not know an Advantage Player very well, it is possible that you will be misled.
For example, one of my favorite things is when people say, "Ultimate X is not worth checking at (insert location,)" because if the person in question gets enough people believing that, then Ultimate X certainly will be worth checking because there won't be anyone doing it! Another example is when it comes to saying, "The Free Play offers at Casino Z are garbage," when, in fact, the Free Play offers are disproportionately good compared to the coin-in required to get those offers, but certain AP's want to put people off of the scent.
Just for clarification, this section of the Article is not meant to imply that any of the posters here who happen to be Advantage Players are doing anything along these lines, in fact, all of the ones that I have met in person from here are stand-up guys and I trust their information. While they may sometimes be critical of the information I have been willing to share, I do not believe that any of the Advantage Players that can be found on these forums would deliberately mislead anyone.
With that out of the way, and with respect to the advantage players who might be inclined to steer someone wrong, I certainly understand their position. It is very difficult for a full-time Advantage Player these days given how many reputable sources exist in which Advantage Plays are discussed. Casinos are also slowly starting to become more knowledgeable over why and how plays can be exploited and are taking measures to prevent that. To wit, if you or your team are the only ones doing something, then it could potentially last (and make money) much longer than if everyone else discovers it.
For my part, I usually won't intentionally give out bad information, though I do stick to non-committal answers like, "You'll find a play on that machine once in a while," when I actually find a play on that bank of machines every third or fourth time I walk into the casino!
The Casinos Themselves
This alone will be the subject of a future Article, but it is very important to respect the fact that the casinos themselves can give misinformation to make certain plays seem more lucrative than they actually are. One example of this is drawing days in which higher tier players start out with an astounding amount of automatic entries as compared to players at lower players card tiers. For example, if it takes $50 in machine play to earn an entry for a drawing, but there are a couple hundred players starting out with 500 entries (and also playing) then the equity of your play in that drawing is going to be nearly worthless.
Unfortunately, every player must do his/her due diligence to determine whether or not there are any players who start out with automatic entries on a particular drawing or promotion, and then they must calculate their estimated expected value of their action accordingly.
In any event, it is always important to, "Consider the source," of the information that you are getting. Look for any possible way, even indirectly, that the source of your information might potentially profit by offering misinformation. If there is a way that the person from whom you are getting information could benefit by misinforming you, then heed Mr. Franklin's advice.