The Myth of Splitting The Action



I've talked a lot in the past about the myth of 'splitting the action' in sports betting. There's a public perception that sportsbooks try to find lines that encourage half the bettors to take one side, and half to take the other. Sportsbooks face no risk, and pocket the 10 percent vigorish on losing bets. Great in theory!

Well, the official tabulations for the Super Bowl just came out. Nevada took in more than $82 million in total handle, and earned a profit of $6.8 million.

If all the money was on picking one team or the other ...and all the action had been split evenly, what would Nevada have made? That's easy to figure. If $82 million was bet, that would mean $41 million one way, $41 million the other...and a profit of $4.1 million from the vigorish.

Nevada made $6.8 million, not $4.1 million.

Same story last year. In fact, this year's numbers are very similar to last year's numbers. In the Pittsburgh/Arizona game, Nevada took in $81.5 million in total handle, and earned $6.7 million. That's more than just splitting the action and pocketing the vigorish obviously.

The best take for Nevada was in the 2005 Super Bowl involving Philadelphia and New England. Roughly $90 million was bet on the big game (back when the economy was better!). Nevada pocketed a whopping $15 million on that one day. Had the action been 'split' on 11/10 offers, $90 million should only yield about $4.5 million. Nevada made more than three times that!

Of course, the Super Bowl isn't always a printing press. Oddsmakers badly misjudged public sentiment in the 2008 game featuring New England and the NY Giants. Nevada actually lost $2.5 million that day on a handle over $90 million. Sportsbooks sure wish they had split the action that day!

What's going on?

Several things:

*First, and most importantly, oddsmakers aren't trying to split the action! They're trying to make the public bet at a bad number. Oddsmakers and sportsbooks want both the 11/10 edge AND a point or two going in their favor. Over the course of thousands of football games, or decades of Super Bowls, that's going to pay off over the long haul. Note that Nevada has had only one losing Super Bowl this decade...and has only failed to surpass the 11/10 equivalent twice. It's worth BIG MONEY to make the public bet at bad numbers.

*Secondly, there are many props that get a lot of action that don't pay at true odds. For example, if you want to bet on which player scores the first're a longshot to win. Any single player has the odds against them. Sportsbooks don't offer true odds. A few people turn out to be right, everyone else is wrong. Big profit!

*Thirdly, there are some longshot props that squares (the public) love taking shots at even though they're very uncommon. Will there be an overtime? Will there be a safety? To date, this has been free money for sportsbooks because there's NEVER been an overtime and there have rarely been safeties.

*Finally, and this might deserve to go higher, sportsbooks have been coming out ahead with the moneyline bets. Favorites have been winning more than losing this decade...and squares like taking moneyline shots on the dog as a general rule. This year, there became a sharp bandwagon for taking Indy on the moneyline in the -190 to -200 range. There were reportedly at least two very large bets on Indy to win straight up (meaning in the million dollar rage or more). So, even though the dog actually won this year, sharp action went the wrong way and padded Nevada's bottom line. Maybe sportsbooks have been dodging some bullets here. Or, maybe some sharps aren't as smart as they think they are when it comes to Super Bowls!

This is the last I'll be talking about football until the Fall. I wanted to use this Super Bowl data to remind you of a very key factor that should strongly influence your basketball handicapping over the next several weeks. Sportsbooks AREN'T trying to split the action. They're trying to make YOU bet at a BAD number!

*The public loves betting on the big name programs. They pay a tax for that right. Sharps go the other way, and take those free points. I want you thinking like a sharp and betting like a sharp. You should be looking to go against public teams as well.

*The public loves betting TV games. They don't have time to study the full board. They want something to root for while eating a bag of potato chips and drinking a coke. Lines are stacked more against the public in TV games as a result. You should be looking to exploit that.

*The public loves betting on 'hot' teams who are making a climb up the rankings. As you know, what goes up must come down. It's very hard to stay hot for long in this sport. Don't chase against a hot team. But, once they cool off, you'll probably make some money fading them the next few times they take the court.

*The public is very slow to realize when a team has just lost it. They'll keep saying to themselves 'There's no way this team will keep losing.' That's a dream scenario for a sharp bettor. Going against the public has you fading a slumping team that's overpriced. How great is that?! North Carolina has had a very bad run. Texas has lost five of its last seven games straight up, and was barely competitive this past Monday vs. Kansas. There's a place for the 'bounce back' theory if a true power is coming off a rare bad night. When a false power starts stringing together bad nights, you want to go the other way.

*Oh, I can't leave this out. The public loves betting MARCH MADNESS! It's basically a Super Bowl that lasts a month! You should be gearing up NOW to take advantage of this great annual opportunity. Football is over. MARCH MADNESS is the next big thing on the calendar. It's just a little over a month away in fact. If you haven't been involved with the baskets already, start studying the teams...get acquainted with all the new teams in the rankings. Boy is this year going to be interesting with so many big name programs possibly missing the tournament! Most importantly, start BUILDING YOUR BANKROLL so you can take full value of the opportunities that arise.


Today’s Hot Plays