Observations of a Professional Handicapper
Sunday, December 10, 2010
If you bet the Jets at Pittsburgh to score less than 36 points, here's a lesson for you that will allow you to profit from the folly and misconceptions of the general public.
The only reason the total was the lowest on the board all week is that snow was predicted in Pittsburgh. In fact, it did snow. The public believes that snow always results in low scoring games. Nothing could be further from the truth. In most cases, snow can cause a game to be higher scoring. It all depends on the type of snowfall.
There are several types of snow:
1. Light to heavy snowfall with little or no wind
2. Snow that melts when it hits the ground and does not accumulate.
3. Snow that only accumulates sufficiently to make the field slippery.
3. Snow that is extremely heavy and causes so much accumulation on the ground that it can't be easily cleared during the game.
4. Blizzard conditions.
Only the last two will cause a game to be low scoring. Snow falling, by itself, barely affects the game at all. If it makes the field slippery, it will cause the game to be higher scoring. Thee reason is that it is much more difficult to defend on a slippery field than it is to play offense. The receivers know their route, and therefore need not cut as sharply as the defenders who are trying to follow. The sharper the cuts, the more likely a player will slip and go down. If the QB sees a defender go down, he will throw the ball to that receiver, who will often score an unchallenged TD. If the receiver goes down, in most cases the QB either chooses another receiver or throws the ball away. As for the rush defense, it is much harder to stop a moving runner on a slippery field than it is when you can plant yourself on a dry field. It also becomes harder to gain traction in your attempt to sack the QB.
Snow that accumulates heavily with no wind has much the same effect as the slippery dusting, but has a large effect on the kicking game and slows down the runners. If a team depends on speed, the game may be lower scoring. The difficulty kicking field goals can also leas to a lower score. That may be balanced, however, by the difficulty with punts and kickoffs leading to higher scores. In general, if both teams depend on speed I will assume the score will be slightly lower than otherwise. If both teams depend on size and strength, I will assume the scoring may not be affected.
Finally, there are those rare snowstorms in which there are high winds, a white out, and general blizzard conditions. No total can go low enough that such game is not a great under play.
The snow in Pittsburgh was nothing more than an everyday winter picture-book snow. The wind was relatively calm, the snow was falling straight down, and it was not accumulating. It was never predicted to be anything more than that. Nevertheless, the total was set 8-10 points lower than it should have been. The line maker attempts to split public opinion, and the public misconception about snow creates several very advantageous lines for the pro bettor every season.
At the Crowne Club, the Jets over the Total got the very top rating I release. It was a guaranteed winner in the 3rd quarter when the score was tied 17-17.
Knowing more than the public and taking advantage of public mistakes creates many winning edges.
New England -14 over Green Bay
QB Rodgers was out and Matt Flynn was in. If you thought you had some advantage because you knew that, and bet New England for that reason, you were sadly mistaken. Everybody, including the line maker, your bookmaker, and your Aunt Mathilda knew GB's quarterback was out.
Unless you think you have information that almost no one else possesses, you can assume the line has been fully adjusted and very likely over-adjusted to compensate for the expected public action against the team with the back-up QB. In this case, I calculated the correct line with Rodgers in the game to be N.E. by 3. The line had been adjusted a huge 11 points because Flynn was under Center. As I told Crowne Club members, that was probably an over adjustment, but how Flynn will play is at best an educated guess with insufficient line value.
The best course of action when a key player in football is being replaced by an uncertain quantity is to wait for the halftime to bet. I passed the game tonight until the half, when, as you know from my post here at the half, I came in with a play on Green Bay at a very favorable line. The advantage to waiting for the half was that I knew how Flynn was playing, and I got a much better line than I could have before the game started.
I mentioned in my halftime post that an NFL line of +10 for a half is a line that is covered so infrequently that there are only two choices -- take it or don't play. You cannot every lay it, no matter what you think about the teams. A pro always looks for lines that are so extreme they become good bets blind, without a handicap. Add an agreeing handicap, and you have a great bet. Green Bay +10 was our second highest rated bet of the day after the bet mentioned earlier on the Jets over the total.
In summary, if you follow the rules you will be on the road to being a winning professional:
Rule 1: Try to find bets about which you have more knowledge than the general public, and for which the public misconception has created an erroneous line or odds.
Rule 2: Avoid betting based on information that everyone knows, unless you are going to bet against the public perception.
Rule 3: Never base a bet on a game about which important information is unknown, or about which you must make uncertain assumptions. Assumptions about team emotion, or about the abilities of players who haven't played as yet this season, both fit into this category.
Rule 4: When there is information that is unknown, be patient and wait for the half to determine if any of the questions have been answered. If questions about the game remain at the half, or if the line is not favorable, or even if you missed a winning bet, always remember that no one ever lost money by not making a bet. There will be tens of thousands of winning opportunities before you retire.