Philly Front Office

Vegas 101: Introductory to Sports Betting

Welcome, class. With the new Supreme Court law giving states the right to legalize sports betting, people can finally bet on sporting events without being in Las Vegas – something none of us could do before.

Just kidding. Last year, it was estimated that illegal sports betting took a handle of $150 billion (yes, billion with a “B”), while Nevada sportsbooks took in just $4.8 billion. People have been betting illegally forever, and the new law doesn’t really change anything. The one major change, however, will be more “squares” betting, which should provide even more opportunities for “sharps” to find value.

 

Throughout the course of the football season, I will be providing my “Money Makers.” These picks will be for fun and will be used to help you all dive deeper into the betting world. However, before we get to picks and making fictitious money together, I want to provide some insights into key terms, bankroll management, and other advice I’ve learned throughout my time following odds and making picks.

I’ve already mentioned a couple terms that I’ll use a lot when justifying and explaining picks. Consider this your dictionary moving forward:

  • Square: “Joe Public.” This is the common bettor. Someone with enough knowledge to think they know what they are doing but constantly will fall into traps. Squares generally bet on the favorites (the better team always wins, right?) and the over (POINTS!!!!!!).
  • Sharp: These are your professionals. Lines will move based off what they do and who they bet. Placing five to six figure bets on a game, they control the action.
  • Against the Spread (ATS): This is a team’s record against their spread. A team may be 10-6 overall, but if they are 4-12 ATS, you’d probably avoid betting on them.
  • Ticket Percent: This shows the percentage of bets on a single side. For example, in the Super Bowl, the Patriots were giving 4.5 points to the Eagles and were receiving 60% of the bets. That 60% number is the ticket percent; all it does is say how many people bet on a certain side.
  • Money Percent: Think of this as a weighted average. It shows where the money is going. Unlike ticket percent, which just shows how many people bet on one side, the money percent shows how much of the handle (total money bet on game) is on either side. This is a far better indicator to look at than ticket percent.
  • Hedging: Hedging is an important concept to understand because it can help you make a guaranteed return. A hedge is a bet that goes against a previous bet you made that allows you to mitigate your risk. A good example of this involves parlays. Say you have a parlay of Eagles -4 with Steelers -6, and the Eagles win by 7. You now have a parlay that only needs Steelers -6 to win. A hedge would then be betting on the team the Steelers are playing, getting the 6 points. This way, you either win your parlay if Steelers cover, or you win your hedge bet if they don’t cover.
  • Window: A betting window involves making multiple bets that allow for a window to win both of them. These usually occur with line moves or halftime odds. For example, you bet the under of 42.5 in a game. At halftime it’s a 0-0 nightmare (this game probably involves the Browns). The total for the second half is 20.5. If you bet the over 20.5 for the second half, you would create a window between 21 and 42 points where you could win both bets, while providing a hedge on your original bet at the same time.

Each week, I’ll also key on a particular piece of advice. Generally, these will look back at a game from the previous week to explain what happened or what we should have been looking at. For today’s intro class, I’ll talk about Reverse Line Movement or RLM. This is an important concept to understand. Bets have two ways of looking at them. There is the Ticket percent and the Money percent (mentioned above). RLM is when a bet moves away from the majority of tickets placed. For example, the Patriots are giving 4.5 points and are receiving 60% of the total bets on the game. However, the line moved from 4.5 to 3. This is odd because the majority of bets are on the Patriots, correct? Deep dive into the numbers and we see that the Eagles, despite only getting 40% of the bets, are receiving 70% of the money placed on the game. The money percent (70% on Eagles in this example) is what caused the line to move. RLM is a very useful tool that shows where the Sharp Money is, and as we will find out, the sharp side is where we want to be. Remember, if the public side (ticket majority) was the right side to be on, we wouldn’t be able to waste our money at Vegas Sportsbooks and sports betting wouldn’t be a game of chance, it would be a definite.

Our final topic for today (and the last boring part of the lecture, sorry) is bankroll management. This is vital to understand. Betting should be fun; it should not be your means of income. Bet with your head and not over it. The best way to do this is to set a budget for yourself for the upcoming season. Make that budget something that you’d be okay with losing the whole thing – because Vegas always wins in the end. We’ll do our best to have fun and make money here, but always be prepared to lose your bet. If you can’t handle the loss, you shouldn’t be betting. Once you’ve established your budget, then I like to base my bet size off of that budget. For example, my budget is $1,000 for the season, so I’d make bets that range from one to five percent of that number; my top bet on any single game would be $50 (five percent). This ensures you effectively manage your bankroll for the whole season. The biggest rookie mistake in betting is wildly changing how much you bet on games. Stay steady. Never go overboard on a game you think is a sure thing.

 

That will cover it for today’s class. Hope you didn’t fall asleep or open up Fortnite during this lecture. The Money Makers are coming. Class Dismissed.

Max Seymour

Proud father of the Eagles good luck charm. Financial advisor by day and sports junkie by night. Wake Forest alum and a Philadelphia suburb resident for my whole life. Statistics are my strong suit and I thoroughly enjoy using those statistics in sports and more importantly, how they can be applied to finding opportunities in the sports betting arena.