How to Fix a Game

[Editor's note: Brandon Lang, whose life story was immortalized by Matthew McConaughey in the 2005 film, "Two for the Money," considers himself the best big-game handicapper in the country. The man who gives wagering advice on his Web site,, is the self-proclaimed "most honest man in the business."

He never has lost a Super Bowl in his career, going 15-0-2. With NBA referee Tim Donaghy under investigation for allegedly betting on NBA games the past two seasons -- including games he officiated -- senior writer Wayne Drehs asked Lang to explain how sports gambling works in America and how Donaghy and his bookies might have been able to take advantage.] Brandon, explain what types of bets can be made on the NBA.

Brandon Lang: You can bet on who's going to win, by how many points. You can bet whether it's going to be a high-scoring or low-scoring game with the over/under. You can bet the first, second, third or fourth quarter. You can bet the first-half and second-half winner or loser. What you have to understand is that gambling is always designed to keep people watching.

If it's a televised game or the playoffs, you can bet the over/under on total points for a player, say whether or not LeBron James is going to score 30. You can bet over/under on rebounds for a guy like Tim Duncan. There are a lot of individual prop bets, but normally those are only in the playoffs or for major regular-season televised games. What are the various ways that a bettor can place his bets?

BL: If you're in the state of Nevada, you can do it 100 percent legal at any sports book. If not, you can do it [albeit illegally] with your corner-store bookie at just about any bar in any sports city in America. Or you can do it offshore with offshore sports books. That's pretty much it. How does placing a legal bet in Las Vegas differ from placing a bet offshore or with the bar bookie you refer to?

BL: Most of the time, when you bet with a bookie, you can bet on credit. When you bet offshore, you have to post up that money. I have to wire that offshore sports book $1,000 so I have $1,000 in my account to play with. As soon as I double my money, I can ask them to send $1,000 back or all $2,000, whatever. With your bookie, you typically settle up once a week. And that's when people get in trouble. It's credit -- usually somebody vouches for you, they'll give you a $5,000 line or something like that. Then you start getting behind, you start chasing and the next thing you know you just lost $7,000 and you don't have it. In Vegas and offshore, you have to post your money before you gamble with it. On a December night in the regular season, how much money would you guess is bet on the NBA -- legally and illegally -- in our country?

BL: In our country, so that's just Vegas and the bookmakers … you figure on any given night, you have an average of eight games. So in my calculations, on a random given night, I'd say about $50 million. That's legally and illegally. A random December night in the United States of America. But that number has been declining. Describe for me the average individual who bets on an NBA game?

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...