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The Fastest Column in the World
Jai-Alai
by Todd Sorensen

It's a breathtaking sport played by some of the most agile athletes in the world. It's played with a pelota, a rock-hard ball five-sixths the size of a baseball, and with the explosive bounce of a golf ball. The object- to throw the pelota with enough precision, power or spin so that your opponent cannot catch and return it before the second bounce.

All three walls are in play. The players use a cesta, or basket, made from Spanish chestnut and reeds to throw the ball up to the blistering speed of 188 miles per hour. The Guinness Book of World Records has declared Jai-Alai the World's Fastest Ballgame.

In the U.S. the game is played with eight single players or teams. To start the game the first two teams play, with the winner earning a point and staying on the court. The loser goes to the bench, waiting his turn to return to the court. The play is round-robin, with all points being worth two after all teams have played once.

Games are played to seven or nine points. Nine point games have Superfecta betting. Just like in tennis the server must land the pelota in the serve box to start a point. If the server misses they lose and the other team gets the point.

Jai-Alai is a game of numbers. Understanding how the numbers work is the key to handicapping success. Below is a list of basic "can't miss" Jai-Alai handicapping tips for the beginner that'll help make for an exciting afternoon or evening of fun. If you can't make it to sunny Florida to see the action live, then you can go to www.betdania.com for complete information, even live games via video streaming.

First of all, Jai-Alai games are usually more evenly matched than a dog or horse race. It's a rarity for a team to go to post at 2:5 or 50:1. In a majority of games all teams have win odds between 3:1 and 10:1. Most Jai-Alai games are played by athletes close to the same skill level. Still, for the alert handicapper there are ways to unlock Jai-Alai's code and win big.

The lower posts (1,2,3) have a better chance to win. Since the play is a round-robin, the teams in lower posts will get more turns on the court. Remember, the first team to 7 (or 9) points is victorious. In a 7-point game it is almost do-or-die for the 8-post. If they don't win their first time up, they'll likely not get another shot because someone else will win before then.

Also, don't "logjam" your posts. For example, betting the 4, 5, and 6 can be dangerous because they will have a lot of direct competition between each other. For the 4, 5, and 6 to come in together the game would have to be very long and play out perfectly. You're going against the odds by "logjamming".

Once you find a good player or hot team, use their position to your advantage. The 7-post is statistically the hardest post to win from, so consider that in your analysis.

If you think the 8-post is a really good team, then put them in your bet. The reason after the first point they play, all points double. If they win three times, they'll have five points and most likely finish in the money.

Also, if you bet a good player and lose, go right back with him the next game. If you bet someone with a high in the money percentage and they don't win, place, or show, it is that much more likely they will the next time.

Finally, the most failsafe bet for an average Jai-Alai fan is to just go with their favorite numbers. The good thing about Jai-Alai for beginners is if they bet lucky numbers they still have a decent chance to be a winner. Although, the skilled handicapper still has an advantage over "lucky" bettors.

Using the handicapping tools given to you in this article you should be ready to start tackling the sport of Jai-Alai. The handicapping points are a solid foundation for a lot of fun with the world's fastest ballgame. Just remember, for the beginner- IF ALL ELSE FAILS- Just go with "The Numbers" Baby!

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