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?

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