Michael Phelps, Lance Armstrong, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ichiro Suzuki, Vijay Singh, the Boston Red Sox – there have been some pretty amazing stories to come out of the past year.
In this week’s issue I was going to cover the year’s best games, but I thought I’d better wait and see how things unfold in the NFL this weekend. Plus, with the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl still to play there’s plenty of college football left to watch.
So, in this week’s column I’ve rounded up some of my favorite topics, digging deep into the Frontlines archives to give you my personal ‘best of’ list, dating back to my very first column. I hope you enjoy it.
I’ve been handicapping pointspreads since I was a teenager, and I figured out very early that I was lousy at it. However, I also noticed that lots of my friends were lousy at is as well, so I decided to start trying to make money from them being wrong, rather than me being right.
When you are betting football and basketball spreads and totals and laying 110 to win 100 on every bet, you need to win 52.38% of your bets just to break even and cover the juice you pay to sportsbooks.
Betting baseball is more of a black art, where coming up with the winning pick means understanding what determines a line and finding opportunities to take advantage of it. So, the first question that begs to be asked is “What determines a baseball line?”
Let’s face facts. Watching sports on TV is entertainment for just about every person reading this column. Wagering is also a form of entertainment for the majority of bettors. Therefore it is logical to conclude that betting on sports events that are on TV is a double pleasure for most fans, and indeed this is the case.
A couple of years ago, when I first moved from the bookmaking side to take over operations, I took in a seminar on Casino Customer Service that was chaired by Harrah’s COO Gary Loveman. At the start of the seminar, he made a great point that has stuck with me ever since. I don’t remember the exact words, but the sentiment was “No matter how well you perform, 97% of your visitors are going to leave dissatisfied because they didn’t win as much money as they hoped to.” Although he was referring to a brick-and-mortar casino and we know sportsbook bettors do better than the average slots player, this is still a very important point that I constantly remind our Customer Service staff about.
As a book manager, golf is an enigma. The sport represents a books’ ideal target market, as golfers tend to be Internet savvy and affluent. I am sure most golfers wouldn’t pay $50 to play basketball, baseball or football for four hours but they think nothing of dropping that much, or several times that much, to play a round every weekend.
Right now, other than cursing me for too much math, you may be thinking: “why don’t sportsbooks just keep moving the line until they are balanced?” The reason sportsbooks don’t balance action at any cost is because there is also a risk involved every time a line is moved.
Here is the key point I want you to understand: Poor money management generates more losses for players than bad handicapping. Even the worst bettors seldom lose more than 55% of their picks.
Arguably, there is no simpler bet than the game total. Simply add the score of the two teams together (including overtime) and if it is higher than the posted total, the over wins. If it is lower than the posted number, the under wins. It doesn’t get easier than that.
In the grand scheme of things, NASCAR is still just a small part of our business, but over the last couple of years I have seen betting on NASCAR grow at a pace faster than betting on major sports like the NBA or the NFL.
Sometimes serious but always good fun, props are unusual betting opportunities that can add a new level of excitement to whatever it is that you’re watching, be it a major celebrity, sports or television event.
On behalf of everyone here at Bodog, I’d like to wish you a happy New Year. If you’ve got any questions at all with regards to sportsbetting or the sportsbetting industry, send them my way. Over the coming weeks I’ll be answering those questions directly in my new “From the Mailbag” column.
Please feel free to email me with any questions you want answered and I assure you they will have a good chance of making the column (or a subsequent one) as I plan on making this a monthly column. On behalf of me, my family, and the entire Bodog team, have a very Merry Christmas everyone.
Good luck with your wagers!
Rob Gillespie is President of Bodog Sportsbook & Casino
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