Dorothy was right . . . You can go home again - to Kansas.
Just close your eyes and think . . . You'll be transported back home from the glittering Land of Odds to KU country.
And Mom, your sister and friends will be waiting.
It happened to Professional Handicappers League Member (ProCappers.com) and sports analyst Mike Lineback; the plot is straight out Frank Baum's classic novel. (Mike probably had a Toto-type canine too. )
Lineback - no, he's not an NFL player, though his name sounds as if he should be - has been handicapping for 20 years, ever since he won his first baseball parlay while vacationing in Lake Tahoe, Calif. He says he has been successful betting on professional sports for the past 10 years. However, not without learning some hard lessons along the way.
"In the beginning I made all the same mistakes that many sports gamblers do today. I bet too many games, money I didn’t have, chased my losses, etc. I was trying to make a living like everyone else. As a result, I never had the time, knowledge or necessary bankroll to be successful in sports gambling, " Lineback, 43, said.
"Finally I got smart", Mike continued. “I decided to focus on professional sports (MLB, NFL and NBA), set aside a reasonable bankroll, not vary my bet amounts and play only my best bets - not just a game because it was on TV. "
Lineback recommends you only wager 2.5 percent of your bankroll on each game. “I have followed this money management system for the past 10 years and have survived every losing streak since, " Lineback added.
"Basically I'm break-even in college sports over the years, but I'm getting better, although very selective. It's very difficult to follow all the games yourself. "
Lineback does his own handicapping and focuses on pro sports.
"My background is in sports, " he said. “I was an athlete in college, played baseball on scholarship (Yes, Lineback has a brain!) at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas and graduated in 1985 with a business degree. "
Lineback has lived in Las Vegas and Kansas City most of his adult working life. Five years ago Mike courageously decided to sell his construction company and go back to school to earn his teaching license (Yes, he has a brain!). He made the move back to Topeka to go to school and be near his family and friends.
"Yes, I have come full circle, " he said.
He is divorced and has a daughter, Samantha, 19, who started college this year.
Mike decided to take a break from his teaching aspirations after joining The Professional Handicappers League in 2004. He is two semesters short of earning his teaching license and hopes to finish what he started someday.
"When I first started going back to school, I decided to start having my picks monitored on the Internet for fun, " Lineback said.
"I never thought about starting a sports service until I won a high profile internet handicapping contest in 2003. Shortly afterwards, a high profile sports book approached me about building a Web site for my sports service in exchange for exclusive sponsorship.
"At first I was reluctant, but decided to give it a try, " Lineback said.
The rest is history.
"I have been very successful since starting a sports service in October 2003, " Lineback continued. “I take my responsibility to my members very seriously, " he says.
In addition to winning the handicapping contest, Mike won a 2004-05 NBA handicapping contest and finished second the year before. He has been documented No. 1 in NBA two consecutive years at four different monitors and finished No. 2 at The Professional Handicappers League (ProCappers.com) the last two seasons. This year he won the World Major League Baseball Handicapping Championship at The Professional Handicappers League (ProCappers.com).
The 2005 MLB World Title is Lineback's first at The Professional Handicappers League (ProCappers.com).
The league will honor him with a trip to Las Vegas for BoDog's annual summer conference on sports gambling and poker and the signature gold bracelet World Champions recieve to commemorate their victories.
"My favorite sport is the NFL; MLB is a close second, " Lineback declared.
"Next are college sports ('I'm a fan'). Ironically, I have been very successful in the NBA over the years and believe the sport is easier to handicap, but probably wouldn't watch much if I wasn't a professional handicapper.
"I can’t say I am a big fan of the NBA, except for maybe playoff time. The rest is business and of course it always helps when you have money on the game. "
Lineback had the Chicago White Sox to win the World Series, but only bet them the first two games.
That leaves just one question: Does Lineback have a heart?
Judge for yourself.
Lynda Collins is a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of her articles at http://www.procappers.com/Lynda_Collins.htm