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The clock hasn't struck midnight yet on the greatest Cinderella story in the history of college hoops as George Mason has danced all the way to the Final Four beating three of the past six national champions in the process. While over 50 Pinnacle Sports customers stand to hit it big if the Patriots win the National championship, only a handful had the foresight to back George Mason at 400/1 before the tournament started.
Although these few players will reap a handsome return on a minimal investment if GMU go all the way, for the rest of us there is some consolation in knowing that they probably would have received a higher payoff with a simple win parlay on George Mason.
When books deal futures markets, they try to maintain a semblance of balanced action and attempt to limit liability on the worst case scenario. Due to a large number of bettors playing long shots, this can often lead to grossly depressed prices on underdogs. On the other hand, this may lead to solid value on the favorites.
At Pinnacle Sports Betting, futures markets are normally priced between 110% and 135% depending upon the size of the field. This compares to futures markets of greater than 200% at most traditional sports books. Even though this represents excellent value on our future markets, often even these margins won't properly reward long shot players.
Therefore, a good strategy when betting tournament futures is to estimate the moneyline quote of a team you like in each round. After estimating the prices for your selection to win through, you will be able to work out the estimated parlay price. Then simply compare the projected price for your parlay to the odds on the futures market and you'll find whether the future or a win parlay would give you the best possible return on your investment.
George Mason opened the tournament at +200 on the moneyline versus Michigan State in the first round. The Patriots were then listed at +240 at Pinnacle Sports Book versus last year's national champion North Carolina in the second round. In the Sweet 16, GMU was a -135 moneyline favorite over Wichita State before entering the Elite Eight at +400 versus #1 seed Connecticut.
Despite defeating three contenders in the Washington D.C. regional, George Mason enters Saturday's Final Four match-up versus Florida at +233 on the moneyline. Should the Patriots continue this remarkable run, they'll likely be listed at a similar price in the national championship game.
To calculate your parlay you first need to work out the decimal value for each moneyline quote. If the quote is positive '+' simply divide the moneyline by 100 and add 1. For example, if the moneyline is +200 the decimal quote is (200/100) + 1 = 2.00 + 1 = 3.00
If the moneyline quote is negative '-' simply add 100 to the moneyline quote and divide by the original moneyline quote. For example, if the moneyline is -135 the decimal quote is (235/135) = 1.7407
You then multiply all of the decimal quotes by each other and subtract 1 from the answer you get. As there are no set payoffs for tying a number of teams together in parlays for baseball, you can use this same simple formula to work out your baseball parlays as well.
By way of example, a simple win parlay on George Mason in each game would be calculated as follows;
3.00 * 3.40 * 1.7407 * 5.00 * 3.33 * 3.33 = 984.4248 = c. 983/1
By simply parlaying the moneyline quotes using a calculator, you'll find that your George Mason parlay will pay more than twice the available future odds on the team at the start of the tournament. While it seems from the above example that futures bettors on GMU are shortchanged, this is typical of long shots in any futures market.
When a bettor holds a 'live' futures ticket worth a large payout, the player may want to hedge out of their position during the later stages of a tournament by placing a large wager on an opponent. While hedging out of a position is a way to lock in a profit, keep in mind that any hedge will result in laying additional vigorish, the bookmaker's cut for taking your bet. This can be mitigated somewhat by playing at a low vig sports book like Pinnacle Sportsbetting which offers bettors up to 50% better value than traditional sports books. In general though, this is another potential benefit of playing a win parlay versus a future.
With a win parlay, bettors can simply pocket some winnings from previous rounds and lay less on the team in an upcoming game instead of spending extra juice to hedge out of their locked position. Of course the win parlay doesn't sound as glamorous as the 400/1 ticket, but at least the bettor will be getting the best available odds on their long shot.
With George Mason's Final Four run capturing the imagination of fans and bettors everywhere, we'll take an in-depth look at the early betting action on Saturday's national semi-final games as the tournament reaches its climax.
George Mason (+6 -104) vs. Florida
If there were any doubts regarding George Mason's ability to go all the way they were crushed in Sunday's win over pre-tournament favorites UConn. The Patriots overcame their deficiencies with tenacity and a lot of heart. They were never rattled, even when they trailed by 12 late in the first half and again following the Huskies buzzer-beating lay up to force OT. Away from the partisan crowd they enjoyed in DC, they'll need another flawless performance to get past the Gators in the Final Four.
Florida is hot right now belying their #3 seed and pre-tournament odds of 26/1 to win it all. Florida's man-to-man coverage is as tight as UConn's and they've also demonstrated the ability to pressure and show zone, which could cause problems for the Patriots who haven't shown strong dribble penetration so far in the tourney.
We opened betting on the game before the conclusion of the Florida/Villanova game on Sunday with George Mason as a +4.5 underdog. Since then we've seen strong, steady favorite money that pushed the line out as far as +6.5 where we began to receive some buyback with the line now settling at GMU +6 (-104). The majority of our wise guys have yet to show a clear opinion on the game.
LSU (-2 -110) vs. UCLA
UCLA's tough defense doesn't give up cheap points. Their success this season has been based on their defensive backbone, but they'll need to improve their shooting against the Tigers if they want to get back to the National Championship game for the first time since winning it all in 1995.
LSU's ability to weather a defensive struggle should serve the Tigers well against the Bruins. A 75/1 outsider before the tournament, LSU have destroyed two of the nation's elite programs with their crippling interior defense as the Tigers rank No.7 in the nation in defensive rebounding.
We initially opened the game with UCLA as a -1.5 favorite over LSU but the money has been strong and steady on the Tigers. The line moved through the zero all the way to LSU -1 before we began to see any Bruins' backers. In our highest grossing game of the Final Four, we continue to see LSU money pushing the game to a strong 2. Again like the GMU/Florida game, the sharps have yet to show their hand but we expect a wave of UCLA money closer to game time if the tournament betting trends continue.