Friday, January 19, 2007

The Inside Wagering Line from Pinnacle Sports Book
Live-Betting - Focus on the NFL Conference Finals

The NFL season inches closer to its inevitable climax, with this weekend's Conference Championships. On marquee games such as these, players have an additional tool to make money at Pinnacle Sports: live betting. Throughout the playoffs, Pinnacle Sportsbook has been offering live betting, with reduced juice wagering that offers up to 50% better value to the player than other sports books.
Live betting can be very lucrative for two reasons. Firstly, whereas a normal NFL line is the product of twenty different odds makers, live lines are set on-the-fly and are typically the responsibility of one person. As a result, bettors are in a much more advantageous position, testing their wits against the one linesman in the 'hot seat', charged with the responsibility of managing these volatile markets.
Secondly, the public often misunderstands how live betting works, which creates even more opportunities for those more informed bettors. The combination of these two important factors frequently presents profitable opportunities in live online betting at Pinnacle Sports .
If you want to be a winning player at live betting, you need to adopt a different mid-set to that applied to regular handicapping. That said, as with regular capping you must still decide what you think the fair spread and total for the game should be prior to kick-off, so most of your homework should still be completed well in advance of the game turning live. We usually assume that the closing betting lines at Pinnacle Sports are accurate, but your handicapping could improve on this number.
Second, you need to estimate the probability of a team scoring on each drive. There are two key pieces of information you need to know - a typical football game has about 12 possessions per team and a scoring possession yields an average of 5.4 points in NFL. This means c. 60% of offensive scores are touchdowns in pro football. These two key pieces of information, combined with the game spread and total, allow you to estimate the odds of a team scoring on each possession.
Let's take a look at the AFC Championship game between New England and Indianapolis. At the time of writing, Pinnacle Sports betting lists the Colts as 3-point favorites with a game total of 47.5. The line suggests an outcome of 25-22 in favor of Indianapolis - this score comes as close to tying the spread and total as possible. If you assume the Patriots will score 22 points in 12 possessions, you can expect New England to score about 4.1 times (22 pts / 5.4 pts per possession) or on about 34.0% of their possessions. Similarly, the Colts would be expected to score 4.6 times (25/5.4) or on 38.6% of their possessions.
Once you have completed these initial calculations, you're in a position to calculate a fair line at any live point during the game, by estimating how many possessions remain for each team from there you can set your own reasonably accurate lines. This will allow you to attack any odd spread a book chooses to throw at you during the game.
For example, assume New England is up 20-13 at the start of the 3rd quarter. What would the fair line be at that point? Using the lines above, the Patriots are expected to score about 2.04 times in the second, while Indianapolis has an expectation of 2.32 scores. At 5.4 points per possession, the Colts would be about a 1.5 point favorite (maybe even 2.0 due to winning teams sitting on the ball near the end) for the second half.
While the Colts are a small favorite in the second half, they are still a large underdog (+5 to +5.5) for the game at this point. The public will often bet heavily on the team that is 'supposed' to win, even late in the game. If you saw the Pats -2.5 (-105) for the game offered at the start of the second half, you would recognize this as a value bet against the public.
Regardless of the approach you choose, there are a few adjustments you can make to improve your accuracy. In general, favorites tend to score more points in the first half - which is why the first half lines are typically more than half of the game spread. If a team is up from 8-13 points in the 4th quarter, it tends to score less while running the ball more. Similarly, a team down 9-14 points in the 4th quarter is more likely to score on each possession while their opponent trades time for yardage. If the game is truly a blowout with a team up by 17 points or more, the scoring distribution doesn't change as much. In high profile games such as the Conference Championships, where players are just one game from the Super Bowl itself, a team won't hold back when up by 21 points as they might be expected to do during a regular season game.
At Pinnacle Sports we will be offering live betting on the Conference Championships and the Big One - Super Bowl XLI. Take a look at how the sharps are playing them before the game starts to help you adjust your line.
What are players betting at Pinnacle Sports Book?
New Orleans +2.5 -104 v. Chicago
The Bears originally opened at -3 (-120) at home in the NFC Championship Game. The early bettors pounced on the Saints with larger volume driving the price downward. Following Chicago's narrow overtime win against Seattle last week, the public appears to be on the Saints bandwagon heading into the Championship Game. The line moved all the way down to Chicago -1 before we started receiving Bears action, which has pushed the number back up to 2.5.
New England +3 +110 v. Indianapolis
We originally opened the Colts as 3-point favorites at +104 as we expected bettors would move the line quickly off the 3. Early volume came in on Indy, but was immediately followed by buyback on the Patriots. While the bet count favors New England by a 3-to-2 ratio at this point, there is much more volume on Indianapolis reaching its first Super Bowl with Peyton Manning at the helm. As game day approaches, it won't be shocking to see this game move off the 3 if players continue to back the Colts at home.


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