Everyone who knows anything about the Las Vegas sports betting scene has heard of ‘The Computer Group’. The story of ‘The Computer Group’ is complex and fascinating, but long story short they dominated sportsbooks in the early 1980’s and made ridiculous amounts of money. Their secret? They used mainframe computer processing power to get a technological edge over the bookmaker. Their setup is downright primitive by today’s standards—they rented time on large mainframe computers and ran a program created on ‘keypunch cards’ which are downright paleolithic in the hi-tech world we inhabit today. The fundamental premise was brilliant—they gained a technological advantage over the bookmakers and came up with better numbers than their linesmakers were capable of doing. The rest is just a matter of getting bets down and cashing tickets.

The Computer Group exploited a unique opportunity that will never come again. Never again will the players have that big of a technological edge over the sportsbook industry. Flash forward to 2011 and sportsbooks both offshore and in Nevada have at their disposal a technological arsenal to rival any information centric business in the world. If you’re serious about sports betting you have no alternative but to try and keep pace. The good news is that the sportsbooks don’t have a monopoly on high tech ‘weaponry’ and that resources that were unavailable as recently as a decade ago are now commonplace and affordable.

This is the first of a recurring series of articles called ‘Betting on Tech’ in which we’ll examine the technological resources the sportsbooks have at their disposal and—more importantly—what those of us on the other side of the counter can do to keep up. You won’t have to be a Computer Science major to understand what we’re talking about, but it’s not going to be a primer either—we’re not going to teach you how to reboot your modem or get connected to the Internet. ‘Betting on Tech’ will feature mission critical information focused on sports betting and—occasionally—other gaming disciplines. Our goal is to provide an educational resource for sports betting enthusiasts that will make you a more tech savvy player and show you how to leverage that knowledge in the ongoing struggle against the 11-10.

We’re in the 21st century but you’ll still come across players who aspire to bet on sports seriously with no knowledge of computers and/or the Internet. As many of you are aware, Cantor Gaming—a division of the big players in bonds trading Cantor Fitzgerald—have taken over the management of several Nevada sportsbooks. On balance, their presence is a positive development but they have at our disposal the most complex and sophisticated risk management model ever designed by humans. If you’re planning to go up against that level of technology you simply can’t expect to succeed if you’re a ‘analog player in a digital world’. The future is now, and we’re here to give you the tools to successfully navigate the increasingly hi-tech sports betting ‘battlefield’ of the 21st century.

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