Top 25 Weekend Preview: Buying the Hook

ChalkItUpContributor ISeptember 17, 2009

As always, the following is for entertainment purposes only...

Point spreads in sports often appear as -7.5 or -10.5. In these games, Vegas sportsbooks offer an option to shift the point spread a half point. On top of the 10 percent "juice" (making a typical bet cost $110 to win $100), you can pay an additional 10 percent to move the spread a half point in either direction.

When wagering on football, this can be a worthwhile investment under the right circumstances. (Compared to buying "insurance" at the blackjack table, which is for chumps). In fact, moving a three-point line (-3.5 to -3, for example) can make such a difference that it costs an extra 10, for a total of 30, percent.     

I am a HUGE fan of this move for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that there is a catchy phrase for it: "Buying the hook."

This weekend features several interesting games and a number of excellent opportunities to shift the spread in your favor.

Game: No. 14 Georgia Tech @ No. 20 Miami (-5.5, Thursday, 6:30pm CT)

What I think will happen: I like Miami. Beating FSU required that the 'Canes face a hostile environment, withstand a late rally, and bounce back from a second-half deficit. Lesser teams would have mailed it in. Further, Georgia Tech needed a few trick plays to win and still nearly threw away the game against Clemson last week. And yet, that extra half point (down to -5) will make me feel a bit better about this pick.

Game: No. 10 Boise State (-7.5) @ Fresno St. (Friday, 8pm CT)

What I think will happen: Wisconsin struggled to put Fresno away last week in two overtimes. I think the Badgers will manage to assemble a season good enough to justify a New Year's Day bowl game, but I don't think UW should factor into the BCS. By contrast, Boise convincingly beat Oregon in Week One followed by a laugher against Miami (Ohio). And I will take -7 rather than -7.5 any day.

Game: East Carolina @ No. 24 North Carolina (-7.5, Saturday, 11am CT)

What I think will happen: I don't love this game, but let's roll with it. Buying the hook is that much fun. The best part? When you move the spread down a half point in a game like this, and UNC wins by a touchdown. Sometimes, a push can feel like a win. Yep, that's right. I'm not so much hoping to win as I'm trying not to lose money.

Game: Texas Tech @ No. 2 Texas (-17.5, Saturday 7pm CT)

What I think will happen: Here is the second half of the equation on Saturday. You can play ECU-UNC, and regardless of the outcome, look ahead to McCoy & Co. barely surviving the game against the Red Raiders. Yes, I will take the points and buy the hook to make Texas Tech +18. Final score? Texas Tech 27, Texas 38.


And there you have it.  Just remember to say those three simple words: Buy the hook.