Securing the best number at the best price is so very important long term in sports betting. I am amazed at the number of people who settle for a poor number and/or a poor price. Something I see on twitter constantly. It goes back to the mathematics. You are reducing any edge that you as the bettor may have had over the book. Understanding which numbers to buy and at what prices will increase long term profitability.
Predicting line moves and beating the closing line is the best predictor of long term betting success. Historically, the point spread matters in the NFL only about 15% to 18% of the time. That is, between 82% and 85 % of the time the team that wins the game also covers the point spread. Either the favorite wins and covers, or the Underdog pulls off the upset and wins straight up. That 15% to 18% figure refers to those times when the Favorite wins but does not cover the point spread. However when you take into account line moves from opening to closing, pushes and half point losses (or wins) this 15% -18% can become rather important.
In the NFL there are some 'key numbers' - they are very important. You should already know about them. A move off or onto a key number is a big sign. It takes a significant volume of money or change in the line ups (injury etc) to move onto or through a key number. This is because a few of them appear so often.
NFL MARGINS OF VICTORY 1989-2011 (inclusive)
|Margin of Victory||Occurances||% of All Games|
The above chart shows the percentage of times all NFL regular season games ended on each of the "Key Numbers" in a 22 year span from 1989 to 2011. I haven't updated it for a while, but the numbers remain consistent. It can be seen that the 3 is the most commonly occurring number, followed by 7 and 10 and next are 4 and 6. These 5 numbers account for 41.47% of all games. The scoring (3 points for a field goal and 7 points for a converted TD) determine this. The mathematics then dictates the structure surrounding the cost of moving a line. Buying the line down or up is common - but is it always worth it? A lot of people do this but without understand the mathematics behind it and where it is actually profitable or a waste of money.
BUYING ONTO KEY NUMBERS
|Spread||Buy to||#||% Lands||Loss to Push||Added Losses||Added Wins||Profit||Profit||Profit|
This is a push chart. It contains data from all NFL games 1989-2011. A push chart tells us that buying up to +3, buying down to -3, buying down to -7, buying up to +10, and buying down to -10 have historically been a smart move, when the increased cost of doing so is cheap enough (the extra 'juice' that is paid). You pay a premium to get the better number. For example, let’s look at a spread of -3.5 and buying down to -3. What the number show is that there have been 445 games with a spread of -3.5 from 1989-2011. Buying to -3 would have given you an additional 51 pushes (games that ended with that team winning by exactly 3 points) instead of the loss you would have received at -3.5. Then we look at the juice, translated into “cents” where the usual line is -110 and the adjustments you pay to buy on/off are at the usually pre determined price points of -120, -130 and -135. The profit shown is based on $100 bets. This chart tells us is that long term it is profitable to "buy" a half point to get the -3.5 down to -3 at a price as low as -135 Eg. Theoretically if the line were -3.5 @ -110 , if you could get the line -3 at -135 or better, it would be worth buying. However with all other examples that are highlighted in the table (in yellow) only buying the half point at -120 is profitable.
BUYING OFF OF KEY NUMBERS
|Buy Off||#||Pushes to Win||% Lands||Added Losses||Added Wins||Profit||Profit||Sum|
Same deal but this table looks at buying off a key number to increase the chances of winning. This table shows what would happen if you bought off of numbers like 3 to either -2.5 or +3.5. We’ll keep 3 as the example. So, looking at the data from 1989 to 2011, 868 games had a line of 3. Now, 85 of those games landed exactly on 3, meaning if you would have bought a half point (to -2.5 on the favorite, to +3.5 on the underdog), you would have won instead of pushing your bet. Again, using $100 per wager, you can compare the results of buying points to how much it is worth to pay for them in juice. Surprisingly, there are very few situations where buying off of key numbers is profitable, but on 3 and 7 you almost always can.
Aside from betting on and off key numbers, profits can be maximized by using offhore books like pinnacle that offer 'reduced juice' lines.
Lets say you bet lines at the normal -110 you need to be picking 52.4% winners to break even. I see a lot of people just betting with one book. Crazy. Line shopping can get you 1c, 2c, and up to 5c better line without doing anything. Seems insignificant? Not in the long run. At a -105 line you suddenly have a break even point of 51.2% – and that 52.4% you needed when you were taking -110 lines? Suddenly hitting that is a 2.2% profit.
Lets imagine a series of 100 bets. $100 on each bet. You bet with a poor book, never shop and take a standard -110 (or worse!) You also didn't shop about and for the series lost 4 bets by a point because you didn't get the best number 4 times. In markets as efficient as the NBA and NFL, this happens. You pick 56 winners in your 100 bet series. You bet $10,000 total in the series. $100 on 56 winners @ -110 level stakes gives you a return of $10,690 – a profit of $690 or 6.9%.
Lets say you were able to secure an average price of -105 through your series using offshore books offering reduced juice lines. The 100 bets with 56 winners at -105 equates to $10,933 - a profit of $933 or 9.33% which is 35% more profit than at -110.
To continue this example - you hunted for the best number on every bet you bought on and off key numbers and you didn't miss those 4 bets mentioned in the first example as you bet early (or late) and got the best number and still you found an average price of -105 for the series. Suddenly your 100 bet series has 60 winners @ -105 and returns $11,714 – a profit of $1,714 – a 17.14% profit and vastly superior to that 6.9% from earlier.
Yes it is theoretical, how ever it is demonstrative of how you can extract the most value out of your betting. Know how the market works, know when is the right time to buy on/off a key number and learn to read markets so you buy a line at the right time. Life gets in the way, lines move and you can't always get the best number at the best price - but you need to try.
There are a number of services out there such that will alert you to numbers and price moves as well as free odds scrapers that show what prices and lines are available at bookmakers. Learn to look at these before every bet.
It is the little things - but the little things can be what maximizes your winnings. It takes some work, but small changes - Big difference to the bottom line.
Getting the best line at the right price is imperative - understanding this and using it is part of the arsenal required to win long term on NFL & any other sport.
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