Were bettors who got down on Draymond Green props last Sunday night taking advantage of an obvious bookmaking mistake, or were they simply quicker to act on information than the sportsbooks?
The latter is a common part of the bettor/bookmaker dynamic and a practice on which some bettors – many professionals, in fact – thrive. The former, known as “angle shooting,” is at the very least considered bad form and may result in a customer being limited, or even banned, by a sportsbook.
“It’s not black and white, and that’s the problem with this debate,” Captain Jack Andrews, a professional gambler and bettor advocate, told Gaming Today. “…. These sportsbooks are responsible for the lines they put up, and if you’re going to put up a situation where people can parlay all these crazy things together and create these fantastical payouts, you gotta be willing to take it on the chin. ….
“At the same time, I do feel for the books. (Their point of view is), ‘Hey, this was a known outcome, and you took advantage.’”
To summarize the events in question, the Warriors tweeted nine minutes before their game against the Cavaliers that Green aggravated an injury, and while he would start in honor of teammate Klay Thompson’s return from a nearly three-year absence, he would exit the game after a few seconds. Bettors rushed to bet ‘under’ on Green player props, and most damaging to sportsbooks, tied several of them together in ‘same game parlays’ (SGP). Liability piled up for the books before they were able to react.
DraftKings took the worst of it, reportedly losing seven figures on Green SGPs Sunday night.
A Sportsbook’s Mistake
To Chris Bennett – who has been on both sides of the counter, as a bettor and a bookmaker, currently at the highly-regarded Circa Sports in Las Vegas – this goes beyond bettors acting on information before sportsbooks; this is them betting on a known outcome.
“People made bets that could not lose,” Bennett said. In other cases, “someone has advanced information, and whatever bet they’re able to make as a result maybe has positive expected value, some advantage for the bettor, but they could still lose.
“The way I’ve thought about this for a long time on both sides is no book should be able to accept a bet that can’t win, and by the same token, a customer should not be allowed to make a bet that can’t lose.”
Pro sports bettor Rufus Peabody typically doesn’t have much sympathy for DraftKings. Bettors who got down on Green SGPs, though, got one on over on the operator, he believes, akin to evading limits and betting into a bookmaker’s mistake multiple times.
DraftKings traders took down straight Green props, but SGPs remained there for the taking.
“This isn’t bettors getting information before a bookmaker. This is a bookmaker making a mistake. It’s plain and simple,” Peabody said.
These Bettors Are Not ‘Sharp’
Bettors had every right to bet into markets available to them, and per most precedent, regulators side with the customer in similar disputes. There are actions of recourse sportsbooks can take, however.
Some old school Vegas books may give a customer two choices: 1) Collect on the bet but not be allowed to bet here again, 2) Agree to have the bet voided, and you’re welcome to continue playing here.
Bettors who cashed big tickets on Green SGPs last Sunday should not be surprised if they find themselves limited.
“People love complaining about being limited,” Peabody continued. “They’re like, ‘oh, I’m limited for being sharp.’ But a lot of times people are limited for doing things like this, and conflating those two is what bothers me more than anything.
“I don’t have sympathy if you made six figures on this and got limited. That’s great for you, but then don’t complain, ‘I’m limited for winning.’ No, you’re limited because you took a shot at a mistake.”
Limiting or kicking bettors out isn’t a panacea for an operator, though. Customers can register for an account under a different name/email address, and more significantly, these are customers the book probably wants to keep around.
“There’s a chance that DraftKings would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” Andrews said. “If you have the ability to bet $10,000 on a same game parlay with DraftKings, they’ve probably already deemed you to be a very valuable asset, because you’re probably a pretty square bettor to get those kind of limits.
“Some of them might have backed their way into this little windfall, and they’re gonna just pump it right back into DraftKings over time. So, to cut them off might be not the best course of action.”
Technology Shortcomings And The Future Of Same Game Parlays
While the Draymond Green situation was unique, opportunities to load up on correlated parlays will continue to present themselves to bettors as long as sportsbooks offer them. But what transpired last weekend is bound to prompt operators to reexamine what they’re offering and how they’re offering it.
“I’ve gotta think they’re going to be doing some things differently as a result,” said Bennett from Circa, a book that caters to sharps and does not offer these types of SGPs. “The impression I got is this was a significant loss for a few books for a market like this. And they don’t want to have a situation like this happen again. So they’re going to be doing something differently, whether that’s lower limits on player props in general (or) some sort of change to single game parlay construction.”
The backend of sportsbook apps were not able to react to the abnormal wagering activity that occurred last Sunday night. With an emphasis on customer acquisition and expanding into new markets, technology has been put on the backburner. This leaves operators particularly vulnerable when it comes to SGPs.
“It’s a tech issue,” Peabody said. “It’s the fact that they have all these different markets and they can’t press one button and take them all down at the same time. (They) have so much surface area to defend with these props and same game parlays. …
“Now books are trying to acquire market share and expand,” he added. “Realistically, in terms of priorities, (technology is) pretty far down the list. I think as the market matures, the tech will get better, I really do. I think you’ll see some new market entrants with much better tech at some point. It’s still early.”
Captain Jack and Rufus have more on the Green SGP story on their site, Unabated.