Matt Epstein Picks 3/29/20

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VegasCrusher Picks 3/28/20

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Bankrolls and How to Manage Them

Since we have no sports to handicap or bet on, it seems like a good time to look into a different aspect of sports gambling.  Being able to manage your bankroll account is just as if not more important than the actual games that you bet on.  These are hard facts and lessons learned, not only from my perspective but also from a lot of people reading this article.  Emotion plays a big part in decision making and Vegas and book makers know this all to well.  That is why I always talk about the perceptions and why the lines are made the way they are. They are made for a reason it isn’t just a bunch of numbers jumbled together, they are numbers set on averages, percentages, win loss records, and the players playing in the match up.

With this being said, it is my job and others like me to be able to decipher the line movements and the money percentages and why they move the way they do in order to beat their books and Vegas.  The average bettor will bet on their favorite teams or jump on a game someone says is a “lock” or “guaranteed winner” and I can tell you from years of doing this every day…such a thing doesn’t exist, more so in pro sports where any given team can win on any given day. We can go through and bang these numbers down, but it is irrelevant for an article like this.

Circling back to emotion is where we need to focus on mostly.  The highs of winning are just as powerful as the lows as losing, it is the same feeling just the opposite.  You can win five games in a row and be riding that high with the” I can’t be beat” feeling and then turn around on the last game of the night and blow up your whole bankroll by a missed field goal or missed free throw.  That is why me personally as a capper pays attention to the first games of the day and the last ones, or feature games that are hyped by the networks.  I also like to look to see which games have the most betting tickets on them, because more likely than not these are the games that will be the sharpest or games that fall right within the Vegas set lines. I have said it before and I will say it again here that those casinos we not built off winners and they understand the public perceptions and why people bet the way they do.  This is where terms like “going on tilt” or “bad beats” originated from.  There is a science behind it.  I don’t run 55-60% on all sports because I play a guessing game, I do it because I understand that there is a philosophy behind it and in order to understand it I have to do it everyday in order to master a craft and to be able to win long term.

A lot of people don’t understand what units are, so I will explain.  Units are set amounts that you choose to invest on a bankroll.  For example:  If you have $1000 in a bank roll and you choose to play every game at $100 you have 10 plays plus or minus the juice on a said wager.  Juice is the vig or the interest on a game, so if you are playing a game that is -110 then the -10 is the juice.  That is the 10% that a book makes on taking your wager, these numbers vary from game to game and fluctuate on how much money and betting tickets are wagered on one side or the other.  This will reflect in your bankroll determining how many plays you will have off your base $1000.

The strategy is this…regardless of how good the bet looks, you set your units at your desired amount and do not deviate from that amount.  This can be one in one of two ways, you set your “bet” amount as the unit or you set your ‘to win” amount as the unit.  I recommend the latter cause it will keep your bank roll more even in the long run (depending on how much juice that you are playing).  A lot of bettors look at sports betting as a get rich quick type scheme but in actuality the more games that you bet in day the more at risk you are at losing back and this rolls back to what I said earlier, this is where the emotion comes into play.  It really doesn’t matter what game you are playing at a casino, be it poker, blackjack, or the slots.  there is always an emotional element attached to it, this is because money creates that emotion and you have to figure out what decisions to make, at the end of the day you make the final choice and that choice will feed your emotion for the good or possibly even for the bad.

The whole goal to winning in the long run is running a positive ROI or return on investment.  I have heard my whole life that no one can beat Vegas in the long run, that is why I work so hard and do the things that I do to be able to break the algorithms and help people feed their emotions in a positive way and help them win and make money.  My goal is to try and legitimize what we do as sports handicappers and show that there is a skill for this and it’s not just a guessing game.  There is a real skill behind this and I want to help people understand what gambling analytics really is.

*Jack Robinson is the Senior Content Writer at PicksCity.com and Contributing Writer for Inside The Thunder at SI.com who carries a tracked record on all sports and all plays from April of 2018 at 972-788-55 a 55.2% winning percentage via sportsaction.com

Raptors at Jazz

We are heading into the home stretch of the season and it looks like we got a good one brewing in Salt Lake City between two…what on paper look like very similar teams. Toronto blasted Utah at Scotiabank Arena by 20 points on what was a 2 point Vegas line. Will the revenge factor come into play tonight?

The Raps are in the last game of a 5 game road stretch with the game tonight being a back to back. The Raptors are 3-1 straight up during this road trip but are 1-2-1 against the spread. This year Toronto is a respectable 4-5 against the spread when playing games with no rest along with a very good road record of 21-9 straight up and a marginal 15-15 ATS record.

The oddsmakers have set this line up on Toronto as a 4 point underdog and during the course of the day sharp money has been hammering away on Utah, as they have captured 80% of the money with only 48% of the betting tickets moving the line to 4.5. Now keep in mind that Toronto is still almost a .500 road team as the underdog coming in with a 8-9 road ATS record.

Utah this year on the other hand is 12-15-2 or 44.4% this year as a home favorite. The Jazz are hot right now just coming off an East Coast road sweep but going 2-2-1 against the spread in the process. Both of these teams are running almost identical numbers in their last 10 games with Utah 6-4 straight up and Raptors with the same record. The difference is Toronto is one game better against the spread in that stretch.

This total opened at 223 and oddly steamed up to 225 on only 140 betting tickets. Since then it has adjusted back down to 224 but fluctuating across the markets as low as 223.5 and as high as 225.5 in some markets. Right now the betting tickets and the money are almost identical at 50/50. I think this is where the sharp action will originate from considering all three of these officials are around 50% on their over/under records for the year. A game like this is a good spot to find a prop or total bet, because if a sharp game is being handicapped then you can find value on the lines within the game line or maybe even a live in game bet.

There is only an 85 point difference in the ELO Rating or method of calculating skill level between teams. Raptors with a 1669 rating and Jazz with a 1584 rating. Just like it looks on paper, I expect this game to be close on the court as well and hover all over where Vegas has set the lines.

Best of Luck whichever way you go.  #WMF

(Credit: Teddy Clarke of the Fade Famila Facebook group for providing Toronto statistics)

*Jack Robinson is the Senior Content Writer for PicksCity.com and contributing writer for Inside The Thunder team channel at si.com who carries an all time NBA winning percentage of 59.3%

Clippers at Thunder

In what will be one of the biggest money games of the day, we have a rematch in OKC where the LA Clippers travel back to face a Thunder team that just taken it’s worst loss in franchise history Sunday in Milwaukee.  The last time the Clippers came to The Peak in December, they blew a 19 point lead and pissed off a lot of LA backers in the process.  Will we get a replay of what happened last time or will the revenge factor come into play?  Let’s dive in and figure it out. In the last meeting LA came in as the underdog without  Leonard in the lineup.  Tonight he is playing on unrestricted minutes and will be a force to deal with, he comes in tonight projected at 8.6 rebounds, 25.5 points, and 4.9 assists.  Whoever gets to guard this man will have their hands full, Dort/Diallo/SGA whoever it may be.  With that being said, I like points to be put up in this game.  Total opened at 226 and has been rising throughout the day up to 227.5 and moving to 228 in some markets.  This is moving correctly however, as the over is capturing over 75% of the money and almost as many betting tickets.

Now moving on to the good stuff, the spread.  This line opened on the Clip Show as a 2.5 favorite and since then the line has been doing nothing but going up.  It has just moved to 4.5 in most markets, thus leaving little confidence for OKC to win or even cover the spread on this game as everyone is very heavy on LAC.  They have been over 90% on the money since this line opened in Vegas last night.  With over 2500 bets now on this game I don’t see any big moves coming back on OKC unless someone is ruled out, which I don’t see happening at this point.  There is a very good reason for these percentages as the last thing everyone saw out of them was getting beat down at the hands of the Bucks.  The Clippers on the other hand are hot with a resurgent Kawhi Leonard coming off the DL and averaging 25 points per game helping LAC to a 4-0 run, with their last loss coming against Sacramento in the middle of February, but they are 3-2 ATS in their last 5 games where they have been at least a 7 point favorite in each of those games.  OKC is still the best covering team in the NBA and carrying a 38-22 record against the spread.   They are still 4-1 straight up in their last 5 games along with dropping their last 3 games verses the spread.

What I really find interesting on this game is the moneyline.  OKC opened as a +130 underdog since then they have increased $40 up to +170.  No one is giving OKC any chance to win this game in which everyone obviously thinks it is a revenge game and Thunder coming off that bad loss.  It is so bad, that OKC is pulling just 1% of the ML…yes you read that right, just ONE PERCENT.  You would think even some of these contrarian guys would take a shot on the boys in blue and orange, apparently not today.  I have been monitoring this game since early this morning ad these number have not moved.

I’m really surprised a major network didn’t pick this game up because it will most likely be the best game of the night and with all these percentages being so heavy on LAC there will definitely be something that occurs in this game that will have a dramatic impact on the Vegas lines.  Two of three referee’s in this match up are hovering in the 60% range with the home team against the spread.  The other Nick Buchert has a 42.9% win rate.  None of these referees have over 53% under rate, which means they are over refs.  

I feel like this game has Vegas written all over it, and this is one that I will continue to monitor right up until the tip off to make sure nothing goofy happens within the lines.  If I had to lean I would lean on the Vegas side in this one, I personally would never take a team like the Clippers that are this heavy on both the tickets and the money.  Combine that with this being the most bet on NBA game of the day and you get yourself a recipe for disaster.

Best of luck which ever way you go. #wmf

*Jack Robinson is the senior content writer for PicksCity.com and contributing writer for Inside The Thunder at si.com who carries an all time NBA winning percentage of 59.7%

Thunder at Bucks

Thunder at Bucks

On what should be one of most bet on games of the night and also an ESPN feature game, we have a red hot OKC team that is playing their first home/road back to back of the season.  After 19 point comeback win last night verses Sacramento, Thunder have failed to cover the spread now two games in a row.  They head into Milwaukee as a surprising double digit underdog.  The back to back games has a lot to do with this line being set at 10.5 as well as OKC potentially resting Gallinari tonight.

Last night the the opening betting was very heavy on The Bucks with both betting tickets and money being in the 95% range.  This money has created a betting signal on the spread with the line moving to 11.5 at the time of this article.  Since then the money and betting tickets have came back on OKC with both betting tickets and money now in the 30% range, as demonstrated with the below graphic.

There a couple of things that are intriguing about the way these lines are moving is if we switch over and check the money line percentages or who will win the game straight up.  These percentages are almost 50/50, which makes sense on a value bet since OKC does have an outside chance to win this game albeit a very slim one. If you took OKC to win you would win around $550 on a $100 bet.  It is a very high risk move but some gamblers make a living off contrarian betting or playing the heavy underdogs.

Next, is the total.  Vegas opened this line a 229 but steam moves or heavy betting on one side has pushed it up to almost 231 in some markets.  Gallinari and Giannis are going to be factors on where this total ultimately ends up.

The total is already adjusting back down to the original line with more bettors now taking the under of 231.  If this game is going to go over or even get near the total OKC will have to play their best ball of the year to keep up against what is arguably the best team in the NBA as they won’t have the fire power to come back if the Bucks open up a big lead.

Keeping on the theme of totals…i love lots of scoring and high percentage offenses.  The referee matchup here is a lot of the reason I will be looking for an over play somewhere in this game.  All three referees have a sub 40% under hit rate.

I expect a high scoring match up and a high quality ball game that I will be excited to watch.  The ability of OKC to cover the spread will be directly tied to their ability to keep up with the totals that the oddsmakers have set for them.

Best of luck whichever way you go.

*Jack Robinson is the senior content writer for Pickscity.com and contributing writer for Inside The Thunder at si.com who carries an all time NBA winning percentage of 58.9%

Thunder at Bulls

Tonight looks to be a favorable match up for the boys in blue and orange, but don’t let that fool you.  The public and the odds makers are fully aware of the insane 21-5 road ATS record of OKC.  They are also 2-0 since the All Star break with home wins and covers verses both The Spurs and The Nuggets.  The Bulls on the other hand are 1-3 in both straight up action and ATS.  The line here opened on the Thunder as a 2 possession favorite and since then has moved up to 7.5 with betting tickets and money hovering in the 90% range on around 2500 bets at the time of this article.

On paper this is a no brainer OKC play when you take into the fact Chicago has multiple players out and have a weak home straight up record at 12-17 along with an equally as weak home ATS record of 12-17-1…I guess you could say they are very consistent in this aspect.  Based on my experience with a team this heavy on the percentages I will look for a second half play or a play within the game line be it a total, quarter, or team total shot.  One of these I feel will be a better spot than taking OKC for the full game as the line is very suspect based on the information provided.  The total on the other hand isn’t nearly as lopsided as the spread percentages, there are bigger early bets on the over which has pushed the line from 217 to 219 in most books but now the under total money is steaming back capturing 52% on the market with only 38% of the bettors.

With the way these numbers are moving I wouldn’t be surprised with a Chicago cover or even a win in this scenario.  Public perceptions play a big role in my criteria when capping NBA games.  A full strength Thunder team that is on a roll should easily be a double digit favorite in this match up as the team they are facing is in a slump going 2-8 straight up and 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 games which is placing them in the bottom of the team rankings.  This is the NBA and anything can happen on any given night and for that reason I will steer clear of a full game play.

With this being said, I will also look in the referee match up on a game which I feel will have Vegas involvement.  Two of these refs have over a 50% home ATS hit rate, with the third ref at 35.9%.  Karl Lane has a stellar 30-14 under record at a crazy 68.2%.  Leroy Richardson is the only one with a sub 50% under rate.   Expect a lot of fouling and referee involvement that will keep the game in check with the Vegas lines.  If I have a play on this game it will be posted on Sports Action before tip off or I might wait to find a better spot in the second half or third quarter.  Best of luck on whichever way you choose.

*Jack Robinson is the senior content writer for PicksCity and carries an all time NBA record at 58.7%