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Thursday, June 26, 2003
Handicapping College Sports and Line Shopping in Sports Betting
The information in this newsletter comes directly from
the discussion forum.
There have been a few debates on the issues of College
Sports Handicapping and Line Shopping.
The first question was: Is it correct that, in
general, most professionals consider it more difficult to handicap college
football and basketball as opposed to professional football and basketball?
If so, why would that be the case?
I found Lou E.'s answer quite interesting and here it
"College sports are _much_ easier to handicap than
professional sports. Remember, the odds are not set because the odds-makers
think Team A will beat Team B by x points, but rather x points to have half
the people bet on Team A and the other half on Team B.
With college sports, many people are betting on the historical results of
the team rather than the current year's performance even though the turnover
of players is much more rapid than the pros.
Also, people are more inclined to bet with their hearts (and wallets) so
that schools with a large number of alums (or wealthy alums) have lines that
are out of whack. Ever wonder why almost all sports books have lines for Ivy
League sports? It's certainly not the level of play : )
Information is also not as transparent with college games. For example, in
pro football, teams are _required_ to report injuries and their severity --
coaches get fined for false reports. Whereas with colleges, injuries are
typically kept secret as much as possible.
(As an aside, the only reason the injury reports are necessary is for
betting purposes. The NFL requires the reports, but publicly bad mouths
sports betting -- hypocritical?)
And for the most part professionals are just that, professionals. However,
with college players, with less maturity, other factors are important --
home field becomes more valuable, girlfriend problems, classes/tests (for
those that actually go to class) and motivational factors. Intimate
knowledge of college teams is not nearly as widely disseminated as with the
And there were 3 questions concerning Line Shopping:
1- How many sportsbooks should one contact when
2- Is it correct to say that, at least half the time, "shopping lines" does
not improve the line that is commonly available?
3- My understanding is that "shopping the lines" increases the win rate by 1
1/2 to 2%. For those who use CanBet-------are their lines so good that a
bettor could do just as well by using CanBet alone as by spending a bunch of
time each day shopping the lines with multiple sportsbooks?
Again, Lou answers:
1- Three or four sports books is a reasonable number
for the major sports, though you may to have more for specific purposes. For
example, golf betting or Formula One -- some books have lots of wagers
available and some none at all.
2- When you say improving the line, you need to be a bit more specific. In
football, for example, a line of +/- 3 points will be very difficult to
move, so close to 0%, however, if you are trying to improve the 11/10 (-110)
odds, then 100% of the time it can be improved. 50% is a reasonable number
for say a football/basketball line of 4, 5 or 6 points. In baseball, with
money lines, it probably approaches 90% of the time that the money line can
be improved. In hockey, you would be lucky to get a better spread 10% of the
time, although the money lines could be improved a majority of the time.
3- As far as improving the win rate, again, to be more specific, the win
rate in baseball will not change, since you are simply picking the winner.
With the money lines though, your profit can be improved by getting better
odds. In football/basketball, your assumption sounds reasonable.
Thanking Lou for his good points and his permission to
have his information published.
Wishing you all the best,
Until next week,
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