Thursday, January 10, 2008

This Is How I Think Part II

Some of us wait all year long for this weekend.

I'm not talking about the Porn Awards descending upon Vegas.

No. I'm speaking of the NFL Divisional Playoffs.

Like everyone else, I have my opinion on what could or should happen. In years past I'd usually lean towards the home teams in round 2. They've had a week of rest to heal and prepare for a road weary opponent who has played a tough first round game the week before. This combination of events can often lead to a blowout. And this is why all 4 lines are always larger than they should be.

Green Bay opened at -9 and is now -8 over Seattle. (If this was a regular season game I think the line would be closer to Green Bay -4. )

New England opened at -11 is now -13.5 over Jacksonville. (If this was a regular season game I think the line would be closer to New England -10.)

Indianapolis opened at -9 and is now -8.5 over San Diego. (If this was a regular season game I think the line would be closer to Indy -4.)

Dallas opened at -7.5 and are still -7.5 over New York. (If this was a regular season game I think the line would be closer to Dallas -5.)

So according to my brain each of these lines gives a little extra value to the underdogs. And it makes sense. Because like everyone else, I'd expect the 4 home teams to win. You gotta feel good walking up to the sports book and saying the words Green Bay, New England, Indianapolis or Dallas. They all sound like strong plays.

Using the money lines and my old parlay calculator, I determined the odds of all 4 home teams winning outright to be 1.5 to 1. The casino would only pay out 1.3 to 1 or charge you 1 to 1.7 to do it in reverse. But the fair value is 1.5 to 1.

Now 1.5 to 1 is not even money. It's not a coin flip. It's 3 to 2. Or 60 to 40.

This tells us that mathematically, it is slightly more than likely (60%) that 1 of the home teams loses.

Thus the fun bet becomes...

The sit back and watch the chaos bet is...

The either feel like a genius or really dumb on Monday morning bet has got to be...

Take the 4 underdog money lines!

I ain't saying it's smart. But it sure sounds like fun.

Lets say I were to put 100 dollars on each of the 4 dogs to win outright.

Seattle, Jacksonville and San Diego are all more than 3 to 1 dogs.

If any one of these 3 teams can win this weekend, the entire bet is profitable.

Just 1 of the 3.

If only the Giants win, I'd actually lose 40 bucks on the whole experience since they're only 2.6 to 1 dogs.

Now the real ugly part: The reason we shouldn't do this bet is there's a 40% chance we could lose all 4 games and be stuck 400 dollars.

That isn't pretty.

And when I frame it as "there is only a 60% chance NOT losing 400 dollars" it sounds even scarier.

Greed steps in and tries to point out that if the road teams can win 2 games this weekend, that would give a profit of anywhere from +365 to +690.

But who is gonna explain to greed that the math behind this bet is based on winning 1 game? Winning 2 road games would be above and beyond expectations.

If I did this bet here are the hypothetical scenarios:

40% of the time none of the 4 road teams win and I'm down $400 and preparing a blog about how I should stick to poker.

60% of the time at least one of the 4 road teams win.

If Seattle wins I'm up $5 (and free rolling on the last 3 games).

If Jacksonville wins I'm up $250 (and in utter shock).

If San Diego wins I'm up $40 (and in utter shock).

If Giants win I'm down -$40 (and relieved I didn't lose 400.)

As you can see this isn't such a great payout. Certainly not strong enough to warrant risking $400.

However if I do this bet what greed is really chasing is:

If Seattle and San Diego both win I'm up +445

If Seattle and Jacksonville both win I'm up +665

If Seattle and Giants both win I'm up +365

If San Diego and Jacksonville both win I'm up +690

If San Diego and Giants both win I'm up +400

If Giants and Jacksonville both win I'm up +610

So where does this leave us?

As a poker player and investor I do not I feel comfortable placing this bet because of the 40% chance of losing my entire $400.

As a gambler and in terms of pure entertainment, backing the 4 dog money lines would be by far the most fun way for me to watch these games.

Especially if you're like me and enjoy watching everyone run around the sports book in shock every week saying "I can't believe so and so won."

The other part that makes this bet so tempting is I have enough sports gambling experience to know that if I were to go the other way and do a $400 parlay on all 4 home teams winning, it would completely feel like a sucker bet as I was walking away from the window. One of the dogs would win and ruin it for me.

Betting on each of the 4 home teams to win makes sense game by game. But it's so hard to be right about anything 4 times in a row when you bet. No matter how big of a favorite one team may be. Even a 90% favorite only wins 4 in a row 65% of the time. An 80% favorite only wins 4 in a row 40% of the time. (And ONLY New England is even close to being an 80% favorite to win this weekend.)

So despite my feelings, I have learned to trust the math. And what choice do I have? They've got a few casinos here in Vegas to prove it works.


Check Raise Chin said...


Interesting post. I wonder if Vegas has those if...then parlays. That way you can bet the string and if you could hit maybe two in a row and the third game loses then you're out and up money. Not sure if I explained it right. I know betting sports online theres an option for those types of parlays.

On a side note. I completely scored last week betting football. I was 4/4 on my parlay but hedged the SD game so I only made out with $150 bucks or so instead of $350+.

Do you like hedging at all? I figured once the first 3 games went down I placed a straight bet on Tenn to hedge in case the upset happened. Not sure if that was the right move. The Giants (GO BIG BLUE!)and the Jags really helped as that made the money line parlay worth it. I don't play the spreads...I only play the money line parlays. I know that's probably not the best way to wager parlays but I've been doing ok with money line parlays instead of the spread. I just think it's easier to pick a winner vs. picking a winner against the spread.

I'm thinking of taking the Chargers and the Giants in a parlay. What do you think??

Robert said...

I hate parlays. They cheat you out of money. If you're going to do a Chargers Giants parlay you're better off betting all the money on San Diego ML and then if they win put your winnings on the Giants ML. That'll be a bigger payout than if you just parlayed the 2. And since the games occur at different times you are able to bet the 2nd after knowing the 1st result.