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September 30, 2011 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Grantland's Bill Barnwell is writing an ongoing series demystifying sports gambling for the newcomer. His first two subjects: how to bet the middle and teaser bets.
posted by reenum (11 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
an ongoing series demystifying sports gambling for the newcomer.

Sharks always want more fish swimming around.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:18 AM on September 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


If they knew anything, you'd be the last to know.
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:22 AM on September 30, 2011


Woah THAT'S what Barnwell looks like? I'm a pretty active member @ Football Outsiders and I had no idea... weeeeeeeeeird.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:49 AM on September 30, 2011


Also, in one of those articles Barnwell tries to disprove the idea that divisional games produce closer games, but in actuality what he should be looking at is if divisional games produce more unpredictable games. Because I've been picking the "divisional matchup underdog at home" for years with significant success.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:56 AM on September 30, 2011


Gambling for penny stakes is fun. But anyone that takes sports gambling seriously is, by definition, out of their goddamn minds.

Rule No. 1 in sports gambling: The line is NOT a handicap created by a dispassionate third-party. Lines are created by bookmakers, and bookmakers are NOT attempting to make it fair or predict 50-50 odds.

The line exists to entice you to bet in the first place.

"Patriots (-4) over Raiders" is carefully designed to make you think: "Wow, this is a really good deal! There's no way the Patriots can win by more than a field goal. I'm going to beat Vegas this time! Ha-ha, suckers!"

And somewhere in Vegas, Ace Rothstein smiles and lights another cigar.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:23 AM on September 30, 2011


"Patriots (-4) over Raiders" is carefully designed to make you think: "Wow, this is a really good deal! There's no way the Patriots can win by more than a field goal. I'm going to beat Vegas this time! Ha-ha, suckers!"

"Patriots (-4) over Raiders" is carefully designed so that half of the people will bet on either side of it.

They're not trying to sucker you into making bad bets against them, they're just trying to keep the vigorish created by half the people giving their money to the other half.
posted by dfan at 10:28 AM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Lines are created by bookmakers, and bookmakers are NOT attempting to make it fair or predict 50-50 odds.

Bookies are trying to make it so that they pay out what they take in, but keep the vigorish on the bets. A bookmaker who cares if you win or lose is one who's going to get hammered. His job is to set the line so that the bets in pay the winnings out, and he lives on the fees for doing so.

All professional gambling works this way at the fundamental level. Either the game is set up so that you are playing against the house at an intrinsic advantage for the house*, or you are playing against someone else and the house is charging you for connecting you, renting you the space, and handling the paperwork.


* The one almost not-true case is casino blackjack, where the deck can reach a state where, with perfect play, the advantage swings to you, because you only lose your stake when the dealer has blackjack, but you gain your stake and a half when you have blackjack. However, this is state dependent, and at most times, the odds are with the casino dealing the game.
posted by eriko at 10:52 AM on September 30, 2011


"Patriots (-4) over Raiders" is carefully designed so that half of the people will bet on either side of it.

No, you're absolutely flat wrong there. Sorry. I'll be happy to take your money now.

It's carefully designed to increase the sheer number of people betting.

It's as close to 50-50 as they can make and still maximize the number of people betting. In other words, it's never what they really think is 50-50.

Because it's not 50-50, there's a vigorish to cover the potential losses between 50-50 and the posted line.

This is where most people get confused -- it's not like horse racing, which really does use weight handicapping to create as even of odds as possible, because that is parimutuel betting, where the bettors themselves set the odds by their independent actions, and there is no vigorish.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:54 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I'm still mystified.
3.5-point favorites at -110... I bet [ha] I could find out what that means in Wikipedia, but still, the idea of betting real money on someone other than one's self is truly mystifying to me. I guess it's the same idea of planning one's retirement by Powerball.
posted by MtDewd at 11:05 AM on September 30, 2011


Protip; find out who I'm betting on think is going to win and bet on the other team. Alternately, ask my wife (who doesn't know anything about football and couldn't care less) who is going to win the Super Bowl; she's on a six-game streak (I won a lot of bar bets when she picked the Giants over the Pats).
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:15 AM on September 30, 2011


Can I just take this opportunity to say I really like the word vigorish? Thanks.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:40 PM on September 30, 2011


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