An Inside Look at Betting on American Idol

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Pinnacle Pulse
The inside line from by Simon Noble

For this weeks Pulse, let’s switch gears and take a look at a recent phenomenon in online gaming that’s created a buzz on the forums and generated tremendous betting interest at the Pinnacle Sportsbook – American Idol.

No other “event” at Pinnacle Sports has been growing as fast as wagering on American Idol. It has turned into a huge betting event with reasonably high limits and all sorts of profit-making potential for sharp bettors. At the Pinnacle Sports book, the action on this year’s series has increased five fold over the last installment of the hit show and now compares to the Masters in terms of handle.

since becoming the first bookmaker in the world to offer odds on the show, Pinnacle Sportsbetting has tried to support this growth in wagering interest by expanding Idol betting offers. Every week there are now odds to win American Idol, various elimination props and contestant versus contestant match-ups.

Whether a fan of America’s top-rated show or watching only because of a wife or girlfriend, here are some of basic strategies to use when betting American Idol.

Odds to Win

There are a few things to consider when looking for the right win bet. First off, remember that this bet is for the long haul. Many people make the mistake of picking the performer who sang the best the previous week. This strategy leads to an underlay situation – betting a price, which is less than what it should be.

All Idol contestants struggle at some point in the competition, so you should always look for value. In this year’s competition alone, two performers who had some of the best performances early in the series were subsequently bet down to low prices – Lisa Tucker and Ace Young. After just a few weeks, Tucker has already been eliminated, while Young is now a huge long shot to win America’s largest talent search. A better strategy is to look for performers who don’t necessarily get the praise from the judges, but show flashes of the talent necessary to go the distance.

Another important thing to remember when betting any contestant to win is the demographic breakdown of the voters, the viewing public and potential future CD purchasers. Unlike sporting events, American Idol is not decided on the field of play – it’s decided by the American public under the guiding iNFLuence of the shows producers.

Therefore, to be successful betting on American Idol, put any personal opinions or prejudices aside and think like the majority of the voting public. Even if you think Elliott would look more at home at a Star Trek convention than in a contest for a major recording contract, remember that the typical voter is young, female and quite often, Southern.

If a contestant cannot appeal to this demographic, no matter how much talent he or she possesses, they’ll struggle for votes. Looks, demeanor and charisma are extremely important. And it’s no coincidence that every Idol winner so far has hailed from a Southern state.

Elimination Props

Every week Pinnacle Sports betting offers a prop on who’ll be eliminated from the show each Wednesday night. A suggestion to handicap this is to gauge an overall feel for who’s the least popular contestant left in the competition. Generally the least popular performers have recently appeared in the bottom three and will have been the target of repeated criticism from the judges.

Two other resources to use are and measures the volume of each contestant’s voting line. While by no means a perfect science, it does give a good indication of who is generating votes and who isn’t. Meanwhile, is a site that attempts to build support for the worst competitor to keep them in the competition for ‘entertainment’ value. The site has a proven track record of keeping performers around who most feel should have been voted off a long time ago.

Contestant vs. Contestant Match-ups

The best strategy for doing well on match-ups is to assess how close either of the contestants is to being eliminated. If neither is expected to be voted off of the show in the coming weeks, the value is almost always on the underdog. If both are expecting an imminent exit in the near future, the favorite in the match-up might offer value.

This Weeks Idol Betting

Odds to Win American Idol
Chris Daughtry +161
Katharine McPhee +314
Taylor Hicks +420
Kellie Pickler +700
Mandisa +909
Elliott Yamin +2000
Paris Bennett +2000
Ace Young +6000
Bucky Covington +15000

Who will be eliminated on April 5, 2006?
Bucky Covington +284
Elliot Yamin +310
Ace Young +311
Mandisa +351
Paris Bennett +786
Katharine McPhee +3320
Taylor Hicks +5000
Kellie Pickler +6000
Chris Daughtry +8000

since last week’s show, at Pinnacle Sports most of the money has come in on two contestants: Taylor Hicks and Kellie Pickler. Taylor’s odds have steadily shortened from a high of over 5/1 a week ago to 21/5 (+420) to become the fifth American Idol. Not only is she’s pick this week, but Kellie Pickler has also seen a rush of money as well and has gone from a little over 11/1 down to 7/1 to win the show.