Understand Them So You Can Avoid Them!

Education is an expensive thing. I'm not sure who came up with that one, but he was right on the money. Learning about sports handicapping can really be expensive. You lose the money you sent to the handicapper and then you lose what you bet on the games. The unfortunate fact is that you can count on both hands the number of good, honest handicapping services you can choose from. That's a terrible indictment of the industry I'm in, but if you've read my "General Information" section here on the site, you already know that I got into this crazy business because I was cheated EVERY time I signed up with a service. That was almost thirty years ago- and it's worse now than it was then! 

Sports bettors WANT to believe there are sure things in the betting world. Fixed games. Inside information. Officials and players on the payroll. Everyone wants to win every game. Even if you accept that fact that you won't win every game, it's really easy to get a little desperate when you're down and you've lost money you shouldn't have wagered. You're in a hole and you need someone to bail you out. It's the perfect environment for the scamdicappers! Add to that the fact that in a lot of places, it's pretty difficult, if not impossible, to get any help after you've been cheated. Unless you're playing in Nevada, you can't go to the police and say, "I need your help. I've just been cheated while I was participating in an illegal activity." I would love it if the sports handicapping business could be regulated just as the vast majority of businesses are. That's probably never going to happen. If it did, 90% of the handicapping services out there would be out of business. In the meantime, understanding how the industry works is your best defense. That, and a little common sense! You'll shake your head reading this section, but EVERYTHING YOU'LL READ HERE IS TRUE!


There are a lot of scams out there that you can fall victim to because you didn't have the information, experience or knowledge needed to avoid them. Using a service where they don't use their real name or give you an actual street address for their office isn't one of them. C'mon guys, do you really think there is a handicapper whose real name is "Bobby Cash"? Or "Sam Wins"? If a service won't use their real name and all they give you is an 800 number and a P.O. Box for an address, that should raise a lot of red flags before you even get to any information about their service.

WHAT MAKES THE RAINMAN ANY DIFFERENT? Yes, I go by The Rainman. A nickname that came from my last name, Rainey, and from the fact that years ago when the Rain Man movie was out, I did impersonations of the Rain Man on the golf course and they started calling me Rainman. It stuck. But, everyone knows my real name- John Rainey. My home phone is listed in Memphis- it's in the book, and my office address is on the Home Page of the website along with my cell number. Call me crazy, but if you're not out to cheat anyone, you shouldn't be afraid of your customers knowing who you are and where you work.


Let's get this one out of the way early. The easiest way to have your outlandish (and totally untrue) win rate validated is to have an independent, honest company monitor your plays and then make the results known to the public. Nothing to it! Many years ago, a pretty smart service (I never said these guys are stupid) came up with the idea of having companies monitor their results and make them available to anyone who wanted to call them or check on-line. All it took was a new 800 number, a company name and a new website. The monitoring industry was born! Problem was, it was owned by the same bogus services you should be trying to avoid. You don't know that the monitor is owned by the handicapping service, so when you call to verify the record and they tell you how good the service is, you think it proves the service is really outstanding. Then, they took it a step farther.

Customers starting asking everyone why they weren't "monitored". So the monitoring service offered other handicapping services the following deal. For $250 a week, you could turn your plays in to them, they would keep track of them and post your record after Monday Night Football for everyone to see. You could advertise that you were monitored and give their phone number and website for verification. For $600 a week, you could turn your plays in Tuesday morning, AFTER all the games had been played. Pretty sweet, huh? Almost as good as the pre-season magazines you get in the mail telling you who the Number One phone service is and who the Number One sportsbook is. 

The only problem is that the same people who publish the magazines also OWN THE SERVICE AND THE SPORTSBOOK! It's public knowledge that a couple of years ago, one of the best known handicappers in the country was tried and convicted for his ownership in an offshore sportsbook. So, you need to understand that this guy was making big money selling his service and then he was making big money when his customers lost on his plays! Maybe just a little conflict of interest?

I'm sure there are legitimate monitoring services out there. I'm also sure that I don't know which ones they are.

WHAT MAKES THE RAINMAN ANY DIFFERENT? I host one of the most popular sports radio shows in the Mid-South every weekday from 1pm to 3pm on Sports 56, WHBQ, AM560 here in Memphis. It's a live call-in show where we encourage listeners to call in and be a part of the show. Much of the show is devoted to handicapping, particularly during the football season. My record and how I'm doing in general is often the topic of conversation. If I lied about my record for a weekend, the callers would crucify me on the air. Ever notice how all the other handicapping shows you hear each week are recorded and simply broadcast by the station in your area? You don't get a chance to call in and talk live to the handicapper. You just get to listen. They can say whatever they want to say with no fear of anyone calling them on it. There's a reason they do it that way- they don't want you to be able to call in live. 


Let's get this straight. There is no such thing as a lock game. There is no inside information. Games aren't fixed. There are no players on the payroll- yes, it has happened a few times, but there are services out there who will tell you it happens every week. There are no Officials on the payroll or Officials who have a grudge against a certain team. A good salesman can make you believe all those things if you let him, but that's all he is- a salesman, not a handicapper.

If you look at a lot of betting publications, have you ever wondered just exactly how a service knows that on a particularly week in, say, October, they'll have their "SEC Game of the Year"? Realizing that all betting publications go to press weeks before the game, how does a service know that a particular game will be their "Game of the Year" without knowing what the weather will be, or who might be injured, or suspended, or sick, or any number of other circumstances that will affect the game? The answer is very simple- THEY DON'T. They're just counting on you not to ask any silly questions and to believe whatever B.S. they give you on the phone about the quarterback who's mad at his coach and is going to deliberately throw a couple of interceptions.

I once ask a handicapper how he could possibly have more than ONE "Game of the year". He said that each week actually started a new, different 52 week period, so it was a different "year". The "Lock of the week" or the "Game of the year" or any other special promotions like them are just that- promotions.

WHAT MAKES THE RAINMAN ANY DIFFERENT? This one's pretty simple- I've never had a "Game Of The Anything". Not the week, month, conference, or year. We take each gameday as it comes- one day at a time.


You've heard these ads on the radio. You hear them every week during the season as a matter of fact. "Billy Wins' (or make up another name here) information on tonight's game is so strong, this winner is a dead-lock cinch AND IT'S ABSOLUTELY FREE! In fact, if tonight's game doesn't cover, you'll get the rest of the season free!"

All they want you to do is call- and they'll say virtually anything to get you to do it. Here's the scam- When you call the toll-free number, I WILL GUARANTEE you that you will talk to an operator. Billy Wins is with another customer- or in a meeting with his "Scouts"- but someone will call you back. All they want is your phone number and when they get it, you're done. They will call you back, but when they do, you'll find out that the "free" game really isn't the game you want. It's just a computer game, or a consensus pick. They just want the chance to talk to you so they can put the pressure on selling you on their regular service. One favorite trick is to let you talk them down on the price of the game if by chance you refuse to sign up for their service. They'll just about take anything they can get from you to "Show you how good they are". If the game wins, and they have a 50/50 shot, they'll call you back the next day saying, "See, I told you there was no way we'd lose." Believe me, they're good at it. They're trained, they're slick, they have all the answers, and they work on commission. It varies, of course, but "Billy" pays for the radio ads and has the name in the industry, and his sales guys get 50% or more of anything they can get out of you.

If you stick to your guns and demand only the free game, you'll be given a number to call for a recorded message where you'll receive your free play. If you buy the game and it loses, you'll get the same number for your free season. I've actually seen instances where the message cut off just before you get the game. Then someone else calls from the same service, using a different name, and the relentless high pressure sales calls begin. If no one from that service can sign you up, they'll sell your name and number to another service who will call you and tell you what jerks the first service are... but of course, they're not like that.

WHAT MAKES THE RAINMAN ANY DIFFERENT? We've never made an offer of free games. We offer "Comp" picks every game day of the season on our website and on our phone system in Memphis. They're available to anyone, anytime, who wants to look them up on the site or call the system at 901-682-7077. We do have occasional guaranteed plays. When you buy a guaranteed play on our 900 line or on the website, it will be one of the same plays our season customers get and if it loses, you'll get exactly what the guarantee was for that day. If we guarantee a game with one month of service and it loses, you'll receive a code number and we'll set you up just like a monthly or season customer and you'll get EXACTLY the same plays they do- NO EXCEPTIONS. And, by the way, our 900 lines are guaranteed everyday not to have a losing record, or you get the next day free. You don't have to call and talk to anyone- you don't have to give any information- you get a code number each time you use our 900 lines, whether it's on the phone or on the website. That code number gets you the Late Money Updates on the day you called, and if we have a losing record that day, that same code number will get you the plays for the next day. Instructions are on the call.


there's a good chance this is what you'll get. Bear in mind that there are very few actual handicappers out there- guys who actually spend hours and hours going over each game looking for a legitimate edge- here's how it works. You sign up. It doesn't matter if it's for a week, or a month, or the season. Friday night, the guys at your service sit around talking about the games- just like you and your buddies would do over a beer. They decide on a number of games, usually dependant on how many customers they have, but normally 5 to 7 plays. The plays are listed in order 1 thru 5 or 1 thru 7, and the next day when customers begin to call in for their plays, everyone gets three games. The first caller gets games 1,2 and 3. The second gets games 1,2 and 4. Third caller gets 1,2 and 5 and so on, until all combinations of  three games are given out. At the end of the day, the service has customers who have gone 3-0, 2-1, 1-2 and 0-3.

They call the customers back who went 3-0 or 0-3. They leave the 2-1 or 1-2 customers alone- they'll get them another day. For the 3-0 customers, the sales pitch goes something like, "You went 3-0 today, and those weren't even our best plays! You're a member of the Gold Club (or any other name you want to use), right? What did you win today- $300? For another $250, you could move up to the Insider's Circle- they get the top plays we put out. They win over 80% of their games- and hey, you're really moving up for free since we gave you 3-0 today, right?

The 0-3 customer conversation goes something like, "Tough day today. Man did we get screwed on a couple of calls. But look, we've got a game tomorrow where I can tell you what the score will be. Can't tell you exactly how we know, but let's just say we've got someone involved in the game. This game normally costs $500 but we feel like we kinda let you down, so you can have it for $250 and you can put anything on it you want to- more than get your money back- cause this one is in the bank!" You'd be amazed at how many guys go for either the idea they are playing with the house's money after a 3-0 day, or they're in a little bit of a jam having gone 0-3. Amazing, but absolutely true.

Ah, you say. You get your plays from a recording- you don't talk to anyone, so how can they divide up the plays? Plenty of phone systems are sophisticated enough to play a different message for sequential phone calls. It's not that hard and it's also the way some services give one side of a game to some callers and the other side to other callers. It can be done based on sequential calls, or if they want to, by the area code of the incoming call! I know of one service- fortunately no longer in business, that gave different sides on a game to their 900 line callers. They set their system up to give one message to callers from west of the Mississippi and a different message to callers from east of the Mississippi, simply based on the area codes of the callers. 

The point of the whole thing is that there is no handicapping going on here- just a bunch of guys playing the percentages- with your money.

The other favorite rip-off of a lot of services is that soon after you sign up for "season" service, they call you back to tell you that their 5000 Star Lock of the Year goes this weekend and since you're a member, you can have it for $300 (or whatever amount). When you explain you bought season service and ask why you shouldn't get the play as part of your season service package, the answer is something like, "You're right- you get all the normal plays, but this one isn't normal. We spent a lot of money on this one- not saying exactly what it went for- but let's just say it costs a lot to be really sure of the outcome. All we're doing here is getting our money back and giving you a easy winner. This is where you make your big money." Nothing but lies and another way to separate you from your credit card number.

WHAT MAKES THE RAINMAN ANY DIFFERENT? It's really simple- every customer gets exactly the same plays. Whether you are a monthly or season customer, or you call the 900 line, or you purchase the plays on the website, you get exactly the same plays that everyone else gets. No exceptions. Ever.

THE 100, 1000, OR 10,000 UNIT PLAY

Not so much a scam, but a very misleading way of doing business is the unit system of rating plays and keeping up with wins and losses. While it is very true that some plays are worth risking more money on than others, no play is worth risking 100 or 1000 times your normal bet. Here's why it's very misleading. We'll use 10 unit plays as an example. You are a $100 player. Your service puts out 4 one unit plays in the morning and loses all of them. Same afternoon, they release a 10 unit play and it wins. At the end of the day, you've gone 1-4 but the service claims they went 10-4. It's dishonest and misleading for a couple of reasons: First and foremost, if you're a $100 player chances are you can't afford to bet $1000 on a game- particularly when you're down $440 for the day when the play is released. Second, it's extremely bad money management to play that way. It's a surefire way for you to be out of the game for the season if the big play goes down. The difference is really magnified when your service puts out a 1000 unit play, and it's not as uncommon as you might think. 

WHAT MAKES THE RAINMAN ANY DIFFERENT? Over the years, we've determined that the highest rated play that makes sense from a money management standpoint is one that is five times your normal play. That's the highest rated play we put out under any circumstances. If the Dallas Cowboys came to town to play a high school team and it was a pick, we wouldn't put it out as higher than a Five Star Play. We rank our plays Regular Plays (your normal bet), Double Plays (twice your normal bet), Triple Plays (three times your normal bet) and Five Star (five times your normal bet). We also give you a good mix of rated plays each game day. For those players who want to bet the same amount on every play, our $25 900 line lists every play as a Regular Play. That's the difference between the $25 line and the $50 line. The $50 Premier Line and the $25 Combo Line have exactly the same games, but on the $50 line, the plays are rated so those players who want to step out on the bigger games know which ones we think are the best games. 


One of the more common scams out there is where a service has multiple "Clubs" you can join. Most of the time, you don't know they're available- until you have a couple of really bad weeks. A great example of this scam happened to me almost thirty years ago. I was signed up with one of the better known services and over a three day period, they had gone something like 3-13, including a 1-6 day on Saturday. I called their free pick phone on Sunday morning (before calling in to get my NFL plays) and the message on the free pick phone said they had gone 6-0 on Saturday.

When I called to get my NFL plays, I confronted the guy with something like, "What kind of B.S. are you putting out? I had your plays yesterday and we went 1-6, not 6-0 like your free pick phone message said." I've gotta hand it to the guy, because he actually jumped on me for calling the free pick phone- he said I was only supposed to call him for the plays, and if I had been a member of the "Super Duper Gold Club"- or whatever the hell it was, I would have gone 6-0. Apparently, that's what the pick phone was talking about. Right. I guess I was a member of the "Not So Super Dirt Club" and just didn't know it. All it amounted to was an opportunity for the salesman to give me all the reasons I should pay more money to belong to the better "club" which, of course, got better plays.

I know of one well-known service, in business now, that has EIGHT different clubs you can belong to- each one progressively more expensive, and each one supposedly gets better plays than the club below it. I don't know the order of the clubs, but they are Board of Directors, Chairman's Club, Fortune 500 Club, Millionaire's Club, Perfect Plays, Personal Favorites, Trophy Club and No Limit Club. It's just another marketing ploy that always allows the service to say they had a great day or a great weekend. Why not just give the same plays to everyone, and give everyone the best plays you have?

WHAT MAKES THE RAINMAN ANY DIFFERENT? We have two levels of service. Regular and Premier. BOTH LEVELS OF SERVICE GET EXACTLY THE SAME GAMES- NO EXCEPTIONS. Premier Service is for those players who can bet significantly more per game than the normal player and have the self-discipline to only play one or two games on Saturday and possibly one game on Sunday, and then pass most weeknights when there is only one game to play. We pick the absolute best game(s) from the card and it may be the only game a Premier Player plays for the weekend. That game is on the card for the Regular Players, and in all probability, it's rated as a Five Star Play. The only other difference between the two levels of service is that we take only about 20 Premier Players per season and we will call or text message those players when we get information on a play shortly before kickoff when it's simply not possible to get that information to every customer. That may happen only 5 or 6 times per season, but they're usually very good plays and 5 or 6 extra big wins over the course of the season, along with very strict money management, makes Premier Service very worthwhile.


Or how ever many times they want to say they were. Great advertisement- they just get a little carried away with themselves sometimes. There are several well-known contests each year. The Stardust in Vegas has had one for 40+ years. Here's the problem: The vast majority of the contests use screen names for each contestant- otherwise they would amount to advertisements for the services entered. Additionally, most services don't  want to enter using a name you would recognize because the legitimate contests run by the books in Vegas post the actual results- THE REAL RESULTS. If you have a bad year, everyone would know it. So, everyone enters under names similar to your screen name on the internet- SuperPicker, BobNeverLoses, WaxJob... those are a few actual names used in one of the biggest contests last year. So, it all boils down to the fact that anyone can claim to be the winner- and there's no way for you to be sure they weren't.

Then, of course, you could always win the contest you just made up. Come up with a really good name, have a contest with a couple of your co-workers, and you can be the Champion! While I'm on contests, I would like to point out that in the 40+ year history of the Stardust Handicapping Contest, no one has ever hit 70% or more for the season. No one. Not once. That alone should make you wonder about any service who advertises a 75% to 85% win rate.

WHAT MAKES THE RAINMAN ANY DIFFERENT? I've actually won a few. I've never said much about it because I didn't want to sound like a lot of other services. Over the last few years, I've had several potential customers ask me why I haven't won any handicapping contests, implying that I'm not as good as ones who have, so this year, for the first time, you will see that I won the 2004 World Offshore Handicapping Challenge- in BOTH COLLEGE AND PRO! I'm actually pretty proud of that one.

Those are just a few of the scams that are used every day in the handicapping business. That's not to say there aren't some good handicapping services- and good handicappers- available for you to use, but the bad guys outnumber the good guys somewhere around 30 to 1. Not very good odds if you're looking for a good service. One thing you can be sure of is that the bad guys are working hard to figure out new ways to separate you from some of your hard earned cash and chances are, they'll find a way to do it. Use your head... and a little common sense. As the old saying goes, if someone's claim sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In this business it's not "probably", it's absolutely. If you have a question about any of these, or other, scams in the business, or if you have any questions about a service you're considering using, feel free to call me at any time. If I know something about them, I be glad to share it with you- good or bad.