Before I go….I promised some NFL advice that so many of you were anticipating. I don’t plan to disappoint! When it comes to figuring out the few profitable bets that you can find in pro football, the edges are much more subtle than the average poker hand. For example, you might have an open-ended straight draw on the turn when you’re getting 10 to 1 pot odds. Obviously, the mathematical edge on calling one turn bet is very large. The opposite is usually true when you’re betting the NFL (or most sports bets), where a 3% to 5% edge is something that should put a huge smile on your face!
How do you go about getting these edges? There are a few suprisingly simple methods that can drastically improve your results. If you want to turn the odds in your favor this season, then forget everything that you thought you knew about NFL betting and focus on the advice below:
— Play six-point teasers on home teams that are either: a. favored by 7.5 to 8.5 points or b. 1.5 or 2 point underdogs at sites that offer either 2-team six-point teasers at even money or 3 team six-point teasers at +180 (18 to 10.) For example, let’s say that you scan the weekend’s NFL lines and find Kansas City -8.5 at home against Miami and Washington +2 at home vs. Philadelphia. You’d find one of your sites (better be a member of many!) that offers even money on the above two-team teasers and take Kansas City -2.5 with Washington +8. You must win both to collect on the bet (which will happen slightly more than 50% of the time.)
Why does this work? Well, NFL games are most likely to finish with the favored team winning by 3,4,6,7, or 10 (with 3 being the most important number by far…followed by 7.) Home teams are more likely to either win outright (in KC) or keep the game close (with Wash.) And, NFL games rarely land on a team winning by one or two (which makes -2.5 very desirable.) So when you tease the above teams “through both the 3 and 7”, you have created a powerful bet. I actually stumbled upon this myself about five years ago (during a rare moment of in-depth reserach) when I studied the prior 10 years of NFL pointspread results and calculated that those specific teasers would’ve had a 6% edge. Soon after, Stanford Wong’s “Sharp Sports Betting” documented a very similar finding. In fact, the Vegas sportsbooks (in an equally rare moment of competency) started to take some punishment on these bets and have made them more expensive to play. Luckily, there are still plenty of very reputable on-line sites who continue to offer the good ol’ prices! As long as NFL lines continue to be very accurate (which I certainly don’t see changing anytime in the near future) and the two-team teases continue to be offered on-line at even money or better, these gems should keep providing the astute bettor a healthy edge. One last note before I move on: I have not included home 2.5 point underdogs in that subset (as Sharp Sports betting does), because the line often moves to 3 in that situation (which substantially reduces the value of a teaser with +8.5)
— Focus on underdogs while in Las Vegas. Many of the sportsbooks there still tend to be very risk-averse and will be quick to slightly inflate lines on the games w/ lots of favorite betting by the square public. I’ve often seen -11 or -11.5 on a pro game that is a solid 10.5 all over the off-shore sites (which, as a general rule, have more accurate lines than they do in Vegas. Don’t look so suprised!.) While some of these bets will still have a negative expected value (discussing the exact point where these lines become + EV is beyond the scope of this article), it will always help your overall results to get that extra 1/2 point or full point.
— Pay special attention to Sunday night and Monday night football. Since these games are the only action in town, many Vegas books and on-line sites get plenty of lopsided action on the favorite and on the over. If a solid site (such as Pinnacle, which is the standard for the “market” line that I use) has -6.5 and 42 on a game, then you will be more likely to find a -7 or a 43.5 someplace if it’s on Sunday or Monday night.
The last few items are more directed at the bettor who just wants to take “who he likes” rather than finding the best mathematical bets (I know plenty of you are out there!) While I certainly don’t advocate this….if you must, be sure to:
— JOIN MANY SITES. I cannot emphasize this enough! You simply MUST have enough different outlets to find the best possible price on your bets. If a line is 7.5 most places, you might be able to find an 8. If you like a favorite that is -4, one of your sites could have 3 1/2. There WILL be times that the game will end 21-17….and you will feel like you’ve just pulled a rabbit out of your hat. Sometimes you can even find a solitary 6.5 or 7.5 when every other book around is a solid -7, and that is a very important half point. Different sites can also have varying teaser prices and promotions (if you decide to relent and look for the ones listed earlier) 🙂
— Take advantage of bonuses at the on-line sites. Most of them will offer 10 to 20% on your initial deposit, and some will give you 10% on your re-ups as well. I’m sure that a lot of you are used to doing this with poker, so it will seem like second nature.
— And finally, always check Pinnaclesports before making your bet. As I’ve mentioned before in my forum, that site will save the favorite-loving better a lot of money throughout the course of an entire season. Why lay the traditional 110 to 100 on games when Pinnacle will often let you have the same bet at -103 or -107? For the fan who only wants to bet his favorite team or his “hunches” and accepts his losses as the cost of entertainment, spending a few seconds to use Pinnacle will cut that cost in half.
Any questions? The only quiz is at the end of the season (when you’ll have look back and see if you had the discipline to make the right decisions and see how your sports betting bankroll has changed.) If you follow the advice above, you will be well on your way to finally turning the corner (or, for the “entertainment cost” bettor, at least cutting into your losses.)
It’s been fun, everyone….even though I won’t be an official advisor on ITH anymore, I will still be around and be happy to answer any general questions that you might have (about sports, the market, or anything else on your mind!)
Go get ’em this season!