A good question to ask is, why do people gamble? Is it because of their favorite team? Is it because they want to make money? Is it done out of emotion? Well, it is a combination of all of these things on one fashion or another, in order to capture that “lightning in a bottle” feeling. Vegas and the odds makers understand human tendencies and how they operate, to understand the human psyche is to also understand how to exploit it.
The Vegas lines are set in such a way that they are able to entice action on both sides of line and it doesn’t matter what the match up is. You can have the best team verses the worst team playing each other and almost always there will be a Vegas line attached to it. No matter the sport or if it even is a sport if they see an opportunity to get action on it then they will. The reason for this is that built deep into the human subconscious is that people want to be winners and the choices and actions that they make will directly affect their feelings to their desired effect. What people do not understand is that there is always two sides to every story, for every winner there is a loser. Vegas understands this, that is why your typical odds of winning at a casino are 48.5% and the game is rigged in this sense. What I do is figure out a way to see beyond all the show and the glitz and glamor to find a weakness in the algorithms to be able to raise that percentage to win.
You have 12 pregame bets you can play not including props that you can choose from. These lines are built off the averages of the set line. For example; if the game spread is set at 10 for the full game the lines have to divide off this set line in order to stay within the algorithm. The first half will be set at 5 points and the first quarter will be set at 2.5 points. They HAVE to stay within these lines or right around there, because if not it will push more action on one side or the other. Typically Vegas does not want lopsided money on one side or the other. This is in the old fashioned sense of keeping the money and tickets bet in the 50/50 range, but this not work in the new era of sports gambling cause Vegas isn’t the only game in town anymore. You have the off shore books and new sports books opening across the world with the legalization of sports betting. This has created a market so to speak where there data and information is accessible to anyone. Because of this Vegas has had to change how they set their lines to a more public driven mindset and because of this and more people betting on sports the lines have became more fluid. What I mean by that is that the MGM casinos could have a spread set at 10 but an off shore book like Bovada could have the same game set at 11, for example. This has created a sense of shopping for the best line, just like shopping for the best deal on a tangible item.
Today isn’t like the old days where the guys on the East Coast place a large bet on one side to manipulate the line where they want and call it in to their guys in the Mid West to hit it before Vegas adjusts on it, now it is instantaneous. Once a steam move happens guys like me can see it when it happens and where it happens with the right tools at my disposal. With this being said, you might ask yourself, “but how do you know which way is correct?” My answer to that is I only use that as part of the process to figure out my desired outcome. Sports handicapping goes way beyond where the lines are set and picking a winner. It is understanding not only the numbers, it’s the teams, the sport, the perceptions, the players, but also the way the public and those that are setting the lines think. My job is to figure out the best spot in any given match up to find the winning play, be it a spread, a first half or second half play or even a total or a team total play. What I do is help people win money and feed their emotion in a positive way.
I strive to perfect a craft, because I strive to perfect a craft I have to remove emotion from my decision making ability when handicapping a game. At the end of the day people only look at the numbers they don’t look at the road to why that decision was made. No one cares if it was the right call that lost. All they see is the L and the minus money in their bankroll, this is still gambling and a game of chance, but to have the ability to move the chance into your favor is all you can do. This is done by understanding why the lines are made the way they are and understanding the philosophy behind what drives the public masses in a herd mentality to one side or the other, this is one of the things the odds makers bank on and this is one of the things I pay attention to as a sports handicapper. If I have to side with the public or if I have to side with Vegas and the odds makers. It makes no difference to me, because at the end of the day and when all the dust has cleared all I care about is the win and being able to say that I can beat Vegas at their own game in the long run. This is a marathon, it is not a sprint.
This concludes Volume Two.