Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Super Bowl Prop: betting against a longshot

Super Bowl props are very thinly bet props. One small wager can move the line, and since not all books have the same line (or they copy other books' lines), one wager can effectively move the market. For that reason, it is really difficult for any bettor to recommend Super Bowl prop bets unless it is a widely available type of prop, such as "Who will score First". Another logical way a bettor can recommend a prop is after they have bet enough, so if anyone else bets on it, it will not take away the originator's opportunities.

With that said, here is one prop that I've bet enough for my own risk parameter. The line looks like it is still available at the price I bet it at, so this is the best of both worlds.

The Super Bowl Prop I'm recommending is going against a longshot. It is:

Under 0.5 Blocked Punts -800

I laid 8 to 1 against any blocked punts from happening in this game.
I think the true price should be -1880.

This is an event I think should happen in about 5% of all NFL games, but the sportsbooks are offering me to "sell" it at about 11%. For a bet of $800 to win $100, the EV using the expectation of it happening only 5% of the time is:

$100 x 95% - $800 x 5% = $55

That's an ROI of 6.9% ($55/$800). It is better than betting against an Overtime, which usually presents positive EV for the bettor, but not as good as this.

Here are some stats why I think 5% is the true number.
In the past 4 regular season NFL games, a total of 1,024 games, there has been 53 blocked punts. This number is from NFL.com. Here is the breakdown by year:

2006 - 12
2005 - 9
2004 - 11
2003 - 21

That's not very many. If all 53 blocked punts came in different games, then that represents 5.2% of all games in the past 4 regular seasons had a blocked punt. Laying -800 is the same as selling 11.1%. Thus, this looks like a nice edge.

It is also very important to look at the individual teams in the game. In this case, the Bears and the Colts. If they block more punts or have more blocked punts against them, then that could make this a bad wager. One or both teams could be special with respect to the rest of the league. Let's take a look to see if this is the case:

Neither the Bears nor the Colts had any punts blocked this year.
The Colts did block one punt, but the Bears did not.

That's a total of 1 blocked punt in 32 games between the two teams. That's lower than the 5% rate the rest of the NFL had, so I am not concerned about either the Colts or the Bears having a special reason to have more blocked punts in the Super Bowl.

Here are some issues that would worry me. There is a chance that the stats from NFL.com is incorrect. I don't think this is the case, but if it is incorrect, then all my calculations go out the window.
Although I like the bet, there is only a certain amount I'm willing to risk. Even though the positive EV is very nice, my personal risk parameter has a limit. For some people, their personal risk parameter would prevent them from making this bet regardless of the positive EV. I'm willing to take more risk than that, but only to a certain extent. A very good friend of mine, who is also a positive EV player, likes the EV in this bet but he is still not willing to bet it because it doesn't fit his personal risk parameters. While I think he is taking too little risk, I can understand that he is his own man with his own risk parameters. So it makes sense for both of us to agree on the same value on the wager, but only one of us is willing to make the wager.

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