Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Sucker Bet Theory: Beat the bookies by being the bookies

The sports gambling industry is a multi-billion dollar sector and football season is center of the sports gambling universe, no doubt, as gridiron fanatics try and beat Vegas every Saturday and Sunday all fall.

My roommate Jordan and I have been working on a theory for about two years now, called the Sucker Bet Theory (SBT). It’s time it becomes unveiled.

What gamblers must realize is that in the long run, you’re not going to beat the bookies. I’ve given up. You’re not going to outsmart the bookies and they didn’t overlook the line you think is a gimme. Ever thought, “I can’t believe that line is so low, no way they can stop Adrian Peterson; the Vikings will definitely cover 6 1/2”?

Heed my warning: extinguish that thought process from your mindset. But look on the bright side: there is money to be made during football season. I invite you to continue reading.

In order to beat the bookies, you must think like a bookie. Typically, bookies make money on juice. Think of juice like a tax, which is usually 10 percent. In other words, you bet $110 to win $100, or $55 to win $50. In most cases, the bookie’s job is to set a line to initiate even money on both sides, his profit then being the juice from the losers. Think of it like the casino’s rake in poker.

(This is why I hate when people credit the bookies for making a line equal to or close to the eventual score, as if they get more money for being accurate. It’s actually quite the opposite: if they nail the score exactly, everybody pushes, gets their money back and the bookies make no money.)

But SBT exists in a different environment. SBT is when the bookies are so sure that one team is going to cover a spread, that they bait gamblers into choosing the other side with an enticing line. In this case, more money is on one side than the other, and the bookies profit off of losing bets rather than the juice.

Sucker bets come in all forms, but are most prevalent in road teams, teams coming off big weeks or whose opponents had uninspiring weeks. “Wow, Mark Sanchez tore it up Sunday. He’s definitely going to do it again next week, I’m taking the Jets.”

You and everyone else. 70/30 bets are in favor of the Jets. Jets don’t cover. Bookies clean up. Behold: you are a sucker. Does your cheek hurt? You just ate the worm.

It was hard to recognize sucker bets in Week 1, seeing that no one really knew what to expect. But there are some obvious ones for Week 2. Let’s take a look:

Raiders +3 at Chiefs
The Raiders played the Chargers, one of the AFC’s best teams on paper, down to the wire. The Chiefs lost by 14 points to the Ravens.

“If they Raiders almost beat San Diego, they can definitely beat the Chiefs,” you say.

You’re not alone. The Raiders are playing on a short week and traveling from Oakland to Kansas City. Arrowhead Stadium is always a tough place to play, not matter how good or bad the Chiefs are.

Bet Kansas City. Whether Matt Cassel plays or not.

Vikings -9.5 at Lions
Adrian Peterson looked unstoppable against the Browns. The Lions got smoked against Drew Brees and the Saints. Looks like another blowout, right?

Not so fast. The line is an enticing one, a half-point below 10. In other words, the bookies want you to think, “Minnesota can definitely win by 10.”

But 9 1/2 points is a ton to cover in the NFL. I’m not necessarily saying bet on Detroit, but don’t fall in love with the Vikings. That’s what they want you to do.

At Falcons -6 Panthers
Matt Ryan was impressive against the Dolphins in Week 1. Jake Delhomme threw four picks against the Eagles. Looks like a no-brainer.

Need I throw another fake quote in here? You get it by now. Under a touchdown is enticing. But it’s a division game and I’m not sold on that Atlanta defense just yet. Expect DeAngelo Williams to show why he was a consensus first-round fantasy pick.

Steelers -3 at Bears
Speaking of four picks. Steelers coming off a good win against a solid Titans team. Jay Cutler looked like Brett Favre in last season’s finale, only worse. Game’s on national TV in Soldier Field.

Everybody and their brother like the Steelers. This will be Vegas’ biggest Week 2 win.

Granted, SBT is not 100 percent accurate. One or more of those teams will probably cover on Sunday. Just be hesitant in choosing any of them. They bookies saw Cutler’s performance in Green Bay. They know what they’re doing and they realize that more than 50 percent of gamblers will likely take the Steelers laying only three points. If the Steelers cover, they will lose money.

Most bookies aren’t in the money-losing business.

No comments: