If searching for value, you may want to begin by researching what books will allow you to bet and for how much.
The props that are offered for the least amount of money, or lowest limits, should be where you begin to look for value. The limits will immediately tell a bettor what the book fears most on its menu lineup.
For most books, that limit is set at $500, with the thinking if you can’t place limits of at least that amount, then the bet probably should not be offered.
The reason for low limits on a few different props is partially because of supply and demand, but it’s also based on an overall season-to-date win percentage in that category.
If a sport doesn’t have a large appeal, and the betting action figures to be small, there is no need for a book to offer $2,000 on a game when it’s likely they will never get two opposing sides to even things out. Why have extended risk on a game, when I can go up the ladder and at least charge higher on each successive bet?
For instance, say I’ve had a request by a group of visitors for odds to be placed upon a soccer match from one of England’s lower level series, like the Coca-Cola series. Even though I don’t follow the sport, or book it regularly, there is a market in England
I check with Ladbrokes and William Hill, see what they have and post something similar. I know I’m only going to get one-sided action, but haven’t asked who they like just to be fair with the number. By offering low limits, I at least make them pay the price.
I know no one will bet the other side in such a short amount of time. They lay -140 for $700 to win $500. I move 10 cents on the wager. Another chap wagers $750 to win $500 at -150, which forces a move to -160. Then another of their buddies bets $800 to win $500.
By taking low limits, I’ve been able to conjure up an additional $150 of juice while being in $1,500 on the risk for a sport I know nothing about. They have an edge from knowing the sport, but at least I made them pay more.
Believe it or not, there are several times a book offers odds on sports they know very little about. They either trust the market number or trust one their paid consultants who came up with the prop, but regardless, they are still sitting in a spot of vulnerability where several things could go wrong and information gathering is a slower process.
Things get worse for the book when they routinely book a sport no one on their bookmaking team follows intently. The WNBA or CFL have become leagues a sharp segment of the betting community has jumped all-in with. They have a better read on what a proper rating for each team is than the book does and have more chances to find their optimum number.
The daily handle is decent on these leagues, but still nothing close to the major sports. While they have become popular with some small money just because the TV games always find their way onto a six-team parlay, the majority of the action still comes from limit straight bets, which is never good news for the house.
Sports books make consistent money off parlays, but not on straight bets. Allowing straight bets alone would not make it profitable enough for most books in town to stay open.
If you asked most of the sports book directors in town what two sports they would want to eliminate wagering on if they could, the WNBA, Arena Football League or CFL would probably top the list. But because there is a perception that possible business from their desired clientele – small money on parlays – would be lost, sports books keep the fledgling sports on the betting menu.
Slow at the wheel: Have you ever wondered why a book might take $20,000 on an NFL side, but only $2,000 on a first-half side? We’re talking about the best number in the world with the NFL, but those numbers don’t hold up as well for the first-half, which is why the limits are less.
A lot of times, some of the losses in this area occur because the sports book falls asleep during a frantic betting pace happening at multiple properties. Example: $20,000 just came in on the Saints -7, enough to make the book move the side to -7.5 and adjust the moneyline an extra 10 cents, even though no one bet the money-line. While making adjustments due to other bets coming in, another facet of the game is being ignored – the first-half.
Something should be done with the first-half number, almost simultaneously, to at least utilize the knowledge the sharp bettors shared with you by placing $22,000 on the Saints.
True, he didn’t bet the first-half, but the perception is out there, and the followers of moves are the best bottom-feeders there are and can pick a book apart for being too slow. If a side is moving on the game, but left alone on the first-half, that stale first-half line now has value.
This process gets even tougher during a busy college football or basketball Saturday when the menu is fully loaded.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].