Should you doubt the tout?

Updated: October 17, 2005, 3:50 PM ET
By Jay Cronley | Special to ESPN.com

Writing in this space in August, long before the first of thousands of bad calls by tubby old referees had begun to trash the college football landscape, I listed, as the lock of the next period bigger than a millennium: Texas over Oklahoma in football.

All successful gambling has patience in common. People who count cards win at blackjack, it can't be helped. People who watch horses race around a track without a bet, but with an eye toward a future win, almost have to make money. Trip-handicapping gives a horse player a considerable edge over an opponent who hadn't seen a particular race and had to create a picture from the numbers and descriptions in the past performance charts. One person's wide or blocked is another person's baloney.

Good gambling is much like work, it's time-consuming.

It's one thing to release a Lock of the Millennium Plus if you're a shyster tout service with inside information coming from inside a beer bottle. It's quite another to release in print on a national website, for free, a college football Sledgehammer Deluxe in the summer with the game kicking off the second week of October.

Concerning the art of touting, the first question that the needy gambler must ask him or herself is: Why aren't the people who are selling football and horse picks out making bets themselves?

Why are touts so darn nice?

The answer is: Selling picks is a whole lot more profitable than betting picks.

After printing the Texas over Oklahoma Smash Mouth Knockout prediction, a number of emails arrived to inquire about the seriousness and knowingness of the opinion.

It is awkward to realize that somebody might be out there reading your tout with one hand on savings.

Anybody voicing a gambling opinion is bound by picking ethics to bet what he touts. But I could just see myself placing fifty bucks to win on Texas as a reader in Sheboygan was signing a SUV title. Anybody making a prediction should probably disclose all you can up front, such as how much you plan to bet on a game or an Exacta.

Releasing this football Lock of the Solar System resulted in moments of concern as Oklahoma lost first to the Christians (TCU) and then the Uclans. What might Texas be favored in my Stratosphere Special, four dozen? Turns out Texas was favored by 14 and won by more than twice that, whew.

As a result of the pick and the winner, there arrived in the post earlier this week a specially prepared container from Pennsylvania with a bottle of expensive champagne inside and a note, unsigned: Thanks for Texas.

The "s" in Thanks and Texas had been made into dollar signs.

You wonder: What if Oklahoma had won?

I gave the champagne to a church.

As the Breeder's Cup approaches, many horse players welcome touts in their lives as never before because Cup races are like a new language, that hard.

As a sometimes picker, this is what you can expect: no inside information and somebody to blame.

Handicapping something successfully is like any other talent.

Can a person learn to be creative?

You can teach somebody how to think, not what to think; have to get back to you on that one.

The best pick is probably a free pick because good pickers don't need to work a hustle.

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com