Q & A with a Professional Handicapper

J.A. Cavalier, has been a fixture on local and national sports radio for over 20 years!  His knowledge and experience have been where radio hosts in multiple markets turn to for over under on and predictions on their favorite teams.  As a handicapper and gambler for over 25 years, he has the passion,  family knowledge and love for the art of gambling.  He shares some inside knowledge on how to get started, the highs and lows of the gambling industry, and gives us some inside scoop on some of our local teams!

When did you decided to go full time as a sports handicapper?

Well, I always say that I never decided to be a full-time sports handicapper. Fate decided it for me. It all goes back to where and how I was raised. I grew up in Queens with Navy boxing champ/local bookie grandfather who taught me everything I know about reading the numbers, how lines are made, and why they move. I was a sports junkie playing everything, but my favorite was always football. My dad worked his tail off to provide all the latest in gear for whatever sport I was playing. 

That work ethic was pounded into me at an early age and I worked to become an FBS prospect. Then, fate connects me with a legend in the sports betting industry and, just like that, I’m making a couple grand a week doing something that I truly loved and enjoyed. I was only 19 years old and my future was set. I’ve been doing this now for over 25 years.

What’s the easiest sport to handicap?

I’ve always been passionate about football. I love the game and strategy. Because of that, it’s the sport I enjoy handicapping the most. For aspiring handicappers, it’s something I would recommend. Do what you know. Do what you love. You’re more likely to do better at something that you truly love. 

With that in mind, what advice would you give someone just getting into sports betting?

More people in the US are able to bet now and plenty of newbies are getting into sports betting. I would tell them to do their homework. Do the research and then bet with your head, not above. Bettors should always manage their bankroll and stay within their means. Too often bettors will bet blindly and when they lose they end up chasing their losses. That’s a strategy for disaster.

What about someone who wants to get to similar point like yourself?

With the increase in states with legal betting, there will be those looking to get into handicapping. I would tell them straight up – find another profession. They will be much happier. The money can be addicting, but the work is hard. I’ve missed so many family events – weddings, birthdays, etc. – because I’ve had to work. This is a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week job with early mornings, late nights, and plenty of stress. You get up, work 16 hours, and then you do it again the next day. When you win, it’s great. When you lose, not so much.

Have you had bad runs and how do you handle them? 

There is one thing in this business that I will never be comfortable with and that is losing. It’s inevitable. The bad streaks are going to come no matter how good you are. I consider myself the best in the industry and I cannot avoid bad runs. 

As far as handling them, I would like to say that I’ve mellowed some, but the number of TVs and TV remotes that I have broken in one way or another is just way too many to count. 

The Titans finally became the preseason favorite to win the AFC South after they added Julio Jones. How confident should fans feel putting their money on the Titans to win the division again this year?

I do like Tennessee to win the AFC South again. With Henry pounding the running game, it makes it easier for Tannehill in the passing game. And now, he has not one, but two legitimate deep threat receivers in Jones and Brown.

The division itself is weak with Jacksonville and Houston. Indy is only threat, but they have issues too. The only thing that bothers me with Tennessee is the defense and the offensive line, but I do like them to win the division.

Derrick Henry is a strong favorite to repeat as the rushing champ. But would you still make that bet this year with a new OC in Nashville and more talent at wide receiver?

I would not and this is by no means a knock on Henry. His rushing yards are most likely going to be the casualty to the addition of Julio Jones. With Jones now, teams will not be able to stack the box and defenses will not be able to double AJ Brown. The problem for Henry is that the additional yards picked up in the drop-back and play action passing games will not be in Henry’s rushing stats. 

It looks like Alabama is so much better than everyone else in the country again this year. Is betting them to win the national title that easy of a bet, or do you want to see more from the rest of the nation?

I would have to disagree. Bryce Young is still going to have to make some plays with his arm in big spots. This may be the year Kirby gets to Nick Saban. I actually picked Georgia to win the championship to start the season and nothing has changed for me. They have more experience at quarterback and their defense is outstanding.