Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Angle bettors need to know the starting base

There are many angles in sports betting. Bettors find these angles and sometimes bet them blindly. But without a starting base of the line, how does one know if the angle is already built into the line? If it is already built into the line, then betting blindly on that particular angle is useless as one is just paying the vig in a coin flip. Angle bettors still need some form of handicapping or analyzing where the starting base should be. Without an idea of the starting base, the angle bettors won't know if they are still betting on the angle itself or if the angle is already built-in.

Here's a hypothetical situation:
In comparing the Returning Starters (RS) differential between two college football teams early in the season, you find a good angle where the team with significantly more RS and is still an underdog have done very well over the past 5 years. So you decide to look at the RS numbers for the coming games and make wagers on it. You decide that Team X has significantly more RS than Team Y and they are still getting 7 points. So you decide to wager on Team X without analyzing the line or handicapping the teams.

The problem with this blind wager using the RS angle is that possibly the market has already corrected for the RS angle. Possibly 5-10 years ago, when the angle was less well known, the line with the talents of Team X and Team Y would have been Team X +11. If that is the case, then the RS angle has built in a 4 point swing in the pointspread. Maybe this is still not enough of a swing, and maybe the RS angle still has positive EV even with the 4 point adjustment. Or maybe the RS angle is overcompensated and the other side is a good bet now. Or maybe 4 points is just enough.

Sometimes it is easier than other times to analyze the starting base. When it is two College Football teams playing in August, I think it is rather difficult because they have so much turnover in players. In other leagues and sports, it may be a bit easier. Here is a hypothetical example in baseball where the comparison is a bit easier:

Angle: The White Sox are dominant at home during day games because they can get away with stealing catcher's signs and relay them to the hitter before the pitch is thrown (remember this is hypothetical). They can't get away with it in night games, but they can in day games.

Starting base: The White Sox faced the Yankees last week in New York. Freddy Garcia pitched against Randy Johnson and the Yankees were -140 in the game. You think that if these two pitchers faced each other in the White Sox home park, the line on the game would be even money (40 cent swing)

Line: The line in the Yankees vs White Sox game in Chicago's home park is Randy Johnson -105 vs Freddy Garcia. With a 10 cent buyback, you can get Garcia and the White Sox at -105.

Betting the Angle: In this case, your angle does not appear to be built into the line. The starting base you used when the teams and the same pitchers faced each other the previous week shows that the starting base line is even money on this game. If you think stealing signs is worth 50 cents, then you would think CHW should be -150 in this day game against the Yankees. Now you can safely bet the angle knowing it is not built into the line. You did this without any handicapping, but just some line analysis. Handicappers that can come up with moneylines systematically have it even easier as they can just look at their numbers to see what the fair value should be.

Back to the RS in College Football in 2006:
This angle has been fairly well known in the past. It seems to be getting even more well known. If too many people are betting on it, it may no longer have any value. Be careful.

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