College Football September 15 Report

My three college football plays for the day are posted at Bang the Book and now will look at some of the other games.

UTEP at Tennessee: The total has climbed back to 49 after reaching 47.5 yesterday as there’s a 20% chance of rain and the area wasn’t hit by the hurricane as much as expected.

Mass at FIU: Good chance for thunderstorms here, but as we’ve seen, they’ll simply halt the game and resume later, so not sure how much it should come into your handicapping.

Florida State at Syracuse: Lots of touts on the Orange, but the line is moving the other way in a small reverse move.

Ohio vs. Virginia: I used the total on this ESPN2 game at Bang the Book and believe the Bobcats offer a little value getting 5.5 points on a neutral field, as the game will be played a Vanderbilt.

Tulane at UAB: A lot of touts on the Blazers in this one as a home dog.

Houston at Texas A & M: The total here has moved to 69 and I’d give a slight lean to the under, as this is one of the games I debated using for the College totals Play of the Week.

Alabama at Mississippi: The total has shot up from 63 to 70.5 in this one.

Missouri at Purdue: Purdue is another popular play with the touts today.

Monroe at Texas A & M: A lot of touts on ULM due to Texas A & M being off Clemson and before Alabama, but the talent difference here is huge.

Pinnacle Leans: The ‘Pinnacle Lean’ is a simple concept that a number of handicappers look at and is due to Pinnacle having the highest betting limits among books with excellent payout reputations, reduced juice and Pinny also welcomes professional bettors, unlike some offshore sportsbooks. They don’t accept US bettors, but several betting syndicates I know of have houses in Canada and simply have somebody there place bets. When Pinnacle has the line shaded one direction the majority of other sportsbooks don’t, it’s usually worth a second glance.

For Saturday, the games that fall under the ‘Pinnacle Lean’ are: Tennessee under, Minnesota under, Illinois under, New Mexico under, Texas A & M over and Florida over. Naturally, odds will change during the day, but that’s as of early Saturday morning.

 

 

College Football 9-1-18

The first full day of college football is here and my weekly three games are posted at Bang the Book. No, I don’t believe we’ll hit 70% there, which we did in 2016, as that was a once-in-a-lifetime run, but I am confident we’ll end up with another winning season when all is said and done.

If you read any of the three articles posted there for today’s action, you’ll see a few references to narrowing down the games being the most difficult aspect, so here are some thoughts on the other games on the card.

FAU at Oklahoma: Gave some consideration to FAU+20.5 in this one, as the Owls have some good athletes and can make some plays. Much bigger game for FAU than the Sooners.

Northern Illinois at Iowa: More of the same here, as I’d lean to the underdog, but don’t like the fact they’re receiving more than 50% of the wagers.

UNLV at USC: A few people I respect are on the Runnin’ Rebels plus the points in this one.

Old Dominion at Liberty: Liberty is playing its first FBS game, led by head coach Turner Gill, the former Nebraska Cornhusker. Could give ODU all they want and might be worth a look as a home underdog.

If I had to choose a favorite today, would likely look at West Virginia over Tennessee.

Weather:

50% chance of rain/thunderstorms at Rice.

40% chance of rain/thunderstorms at Ohio State and increasing as game goes on.

30% chance of rain/thunderstorms at Maryland, increasing as game goes on.

45% chance of rain/thunderstorms at Miami, Ohio, with 13 mph winds.

67% of rain/thunderstorms at Nebraska.

Not an all-inclusive look at weather, but a few of the notable games that stood out a little bit.

 

Online Sportsbooks Will Survive

While some may think Monday’s Supreme Court decision to overturn the federal sports betting ban is going to spell the end of online sportsbooks, nothing can be farther from the truth. The decision of Monday, May 14, 2018, decision will likely have a positive effect on the offshore betting industry for several reasons and actually prove to be beneficial, as online sportsbooks offer some advantages that legal establishments can never duplicate.

Monday’s decision will bring forth a change in philosophy towards sports betting by a number of people. During my years in the sports betting industry, I ran into plenty of people who wanted to bet sports, but didn’t do so because of the legality issue. While the government still views online betting as against the law, some of the people who previously sat on the sidelines will now get involved, as in principle, anyway, sports betting is no longer illegal. It’s a matter of waiting for the government and individual states to get up to speed.

Other than New Jersey, and possibly a couple of other states, legal sports betting isn’t going to happen in the immediate future. Most states have yet to pass bills authorizing sports betting and state legislatures are not known for moving fast. Even a state like Florida, which offers daily lottery games, horse racing, jai alai and casino gaming is believed to be several years down the road from offering any type of sports betting and the state’s deals with the Seminole Tribe over sports betting could find their way into the court system, which would delay it even longer.

Legal betting establishments aren’t going to offer the sign-up bonuses the online sportsbooks can. If you open an account at Bookmaker, you can receive up to a $600 bonus match on your first sportsbook deposit, and even more for the casino, if you’re interested. That doesn’t even include bonuses for additional deposits if the games don’t go your way and you end up putting more money into your account, as well as loyalty-type programs, where you earn points for every wager and can turn those into betting funds or merchandise down the road.

Online sportsbooks will offer more betting opportunities, the potential for lower vig depending on what happens with the so-called “integrity fees” and of course, won’t report your winnings to the IRS. They’ll also give bettors another option when it comes time to shop for odds, something that is almost important as picking winners, as the ones who make their living betting sports often aren’t the best handicappers around, but they do maximize getting the best value on every wager they place, which adds a couple of points to their winning percentage.

The early reaction was pretty much split between online sportsooks, with some thinking the Supreme Court decision was a good thing and others not too happy about it, due to the size of the U.S. market. Years down the road, those who believe it’s a bad thing may be proven to be correct, but for the next five or 10 years it’s hard not to see how it will help the online sportsbook industry.

New Jersey Supreme Court Case Made Simple

Most sports bettors are somewhat familiar with the upcoming Supreme Court case regarding sports betting in New Jersey. While some may call it the case to legalize sports betting, that isn’t entirely true. If New Jersey wins, the state will have the ability to legalize sports betting. So will every other state, much like how certain states have legalized small amounts of marijuana. Not all of them have, although they do have the option, which is what New Jersey is fighting for.

Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992

The obstacle standing in the way of states being allowed to offer sports betting is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which is usually just called PAPSA. The act prohibits states from offering new forms of sports betting that weren’t in place when the bill was passed. That’s why Nevada is able to offer single-game wagering and Delaware is forced to offer parlay wagering on football games.

There are several things wrong with PAPSA, which have been brought up in lower courts and the United States Supreme Court must agree to an extent to agree to hear the case.

Equal Sovereignty                                                                                                               The principle of equal sovereignty says that all states have to be treated equal. Those in favor of New Jersey argue for the government to say Nevada can offer a full range of sports betting and New Jersey cannot violates that principle.

Anti-Commandeering                                                                                                             The anti-commandeering argument basically states that federal government is “commandeering” the laws of a state by not letting the individual states decide their own gambling laws.

“Congress may give states a choice of regulating to federal standards or ceding the issue to federal control,” the Pacific Legal Foundation wrote in a ‘friends of the Court’ brief. “But Congress cannot deny states that choice and simply dictate what their own laws shall be.”

While there are several other matters, such as the right of Congress to pass laws that benefit a private entity, such as the NCAA or the professional sports leagues, the equal sovereignty/anti-commandeering arguments are the two most likely to catch the attention of the court. Clearly, the decision will affect much more than just sports betting, as the rights of states are at the forefront of the case.

About the only thing that is certain is that case has often yielded unexpected results. After the solicitor general recommended that the Supreme Court not hear the case, the Supreme Court went against his recommendation and put the case on their docket.

Now, a fair number of people believe that New Jersey will win the case, but being the favorite in Christie vs. NCAA hasn’t always been the best position to be in.

Why Bovada is a Must-Have Sportsbook

I frequently get asked which sportsbooks people should play with and my standard answer is to ask what type of bettor they are. If you’re a good-sized bettor, Bookmaker is the place for you to be. For everybody else, there’s Bovada. Ideally, an account at both is the best way to go, as you’ll find line differences and the occasionally chance at taking a middle due to Bovada’s tendency to shade the line to the public side.

About five years ago Bovada made the decision to turn into a top-notch sportsbook. They no longer boot you out at the first sign of you actually knowing what you’re doing. And their payouts have gotten to be much faster and reliable. In short, they’ve become a top-notch sportsbook, which is what they set out to do.

The best reason for playing at Bovada is they have a tendency to favor the favorite and the over. Unless the underdog is the popular play with the public at which point they shade the line that direction. But if a popular team is an 8.5-point favorite, Bovada will likely have it at 10. If over 47.5 is a popular football play, Bovada could have it at 49. Simply put, if you like to go against the grain, Bovada is a great place for you to play.

For baseball, Bovada isn’t the greatest, as they use a 20-cent line and usually shade 5 cents both ways. If Boston is -135 over Tampa Bay and the Rays are +125 at Bookmaker, Bovada will have it -140 and +120. That’s about the only knock on them.

Bookmaker’s line is usually one of the sharper lines out there and you can usually find decent differences between their numbers and Bovada’s, giving you more opportunities to aim for a middle.

What Supreme Court Decision Means For Sports Betting

The United States Supreme Court surprised a lot of people when they agreed to hear New Jersey’s appeal of a lower court ruling that prevented the state from offering legalized sports betting. At the heart of the matter is PAPSA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 that prohibited states from offering new forms of sports-related betting activities. If they allowed something when the bill was passed, they could continue to do so. That’s why Nevada is still able to offer a full variety of sports betting.

Even if the Supreme Court rules in favor of New Jersey, that does not mean sports betting will be legal in the United States. What it means is that states will have the right to offer sports betting if they choose to do so. Not all states will. For sports betting to be declared legal in the United States, it would take an act of Congress or federal statute and that isn’t what New Jersey’s lawsuit is all about.

On the merits of their case, New Jersey has a good chance of coming out with a victory. The Constitution was designed to keep the federal government out of the affairs of individual states as much as possible. So when the federal government tells one state you can’t offer sports betting, while letting another state do so, there are going to be problems. Remember, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case even after the Solicitor General’s Office said he didn’t believe they should. Obviously, there are at least several members of the Court who have an interest in the matter.

The leagues and the NCAA will continue to argue irreparable harm and challenges to their integrity if sports betting is allowed, but they are quickly losing ground in that area. With the NHL and NFL moving teams to Las Vegas, the stigma of gambling as harmful to athletics is making less sense.

The leagues and the NCAA aren’t made up of dumb people. They know betting is taking place and will continue into the future regardless of what happens in court. More, such as the NBA’s Adam Silver are in favor of legalized, regulated sports betting. People in the U.S. are going to be able to wager on sports legally sometime in the near future. It is no longer really a question of if, but more a question of when. The Supreme Court may answer that question shortly.

Zig-Zag System in NHL Playoffs

Alexander Ovechkin.

The Zig-Zag System is one of the staples for betting the NBA playoffs. It has been around for a number of years and has plenty of followers. As expected, the method is nothing special, having lost most of its edge when it gained popularity. Last season the method went 42-44, but did go 42-37-2 the year before and 49-38-2 in 2013-14, giving it a slightly profitable 52.8% winning percentage the past three years.

Naturally, that got me wondering how the method would have fared in the NHL. There’s no simple answer, as it’s 144-129 between the 2013-14 and 2015-16 playoffs. It has showed a decent profit, as the average lay price is -105, but it’s still a bit risky, as it has had a slightly above average year, a very good year and a pretty poor one.

Last season, the method was 48-43 and showed a slight profit, with a return on investment of 1.7%. Not that bad for such a simple concept. In 2014-15, it was as good as gold, posting a 54-35 record and an ROI of better than 18.5%. It was 33-15 with favorites and 21-20 with underdogs.

But 2013-14 was a bit of a disaster for the method, which went 42-51 and yielded a loss of 11.1% on the amount risked. Favorites were slightly in the red, with a 25-19 record, but underdogs were a dismal 16-32 and showed almost a 25% ROI loss.

Looking at the three years collectively, underdogs have shown a slight flat-bet loss of 1.9%, while favorites have gone 81-50 and yielded a profit of 5.8%, which isn’t bad at all.

If you’re going to follow the method, it makes sense to skip the underdogs and focus on the favorites.

 

April Dogs With High Totals

James Paxton.

April has traditionally been an above average month for baseball underdogs. Going back to the start of the 2004 season, betting every underdog would have yielded a 1983-2482 record and a profit of $4803. That’s definitely better than the flat-bet loss of $27,000 that favorite bettors would have amassed over the same period of time.

But if you were to look at those games where the total is 10 or higher, you’d have essentially the same profit, but a much better return on risk, as those games have gone 233-250, good for a profit of $4,722. The big difference is obviously in the amount of money risked. The return on risk when betting on all underdogs is 1.1%, while it’s nearly 10% (9.8%) by betting the underdogs in those games with high totals.

In 2014 through 2016, these games have gone 16-13 and have yielded a return of 18.3%. There have been no plays so far in 2017.

Underdogs fare better in games with high totals, but they tend to do even better right out of the gate and is something worth watching during the opening month of the season.

Arena Football League Starts This Week

As if there wasn’t enough to try and keep track of, the revamped Arena Football League will open its 30th season on Friday when the Baltimore Brigade faces the Washington Valor. On Saturday, the Tampa Bay Storm will visit the Cleveland Gladiators.

There’s been plenty of changes since Arena Bowl, most notably the number of teams in the league, which has now dropped to five. The Philadelphia Soul is the other team in the league.

Some of the previous teams folded, while others joined different arena leagues. While the Arena Football League is the oldest and most famous of the arena leagues, which include the National Arena League, Arena Pro Football and Indoor Football League.

The AFL also has Ted Leonsis and the other leagues can’t match that. Leonsis not only only owns the Washington Valor, he also owns Baltimore Brigade, so the first game of the season will actually be his two teams playing each other. Probably not a coincidence.

Last season, we handicapped the AFL on a weekly basis with mixed results; some weeks were good and others left a bit to be desired. This year, it’s practically impossible to do anything until the first month or so is in the books. Many teams have undergone major roster changes, which make last year’s statistics pretty meaningless.

Once we get some games in, we’ll be delving into the Arena Football League season once again, provided lines are posted for their games.