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In previous columns we have looked at some techniques that sharper players use such as shopping for the best price when they bet. There are also many ways to recognize a "square" player by the actions they take that simply aren't profitable in the long-run. By knowing what these common mistakes are and why, it will hopefully help you avoid them with your own betting.
Some players seem to find the most ingenious ways to lose money. One of the most popular bad-bets involves teasers. Last week, we discussed "wise guy" teasers where you tease an NFL team across the "3" and "7". A "square" teaser is where someone teases two teams in the same game.
Consider the game Detroit (+2.5) at Cleveland (-2.5). If you tease both teams by six points, you have "Detroit +8.5 and Cleveland +3.5". The problem is that these two plays are anti-correlated. If you believe that Detroit +8.5 will cover, Cleveland +3.5 is much less likely to cover. Where most two-team teasers will win at a rate close to 50%, by teasing two teams in the same game a player will reduce their hit rate down closer to 40%.
What you'll also find is that newer players will often sign-up at a book just for a bonus. They play for a while and then move onto another high juice recreational book to chase another bonus. But how much of these bonuses does a player really keep and how does the rollover work?
If you post up $1,000 for a 10% deposit bonus worth $100, you will be credited with $1,100. The sports book will then expect you to "rollover" that deposit plus the amount of bonus a set number of times. If a book has a "3x rollover" requirement, you are expected to make $3,300 in bets (your deposit of $1,000 plus the $100 bonus, multiplied by 3) before you can earn your bonus. Until you do that, the bonus is "unearned" and withdrawing money typically forfeits that bonus.
A traditional sports book can offer a bonus because they expect to win a lot of it back. If you made $50 bets on NFL sides until you met your rollover requirement (risking $55 to win $50), you would expect to win 33 wagers and lose another 33 wagers. You would be down the $5 vigorish on each of these 33 bets or $165 (33 * $5). Even after earning your $100 bonus you're still down $65!
New customers at Pinnacle Sports also receive a 10% sign-up bonus but if you made those same bets at Pinnacle, our reduced juice means you are only risking $52 to win $50. Making the same 66 bets, you would still be in profit on the bonus and paying just $66 (33 * $2) in juice instead of it costing you $165.
Bonus chasing at books doesn't make sense. While the bonus may help pay for the extra juice, not only are you out of pocket after fulfilling your rollover requirements at a traditional bookmaker, but do you really want the hassle of jumping from one book to the next?
By playing at a reduced juice book like Pinnacle Sports you'll receive a sign-up bonus that is actually worth something and our reduced juice lines offer up to 60% better value on NFL sides than other books, regardless of your rollover.
And now to the games.
Texas Tech (+15.5) at Texas
Both teams are 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Big 12. Both teams' offenses appear statistically insane with Tech averaging 53.7 points per game and 573 yards of offense, while Texas averages 46.7 points and 494.5 yards per game. However, there are a couple of big differences between the in-state rivals.
First, Texas has the #1 pass defense in the Big 12, allowing under 148 passing yards per game. Second, Tech's schedule has been much easier thus far - games against Florida International, Sam Houston State, and Indiana State have inflated their statistics. By comparison, Sagarin rates Tech's schedule as the 138th most difficult in the nation compared to 46th for Texas.
This week, we opened this game at Texas -12 and got pounded by Texas backers. Within four minutes we were at -14. We are still seeing mostly Longhorn money, but the line is stabilizing near 15.5/16. Interestingly, we started taking action on this game in July when we opened it as one of our Marquee match-ups. At that time, we opened it at +10.5 and Tech backers pushed the line down to 9.5.
Auburn (+6.5) at LSU
The last five meetings between these two teams have been won by the home team and only one of those was decided by less than 13 points. Both teams have one loss, but LSU has played stronger teams, overcoming Florida and Arizona State (while losing to Tennessee). We opened the game on Sunday at +6.5 and have been taking heavy, balanced action ever since.
As another game that was featured as one of our College Football Marquee match-ups in July, we opened the line at -6 (-105) and took balanced action then as well. There has been little in way of line movement since then and it seems as though our opener was strong.
Baltimore at Chicago O/U 30.5
There has only been one NFL game in the last 20 years that closed with a total under 31. In 1994, Chicago defeated Arizona 19-16 when the game had a total of 30.5. As of Wednesday morning, the under is priced at 30.5 -111. Why is this game so low?
From a yards per play analysis, Baltimore and Chicago have the #1 and #2 defenses allowing approximately 4.3 yards per play each. Offensively, they rate #29 and #26 respectively with 4.1 and 4.7 yards per play. Both have rushed for more than 100 yards per game. Combine outstanding defenses with poor rush-based offenses and you get the lowest game total of all time. What is the lowest scoring NFL game in the last 20 years? In 2003, the Jets beat the Steelers 6-0 (with a total of 38.5).
We opened this game at 32 flat and immediately saw sharp action on the under. We had some smaller players taking the over at plus money selling points. Several professional scalpers played over 30.5 (+106), but up until now the sharps are neutral at the current number.
Indianapolis (-15) at Houston
Most sharps shudder at the thought of laying more than 7 points in the NFL in any match-up and would rather play large dogs. I know many pros who won't lay more than 7 points no matter how good it looks. On the other side are the "public" bettors who are unafraid to lay any number. For that group, Indy has been a covering machine and they are now 8-4 against the spread in the last two years when favored by more than 7 points.
Houston is the NFL's only winless team this year. Why are they so bad? They have averaged 3.8 yards per play compared to a league average of 5.3. In five games, Houston has allowed thirty QB sacks. This means that in a typical twelve possessions for the Texans, 42% of these face a long passing situation against a nickel or dime defense. These problems combine to limit Houston to less than 11 points per game.
We opened the game at -15 and received large hits from sharps at +15 and +14. We dealt briefly at +13 but were then flooded with Indy money. It looks like the sharps are on Houston at +14 or higher, while the public is favoring Indianapolis.