Friday, September 12, 2008

Q & A: "Is Vegas Setting 'Traps' In The Spreads?"

Q: Carl Asks....

Here's a question I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on. Given the busy weekend ahead, if you want to wait until next week to address it, that's fine by me. But I'll go ahead and ask now...

...The linemakers are obviously very good at what they do, but I'm not convinced they don't set traps each week for the public to walk right into. Is this the case, or are these cases a matter of flawed perception by the public?

A: Hey Carl....

You asked another question where I could probably hammer out another 1000-word response to. You also asked this while I was going over the Oregon @ Purdue matchup for Saturday. So, if we lose that game tomorrow, you all know who to blame (I am only kidding). I will try to give you a quick answer and keep it short. The oddsmakers aren't setting "traps" in that they are trying to "trick" you or force the public to one side or because they know the outcome. They are absolutely trying to get 50/50 in total money on each side without question.

Sure, you will see a lot of the public bettors that are playing Virginia Tech in the Virginia Tech/ECU matchup that you gave as an example. But, you took ECU (the other side) and you aren't the only one. Just because there are consensus reports out there that say 70/30 one way or a few forums on the web have mostly Virginia Tech players, doesn't mean that Vegas is getting 70/30 in action for that game. Those consensus reports do not account for sharp action as well as big money action, nor does it account for the ECU bettors waiting for the public to move the line. Also, 10 guys on the web could be playing Virginia Tech for $100 a piece, and all it would take to keep the line from moving would be one player heading into that same book and dropping a dime on the ECU.

If something looks like a "trap" and the line seems off, then you are most likely missing something and you should be digging for the information that you are missing. That could be a very good start in finding the games that you wish to research. I still also call some spreads "traps", but not for the reason that the oddsmakers are trying to "trick" you into betting one side. The reason lines can be considered "traps" is because the public perception is incorrect, where the oddsmakers are posting the line based on what they think the public will split on. Just because the public will split the action on that game, doesn't mean that the spread is right and the games final score will end with that particular spread.

I could go on and on about this sports betting related topic. Remember, the oddsmakers are not psychic and do not have influence over the games...well, unless Tim Donaghy is officiating the game. But in all seriousness, Vegas has no reason or any need whatsoever to influence the outcome. Remember one more thing; The house always has more money then you and will always be able to cover your action (unless you are Warren Buffett). Therefore, if the oddsmakers mess up on a game and they take a hit, they will be able to cover your action until they screw up on a line and it ends up benefiting them. So, if you win $100 one day, the house don't need to "trick" you in order to get it back. The odds are just in their favor that they will eventually see that money again.

It may seem like the oddsmakers are playing games with you because it seems that they are so dead on with the spread in relation the actual spread of a game's final score. The reason for this, is because they post so many lines, that eventually a few of the final scores are going to finish near or around the set spread for the game. Their posted spreads have nothing to do with the final scores. They are simply posting a line where they will get an equal amount of action on each side. For that very reason, the betting public controls where the lines will be set as much as the oddsmakers. This is the same exact reason that The Visionary can beat the books by playing with patience, using disciplined money management, and making well informed betting decisions.

I will close this discussion with one final thought before I go. I really could go on and on for hours on this topic, but I think you were just looking for my opinion on this. However, I don't consider this really an opinion based article because it actually contains facts, and you are thinking in terms of a conspiracy. And, if there is a conspiracy, it's not in Vegas. Vegas is actually the least corrupt place in the world as far as gambling goes. Vegas casinos are well regulated and there are strict laws protecting you and your rights as a customer. The corruption happens outside Vegas, in the mob controlled, barstool bookies. These are the same places where the Tim Donaghys of the world pop out of. Besides, the revenue it can generate to help solve a lot of the country's problems, this is another legitamate reason why online gambling should be legalized and regulated in the United States; It will also prevent corruption and crime instead of encouraging it.

-The Visionary


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the write-up and the insight.

I'm definitely not suggesting there's any impropriety in Vegas or in any of the books. I know it's not like that. It's just that some of these lines jump out at you and give you pause. After getting my balls kicked in over the years going the wrong way on those lines, it's easy to point the finger at the book.

I got USF laying 3...and a hook. It closed at -4.5 in some places.

The Visionary said...


I hope you didn't forget about the 4-unit play in Baylor last night, because they crushed.

-The Visionary