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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, September 17, 2012 at 4:45 PM

At various times in my videos I've talked about "first blush" opinions I have about college and pro football games when the lines come out. I'm a strong believer that you should trust those first impressions...and that the work you do in the field of Advanced Handicapping helps you see pointspread advantages quicker than anybody else.

The key factor of course is that we're talking about an "informed" intuition, rather than just a gut feel that isn't based on anything that matters. I think this is where many casual gamblers go astray, and even longtime veterans who have stopped doing the work. Remember when that sportswriter in the Preseason had a "hunch" that Michigan would beat Alabama, so he made Michigan the #1 team in the country? That was one of the dumbest all-time hunches I've ever seen. You can only trust your gut if it's informed!

The phrase "trust your first instinct" only works when you know what you're doing. When you have experience in the field or with particular challenges within that field. I've lived in Las Vegas for many years now as a professional handicapper. This city was basically built on the fact that gamblers who trust their first instincts lose money over their lifetimes. And, it continues to thrive because power brokers try to block what smart bettors are doing while making it easier for dumb bettors to throw their money away.

How can you develop instincts you can trust? Here are some ideas:

  • First, work very hard in terms of analyzing the true strengths and weaknesses of all the college and pro football teams. If you know the GAMEBREAKERS and PLAYMAKERS...if you know who can play defense...if you know which coaches have no mercy in terms of victory margins...THEN thinking "that line seems a little low" is meaningful when the numbers first go up. I trust that most of you reading this today spent all summer doing that, and you've picked up the intensity here during the season. Remember that professional wagerers tend to attack opening numbers with aggression. They do this because they're so well-informed about the teams.

  • Keep a log of your first impressions and monitor what happens in the marketplace through the week. Remember, sharp betting shapes the openers. If you have a truly good eye for bad numbers, then early line moves will agree with your gut.  I could point you to some high stakes bettors out here who would tell you that this is the single best way to evaluate your own talent. If your opinion is in synch with early market moves, then you know what you're doing. If the market isn't agreeing with you...or, worse, is going the other way...then you're probably wrong. Now, that's not necessarily MY take on the matter. I believe I've found some things that the market has missed within my personal approach. But, I do recommend this method for grading your own first instinct hunches.

  • Use that log to keep track of how the opinions did once the games were played. Were you right? Were you right in terms of the opening number...but then eventual line moves took the value away? This is very important. If you "love" a favorite at -9...and the line goes up to -11...that may be enough to turn a winning opinion into a push or a loss over the long haul. If you're beating the openers, figure out a way to get your butt to the sportsbooks when they first go up! If you can still win against widely available lines that have settled, you're in fine company indeed.

  • Once you've gotten into this habit, try arguing against your early list of leans and opinions. Why might your opinion be wrong? Have you overestimated one team (typically a favorite)? Are you basing your opinion on old information rather than what's been happening lately (if a team looked bad in weeks one and two, they may not necessarily be money losers later in the season after they've made personnel changes). This will help you cull down your list to the best options. Often games that I've released as 50-Unit, 100-unit, or 200-Unit plays jumped off the page with other possibilities early on...and continued to hold up the more I studied the numbers.

I want to be careful here. If you're relatively new to the field of sports handicapping, I DON'T want you to trust your intuition. You need to build up your skill set first. If you've been studying my principals of Advanced Handicapping since we started the articles and videos on this website, you may not be ready to act more aggressively with those first impressions.

If you'd like some help finding the best Las Vegas betting options on game day, you can purchase my top picks right here at this website with your credit card. Seasonal packages are affordably priced.

I'll be back with you on Friday for our next class here in my College of Advanced Handicapping. I appreciate that so many of you have worked so hard learning the coursework. I know that will continue to pay off through the rest of the season.

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