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How to Profit from Free Plays

 

The wait is over. The NFL season - bread and butter for many bettors - starts tomorrow and Pinnacle's razor-thin 8-cent lines make football very beatable by charging 60% less juice than traditional sportsbooks. The early part of the season provides some great opportunities for astute players as it's the time of year when the juiciest sign-up incentives are there for the taking.

If you saw $500 lying on the ground, would you bend over and pick it up? Almost everyone would be prepared to do much more than touch their toes for five free Benjamins. Therefore the consensus among sharp sports bettors is not surprising - most will gladly pocket the cash. Oddly enough, this is not a hypothetical example; some opportunities are really that easy at this time of the year.

What if you're holding a $1,000 "free play" on the Pittsburgh Steelers that allows you to place a risk-free bet? With a $1,000 free play on Pittsburgh, your options are to win $1,000 if Pittsburgh covers, or lose nothing if Miami covers. Many players would like to turn this free play into a sure thing, locking in a lesser amount of profit.

A simple way to do this is to place a "hedge" bet on Miami. With Pinnacle Sportsbook's -104 style pricing on NFL sides, you'll pay 60% less juice on this wager than elsewhere. If you had bet $510 to win $490 on Miami at the same line or better at Pinnacle Sports Betting before the announcement on Roethlisberger, you would have a guaranteed profit of $490 when taken with a $1,000 free play.

Professional sports bettors know how to get the most out of almost all the bonuses that are available at this time of the year. If you have a $1,000 free play that can be used on anything, this is worth quite a bit more than the $490 you made when restricted to a specific game. The key concept to remember is that a free play is most valuable when it has a high chance of losing such as with big dogs or parlays. Using this concept, it's easy to turn a $1,000 free play into $750 cash.

Pick any three games at a normal price. There are eight possible ways for these three games to resolve (since each game has two outcomes, there are 2 * 2 * 2 possibilities). Bet 1/8 of the free play ($125) on each of these eight possibilities at 6:1 (the normal price for a 3-team parlay). No matter what happens in each game, you'll lose seven of the parlays and win one which pays $750 (6 * $125). Just remember that the return does not include the free play stake.

Since some sportsbooks will take a dim view of players using this strategy, another way to maximize this type of 'free play' bonus in a less obvious way is to simply make a lot of bets on big underdogs. Placing eight bets on eight different +600 underdogs, the expected value is still the same (i.e. $750 profit) although the volatility is higher. You're also less likely to be accused of "abusing" a bonus this way.

Another type of common bonus is the 'deposit' bonus. A sportsbook will often give a 10% bonus with 3x rollover (or another percentage and rollover). A rollover requirement is how sportsbooks ensure a profit after giving away a cash bonus. If a player deposits $1,000 and collects a 10% bonus, his account would start at $1,100.

If there's a 3x rollover, that $100 bonus would not be "earned" until the player had made $3,300 in total wagers. Traditional sportsbooks hope to hold 4.5% of that total volume (which is the "juice" on a standard -110 priced wager), or hold $148.50. In that case, the "free" $100 bonus actually costs the player $48.50 net!

The problem with this type of deposit bonus occurs when a player bets his entire balance on a single play. For example, assume you opened two accounts at two different sportsbooks. At each one, you deposited $1,000 and collected a $100 bonus. You pick one NFL game and bet each side at one of the books. After the game, you've lost your entire $1,100 balance at one book and have also lost the rollover requirement. You've gained equity, because the book where you're wiped out will not get the other $2,200 in rollover required.

While you can make marginal amounts of money by playing opposite sides of games and shopping around, this is best used in conjunction with handicapping, where the unit size is at least $1,000. Your ability to do this is limited only by the amount of tolerable risk when chasing bonuses at mediocre sportsbooks.

At the time of writing, Pinnacle Sports betting offers a 10% bonus on first-time deposits, with a maximum bonus of $500. If you're thinking about manipulating bonuses as shown above, you clearly want Pinnacle Sportsbook as one of your books. With -104 pricing on NFL sides, you'll be better able to extract money from other books. At Pinnacle Sportsbetting, we're not too worried about players using the bonus against someone else's as once you see our extensive offerings and reduced juice, you will keep playing with us regardless.

What are our sharp players betting?

Miami +1 -109 at Pittsburgh

Through most of the preseason, this line was trading at +4.5 with fairly balanced action. Ben Roethlisberger underwent an appendectomy at the beginning of the week, and is out for the Steelers' opener. His loss dumped the spread 3 points, making the Steelers only a slight favorite. With his absence, the total also dropped 3 points from 37.5 to 34.5. We're still seeing a number of wagers on Miami for $400-$500 each.

Philadelphia -5.5 -104 at Houston

We opened the Eagles as a 3.5-point favorite. The line stayed fairly level until recently, when we were hit by a barrage of sharp money. Much of the action was played buying half-points to take Philadelphia -2.5. We think we're getting the best of it anytime a player buys points from us, but those sharps disagree. Other than Pittsburgh/Miami, this is our most heavily traded game.

Ryder Cup: US +125

The 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club, Co Kildare, Ireland opened with Europe and US even at +105 (with the tie at +1000). While we've taken heavy balanced action on both teams, the market has drifted favoring Europe slightly, now trading at -105. While some sharps take early positions on this event, there are more who bet it closer to tee off.

 

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