With the first College Football Playoff ranking committee release coming Oct. 30, it’s a good time to look at CFB futures.
Last week saw four college football top 10 teams fall (as well as pseudo-contenders Wisconsin and Miami).
This, of course, caused some futures movement among potential contenders.
In Vegas, some losses are weighted heavier than others. For a team like the Georgia Bulldogs, there was little impact on their overall title odds after their road loss to LSU (+600 before, +800 after). However, for Wisconsin (+8000 to +30000), Penn State (+5000 to +50000) and Washington (+3000 to +30000), their losses propelled them to “historic longshot” status.
Bettors saw shrinking value on title odds for teams that did survive the weekend carnage, like Ohio State and Clemson (now +500 and +400, respectively).
While CFB Week 8 doesn’t have the volume of top 25 clashes as last Saturday, let’s look at some match-ups that could move futures.
Looking into the futures
This weekend’s marquee match-up pits two ACC undefeateds against each other, with #16 NC State (+30000) traveling to #3 Clemson (+400).
While a loss may not take Clemson totally out of the title picture, it would certainly do so for NC State. If you have a hard time though comprehending how a doofus goofball like Dabo Swinney continues to field and successfully coach elite teams, grab NC State now. While there’s a better chance of Swinney decoding a dinosaur genome than NC State beating Alabama or Georgia for a national title, that +30000 future will certainly go down with a win against Clemson.
LSU, fresh off its ultimately meaningless home win against UGA, now sits at #5 in the polls. If you’re looking for some precedence of what an NC State win at Clemson could do to their title odds, LSU just experienced that jolt, going from +10000 to +4000 in a week. However, a trip up in a certain let-down game against #22 Mississippi St. would give the Tigers two losses and essentially knock them out of the title conversation.
The last game with realistic futures implications is a suddenly strong looking #6 Michigan (+2500) at #24 Michigan St. (+100000). Like LSU, Michigan is a one-loss team with no margin for error. Two losses would be a nail in the coffin for Michigan’s title chances, while a win wouldn’t really move that +100000 on Michigan St.
But what does Vegas really think?
The Westgate’s power ratings are a good indicator as to what Vegas really thinks about college teams.
Clemson sits at #2 in the power ratings (a full 11 points behind ‘Bama), but still significantly ahead of NC State at 25. FiveThirtyEight only gives NC State a 16% chance of winning the game, which again makes this match-up the most likely to move futures with an upset.
Vegas also considers Michigan (#4 power rating) and LSU (#7) much stronger than Michigan St (#20) and Mississippi (#21). However, Michigan St will be at home, and anything can happen in rivalry matchups.
The 2018-19 NBA season tips off Tuesday night. The season is an inevitable slog with a predetermined final result: the Golden State Warriors will end up as champions again.
When ring-chasing-burner-account-having-uber-sensitive-rabbit-eared Kevin Durant joined the Warriors, the team basically broke basketball. Nobody really stands a chance if they’re at full strength.
While the Houston Rockets were a Chris Paul injury away from possibly upending the Warriors title run last year, they’ve taken a few ticks back this season. Nobody stacks up to Golden State. They’ve made the season irrelevant.
And they’re ruining NBA futures betting, too.
Basketball outright handle at an all-time low
The Warriors enter the season at -200 to three-peat. According to Sportsoddshistory.com, no other team in the past 30 years has been a pre-season odds-on favorite to win the championship. The Warriors have been a preseason favorite three years in a row.
This is impacting the overall handle on basketball outrights (future bets taken on winning the title).
It’s gotten so bad that handle on NHL futures EXCEEDS that of the NBA in Las Vegas. What the puck!?
Parity is the problem
The NBA is a star-driven league. A couple of superstars joining forces significantly shift a team’s championship odds. The Warriors have five potential Hall of Famers in their starting lineup (and maybe seven overall if Boogie Cousins gets his body and head right, or Andre Iguodala grinds out another Finals MVP). Their outright dominance kills the action.
Parity reigns supreme in the NHL, and to varying degrees in the NFL and MLB as well.
Unless you’re an obnoxious Golden State fan, their dominance has taken the fun out of the NBA season. They say money talks, and the lack of wagering on NBA futures backs it up.
Having said that, one bettor was willing to place a $67,736.25 wager on the Warriors to make the playoffs at -10,000 odds … so in six months he can cash in a whopping $677.35 return on that investment.
The Warriors start the season as 13-point favorites against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder title odds clock in at anywhere from +3000 at some Vegas sportsbooks to +3400 on FanDuel Sportsbook in New Jersey.
NBA outright title odds in NJ
Back during the poker boom years, one of the biggest wastes of money burgeoning early businesses was poker camps.
The World Poker Tour had a boot camp. The World Series of Poker had an academy. Howard Lederer and Annie Duke had their fantasy camp as well.
And people paid money for this. Good money. They really did. Lots of people.
So post-PASPA, it was inevitable someone would bring this model to sports betting.
And someone did!
No shocker, Steve Berman, who was the brains behind the old WPT boot camps, is launching the DonBestBetCamp. If anyone knows the template to take all of these gullible rubes’ money to grow this as a viable business, he’d be one of the guys.
Here’s how the camp is described by Don Best in a press release:
DonBestBetCamp is a one-day, hands-on experience filled with live instruction, guest speakers, and the introduction to techniques and sports betting technology proprietary to Don Best Sports Corporation. The curriculum will be designed to provide an understanding and knowledge for more informed betting on all sports from pro and College football, basketball, baseball and hockey to the college games. The betting camps were spurred by Berman’s highly-successful and well-received WPT Boot Camps.
Scoff all you want, but there’s something to be said for being in the right place at the right time. When Scientific Games is buying your business and ESPN’s Darren Rovell is giving your camp free publicity, maybe you’re doing something right.
JUST IN: @DonBestSports starting one-day sports betting camps designed to “give bettors an edge in performance & profit” with FanDuel at the Meadowlands in NJ. Initially includes five camps in New Jersey, rolling out more to other legalized states. Cost is $449 per camp.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) October 15, 2018
As noted in Rovell’s tweet, the camp is partnered with FanDuel Sportsbook at Meadowlands. FanDuel can cross-market this to its New Jersey sports betting database. People are going to attend these camps.
The $449 per camp price tag is only a fraction of what camp attendees will lose over their lifetime from actually betting on sports. When you think of it in those terms, the camp is actually a serious value.
Interesting as DB is soon to be a SG Digital company and that’s an IGT book.
If I’m the book I’d want to just give this away, not let $450 in betable money get hoovered out of my customer’s wallet … https://t.co/4gFovGC5yg
— Chris Grove (@OPReport) October 15, 2018
The first camp takes place on Nov. 16 at Meadowlands. There will be camps in Las Vegas, Biloxi and other sites in the U.S. in the future.
Despite neither being the actual title favorite, LeBron’s LA Lakers and the Boston Celtics are taking the most bets to win the NBA championship this season.
According to David Purdum at ESPN, the Lakers and Celtics have “drawn more than three times as many bets” as any other team. The Houston Rockets are a distant third.
Proximity may matter somewhat for the wagering. The Lakers, historically a team wagered heavily in Vegas, have the most bets placed on them in Sin City.
What about the reigning champs?
The title favorite, Golden State, sits at -200. Entering the season, the Warriors are among the clearest title favorites in NBA history.
While their total futures wagers trail the Lakers and Celtics in Vegas, the Warriors have taken some big money action.
The Westgate SuperBook has taken a pair of $10k title bets on the Warriors. The MGM booked a six-figure title bet on the reigning champs.
Spoiler Alert: barring a zombie apocalypse or an earthquake that jettison’s Oakland into the Pacific, the Warriors are winning the title this year.
The 2018-19 NBA season kicks off Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. EST as those heavily-wagered Celtics host the Philadelphia 76ers.
NBA futures at NJ sportsbooks
(Odds updated 10/11/18)
Not to kill the drama, but it’ll pass. Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) is headquartered in Louisville. Churchill Downs will reap the financial benefits of sports betting in Kentucky.
The broader question is: should Churchill be considered a sleeping sports betting giant in the U.S.?
Mo money, no problems
If you’ve followed Churchill stock the past five years, it’s done nothing but trend up.
They have cash on hand by the fistfuls. Outside of some online poker misfires, their M&A activity has been all Midas in touch.
One area that has stagnated in general over the past decade, however, is horse racing. It’s an old market that’s aging out.
However, Churchill’s online horse betting product, TwinSpires, has infrastructure almost as mature as their clientele. This is something David Katz, a gambling analyst for Jefferies, hits on in the Insider Louisville piece, noting that “the legalization of sports betting also represents a big opportunity for businesses, especially those with gambling infrastructure and experience, such as Churchill Downs.”
Churchill has already entered the sports betting market in Mississippi. However, Mississippi’s potential market size is comparable to its education system ranking. Let’s just say there are better spots to set up shop.
TwinSpires’ existing customer support, ability to handle high volume swings and general in-house expertise should provide it a leg up on potential competitors like DraftKings, who while innovative, basically operated like a fraternity house just three years ago.
Further, thanks in part to its blue chip brand and historical relevance, Churchill has serious political cajones. They could influence legislation at both local and federal levels to their liking if they flexed that muscle.
Down the stretch they’ll come?
Making the big pivot from horse racing to sports betting seems like the prudent path. Having an existing database of (horse racing) sports bettors can curtail some of the initial customer acquisition costs, and operational efficiencies would exist internally.
Churchill can partner with any platform or technology they’d like. They have the money.
After dipping their collective toe in the water in Mississippi and Kentucky, if they decide it’s time to make the leap, exert some legislative influence, and invest some capital, this is a market they could dominate.
Harken back to the poker boom years. One of the more articulate and interesting personalities was Haralabos “Bob” Voulgaris (or @Haralabob on the Twitters).
Haralabob made an early World Poker Tour final table (the 2005 LA Poker Classic, finishing second) back when making a WPT final table meant constant airtime on the Travel Channel. He had a popular show on Poker Road. He finished fourth in the 2017 World Series of Poker $111,111 One Drop event (cashing for over $1.1M).
Now, a semi-regular guest on the Bill Simmons podcast, he’s renowned as one of the best NBA bettors in the world.
Good news for sportsbooks though: as first dropped in a Woj Bomb (along with Zach Lowe), Haralabos won’t be making line-shifting NBA wagers anymore, as he’s landed a front-office job with the Dallas Mavericks:
ESPN reporting with @Zachlowe_NBA: In another example of the league's changing attitudes on gambling, the Dallas Mavericks are hiring former NBA bettor Bob Voulgaris (@Haralabob) as Director of Quantitative Research and Development.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 5, 2018
Shifting attitudes towards sports bettors
With over 144,000 Twitter followers and an even larger audience from Simmons’ podcasts, Voulgaris has helped intellectualize sports betting for the masses.
He’s not the public’s stereotypical image of a cigar-chomping sharp. He’s meticulously researched the sport, built proprietary data around all facets of the game, and became one of the most successful NBA bettors. He also watches NBA games like he’s the overbearing sports dad over every single player in the league. Voulgaris estimates he views at least one quarter of 85-90% of all NBA games.
In that sense, it makes all of the sense in the world that a forward-thinker like Mark Cuban would hire Voulgaris as his Director of Quantitative Research and Development for the Mavs.
Cuban wants to use Voulgaris as a “strategic thinker who will help examine on-court strategy in big-picture ways.” As an advisor for Sportradar, Cuban is also a data nerd too. Also like Cuban, Voulgaris has spoken out on Simmons’ podcast on NBA refs. The bigger question is: why didn’t this happen sooner?
This will continue being an interesting time for the sports betting world. Gamblers got sophisticated (and respected) and have been using data to launch start-ups and land front-office sports jobs. It’s a testament to the power of data and information. And to the shifting attitudes towards what it means to be a sports bettor.
A potential downside to the uptick of sports betting programming coming our way is that some of the hosts may not actually be very good at picking winners.
Clay Travis just read that and said, “Hold my beer…”
Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage and FS1’s new daily gambling show Lock It In had an incredible, bizzaro-world DiMaggio streak going: he had incorrectly picked 13 straight MLB games. He was still looking for his first winner going into Wednesday’s show.
This elicited the very best out of his Twitter followers. Some gems included:
Are you the guy on the mathematically impossible 12-game losing #MLB streak?
— Keith Naughton (@KNaughton711) October 3, 2018
How many baseball games have you lost in a row now?
— Chase Osborn (@ChaseOsborn) October 3, 2018
Clay can’t pick his nose #fish
— Action Jackson (@ACTION_JACKSON9) October 4, 2018
If picking winners was easy, everybody would be doing it. However, picking 13 losers in a row is almost mathematically impossible.
That all changed for Clay Wednesday night, as his Yankees moneyline pick hit in convincing fashion.
The Yankees beat the A’s 7-2 to advance out of the AL Wild Card round to face the Boston Red Sox. Now, two anxious fan bases wait in abject horror hoping that Travis doesn’t back them for the series.
Alabama is [viewed as] the best team in college football. Other than Georgia [who is just as good*], nobody else is particularly close. This is causing all sorts of issues for oddsmakers.
A historically great juggernaut?
Last year’s Alabama team [that needed a miraculous overtime pseudo-Hail Mary pass to defeat SEC-rival Georgia in the national championship game] was the highest rated college team ever in the 15 years of the Westgate’s computer power ranking.
This year’s team?
According to Ed Salmons, head oddsmaker at the Westgate, ‘Bama is a full FIVE POINTS better in the power rankings than they were last year.
This is causing problems for oddsmakers on setting actionable Alabama lines.
The “Tide Tax”
Alabama COVERED their first three games by a combined total of 58 points (Georgia, who actually played a ranked opponent in their first three games, covered by a combined 26 points).
This is causing oddsmakers to inflate the Alabama lines by up to five points, in line with their five-point computer ranking increase. According to Tony Miller, sportsbook director at the Golden Nugget, the Tide Tax™ is keeping sharp money away from ‘Bama games. Only the public is betting them heavily.
Causing oddsmakers further issues is Alabama eviscerating teams in the first half of games. Unlike that little weasel Urban Meyer at Ohio State, top SEC coaches like Nick Saban and Kirby Smart actually take their foot off the gas in the second half of blowouts. This is in part because SEC teams like Alabama and Georgia actually face difficult competition from within their own conference, and in part because Urban Meyer is an insecure little weasel who only feels good about himself by beating up on lesser schools.**
Regardless, even with the Tide Tax™, Alabama is favored by 48.5 points over Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, making it the largest point spread between FBS schools in the last five years.
As for the rest of the year…
Theoretical lines for Alabama’s most likely college football playoff opponents (Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Clemson) have them as double-digit favorites against each (including Georgia!!!).
As Old Dominion showed though, anything can happen on any given Saturday. Or in Alabama’s case, anything can happen if they play another SEC school.
* Full Disclosure: Author went to the University of Georgia. This doesn’t make any pro-UGA statement not true though.
** This has been scientifically proven and is indisputable.
Golf is partying like it’s 1999.
Flashback almost 20 years ago. Tiger Woods was about to go on an unprecedented run. Country clubs were jacking up membership dues. You actually had to book tee times way in advance of your round. Golf TV ratings were at record highs.
Then Tiger started banging porn stars, crashed his car, got injured, couldn’t play, and the masses stopped caring.
As we’ve written, daily fantasy sports provided a teaser of how gambling could boost interest in golf. With Tiger turning back the clock and betting legal in the U.S., is golf America’s next big gambling sport?
At Fortune’s Brainstorm Reinvent conference in Chicago this week, a panel that consisted of veritable Nostradami predicted that, yes, sports gambling will make golf more popular.
According to George Pyne, CEO of Bruin Sports Capital, “You’re 19 times more likely to watch an event if you’re betting on it.” Given that simple season-long fantasy football will have me tuning in to watch the Cleveland Browns on a Thursday night in September just to see if Jarvis Landry can snag 8 catches (PPR league, obv) for 100+ yards, Pyne might be on to something there.
Pyne raises one good and very prescient point: Golf tournaments have 75+ players, making the gambling opportunities “off the charts.” From individual player props to basic round +/- wagers, golf offers more opportunities to bet for the action junkies.
As always, content is going to be king
The panel also discussed something we touched on this week: sports betting content opportunities and ways to further engage fans.
ESPN’s executive vice president of content, Connor Schell, confirmed that the mouse ears are creating more sports betting programming (including show called I’ll Take That Bet). This could also lead to more ways of interacting with and engaging gamblers.
“This is just the beginning of exploring how this changes how you connect with sports fans, and how you connect with the real avid and engaged sports fans.”
Buckle up, the sports betting landscape is taking off. Things are only going to get more and more interesting.
Tiger Woods’ TOUR Championship win has sent everyone into some orgasmic and euphoric state of golfing bliss.
His win led to the highest ever FedEx Cup Playoff TV rating, up 206% (!!!) over last year’s final.
Woods at the Ryder Cup tho…
Even when Woods was crushing souls and winning every major in sight, he kind of stunk at the Ryder Cup.
His career record at the Ryder Cup is an un-awe-inspiring 13-17-3 (Wins, Losses, Halves).
Nine months ago it was an Old Dominion-level long shot that Tiger Woods would even be considered for the squad, let alone make it. Now:
- He’s a co-favorite to take the first American tee shot
- He’s the favorite to be the top scoring wild card on either side
Pretty amazing, considering a year ago right now he just started chipping and putting again.