Attack Conferences Where Oddsmakers Struggle
DIRECT FROM NEVADA
WITH NICK BOGDANOVICH
ATTACK CONFERENCES WHERE
ODDSMAKERS ARE STRUGGLING!
I've been on a very good run of late in college basketball (near 70%!). I'd have to say the key to the hot streak has been my ability to focus on conferences where oddsmakers are having the most trouble getting the teams figured out.
The best example of this is the Pac 10. I swept the board 4-0 in that league on Thursday and Saturday, winning my PAC 10 PARLAY OF THE MONTH in the process over the weekend. Look at the winning margins...
Arizona State (pk) at Oregon, WON 76-57
Washington (-8.5) vs. Stanford, WON 94-61
The first game covered by 19 points, and the second one covered by 24.5 points. The market prices where NOWHERE NEAR the final scores. Talk about being out of touch! I know they don't pay extra for victory margin (sharps wish they did...and some European sportsbooks actually do that). Still, it's fun to know you've got a winner the whole way. And, if your edge is THIS big in a conference now, you can be sure you've got a few more winners coming as the linesmakers finally adjust.
Washington (-1.5) vs. California, WON 84-69
USC (pk) vs. UCLA, WON 67-46
Here the cover margins were 13.5 points in the first game, and 21 in the second. The lines didn't get any better at all in the Pac 10! Over the course of the two days, that's a pair of pick-em game (where teams are supposed to be dead even on that floor) that saw blowouts of 19 and 21 points. A small favorite won by double digits. A medium favorite won by more than 30.
My unique position in the legal sports betting markets gives me some perspective here, and offers up some challenges. I know what it's like to be an oddsmaker that's having trouble getting an inconsistent conference figured out. I know what it's like to be a big bettor that has a read on a conference that's fooling other people. And, right now, I've got to find a balance between posting the right numbers in Pac 10 games for my employers...lines that will either split the action to generate certain vig...or force the public to bet their preferred team at a bad price so my store has an edge over the long haul.
In a nutshell:
*Oddsmakers are struggling in the Pac 10
*Sharps aren't that confident in the league either
*Squares HAVE NO CLUE about this topsy turvy conference this year
*I'm really in sync!
How do I play that? I post lines within the marketplace that protect my employer from one-sided action on the side I think is best. Once the widely available lines have settled into place, my clients and I hit what I consider to be the soft spots at the best available prices (which WON'T be available for them at my store!). Then, we cash our winning tickets when the blowouts come through.
This is why I've always encouraged handicappers to emphasize what they know best. Every so often, THIS happens. The conference you know very well is befuddling oddsmakers and bettors. For you, it might be the ACC, or the Horizon League, or the Sun Belt, or the Mountain West. Depends on where you live. Depends on where you grew up maybe. I'm very close to the Pac 10. Even though all the oddsmakers are too, they're clearly not seeing what I am. No, I won't tell you what that is. You have to sign up to keep getting these blowout covers. I can tell you though how to find conferences most vulnerable to attack:
*Look for leagues where it's very common for the final score to miss the spread by a mile. Some conferences are tightly contested, and the victory margins are in a tight range of expectations. The lines here are going to be solid. It's just not that hard for anyone really to post good pointspreads in a consistent predictable conference. Look for games like you saw above...where pick-ems are turning into blowouts on a regular basis. There's an advantage there to be found.
*Look for leagues that are way out of synch from the prior season. We see that in dramatic fashion in the Pac 10. In some ways the league is upside down from what it was just a few years ago. Public perceptions take forever to change in this sport. Vegas odds are strongly impacted by public perceptions. If the same old teams are doing the same old things, you probably won't find much of an edge. You want to be ahead of the curve during transition periods. This is what sets pro gamblers apart from the general public. Sharps are always a few steps ahead of squares. If a conference loses several stars to the NBA, the next season might be bedlam. It's very tough for oddsmakers to properly price bedlam.
*Look for leagues that have strong home/road splits. The market generally prices in 3-4 points for home court edge...occasionally more than that. Every so often there's a season where most of the conference plays big at home but no-shows on the road. The market just can't capture this properly. Affordable home favorites are free money. Value underdogs don't exist (sharps HATE this!).
*I should point out that there can be seasons where the opposite happens...and home court just doesn't mean much at all. This is more common in leagues that are condensed geographically (like the Big West for example, with a lot of California teams bunched together). The edge isn't as big...but if home court doesn't matter in a sport where the line is moved 3-4 points for home court, you're getting an edge by exploiting the tendency. You can take advantage of odd home/road results in either direction.
There are a few hundred teams on the college board. It's very difficult for oddsmakers or even sharps to have every single conference pegged exactly right. In fact, I'm hearing about some old school guys who are struggling to make ends meet right now. The stuff that used to work for them isn't working any more, and they're not adjusting to the new realities of the sport.
If this is happening to YOU, try to focus on the most vulnerable conferences. Stop playing haphazardly all over the card imagining that you have an edge where you don't. One key to hitting 70% during a hot streak is passing on the right games!
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