Thursday, August 31, 2006

An overlooked asset in sports betting

An overlooked asset in sports betting is finding a place to take your wager. The lines or the wagers that the sportsbook is willing to take can trump all other aspects of sports betting. Here are a couple of examples:

- you like playing NFL two team six-point teasers. These bets have good value under the right circumstances. However, most books in Las Vegas offer -120 on these wagers, and many books offshore have gone to -110. But you have found a place willing to take these wagers at -100. Finding the book that offers the nice price is just as valuable as understanding the wager is a positive EV wager at -100, but becomes a lot less so at -110.

- you like playing NFL futures. Knowing which books routinely offer their futures with only a 25% markup vs those that offer their futures with a 100% markup is worth something. What I mean by markup is if you convert all the odds for all the teams into percentages, and add them up, theoretically, they should add up to 100% since only one team can win. Some places will offer odds that add up to 125% (25% markup). This allows some room for a chance to find a positive EV bet since there are usually many teams spread in the pool. But when a book's odds add up to 200% (100% markup), then the possibility of finding a positive EV wager is very dim. Knowing which book offers only a 25% markup means you can save a lot of time by visiting those places and looking at their odds...and avoiding those with the higher markups. For example, in Las Vegas, I have learned not to bother spending any time checking Harrah's futures numbers. Their markup is just way too high. On the other hand, there are a handful of places I will visit every single time I go to Vegas just to see their futures. You will have to find out which places those are yourself :-)

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