As you plan your event, you’ve probably wondered what to do about music. Should you hire a live band? Would a D. J. Be a better choice? Or will you hook up your iPod to a sound system and playback your own custom party playlist? Whether you are planning a wedding, a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, a corporate event, a reunion, or some other event, your choice of music will set the tone. Choosing a band for your event can spell the difference between a good party and an amazing party.

In contrast to a D. J. Or iPod playlist, a live band can read the audience, sensing their reactions to the music, and making changes to their style and music selection on the fly, keeping the audience happy, engaged, and tapping their toes or on their feet. The audience reacts to the performers in a live band in a way they cannot with a D. J. Playing back prerecorded music; whether to the emotion in a singer’s voice, to the groove of the bas and drums of a hot rhythm section, or the riffing of the guitar player, the live energy of a band cannot be equaled.

During a typical 4 hour party, approximately 60 or 70 songs will be played; while a D. J. May have thousands of songs to choose from, in reality few of those songs will be played. A band typically knows many more songs than this, and many bands focus on specific types of events, and know many songs for that specific type of party.

Music played using your iPod or other MP3 player is limited in the same way as music played by a D. J., with the additional problem of there needing to be someone responsible for making adjustments in song selection and volume during the wedding or party? Even the most experienced iPod user knows that volume fluctuation between songs can be rather dramatic. In short, managing music on one’s own during an event may well end up being a fulltime job, and neither guests nor those participating in more active roles at an event are likely to be able or willing to spare the time to do so.

There are additional advantages to using a live band. Typically, one of the members of the group will have experience as an emcee, and would be willing to host your event. The band is usually more than happy to allow the use of its sound gear for toasts, speeches, and the giving of awards, as well as to provide recorded music during the band’s breaks.

The best way to choose a band is to hear them play live. Frequently you will have a chance to see a perspective band live, since many working bands have frequent live dates scheduled, in nightclubs, or at community events. Should this not be possible, the band will typically have video or audio recordings available for you to review.

Alternately, you can ask the band for a video or CD of a live performance.

Don’t forget to work out your playlist with the band well in advance of the actual date. Remember, musicians love to play live, and most of them are doing it for more than just money. Hiring a live band will help make your special event unforgettable!

Tapping Into The Most Popular Characters Used In Halloween Costumes

Many serious sports bettors consider the futures wager the province of rank amateurs trying to go for the big killing. They’re the sports betting equivalent of the wanna-be stock investor who always gripes if only I had bought Microsoft when they went public. They’re not the type who’ll do the work to grind out profits in the market, nor are they forward thinking enough to find the next big company to go public. They’d rather lay some money on a high priced dog and hope for the best, which seldom (if ever) occurs. Right now at some sportsbooks a $100 bet on the Cincinnati Bengals to win the 2010 Superbowl will pay back $10,000. The problem is that the true odds of Cincinnati winning the Superbowl are probably in the range of 50,000 to 1 which makes the +10000 you’re getting in this bet a bad value from the get-go.

Even for the more pragmatic bettor, the inherent problems with futures wagers are readily apparent. You have to tie up your wagering capital for a long time. More significantly, once your bet is down you’re at the mercy of the countless interceding events that can influence the fortunes of a sports team. Its hard enough trying to weigh the significance of scheduling, injuries, personnel movement and so forth on a day to day basis. Controlling for all of these variables over an entire season is impossible.

So why bet futures at all? More so than anything else, its essential to think of sports wagering not in terms of who wins or loses, but in terms of value. Properly utilized, future book wagers are often a great source of value. Below are some of the ways I like to use future wagers:

Futures can be a good way to leverage value on propositions where your knowledge is greater than the bookmaker’s. For example, many sports books offer betting propositions on entertainment oriented events like the Academy Awards. A handicapper who pays close attention to the movie industry and Hollywood news can stay one step ahead of the linesmaker.

Some books even take bets on the major awards like ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Director’ before the nominations are actually announced. In this situation, a bettor who can read the ‘buzz’ on which films will be nominated can find substantially better values before the nominations are announced.

Making the Academy Awards an even better candidate for futures wagers is the nature of the film business itself. The release schedule for films is set well in advance, and after the year end cut off date no ’surprise’ releases can sneak in to consideration. At this point, its relatively easy to narrow down the serious contenders and with some work to come up with a ’short list’ of Oscar candidates.

Futures wagers are also effective for finding value in a sports betting paradigm. By its very nature, sports presents more variables to deal with than does the movie industry. The top teams are well known by both the linesmakers and general public, and seldom can be found at a value price. For example, you can already bet that the New England Patriots will win the 2010 Superbowl but you can be sure that you’re not going to get a good value price on such a well known ‘public’ team.

To find value on this sort of wager you need to look for ‘dark horse’ candidates. For example, at midseason you could have bet on the Carolina Hurricanes to win the 2009 Stanley Cup at prices as high as 25/1 or 30/1. Now, they’re one of four teams remaining and are priced at 5/1 to 7/1 depending on the book.

This play didn’t necessitate a crystal ball or a Canadien genie with a profound interest in hockey–instead, it was a simple matter of determining teams that offered true odds of championship success that were lower than the price offered in the future bet. At prices like 25/1 or 40/1 its possible to back several dark horse ‘candidates’ and if one or more enjoy postseason success it presents a number of opportunities to hedge and guarantee a profit.

Also, don’t forget to consider ‘the field’. Many futures wagers lump a number of teams or competitors together as ‘the field’ and offer a single price to bet them all. Occasionally, the quick thinking handicapper can find unique value situations. For example, after Dale Earnhardt’s tragic death in 2001 some sportsbooks continued to offer a ‘field’ position on rookie of the year. A bettor who followed NASCAR closely would have quickly realized that Kevin Harvick–who replaced Earnhardt in his Richard Childress racing Chevy–qualified for the ‘rookie of the year’ award and could have bet the field at prices as high as 15/1. After he won his first race, the price for ‘the field’ dropped to 2/1 and by midseason ‘the field’ was a -250 favorite.

This is obviously a best case example, but there have been similar circumstances that were still good value plays but didn’t work out perfectly like the Harvick situation. Several years ago it wasn’t uncommon to find a field bet on NASCAR road races that allowed you to bet several of the road course specialists like Ron Fellows, Boris Said and Scott Pruett with one bet. You wont be able to take advantage of the field bet often, but if you keep your eyes open and think out of the box it can be very profitable when it does occur.

As a postscript, I want to emphasize the importance on shopping around any futures play for the best price. Shopping points is a smart thing to do on any wager, but the differences from book to book are frequently most extreme with futures plays. A little legwork can yield a substantially better price and the resulting better value.

Ross Everett is a well known writer specializing in sports handicapping, wombat racing, travel and fencing. He is a staff handicapper for Anatta Sports where he is in charge of providing daily free sports picks to a number of Internet and broadcast media outlets. He lives in Southern Nevada with three dogs and a wombat.

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