With full slate of NFL preseason games, any football is welcome

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With a full slate of NFL preseason games scheduled this week, bettors and bookmakers can finally get back to action at a frenzied pace due to the overwhelming popularity.

For the bookmaker, the preseason gets them back into game day mode and knocks some of the rust off that accumulated from the last two months of just baseball. Back to prime form of recognizing faces, identifying some of the new limit players and moving numbers based on the retrieval of key information that comes at a rapid pace.

Sharp bettors always love preseason and the challenge of getting that key information first, betting into a line that hasn’t been touched. This is also why most preseason NFL limits are reduced to about 10% to 20% of what the sport books regular season limits are.

“The way we book the preseason is night and day from the regular season,” said Lucky’s sports book director Jimmy Vaccaro. “We know much more about who is playing or injured during the regular season, which is why the limits are much lower during preseason. It’s not worth the guess in preseason to mess around with how long certain players play.”

Vaccaro notes the cautious approach is how he’s always handled booking these games for the last 30 years. That approach should take on even more emphasis in this modern era of instant information at everyone’s finger tips.

Most sports books have one or two services that recommend opening odds and keep them updated with all the latest information regarding injuries, or in the case of preseason football, playing time. The sports book also has a small crew in their hub operation that tries to keep track of everything going on while also keeping a sharp eye on the in-coming bets.

No matter how well the paid services and sports books combine their efforts to keep track of everything with all 32 NFL teams, there are going to be quite a few instances of bettors getting the information first during preseason.

The wire used to be the major information source everyone used and then the Internet followed suit, with those same wire reports keeping sports books and bettors on somewhat of a level playing field with timely information.

But now we have reliable sources with live tweets getting key information on players before a story can be written and sent over the wire.

Twitter has added a new dimension, connecting regular people at home or on their phones with instantaneous data that can be used at the bet windows. And that edge can be huge in preseason as the numbers shuffle at a furious pace.

“We tread very lightly, but move fast with everything going when we get the information,” says Vaccaro. “It’s not uncommon to see quite a few games move four to five points by kickoff, which is also why you won’t see parlay cards offered by most sports books.”

For the sports books to not offer parlay cards in preseason when their expected hold percentage is over 30% during the regular season, it’s easier to understand just how much of an edge the sports books feel the players have if utilizing the information quickly to their advantage.

Most sports books will offer their parlay cards on Thursdays during the regular season, but many of the pro games won’t see too much change from those initial listed numbers other than the key number of 3.

If some were to offer preseason parlay cards, those stale numbers would create such an advantage for the players that more than half the games would have to be taken off the card. Sports books couldn’t stand still and take wagers when those games move so rapidly, such as when a game moves from a team getting +3 on the card while straight bets moved their board number on the same game to the favorite at -3.

High risk on the cards outweighs the reward. Every sharp and casual bettor would be on the same side that moved, but it would also be a public relations nightmare having so many games OFF on the card. So why bother?

“It’s only four weeks and we don’t want to make or break the season in that span based on the differences,” says Vaccaro. “But the people love it. Football’s back and they love to bet it, preseason or not.”

Follow The Moves

Most sharp bettors love preseason and wish there were higher limits posted, along with a few extra weeks to maintain their information edge over the sports books. They don’t need any pointers and will do quite well on their own, but what about the average Joe?

I’ve talked with quite a few casual bettors (I don’t like to use the term “square” because it sounds rude to the majority of bettors who fall into that category) and some are reluctant to play because of all the unknowns. It’s harder for some to follow the information when working 9-to-5 and dealing with everything else going on in their life.

It’s not quite the same comfort zone they have devoting a few hours late on a Friday or Saturday for regular season selections each Sunday.

Even if you don’t follow the line movements religiously like the “sharps” do, you can still reap the benefits of their knowledge by just watching which way the spreads move. The combination of the sports books moving on air and the bettors moving the number with wagers is done by information that is more valuable in preseason such as how long starting players will play.

Getting a bet in late after the initial move may cost you two points from where it was, but so what, that’s where the game should and would have been had the information first been known when the initial line was posted. And close to kickoff, if a game you like has run too far (five or six points), there’s a little bit of value from it being followed too heavily.

So even if you aren’t a sharp, you can still bet the sides they do with a small price of a few points to pay. The only danger area is if crossing over the number “3.” Anything below that – even if the other side moves to a small favorite – shouldn’t cause much concern and can be followed with confidence.

No one likes to say they follow line moves, as if it’s a bad thing you didn’t come up with the wager or information on your own. Yet people do it quite often and have done well without doing all the detailed work the sharps have to.

3’s the Magic Number

We see how sports books guard their lines posted at “3” during the regular season with a fortress of money attached to it making bettors pay double or triple juice to get -2½, 3 or +3½ because it is the most common number landed over in NFL. Over the last five seasons, 15.4% of all regular season games have landed “3,” by far the largest percentage of any number. However, in the preseason, the percentage is even higher.

Over the same five year span, 16.9% of all preseason games have landed on “3.” It may come as a surprise that we don’t see the number guarded and respected with juice like the regular season since it happens more often, but lower limits and quicker moves haven’t warranted it.

During the regular season, a sports book may take up to three or four giant limit bets on the key number up the juice ladder – not wanting to get off the number. In preseason, it may take only one small limit bet to move on. The moves come fast, sometimes two points if the wager comes from a respected face.

Leroy’s phone bets

We all have our favorite sports books we like to visit, most of which are located close to home, but there is nothing more frustrating than having time pass by so quickly on a day you somehow forget to get down on a game you liked as the first pitch or kickoff approaches.

This season there should be no excuses as Leroy’s sports books have a quick and easy fix for the dilemma most of us have been in. A $100 bettable deposit is all it takes to get started.

You can go to any Leroy’s book across the state and within 20 minutes they’ll have you signed up. An app is sent to your phone with all your account information and then betting can begin. Everything you bet at the book off the board can now be done on your phone with ease, and you can bet wherever you are within the state.

After some extensive testing in compliance with GCB regulations, Leroy’s is the first to offer this simple process without having to use the bulky, and very uncool, beeper many have used in the past to retrieve a code that verifies you are within the state.

So there really is no reason not to have Leroy’s free service provided. Even if you happen to be sitting in your favorite sports book, it would be a disservice to your bankroll not to at least try and gain an edge on the line. There are multiple options at your fingertips rather than just taking what your book offers simply because it’s your only option.

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