Updated on 09/18/2011 1:20AM

Dr. Bob's picks moving college lines


LAS VEGAS – NBC used to have must-see TV on Thursday night. Now, a lot of college football bettors are setting aside time for must-see of the Internet variety on Thursday morning.

That's when the betting boards start lighting up in Vegas and at offshore books. Watching the live odds feed at vegasinsider.com - or similar services such as donbest.com, gjupdate.com, and sbrlines.com - is like watching the Christmas tree being lit at Rockefeller Center. This Thursday, for example, eight games moved at least a point within a half hour.

The 10 a.m. Pacific start time coincides with the release of college football picks from San Francisco-based professional handicapper Bob Stoll (drbobsports.com) to his customers by e-mail.

Stoll, 41, was a statistics major at Berkeley in 1987 when he started his sports picks service. He has done some radio but he's kept a relatively low profile in the tout world. That started to change last year when he hit 74 percent in college football on a "star basis." Basically, a 2-star is worth two units, 5-star is five units, and they're graded as such. His list of clients grew, and he said he started to see lines move shortly after his 10 a.m. releases.

"Around the third or fourth week last year is when I started to notice my clients steaming some lines," Stoll said Thursday. "It would take five or ten minutes. This year, it's instantaneous."

This year, his picks are 19-12-3 (61 percent after tossing out the pushes) and 55-30-7 (65 percent) on a star basis. Word of his success has spread, and it's becoming clear that not only are Stoll's clients firing away, but people merely line-shopping are also trying to jump on the steam train. Even for those who miss the prime numbers, Stoll's plays have been 40-24-7 (62.5 percent) after the line moves.

Apparently a group is betting large sums on Stoll's selections and driving the lines immediately after he e-mails the picks to his clients. Some reports say the group is unaffected by Stoll, but Stoll points out that the group never moves its games earlier than his releases. He said he assumes the group is a client.

Stoll said he started to get complaints from some of his customers early this year that they couldn't get down on lines before they moved. So, three weeks ago, he started releasing the plays in sets of two about every four minutes.

"People were betting one game and then all the other lines would be gone, so this helped a little bit," Stoll said. "I've heard that the Asian group has about 80 people working with them, so some people say it's helped them be more organized, too. I'm just trying to level the playing field for the guys on their own."

Stoll said he suspects sports books have become clients of his to beat the steam. He points out that Thursday morning, Pinnacle took all his games offline within minutes of his sending out the mass e-mail.

It would take too much space to detail all the line movement that went on Thursday morning, but here's a summary. And it all took place within a half-hour's time.

Bob's pickStartMoveFoe

N.C. St.+3+1.5Md.




UCLA+14 1/2 +13 1/2ND

Ok. St.-2.5-4Texas A&M


Hawaii-18.5-20.5N.M. St.

Stoll is obviously enjoying his run, although he is facing new problems, such as trying to make the e-mail delivery system fair for everyone, not necessarily something that a handicapper wants to devote energy to. But he's not the kind to claim he's winning at everything. He readily points out that during his great college season last year, he was 26-35 in the NFL and is 5-6-2 with his NFL best bets this year - although he's 3-0-2 the last two weeks.

But there's no question that you go with the hot hand. And for Stoll and his followers, as well as those trying to set up big middles, it doesn't get much hotter than this.

As for my plays . . .

Today's column would have been much easier if I didn't jump on this story and just went with my college selections. I was planning to use UCLA +14 and Oklahoma St. -2 1/2 vs. Texas A&M as two of my bankrolls, but I can't recommend them in good conscience now that the lines have moved on the other side of key numbers, and I wouldn't bet them now if I didn't already have bets on them at the better lines.

That's the bad news (or at least I think it will be - who knows, those could both lose). But I also got good news while watching all the lines steam Thursday morning. There are two cases where I differ from Stoll's plays, and now I'm able to offer those at even better lines. Considering I already have bets on them at the earlier line, and I'm going to bet them again now that the lines have moved, I'll make both of them my first 2-unit plays of the season.

Texas (-5) at Nebraska

This line was Texas -6 when I bet it Sunday night and I thought that was cheap. It had climbed to 6 1/2 at most books until Dr. Bob released the other side. But I'll fire away again as the Longhorns' offense is superior and their defense, while statistically similar to Nebraska's, has given up a lot of its yards in garbage time of blowouts. Nebraska is on the way back, but Texas should still stay well clear of a touchdown.

PLAY: Texas for 2 units

Hawaii at New Mexico St. (+20 1/2)

New Mexico St.'s Chase Holbrook and Hawaii's Colt Brennan rank 1-2 nationally in passing yards and total offense, so this should be a shootout. I love taking the big points in a spot like this. Add to that the fact I wasn't impressed with Hawaii's defense in its 68-37 win over Fresno St., and I think the Aggies keep pace up to the end just as they did in covering +17 vs. UTEP on Sept. 30 and +27 vs. Boise St. last Sunday.

PLAY: New Mexico St. for 2 units

Last week: 2-5 for a net loss of 3.5 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1). College season record: 21-19 for a net profit of 0.1 units