When we wrapped up our Thursday report, we mentioned this quote from a Las Vegas oddsmaker, “The Saints losing on Sunday was one of the best results in the NFL in the history of Nevada.”
We pick up today with those words from Nick Bogdanovich, Director of Trading for William Hill (as told to Mitch Moss and Pauly Howard on VSiN morning program “Follow the Money”). He was referring to the stunning 48-40 upset suffered by the New Orleans Saints at the hands of the Tampa Bay Bucs last Sunday.
Why was that result so big for Nevada? Several reasons …
▪ In the hours before kickoff, the public had decided it wanted to back the Saints to cover the spread. The line moved from New Orleans -9.5 to the full ten. Sharps, as we discussed a week ago in this space, did back the Bucs at +10 or more. But, the volume of public money typically dwarfs the volume of “smart money.” Sports books across Nevada had taken a position along with the sharps on Tampa Bay +10 … rooting against New Orleans.
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▪ In recent years, public bettors have fallen in love with an ill-advised strategy of putting big favorites in “money line parlays.” Those are bets where you parlay multiple options for bigger payouts. The trick is you have to win ALL elements of that parlay to cash your ticket. With a “money line” parlay, you’re not using point spreads. You’re using odds for whether or not the team will win straight up. The general public underestimates how often upsets happen. Many bettors assumed New Orleans was “a sure thing” to beat Tampa Bay straight up. Difficult for sports books to defend themselves against that line of thinking beyond rooting for upsets and knowing that math will take care of itself over the long haul.
▪ Teaser bets are also popular in Nevada. In teasers, you take multiple games and move the line six points, seven points, or 10 points in your favor at varying returns. Again, in a teaser, you have to win ALL the plays involved. New Orleans seemed like an obvious choice for a 10-point teaser, because you could move the Saints down to pick-em. Same problem here. Books were exposed to a large number of teasers that were only asking New Orleans to win straight up.
When Tampa Bay’s shocker was in the books, ALL parlays involving the Saints lost … and ALL teasers involving the Saints lost. Big sigh of relief for sports book management!
If you’re new to betting and you’re tempted to think asking favorites “just to win the game” is somehow gaming the system, you’ll be in for a rude awakening either immediately or eventually. For some bettors, early success leads to bigger disasters later. Upsets are a big part of football. The market has properly priced their occurrence rates against public impulses to ignore math.
Could future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees and New Orleans fall victim to an upset two weeks in a row?! We know many of you are already thinking THAT would be impossible. The Saints entered the weekend -9 vs. Cleveland. New Orleans in an obvious bounce-back spot with a chip on its shoulder. Cleveland is in an unmistakeable letdown spot after a physically draining overtime tie with hated arch rival Pittsburgh.
If your heart is set on making a move in Saints/Browns, math suggests just focusing on New Orleans minus the points rather than trying to get cute with exotics. What if you’re right about the Saints, but one of your other choices lays an egg and spikes all your bets?
Last week we showed you a chart indicating that last year’s Saints crushed as home favorites vs. clear threats, but had troubles covering larger numbers against opponents that didn’t get their juices flowing. The Cleveland Browns won’t inspire intensity…but making up for a humiliating loss in front of the home folks just might.
Good luck this weekend with all of your legal football bets. If you enjoy reading market and stat analysis here in the Sun Herald, please consider subscribing to VSiN’s free weekday email newsletter. Great to visit with you in Biloxi, hope you see you in VSiN City!