Betting Off-Market Prices

Part I of II

Let’s assume you know nothing about MMA. You’re watching a UFC event with a friend who likewise knows nothing about it. The difference is you’re a regular sports bettor and he’s not. He offers you an even money bet. You load an online betting website and discover they are offering the fighter your friend is offering you even money on at odds -200 (risk 2 to win 1). What your friend is offering is an off-market price. Even though you know nothing about UFC, you are of course going to accept the bet.

Though they are less generous, online sportsbooks offer off-market prices too. Taking advantage of such is the easiest and of one of the best ways to make serious sports betting profit. It is however not as straight forward as you might assume. There is a learning curve involved. A lot of that has to do with knowledge about specific sportsbooks. The rest is understanding the market, and knowing the math. It is something you will only get good at with experience. In this article I provide a solid orientation to help you get started. A lot of this is linking to other articles, most of which are near must reads.

Sharp Books vs. Square Books

The first thing to understand is most online bookies do not service advantage players for very long. There are many where if you get lucky and win, then… sure, no problem. However, if all of your bets involve chasing steam, stale lines, and/or crushing them on props and small markets, most are going to ban you, or give you a personal limit collar. This is extremely common. At many online sportsbooks my own accounts have maximum bet limits of only $1.00. It is essentially the same as being banned.

There are however a small number of professional friendly sites. Pinnacle Sports (no CA players) is well known for having the largest betting limits, lowest margins and fastest payouts while never limiting a player for winning too much. Their lines are considered the sharpest for the reasons covered in our site’s article called fading the public.

If you’re serious about betting off market prices you should also read that article linked above. It explains the betting market to an extent. Having an understanding of the betting market is a key to winning the most via betting off market prices. For now let me just tell you that for American sports NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college NCAA football and basketball Pinnacle’s odds are the most efficient. What this means is they are the toughest to beat, because they are the most accurate.

Why Websites Offer Off-Market Prices

Every online sportsbook has their own level of risk tolerance. With Pinnacle that risk tolerance is massive. You can make multiple max $10,000 to $30,000 bets on many different sports without getting cutoff or slow paid. The opposite extreme involves books with a very tiny risk tolerance.

Sites like MarathonBet, StanJames, and PaddyPower (none of which takes CA players) offer tons of +EV bets. The problem is if you bet the good sides on their already tiny limits, it takes only a day or two to be cut to $1.00 max bets. As a result these sites with small risk tolerance end up servicing only recreational players who lack any sports betting talent. These players bet only the most popular team. However, these are still well know sites ran by major companies. The volume they take in, due to thousands of $25 bets adding up, is significant. These books almost always have lopsided action too.

All of the above in mind, it should be easy to understand why when the best team in the league is playing the worst team in the league the recreational books shade their lines. This is in such as way the odds are not as good on the favorite and better on the underdog. As someone looking to bet sports for income it is our job to exploit that when the sites take it too far.

Important Warnings

Those unfamiliar with the sports betting industry may find it very difficult to learn what you can and can’t get away with at certain sportsbooks. You need to also understand that not all online bookies are reputable. A couple of important lessons:

  1. Super Bowl XXXVI was played on Feb 3, 2002. The teams playing in it and their betting odds were New England Patriots +14 vs. St. Louis Ram -14. Not many knew of it at the time, but then one of the oldest and most popular sportsbooks AcesGold was having a tough season. What they did in hopes of recovering was offer the Patriots +14.5. Everyone betting the Patriots wagered with them, while almost no one betting the Rams did the same. AcesGold built a huge position. Had they won they would have gotten out of financial difficulty. Well the Patriots ended up winning the game outright. AcesGold filed for Bankruptcy the following month and didn’t pay players.
  2. In 2009, SBG Global offered 70 to 1 odds on Jenson Button to win the Formula 1 World Championship. This was slightly better than what competitors were offering. They booked a lot of bets expecting he likely wouldn’t win (true odds were about 98% that he wouldn’t). When Button did win SBG Global claimed it was a line error and retroactively cancelled the bets. After much bad press they reinstated the wagers at 10 to 1, even though about 50 to 1 was the fair market price at the time these bets were taken.

The above are only two famous examples. In my article on recommended books about sports betting, one making the list is Conquering Risk: Attacking Vegas and Wall Street by Elihu Feustel. In this book the author warns that many sportsbooks consider advantage bets an act of violence directed at their bottom line and that most treat it as such. This is truth.

Beyond just the scams mentioned, there are sites such as Oddsmaker.ag, VIPSports.eu and Dimeline.eu that just outright steal from winners. You attempt to cash out and they find a reason not pay. Or you might just find your user log-in no longer works and they refuse to communicate period. Sites like these do make payments to clients that appear to be profitable and just got lucky. However, when it comes to advantage players betting off market prices, often their defense is not to limit and ban but to just flat out steal.

This is where it becomes vital to understand the risk level involved with each book you are dealing with. Truth be told, I still bet on occasion bet at scam books that offer good bonuses. I don’t trust them at all. However if the EV is such that it is worth it I’ll take the risk. My goal is to clear their bonus while making the bets look recreational and to not build my bankroll up with them too large.

Recommended Books

Now the good news for those just starting out is there are reputable books that offer off market prices too. www.bovada.lv has decent ratings across the web and has a great history for payouts. www.sportsbook.ag is notoriously for slow paying as their checks take about 6 weeks. However, it has been this way for more than a decade, and they always pay. With these sites I’m willing to take bigger risks.

For those outside the CA for some reason or another www.williamhill.com has tons of off market prices on NFL football. I have no idea why but they are notorious for this. Also www.betvictor.com often has the best openers on NFL, pricing both sides at -105, and being slow to update as the lines adjust. Again, both these books do not take CA players.

At all the books mentioned in the two paragraphs above, unless it is a gross error (the line is so far off market it must have been a mistake) you’ll be paid no problem on your off market bets.

Avoid Getting Freerolled

A freeroll is a situation where there is no way to lose, only to win. This would be if someone offered you a free bet such as “hey, I’ll give you a hundred dollars if you…”. Getting freerolled is the opposite. This is when someone else has a freeroll on you, thus you being in a situation where you can’t win, but can lose. This is quite common when betting off-market prices. If the line is too far off the book will void the line if you win. Many books will void it regardless either way. However, some otherwise reputable sportsbooks will take a wait and see approach. If your bet loses, it stands. If it wins, they void it citing bad line.

I wanted to make sure to cover all this as betting off market prices is not easy for someone very green to the industry to do. However there is a truckload of money to be made if you understand there are risks and manage those risks properly. This all said, here is the exact how to.

Beating the No-Vig Sharp Line

Part II of II:

Removing vig from moneylines is an article that you absolutely must read. This is how you know if the odds are far enough off market to be +EV. That page has a calculator that can be used to quickly calculate the no vig price. I’ll again link you to this site’s article on fading the public, as this explains some info about the betting market that you will want to know.

The Starting Point

Pinnacle Sports is the sharpest book and operates on low margins. This is the site non CA players want to use as the base. You’re not going to bet at Pinnacle, but rather have an account there and then make bets with other sites anytime their odds beat Pinnacle’s no-vig price.

For those living in the US, you’ll probably want to use www.5dimes.eu as the site you’re looking to beat the no-vig price of. While they don’t have the large limits that Pinnacle does, they do operate on low margins and employ similar algorithms to adjust their odds.

One thing I’ll warn you of is when www.bookmaker.eu has better odds than Pinnacle, 5Dimes, or any other sharp book, do NOT bet there based on that reason alone. Bookmaker is the only CA friendly online bookie that services high stakes professionals. With them you can bet $40,000 on NFL sides in a single shot. A lot of sharp action runs through Bookmaker. The reason we don’t use them as a base for calculating no-vig is they operate on full juice. There is too much margin of error. But do keep in mind Bookmaker is very sharp. Once you’re limited at most sites, this is the site you’ll likely end up betting with.

Far More In-Depth

What I’ve covered thus far might seem basic to some, but it is anything but. I could write a full book on this topic and still have information to share. This is because getting really good at betting off market prices requires learning a lot about the sports betting industry. You want to know who is sharp, who is not, will the site void lines, do they pay if you win, if they are sharp then is this only for certain sports and the list goes on and on. The only way to gain this is with experience. However, if you’d like opinions on any given sportsbook I suggest using the Online Sportsbook Discussion thread at 2+2. This provides a chance to ask other bettors their opinion.

To leave you with the map to your future riches, I strongly suggest reading about how much to bet per game. That article covers Kelly betting. The nice thing about betting off market prices is it is easy to estimate you edge. That is something required to calculate a Kelly stake. Use the calculator I linked you to earlier to calculate the no-vig price. Call this win probability and call its remainder loss Probability. Then plug it into the following equation.

(win probability * profit) – (loss probability * stake) = EV

The profit means how much you stand to profit on a winning bet. For example $110 bet at -110 is risk $110 to profit $100. (If you’re lost here read my article; How Sports Betting Works). This will tell you EV in dollar amounts. To see it as a % just use the formula: stake / EV = ROI. That tells you expected value as a percentage which is the basis for Kelly betting.

Two Final Warnings

  1. Read my article on betting small markets, for the reason off market prices do not apply to these. If you’re betting something like Korean Volleyball, checkers, swimming, or the National Spelling B ignore most everything mentioned in this article.
  2. There is no way to know that Pinnacle has the juice distributed equally. In other words the no-vig price might not be the same as the win probability. This is too deep of a topic to address in length but I’ll just leave it that this averages out. If it doesn’t in a given area, you might need to build a database to further test.

Again I could go on and on with this topic as there is so much to know. While betting off market prices is a simple strategy, it is also one that takes lots of practice and experience to get really good at. The serious punters knows when it is and when it isn’t worth the risk of using a rogue sportsbook. They are also experts at avoiding giving the bookie a freeroll. If you’ve enjoyed this article I suggest Chasing Steam in Sports Betting as the next topic to read.

Should I hedge my bet?

In sports betting, hedging a bet means betting both sides of a game to safe guard against a loss.

Let’s say at the start of the American football season you put $1,000 on an 8 to 1 shot winning the Super Bowl. They eventually make the Super Bowl as the favorites. The night of the game their opponent is 2 to 1. If you now bet $3,000 on their opponent (this being the hedge bet) you are guaranteed $5,000 profit no matter which team wins.

Another example is having 5% of your bankroll on a 1 to 5 favorite. The game doesn’t start well, and you end up using in-play betting to lock in a 1% loss. In this case by hedging you surrendered 1% of your bankroll to safe guard the 4% that was previously at risk.

The above scenarios are reasonable for even professional bettors to find themselves in. In this article I provide the math for calculating hedge stakes, and also discuss when it is strategically correct to do so. First, I cover another frequent hedging scenario that is almost exclusive to novice bettors. As this is a very common mistake I go into detail explaining it.

Hedging Parlay Bets

As a moderator of one betting forum, and a long time regular posters on others, I often see posts that are along the lines of:

“I bet $100 on a 6 team parlay (accumulator) that pays 45/1. The first five teams have won and the other is playing tonight. Should I bet their opponent at -110 to lock in a guaranteed win? If so for how much?”

It is very common for recreational bettors to add an additional team to their parlays with the intention of hedging it back should it get that far. If you are someone who does this, please read closely.

Understand that a parlay bet is nothing more than rolling a stake plus win forward again and again. Let’s look how it works on $100 using 6 bets with American odds -110.

– Bet1: $100 to win $90.91 – if win you have $190.91
– Bet2: $190.91 to win $173.55– if win you have $364.46
– Bet3: $364.46 to win $331.33 – if win you have $695.79
– Bet4: $695.79 to win $632.54 –if win you have $1,328.33
– Bet5: $1,328.33 to win $1,207.57 –if win you have $2,535.91
– Bet6: $2,535.91 to win $2,305.37 – if win you have $4,841.27

If you win all 6 you have 48.41 times you stake. As 1 was your stake this means the payout is 47.41 to 1 which in American odds is +4741. At Bovada, 5Dimes, and Bookmaker this is exactly what a 6 teamer pays when all point spreads are -110. However, there are other sites that essentially cheat players by using fixed odds. Examples include BetOnline who pays 45/1 and Topbet 40/1 on 6-teamers. This is legit as each has these payouts built it into their rules, but it is this way only to take advantage of novice bettors that don’t know any better. www.bovada.lv is a much better choice.

So, the first mistake was likely getting +4500 when +4741 was available. But, even if you had the full pay ($100 to win $4,741.27), let’s look what happens when you hedge. In order to lock it in so the profit is the same no matter which team wins you’ll now need to stake $2,535.90 on their opponent winning at American odds -110.

This gives two bets. These are:

– Bet 1 = $100 to win $4741.27
– Bet 2 = $ 2,535.90 to win $2,305.36

If Bet 1 wins, on the winning bet you get +$4741.27 and -$2535.90 on the losing one = +$2,205.37
If Bet 2 wins you get +$2305.36 on the winning one and -$100 on the losing one = +$2,205.36

Aside from the penny that can’t be split, you’ve now hedged in such a way the profit is the same regardless of which team wins. Now here’s the kicker. Go back up to where I showed manually rolling forward stake plus win and note: ”Bet5: $1,328.33 to win $1,207.57 –if win you have $2,535.91”. Do you see what a huge mistake adding extra teams to parlays only to hedge is?

If you had bet a 5-team parlay $100 turns to $2,535.91 when all 5 win. By adding a sixth team and then hedging it back, instead those same five teams winning gives you a return of only $2,205.36. That is $330.55 thrown away for no reasons at all.

Please note that even when dealing with moneyline parlays where each has different odds the result is the same. It doesn’t matter the order or anything else. The parlay payout is the same as rolling over stake plus win on each bet, no matter what odds you select.

If you’re in this scenario now, then perhaps you should hedge. This is covered in the next section. Just hopefully this section has resulted in lesson learned and you will avoid getting into the same situation in the future.

When Does Hedging Make Sense

Anytime the stakes involved are significant a hedge is ideal. There is a lot of poor advice on forums that explain otherwise by stressing the importance of expected value. This is where understanding Kelly Criterion helps. In that article, in laymen terms I explain the importance of maximizing expected growth (EG) over expected value (EV). This is also how advanced bettors should determine their hedge stakes. That aside, here are some general bullet points.

When to Hedge:

1) When the second wager is also +EV
This can happen for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you found an arbitrage situation and are betting both simultaneously. Perhaps, you’re watching television and see a player is injured and can act in those few seconds before the in-play betting odds adjust.

2) When hedging was a consideration before you placed your original bet
There are countless reasons to make over-bets. Perhaps you see a line of -6.5 in a football match and strongly suspect it will move to -7, but probably won’t move to -6. Here you might over-bet with the plan to buy it back later for a profit or for a +EV middle attempt. There are many other scenarios with future bets, live trading on betting exchanges, etc. where hedging was a known option at the time the original bet was placed.

3) Anytime you’re overexposed
Again, this can be from foolishly adding additional teams to parlays. It might also be because an outside circumstance required you to reduce your bankroll while bets were pending. It could also be that an arbitrage or over-bet situation that went bad.

As you can see hedging is not the cardinal sin that it is often made out to be. The times you should avoid hedging is when the stakes are within your normal bet sizing (unless with no regard to your initial bet, on its own, the other side becomes +EV). The bad reputation hedging gets is somewhat deserved, because people put themselves into hedge scenarios for the wrong reason. Betting a team to win Super Bowl instead of conference, or division. Blindly over betting large favorites and cutting losses, adding more teams to parlays etc. If you avoid these and do it right, again, it does often make sense to hedge your bets.

How to Calculate a Hedge Stakes?

This is all simple algebra. Let’s say you have $100 staked on +800. The $100 is sunk, it is already in the pot so to speak. If the bet wins you get back that $100 stake, and you get the $800 winnings too, for a $900 return. Calculating hedge stakes is always based on the return. Let’s now say the other side is -465. The question is: how much do we need to bet on -465 for stake plus win to equal the same $900 return?

Most sports bettors are aware (and if you’re not please read: How Sports Betting Works) that when American odds are negative you can calculate the payout on any stake by dropping the negative sign, moving decimal over 2 places, and then dividing it by stake. For example $100 staked on -465 is $100/4.65=$21.51. Therefore $100 on bet -465 is risk $100 to win $21.51. Okay so our hedge stake equation is going to include the 4.65 for the -465 and is going to include the $900 return. Ordering this is pretty simple. That equation is:

STAKE+(STAKE/4.65)=$900

The math to solve that is simple, but if you’re presently void of grade 6 algebra skills, use an algebra.com calculator to solve that. Call stake A and format the equation as A+A/4.65=900. Using that algebra.com link, you’ll see A (stake)= $740.71. This gives us two bets.

– Bet 1 = $100 to win $800 (that’s a $900 return).
– Bet 2 = $740.71 to win 159.29 (that’s also a $900 return).

No matter which side wins we get $900 back. All together we’ve staked $100 on bet 1 + $740.71 on bet 2 for a total of $840.71. So no matter which team wins we now profit $900-$840.71=$59.29. We’ve hedged our bet in full.

Hedging 3 Way Lines

Hedging wagers with 3 or more options to bet is no different. Let’s say for a soccer match the odds are:

Home: +129
Draw: +258
Away: +229

We bet $2,000 on +129 as we calculated a huge edge. Then we find out we made a mistake. There are star players out, and now is breaking news other players are going to rest too. We decide we want off this position in a hurry. How do we hedge? Well our first bet was $2,000 to win $2,580. The return is therefore $4,580. To hedge we need to bet the amount that has stake plus win total $4,580 on each of the other options.

In this case where dealing with positive American odds so payouts calculate as stake+(stake*odds)=payout. Note: odds are the American odds with decimal moved over 2 places.

On +258 our equation is:
A+(A*2.58)=4580
Which solves to A (stake) = 1279.33

On +229 our equation is:
A+(A*2.29)=4580
Which solves to A (stake) = 1392.10

We now have 3 bets.

– Bet 1 = Risk $2,000 to win $2,580 (that’s a return of $4,580)
– Bet 2 = Risk $1,279.33 to win 3300.67 (that’s also a return of $4,580)
– Bet 3 = Risk $1,392.10 to win 3187.91 (that’s a return of $4,580.01)

Add the risks amounts of each (2,000+1,279.33+1392.10) and see we have 4671.43 at risk. We get back $4,580 no matter which team wins. As $4,580-4671.43=-91.43 we can see we’ve now hedged off the $2,000 we once had at risk, and are taking a $91.43 loss no matter if home wins, away wins, or it is a draw.

There are many calculators that can be found searching Google that will do the math for you in calculating a hedge stake. For more advanced users you can find spread sheets for using Excel solver. As this article is in our beginners section, the purpose here was to just give a solid introduction to sports betting hedge bets.

Sports Betting “PaperBack” Strategy Books

In this article I discuss books about sports betting. No matter what your preferences are, there many selections to choose from available at online retailers such as Amazon.com. However, truth be told, many of these books are not worth reading. Some lack substance while others are only for entertainment. Even some of the better ones that contain nuggets of valuable information are mixed with outdated and/or otherwise harmful advice.

Recommended Sports Betting Strategy Books

#1 is Sharp Sports Betting by Stanford Wong – This book has long been considered the sports betting bible. I’ll however warn it is a thick book and a lot of it explains the very basics such as what is a straight bet, teaser and parlay. If you’re experienced you will need to do a lot of skimming past those explanations. The front cover is also deceiving as it says 2009 on it. The book had only small edits since its original version was released in 2001. The odds specific information such as bookies offering 2-team 6-point teasers at +100 and buying on and off the 3 is outdated. Bookies have since adjusted their odds, no doubt thanks to this book giving away much more information than any gambler should have offered. All that said, much is still relevant. This is a great book to train a person how to start thinking like a winning bettor. While it is heavily NFL football based in examples, the logic it teaches can be applied to any sport.

#2 is Weighing the Odds in Sports Betting by King Yao – this book compliments but does not replace Stanford Wong’s Sharp Sports Betting. It is similar in that about 40% of it covers the basics. This book however does a bit better job at that by explaining the very simple math. Moving past that you get to the intermediate material such as evaluating lines with half point differences, pricing props, etc. The books section on hedging and middling is a near must read. There is also information covered about betting NFL halves, baseball totals, and much more. What Yao does brilliantly is point readers in the right direction without giving too much way. Again, as mentioned earlier, not being laid out clear cut is actually good news as betting is a market and in the long run you’ll appreciate it is this way.

#3 is Conquering Risk: Attacking Vegas and Wall Street by Elihu D. Feustel – the author of this is better known by his betting forum handles Justin7 and daringly. He is a licensed CA attorney, a former PinnacleSports.com employee, and for many years was the leading player/bookmaker dispute analyst of sportsbookreview.com where he also moderated their handicapper’s think tank strategy forum. This is a serious book that explains how the betting market works much better than the others. It has explains how to build a database and get started with predictive modeling. It is a great book! But is not so without concerns. It repeats strategy taught in Sharp Sports Betting regarding many props following Poisson distribution which I’m not so confident is correct. It also re-covers a lot of what is in King Yao’s book too. There are some sections I felt I was left hanging too and not in a though provoking kind of way. Still, despite the downsides, the value this book offers is considerable.

The above sincerely concludes the list of sports betting books I can easily recommend. That is unless your interest is more for entertainment purposes. If that’s the case you can’t go wrong ordering The Smart Money: How the World’s Best Sports Bettors Beat the Bookies Out of Millions by Michael Konik. As for strategy, if you goal is to win a lot of money in this industry you should read a lot more books than the three on the above list. What I suggest doing is reading book reviews written by Elihu D. Feustel.

If you didn’t make the connection, what I just linked you to is the author of the book I #3 most recommend reviewing other sports betting books. Why is he doing this? Probably because most sports bettors who are serious do just that. They sift through information looking for the ideas that can help them improve. What’s neat here is his comments tell you what he found valuable. Another place you can find the same from other bettors is in this 2+2 thread.

To take this all a step further, as you read books you can look now and many times in the future at that books reviews on Amazon. In doing this you can see whose comments and ratings you most agree with. From there check out their Amazon profile and see if they have rated or reviewed other sports betting books too. Again, while none of the information is all just laid out there easy to find, gems can be found all over. If you become serious about betting sports you should want to read as much as you can looking for the gems. What I covered here is likely the most efficient way to go about doing just that.

Why Most Betting Books are Poor

Fade the Public is an article which explains the reasons that betting is a market. While I suggest reading it in full, to recap: if a sportsbook, betting site, or bookie offers a +EV bet on the main betting option of a popular sport, the richest and most successful bettors and the arbitrage players are going to bet. Not only will they bet the off price, they will keep betting it and won’t stop betting it, until such time the bookie adjust the odds to the point that smart money no longer has an interest.

If you are familiar with Kelly betting, you will understand smart money becomes large money. All the plethora of fans placing $20 and $50 bets does not outweigh what sharp sophisticated bettors wager. Bookies are not looking to so much balance their action. That part is a myth. They want to avoid taking a beating from the sharp bettors and therefore adjust based on the action that comes in from such.

If you put all this information together you can probably reason that betting is a market of supply and demand. It is a fierce competition over finding +EV bets. The more competitive the market place is the less opportunity there is for the sophisticated player. Truly talented gamblers make much more money keeping what they know private than they would even if they went on to become a bestselling betting author. Books about gambling is just too small of a niche.

The Good News

The good news is there are many somewhat successful gamblers that have written books. More often the case is the author couldn’t quite hack it as a pro. In a couple other cases the authors used book sales as a stepping stone. As mentioned many of these books are not perfect, but there is still great value to be had. What this involves is sorting and sifting. While this might sound frustrating it is actually an awesome fact.

Why?

Well, because, betting is a market! If a book said all you needed to know everyone would be doing it and the market would dry right up. Those who spend the time searching out which books to order, and then actually read them and work to decipher what is of value and what is not will be glad in the end that things are this way.

Calculator + How Bookies Add Vig to Moneylines

How Bookies Get Their Vig
Let’s say a bookmaker calculates there is 86% chance of a Team A winning and a 14% chance of Team B winning and he wants to set the lines in such a way he keeps more than 2% of the money wagered should he achieve balanced action. These are the steps, by learning them we can also work backwards.

Primary Steps
His first step is to likely add around 2.3% to each betting line:

Calculations:
86 X 1.023 = 87.98%
14 X 1.023 = 14.322%
Whereas 86 is (percent chance team wins)
Whereas 14 is (percent chance other team wins)
Whereas 1.023 (derived from 2.3% he wants to earn)

If you enter these two percentages into our odds converter under the implied probability field you’ll see these percentages translate in American odds to -732/+598. Notice the gap is 134.

To show an important lesson let me add a HIGHER amount of vig to a 52/48 probability; in this case I’ll add 3.3% instead of the 2.3% just used. 52*1.033=53.72% 48*1.033= 49.58%, plug these two percentages into our odds converter and see these represent a betting line of -116 / +102.

To make sure this is clear, I’ve just illustrated that moneylines of -732/+598 has far less juice than -116 / +102. The one with less juice has a 134 cent gap in price while the one with more juice has just an 14 cent gap. Do you see now why the idea that +677/-677 is the fair no juice price for -750 / +604 is failed logic? Moneylines cannot be averaged to remove vig. Let me go ahead now and illustrate the proper way to remove vig.

Removing Vig from Moneylines

The first step to remove vig from Patriots -750 / Broncos +604 is to calculate the implied probability for each team. We do this by using the formula risk/return=implied probability (were return is stake + win). So risk for -750: $750 to win $100 returns $850 ($750 stake + $100 win) and the math is 750/850=0.8824 (88.24%). Risk $100 on +604 and the return is $704 ($100 Stake + $604 win) and the math is 100/704=0.1420 (14.20%). Add our two percentages together 88.24%+14.2% and you’ll see these equal 102.44%. The extra 2.44% is the result of bookmaker advantage (vig), to remove it we just need to divide each implied probability by the overall percents market (in this case 102.44%). So 88.24/102.44=86.14% and 14.2/102.44=13.86%, as you can see these now total 100%, so the vig is removed. Plug these no-vig probabilities into our odds converter under the implied probability field and you’ll see the American odds equivalent is -622/+622.

Although this concept is extremely early learning fundamentals, 95% of the betting population assumes -750 / +604 has a fair market price of -677/+677 because that’s the average. You’re now well ahead of most bettors as you understand a bit more how moneylines work, how the bookmaker adds vig, and how you can go about removing it. If you read other articles on our website, including those I already linked to on this page about teasers, derivatives, efficient market, you’re now well on your way to learning profitable sports betting. The good news is you can save a lot of time doing calculations by visiting the no-vig calculator located at the top of this article which does out the math for you.

Using this to become a better sports bettor

As covered in the article on our odds converter page, all betting odds have an associated implied probability. This is just a fancy term for how often a bet needs to win “on average” to “break even”.

For example: If we’re betting at +100 (risk $100 to win $100) the implied probability is 50%. If we’re betting at +200 the implied probability is 33.33%.

The logic why is simple: $100 staked on +200 returns $300 ($100 stake + $200 win), so if we make three bets of $100 @ +200 and 1/3 of the time (33.33% of the time) get back all we staked, then that’s our required win rate to break even.

For reasons that the bookmaker has an advantage, implied probabilities do not tell us how often a team will win, but rather only how often we need for them to win.

If you’d like to be head and shoulders above the starting field on how winning sports betting works, it’s extremely important to understand the betting market. That link I just included covers a brief history about sports betting and explains why PinnacleSports.com (no CA players) is the best betting websites for handicapping the market. Once you understand the underlying fundamentals that article addresses, things like profitable teasers, using betting derivatives, and making certain types of proposition wagers all start to come together and make a lot more sense. I suggest reading all those articles I just linked to and then later coming back to this page.

When you understand the betting market is near efficient, the tool I provided on this page has great value. Let’s say Pinnacle Sports who offers the highest betting limits, fastest payouts and lowest margin (-104 on NFL point-spreads) is offering a moneyline of Patriots -750 / Broncos +604. Now let’s say I’m willing to give you Patriots -677 or Broncos +677, your choice, you decide. Which would you take? Many novice bettors would assume it doesn’t matter because 750+604/2=677 so this must be the fair price, and the reason there is a 146 cent gap is the bookmaker advantage. For the later claim, they are correct… the gap is the result of the bookmaker advantage, but -677/+677 is not the fair price for a -750/+604 line. To explain why allow me to illustrate how a bookmaker sets their lines.

Using Recreational Sportsbooks

Here at 247onlinebetting.ca you’ll notice our home page markets many recreational betting websites for reason these are the most ideal websites for the masses. Meanwhile, PinnacleSports.com is no doubt the source for the most efficient betting lines. What I mean by this is… let’s say for an NBA basketball game Pinnacle has a betting line of Knicks +4.5 -102 / Memphis +4.5 -108 we can use the no-vig calculator on this page to determine the market according to Pinnacle is giving Memphis a 50.7% chance of covering -4.5. From here there are all sorts of betting websites such a www.bovada.lv and www.betonline.ag that offer bonuses and promotions. For example at BetOnline you can get a 25% free play on deposits made via western union, and they’ll pick up the fees. It shouldn’t be too difficult from here to work out the math to see if the bonus is +EV when finding many scenarios such as the one I just mentioned.

Meanwhile at Bovada lines are often shaded. New York is a big market and likewise Bovada might be taking many bets on the Knicks and for this reason they’re offering Knicks +4.5 -120 / Memphis +4.5 +100, in this case Memphis might be +EV. Of course, Bovada also deals profiled lines so once you make several advantage bets, they’ll switch you to sharper lines where +EV bets are no longer available. Still though: there many recreational betting sites, Intertops another, and working the angles at many recreational betting sites while handicapping the market is a great way to profit at sports betting over the long term. Note: also understand PinnacleSports does not accept CA players but is great resource that many bettors use. These players compare Pinnacle’s lines for the purpose of deciding who to bet at other online betting sites which are friendly to the CA market.

 

Does Fading Public Work in Efficient Betting Markets?

Back in the early to mid 1980’s independent sports books existed in Las Vegas, and anyone halfway sharp could make a killing betting sports. This was a time where wagering an NFL point spread at +7.5 at Castaways’ Hole on the Wall Sports Book and their opponent -5.5 at Gary Austin’s Sports Book wasn’t all that uncommon of a scenario. Back then and on through the early days of online sports betting a popular way to profit betting sports was a system called “Fade the Public”. This system worked because the betting market was controlled by recreational punters, and things were not all that unified.

Fading the Public: Simple version, find the worse sports bettor you know, find out what team he’s betting and bet their opponent.

If you don’t know losing sports bettors, dozens of services such as sportsinsights.com exist to show you what the public is betting. Before you get excited…in this article I’m going to cover the evolution of the betting market and by the time you’re finished reading you might realize such services are a waste of money. Reading this article will help you better understand the betting market, and with that understanding you’ll be well equipped to dive into profitable sports betting.

Brief Online Betting History

The first offshore sports books were established in the 1980’s by bookmakers. Intertops founder Detlef Train and BetCRIS icon Ron Sacco were taking sports bets illegally from their home countries long before the idea of doing so legally from an offshore location was so much a thought, let alone an easy to pursue possibility. Prior to reliable internet service and affordable home computers, these bookmakers paved the way via toll-free phone in betting shops set up offshore. However in the mid 1990’s when personal computers became affordable and MSN/AOL started losing money in an attempt to overtake CompuServe the online betting boom started. This is when Jay Cohen, Dalton Wager, Calvin Ayre and countless others with next to no sports betting experience launched online betting sites.

In the early online days the odds were incredibly soft and many wannabe bookies with recently established online sportsbooks were extremely clueless. In a move to compete many sportsbooks offered 3-team parlays at 7-1 which is what the odds would be if there was no juice at all; theoretically, they had zero margin of error to obtain breakeven results. Of course running the risk of getting banned and/or stiffed doing so – there were also flaws in betting sites software that could be exploited. For example in 1999 I actually placed an if-bet on a soccer match of $5.00 on draw if lose $1,000 on the favorite using a credit account. To my surprise the site processed my P2P withdrawal about a week later paying me on the win. The point I’m attempting to make is that it was extremely easy to make profit betting online from 1996 to around 2001.

Taking Advantage of the Public

Even though it appeared online sportsbooks were giving away free money, the public is what allowed them to rake in massive profits. The reason was small limits, limit collars, or just refusing action, kept the savvy punters at bay and massive line shades made the odds worse for recreational bettors.

The idea here is it was rather easy to predict what most recreational punters (the public) were going to bet. If the public loved the New England Patriots and the fair line was -6 +100 the bookmaker might offer Patriots -7 -115. Doing this “the public – also known as squares” as opposed to “professionals – also known as sharps” would end up in a spot where they were only going to win this bet 45.2% of the time, but the -115 required them to win 53.5% of the time just to breakeven (this math is explained in our article on buying half points). Meanwhile the betting sites treated players who never bet the square sides horribly. Many of the nicer shops would just place the punters on a very tiny maximum bet (say $100.00) or ban them, while less than reputable sites would gross slow pay them, or make up excuses to steal their balance, or do anything else they could to make the professional think twice about ever using their betting website again. Eventually, honest bookmakers came about and this changed everything.

The Betting Market Matures

In the early days of online betting the limits were quite small. $2,000 maximum was considered a high limit sportsbook until around 2003. One company touting the highest limits was 5Dimes.com; their deal was you could wager $500 max a total of 10-times on a football point spread to get down 5 dimes ($5,000) of action; this was huge at the time. However, any punter who proved to be sharp (professional) would have their limits cut much lower, for example $50.00 with 10 maximum bets for $500 total. Limit collars were very common industry wide, because honestly online sportsbooks could get away with just about anything back then, because the number of sharp punters was scarce.

There are many things that helped contribute to the industry maturing; naming just a few we have reliable payment processing, SBR going from a simple watchdog site to a full blown portal in summer 2004, more savvy punters as the result of strategy forums becoming available and e-books written about advantage sports betting, as contributors. The greatest contribution however was the advent of sharp sportsbooks; betting sites that actually targeted savvy punters.

Pinnacle Sports

The largest and most successful sharp book, then and still to this day is Pinnacle Sports. You can read our articles on the history of Pinnacle Sports to learn how they progressed to this point, but for now here is quick overview of their current system: At pinnaclesports.com NFL point spreads are offered at -104 base pricing, and as they accept wagers the lines move. For example starting at Packers -7 -104 / Jets +7 -104 a large wager on the Packers might move the line to Packers -7 -106 / +7 Jets -102, another large wager on Packers might move it to Packers -7 -108 / Jets +7 +100. This all happens on automation and the size of a punter’s bet, as well as how Pinnacle has profiled that punter determines how much the line will move. At Pinnacle players can wager up to $30,000 per bet on an NFL point spread and can place an unlimited amount of “$30,000 per” wagers, so as long as after each one the line moves (in which case they can make another instantly), or 4-hours has passed.

Pinnacle is just one example of a betting site targeting professional bettors. In addition there are now peer to peer betting exchanges such as Betfair.com where a punter can wager as much as his peers are willing to match. Meanwhile our history of bookmaker.eu article covers a company willing to take $20,000 maximum bets on NFL Teasers and $40,000 max bets on NFL point spreads; these guys built their reputation servicing high stakes sophisticated punters, while claiming to have never once reduced any players individual betting limits nor have they ever banned anyone for winning too much. Sites such as Pinnacle (no CA allowed) and Bookmaker (US allowed) earn their profits by setting accurate lines – if you win fine they have no problem paying even seven figure amounts. Meanwhile exchanges have no challenge paying either, as money is won from other users and therefore winning punters don’t hurt their bottom line.

Bigger Smarter Money and More Sharp Bettors

Once online betting sites with high limits, solid track records and reasonable odds came to the market – big money entered as well, and once it did everything was changed. In 2005, arbitrage betting (sometimes called sure bets) was extremely popular. There were a number of tracking websites which listed any opportunities to bet both sides of a match at different sportsbooks in such a way a guaranteed profit could be made. This was only possible because recreational sites were still trying to shade the lines for the public. For example if Saints were -6.5 +106 and their opponent was +6.5 +100 at Bovada here you could bet in such a way you were guaranteed a 1.48% ROI no matter which side won. This might not sound like much, but keep in mind this was free money and the turnover happened in a matter of hours.

In time a lot more football strategy was written and even less experienced gamblers caught on to the fact if you skipped betting the Pinnacle side of an arb, and bet only the recreational side you’d make more money long term. There were e-books sold that touted this exact system – remove juice from Pinnacle’s lines scour the web and bet any odds that beat their no vig prices. Eventually odds services such as SBRLines, Oddsportal and dozens of others were available for free. Here at the glance of a computer monitor you could see the odds at dozens of online sportsboks; with this, it took no more knowledge than could be assimilated via a 3,000 word e-book to spot profitable betting opportunities. As a result, recreational sportsbooks were forced to go legit. The arbs dried up and fade the public no longer worked.