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Wiseguy Picks - NBA Sharp Plays


The second round of the NBA Playoffs is underway after a (mostly) uneventful first round. In all premiere events such as the NBA playoffs, many sportsbooks try to post as many proposition bets as possible to tempt players into their book. For a savvy player who does his homework, many of these offerings are almost free money to be picked up off the ground just by bending over.



One type of wager that can be particularly easy to beat is a halftime line. Halftime lines are also known in the trade as “derivatives”, as the line is typically derived from a conversion chart based on the actual point spread for the game.



For example, a 7-point favorite in the game might be a 4-point favorite for the first half. Most sportsbooks will have an accurate price when the line on the first half is opened, but will often forget to update first half lines as the game line moves. This is extremely useful information to know when used in conjunction with the “Pinnacle Lean”. The Pinnacle Lean is where we offer a line on a game that is slightly off market price.



The lean is very pronounced whenever there is a steam play underway. Because Pinnacle Sports Book offers odds that are up to 50% better value than other bookmakers with high limits, Pinnacle Sportsbook will often get “hit” before the rest of the market. If for example there’s a wave of money on the underdog, it’s not uncommon to see that game spread go from +7 to +6 in a relatively short space of time.



When there’s a dramatic line move, many players know they can profit by “chasing steam” – as long as they get down at the original number. In this example, betting the dog at +7 would be a strong play, if the market moved to +6. An equally strong play would be taking the dog at +4 for the first half, when the fair line would be +3.5 or +3.0.



The moral of the story is if you miss a steam play, check the halftimes as there might still be some bargains out there.



Another type of wager that can prove profitable are “player stat” props. These can be beaten, but are more time intensive and require research. Consider the prop: will Shaun Livingston (LAC) have more than 5 assists versus Phoenix in his next game? Novice players (and bookmakers) might look at Livingston’s season average of 4.5 assists per game and immediately decide the under was the right play.



A better way to price this prop is to consider three additional factors. How has Livingston done in his last 10 games? This is usually a better indicator of how he’ll do in the next game because games earlier in the season may have had a different lineup due to injuries or maybe he got less playing time.



Bettors should also consider how consistently a player performs? If a player has two assists some games and twelve in others, he’s inconsistent. In addition, bettors should be wary if he doesn’t receive steady playing time. It‘s more difficult to price inconsistent players, which could mean passing on this prop.



The third thing to consider is how Phoenix’s defense rates regarding assists? If the league average was 20 assists per game and Phoenix allowed 23 per game, this suggests Livingston will do better against this defense.



The “quick and dirty” number for Livingston’s assists would be his average in his last 10 games, multiplied by 23 (average number of assists allowed by Phoenix) and divided by 20 (the adjustment for Phoenix’s below average defense).



The analysis of Livingston concludes that 7 is the correct number for his assists in the next game and the line on the prop is over/under 5 assists. Is that a big enough edge to pull the trigger? This example was pretty easy – the answer is clearly yes. But what if the numbers were closer? Say, 5.5 versus 5?



Bettors don’t have to be mathematicians to remember this general rule of thumb: A number off by 5% (e.g. under 21 with a fair number of 20) has a fair price of -150. So when the number is off, it’s time to pull the trigger. There are two exceptions to this rule though: first, the stat has to increase by “1”s – assists work, but points scored don’t as players can score 2 or 3 points in a shot. Second, the player must be consistent – if minutes played or assists have fluctuated wildly in the previous 10 games, something else is going on and the estimate might not be right. While this method is not absolute, it’s a very good indicator most of the time.



Another type of bet that can be especially lucrative are “player versus player propositions. These are very difficult to price, so they’re rarely offered outside of playoff/championship games.



Consider this possible match-up from the Spurs/Mavericks Western Conference series: Which player will get more rebounds? Nowitzki (Dal) +2 rebounds/Duncan (SA) -2 rebounds. How would you analyze this proposition?



One would start by estimating how many rebounds each player gets in this match-up. If the fair number is Duncan -3, when would you pull the trigger? On player versus player props, you have to compare the mistake in the line to the average number of the players. In this case, the average rebounds per game of the two players are about 10 and the mistake identified was +1 rebound.



Although it’s a pretty serious mis-price (in this case a “10% error”), the advantage isn’t as large as a 10% error on a straight player prop. In this case, you’re looking at two different random things, compared to just one on a solo player prop. The more random things thrown in, the harder it is to predict. On player vs. player props, you want a 10% error (compared to a 5% error on straight stat props) before placing the bet with confidence.



If you’re reading this and thinking that it sounds like a lot of work, you’re right! A lot of gamblers simply don’t want to think that hard to find a smarter way to bet. If you’re willing to put time in and use your mind, beating “big game” propositions may not be as difficult as you think.



Who are players from Pinnacle Sports betting on to win the NBA Championship?



Detroit (-160)



In the last 7 days, the betting public decided that Detroit has already won the NBA Championship. Money has poured in on Detroit, driving the price from -115 last week.



Dallas (+494)



Dallas has been our second most popular team for bettors recently. Although we’ve taken moderate volume on Dallas, the constant influx of Detroit money has driven all teams up, including Dallas which was +450 just last week.

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