For most casual sports bettors, making a bet on a game has less to do with careful analysis and seeking the best value for their bet and more to do with simply wanting to increase their excitement and interest in a particular game.
For the professional sports bettors, enthusiasm for a game is a distraction while they are gathering and studying information looking for advantages where the book has a bad line on a game or is behind in updating a line for new information related to a game. Then there are my favorites, the math geeks who just look for opportunities in the wide range of lines available or connected to a team and or a particular game and look for opportunities to get plus money on both sides of a game.
Often times professional bettors are stigmatized as guys who are either trying to manipulate a betting line, or that pay for secret information on a team or players, or in the extreme that they might even fix a game or even try to delay when the books might learn of an important piece of game related information so that they can get a bet down first. In the old days (before cell phones and internet), when you got a piece of useful information you could take a little time to figure out how to best use the information, presuming the information of course was good. Which begs an interesting question “when is advance information cheating or not or is it simply survival of the fittest.” Years ago, one of the early Las Vegas bookmakers realized that his competitors were copying his betting lines and using them as their own opening betting lines. Fact is prior to certain automated services it was fairly common to see employees of certain sportsbooks running from book to book to see what the competing lines were and phoning those lines in from the payphones near the book they were at. Oddly enough for some casinos, the payphones near the sportsbook were as profitable as some slot machines.
Back to the story though, this particular bookmaker after realizing that his lines were being regularly used, got a little clever and started intentionally putting up a few bad lines with no intention of taking bets on those lines, but sent a couple of his guys to get bets down on those bad lines at the copycat books. His goal was not to kill his competitors, but he certainly milked them out of a few serious dollars.
Was that cheating or punishing someone that was stealing his lines because they did not make the effort to develop their own? Oh, by the way, even though he set a few bad lines to exploit on his competitors with, from time to the bad lines were actually right, so he did not win every bet but around 80 percent of them and enough to pocket very respectable winnings. Because there is no perfect knowledge of the possible game result, it is very hard to call it cheating, but it certainly demonstrated the power of information, the power of a line maker and the need for the ability to recognize a good and bad line.
Information remains key though to the majority of serious sports bettors, but there is always the challenge of the quality of the information the speed in which it is received, and the time needed to analyze it. I, for one, am too lazy to study, too cheap to buy information or tips from a tout service, and too cynical to trust fast or insider information. But I like to take advantage of two-sided plus money or math arbitrage opportunities that technology occasionally allows, while having a money motivated interest in a game or two.
Hence my preference for “in-game” betting which is all about providing bets ranging from prop bets to continual end of game lines. “In-game” wagering basically takes an actuarial approach by taking historical stats sprinkled with some math to automatically produce betting lines. It is the perpetual provision of game lines that I like to bet on. Years ago, when Cantor Gaming (now CG Technology) was aggressively marketing “in-game” wagering, I noticed that certain professional leagues, such as basketball, where there are numerous lead changes, often provided multiple opportunities to pounce on two-sided plus money. I noted that when the underdog of the game got the lead and the longer that lead lasted the line for the game would start shifting to making the ’dog the favorite.
The only homework I do for these bets is to ask which games the book plans to accept “in-game” bets on, make an over the counter plus money bet on the underdog team, then sit back and watch the game with my laptop waiting for the “In-game” line changes. Even if most books are not as aggressive, as Cantor was, the same principal works with quarter- and half-time bets pending how the particular game is flowing and the ‘dog is making a game of it.
As with all things involving humans there is no assurance that things will work out perfectly but with professional teams there is often more back and forth lead changes than one might think. For example, the New England Patriots last year seemed to constantly be the pregame favorite, yet often not taking control of the game until the fourth quarter – a perfect circumstance for my favorite betting combinations.
My little betting preference does not always work out. But it has worked out in my favor enough that it has more than paid for those times it has not and made me a fan of the “in-game” betting options.