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Chops

Chops

Steve “Chops” Preiss has 15 years of experience in the gaming industry. Chops began writing and producing content for digital media sites during the early poker-boom years. He has twice been voted by his peers as one of the 20 Most Influential People in Poker. Chops has also written and produced segments for a primetime gaming TV show on Versus (now NBC Sports Network) and distributed a poker program to over 160M global households.

College Football Title Odds: A Look At The Six Teams Who Still Have A Chance

Chops November 27, 2018
College Football Title

There are six teams remaining that have a legitimate shot at the college football national championship: Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Georgia, Oklahoma, Ohio State.

Not having a conference championship game means that Notre Dame is almost assuredly in the four-team playoff. While FiveThirtyEight only lists them as a 77% shot at making the playoffs, there’s no feasible scenario that leaves Notre Dame out. They earned it.

Every other contender plays in a conference championship this weekend. If the results go as expected, there will likely only be one spot that’s really up for debate.

We’ll examine conference championship games and how the results would impact futures markets, using a few metrics, including FiveThirtyEight’s Playoff Probabilities, FPI, and ELO.

SEC Championship (The Actual National Championship)

Alabama (#1, -225 at BetStars Sportsbook) vs. Georgia (#4, +1400)

This one is a rematch of last year’s national title game, and could serve as this year’s as well. Alabama comes in as a -13.5 favorite, and deservedly so. Georgia is ranked third in ELO and FPI, but Alabama is ranked HISTORICALLY GREAT.

If Georgia pulls the upset, they’re obviously a lock to make the playoffs, but don’t expect their price to go towards Clemson +300 territory. They’d still have to beat Alabama again to win the title, and that’s a tall task to ask.

With a loss, Alabama would likely enter the playoffs again at #4, and likely win again, and even more likely be listed as the favorite.

The ACC Sacrificial Lamb for Clemson Game

Clemson (#2, +333) vs. Pittsburgh

Clemson is undefeated, ranked #2 in ELO and FPI, and has been #2 in each of the CFB committee rankings.

Pittsburgh is 7-5.

While Pittsburgh has been a spoiler in the past, not this year. Maybe Clemson was to become the odds-on favorite with a win and an Alabama loss, but most likely they’d just keep inching up like they have the past few weeks (think +250).

The Big 12 Championship That Will Look More Like a College Basketball Score

Oklahoma (#5, +1700) vs. Texas (#9)

Vegas has the over/under on this one around 78. There will be blood. Points will be scored.

The Sooners are a 7.5-point favorite. They’re 68% to win. They’ve barely escaped some close calls, but this feels like a game they’re going to control. It’s a year too early for Texas. Expect Oklahoma to run up the score if they can. That’s partly why the line is so high. They need a good showing to separate themselves from Ohio State.

The Big 10-Championship-Means-Everything-Game

Ohio State (#6, +1400) vs. Northwestern (#21)

Before blowing Michigan off the field, Ohio State hadn’t really posted many impressive showings.

Now, pundits are questioning the merits of them vs. Oklahoma.

This is a tough game to peg, but will likely really determine the fourth playoff team.

Often, a team that eviscerates a rival in an emotional win comes out a bit lethargic the next week. Northwestern is legit. Ohio State is given a 78% chance to win and they’re a 14-point favorite, but this could end up being a lot closer than people think.

Ultimately, if everything goes as expected, that means Ohio State and Oklahoma will be fighting for the fourth spot. How closely Northwestern keeps this game will go a long way into determining which school gets to play for the national title.

Tiger vs. Phil Betting Recap: The Good And The Bad From ‘The Match’

Chops November 26, 2018
Tiger Phil Betting

Well, that was interesting.

The long-anticipated pay-per-view event “The Match” between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson showcased the incredible potential of sponsored, made-for-TV betting extravaganzas … and a whole lot of challenges.

Yes, Mickelson won on the makeshift 22nd hole under the lights to capture $9 million. He had prepared more than Tiger and seemed to want it more. But the real story here is everything else that happened.

The great

Consider this one small step for integrating wagering into sports broadcasts, one giant leap for the public embracing how fun legalized sports betting can be.

As we’ve written, the future of integrating betting into broadcasts is going to change how we watch sports. Not to mention that really, really smart people think sports betting will particularly increase golf’s popularity. ESPN’s executive vice president of content, Connor Schell has said:

“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.”

playmgm

This specific point was highlighted throughout the broadcast as you saw live odds from PlayMGM (seen above) as well as fan tweets throughout the broadcast (captured here, or like JJ Watt’s below).

Making content out of in-play bets and how people are reacting to the action will be smoothed out, made more exciting, and ultimately generate more handle for sportsbooks.

The not so great

We’re not going to spend time belaboring this, but Mickelson and Woods’ “banter” caused more people to go comatose than Thursday’s Thanksgiving turkey.

“Samuel Jackson just sounds cool…” from Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson talking about their kids kind of killed the mood. That needs some work.

You’d think a guy like Mickelson who popped his collar like he was an extra from Hot Tub Time Machine, could’ve worked in some very obvious digs at Tiger to get into his head. Or just talked a little bit of shit.

Mickelson

That didn’t really happen.

The good

The shit-talking was left to the lone shining spot of the broadcast team, Charles Barkley.

Barkley, who has no problem talking about and showing his love of gambling, was absolutely in his element.

From his jabs at NBA broadcast partner Shaq (“It’s so nice not to hear a guy mumble through six hours of TV…he’s chewing on the mic!”) to Woods and Mickelson (“I could beat them these guys are awful today”), Sir Charles infused much-needed personality and fun into the event.

The bad

Can we just forget the words “side sauce” for a while?

While all of the side bets made the somewhat poor a needed jolt, listening to adults feel like they’re suddenly cool by saying “side sauce” over and over wore out its welcome on the third or fourth “side sauce.”

The side sauce

Ok, there was some good side sauce between Tiger and Phil.

It took all of a minute in the broadcast for Ernie Johnson to mention Mickelson’s $200,000 first hole birdie bet (he didn’t make it).

The $1 million eagle hole (par 4 9th) added some suspense to an otherwise totally boring end to the front nine.

$1 million hole

In all, along with the $9 million purse, Mickelson took $600,000 in side action that went to charity.

The betting at books

The broadcast did a great job of letting viewers know of all the action (at PlayMGM at least).

If you had bet the halves on most of the holes, you’d have done well for yourself. Same if you had taken Mickelson. This point was beaten home throughout the pay-per-view.

The Match

Tiger was the favorite heading in, going to -200 at one point, and public money is almost always going to be on Tiger.

How much public money? According to VP of Race and Sports for MGM Resorts International, Jay Rood, the event took in 8-10 times more action than a typical non-major golf event.

The final thoughts

I’m not much of one for hyperbole, but this is the future of peer-to-peer betting and where sports betting is headed.

Golf is the perfect sport for this type of showcase. Betting is part of the culture. There’s constant action and ample time to set in-play wagers.

Again though, it’s the peer-to-peer side, the match-making, the stuff you can do with your friends as you watch these events — that’s where this goes through the roof. Yes, integrating wagering in broadcasts as you live bet on PlayMGM-like sites and apps is great, but being able to bet on anything against anyone while you watch is the next-level that sports betting will eventually reach.

This made-for-TV event was just the start. It’s only going up from here.

Sportsbooks Take A Hit As Record Total Is Obliterated In Rams vs. Chiefs Shootout

Chops November 20, 2018
Rams Chiefs Betting

Monday night’s Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Rams matchup had high expectations. Two division leaders. Two high-powered and exciting offenses.

The NFL moved the game from Mexico City to Los Angeles. Las Vegas sportsbooks set a massive 64 over/under on the game. The line closed at 63 or 63.5 at books across the US, marking the highest total for game since betting data started being tracked in 1986.

Sometimes these types of hyped match-ups fizzle out. Not this one.

Chiefs vs. Rams blew away all expectations. It also blew away the 64 over. It ended with a Rams 54-51 victory.

105 total points!

Vegas could’ve set the total at 100 and it still would’ve comfortably gone over.

The public typically bets the over. In a game this hyped, they REALLY bet the over.

According to William Hill via ESPN, 69% of the public took the over for the game, leaving William Hill with a “healthy seven-figure loss.”

It wasn’t all bad news for the books, as South Point took some “pretty decent-sized” under bets. And over at DraftKings Sportsbook in New Jersey, 85% of moneyline bets came in on the Chiefs (+143) for Monday night’s game. Kansas City was the most popular moneyline team on the Week 12 slate.

Meanwhile, MGM had a $90,000 bet on the Chiefs at +3.5 that will definitely leave a mark.

In case you missed it, here are the highlights from the third-highest-scoring game in NFL history:

What Are The Gambling Rules Governing Pro Athletes In The Major U.S. Sports?

Chops November 13, 2018
Gambling Rules

In something you don’t see at the top levels of European soccer anymore, Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has been charged with allegedly breaching the Football Association’s betting rules.

Specifically, Sturridge is accused of breaking Rule E8(1)(a)(ii) and Rule E8(1)(b) during January 2018.

He has until Tuesday, Nov. 20 to respond. Sturridge has stated “categorically that he has never gambled on football,” said a Liverpool spokesperson.

Soooo … what does that mean?

Just follow this and then I’ll speculate. Here are the FA betting rules Sturridge is accused of violating:

  • Rule E8(1)(a) – a participant shall not bet, either directly or indirectly, or instruct, permit, cause or enable any person to bet on – (i) the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in or in connection with, a football match or competition; or (ii) any other matter concerning or related to football anywhere in the world, including, for example and without limitation, the transfer of players, employment of managers, team selection or disciplinary matters.
  • Rule E8(1)(b) – where a participant provides to any other person any information relating to football which the participant has obtained by virtue of his or her position within the game and which is not publicly available at that time, the participant shall be in breach of this Rule where any of that information is used by that other person for, or in relation to, betting.

Sturridge was accused of this violation in January 2018.

In January 2018, Sturridge completed a loan to West Brom Albion. Rule E8(1)(a) states that, “a participant shall not bet, either directly or indirectly…or enable any person to bet on…the transfer of players…” Rule E8(1)(b) states that, “where a participant provides to any other person any information relating to football which the participant has obtained by virtue of his or her position within the game…”

It’s reasonable given the timeframe to assume that Sturridge either intentionally or carelessly provided information of his transfer to someone who placed and won a large wager. We here at TheLines are not the betting type of people, but it’s like -350 that’s what happened.

Governing athletes in the U.S.

Europe has a significantly more mature sports betting market than the U.S. Players at the top levels know the rules.

So what exactly are sports betting rules for U.S. pro athletes?

Major League Baseball

We all know that Pete Rose earned himself a lifetime ban. In general, this is pretty straightforward. Section D of Major League Baseball Rule 21 states:

  1. Any player, umpire, or Club or League official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform, shall be declared ineligible for one year.
  2. Any player, umpire, or Club or League official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform, shall be declared permanently ineligible.

National Football League

The NFL has an interesting and somewhat confusing view of gambling in general. They’ve opposed gambling and were behind lobbying efforts around the UIGEA. Yet they provide injury reports with a wink-wink-nod-nod to how that impacts gamblers, and their owners had no issue investing in daily fantasy sports sites. As far as “NFL personnel” go, however, this is more clearly defined:

League policy strictly prohibits NFL Personnel from participating in or facilitating any form of illegal gambling. In addition, NFL Personnel are prohibited from engaging in any of the following gambling-related activities, regardless of whether such activities are legal:

  • Accepting a bribe or agreeing to throw or fix a game or illegally influence its outcome, statistics or score;
  • Failing promptly to report any bribe offer or any attempt to throw or fix a game or to illegally influence its outcome, statistics or score;
  • Betting on any NFL game or practice, or any other professional (e.g., NBA, MLB, NHL,PGA, USTA), college (e.g., NCAA basketball), or Olympic sport. including but not limited to wagers related to game outcome, statistics, score, or performance of any individual participant
  • Sharing confidential information regarding any game or any participating individual’s Status for or performance in any game without authorization or for the purpose of enabling or facilitating gambling;
  • Participating in or condoning any form of gambling while in any Club or League setting including, without limitation, locker rooms, practice or office facilities, or while traveling on Club or League business; or
  • Entering into, utilizing or otherwise visiting a “sports book ” at any time during the NFL playing season.

National Basketball Association

Rumors have swirled for years regarding why Michael Jordan really left the NBA the first time. And we all know about Tim Donaghy.  The NBA Constitution states:

Any person who, directly or indirectly, wagers money or anything of value on the outcome of any game played by a Team in the league operated by the Association shall, on being charged with such wagering, be given an opportunity to answer such charges after due notice, and the decision of the Commissioner shall be final, binding, conclusive, and unappealable. The penalty for such offense shall be within the absolute and sole discretion of the Commissioner and may include a fine, suspension, expulsion and/or perpetual disqualification from further association with the Association or any of its Members.

Additionally, per the league’s collective bargaining agreement, players have to take a mandatory gambling awareness program.

Expect very public player and personnel policy

As sports betting continues to roll out to more states, with so much at stake, expect stricter, clearly defined, and more public player policy from all professional leagues. It’s in the best interest of the leagues, players, and bettors.

That’s Gonna Leave A Mark: Vegas Sportsbooks Take Historic Losses On NFL Sunday

Chops November 5, 2018
las vegas sportsbooks

It’s said that they wouldn’t erect giant casinos in the desert if the public knew what it was doing.

For one Sunday, at least, the public massively proved that maxim wrong.

Las Vegas sportsbooks took historic losses on Sunday’s NFL games.

According to David Purdum at ESPN, Vegas sportsbooks lost between $7-10 million on Sunday’s NFL slate.  Given the modeling and advanced analytical information at bookmaker’s fingers, how did this happen?

Three games really decimated the books

Three public and popular picks made it a bloodbath for Vegas. The Minnesota Vikings (-5.5), Pittsburgh Steelers (+2.5), and Kansas City Chiefs (-8) were all bet heavily. There wasn’t much suspense in any of those games.

The Chiefs as an 8-point road favorite particularly left a mark, with close to 90% of the action on them covering (they won 37-21, the outcome never really in doubt).

Purdum quoted Jay Rood, MGM’s VP of race and sports, as saying, “We were pretty much done at that point.” Rood also said it was in his personal “Top 10” list of worst NFL Sundays.

While three games created most damage, it wasn’t limited to just those contests. Teams that took the majority of spread bets went 11-0 ATS on Sunday. That simply doesn’t happen often (if ever).

Three weeks in a row of this

Even more surprising, this Sunday’s battering caps off a three-week run of losses for Vegas books. The losses stretched beyond the Silver State, as newly opened sportsbooks in New Jersey and Mississippi took hits as well.

“In a great weekend of NFL matchups, the players had their best week of the season as it was one of the worst weeks for sportbooks in recent memory,” said Mattias Stetz, COO at Rush Street Interactive, which runs PlaySugarHouse Sportsbook in NJ. “Our worst result by far was the Chiefs covering vs. the Browns. The Chiefs are now 8-1 against the spread and have consistently been outperforming oddsmakers and attracting heavy betting interest.”

The pendulum on these things tends to swing and eventually lands back in the sportsbook’s favor. September of this year saw record numbers for Nevada, with sportsbooks winning over $56M for the month.

Expect a market correction for November and some articles on TheLines about the public giving those winnings right back to the casinos.

ALSO READ: The Worst Bad Beats From The Weekend In Sports Betting

 

 

 

Week 10 College Football Games That Will Impact NCAA Futures Bets

Chops October 30, 2018
Week 10 NCAA Betting

Last week was a bloodbath for ranked college football teams as 11 lost their matchups.

Teams like Texas (a game we warned about) and Florida saw their playoff dreams extinguished.

Georgia and Washington State saw their title odds improve, although both have tough tasks this week.

SEC title game spots are up for grabs on Saturday as there are some massive matchups.

Looking into the futures…

No game is bigger than Alabama (#1, -210 at FanDuel Sportsbook to win National Championship) vs. LSU (#4, +2900). Alabama opened as a two-touchdown favorite at LSU, making this the most points the Tigers have been an underdog at home since 1997. At stake is a spot as the SEC West representative in the real National Title SEC Championship game. A loss would set Alabama up in a similar position as last year, where they’d still likely make the playoffs despite not participating in the SEC title game. A win by LSU would certainly improve their +2000 and set up a rematch with most likely Georgia for the SEC crown.

If this sounds somewhat familiar, it is. That’s exactly what happened last year. Auburn beat both Georgia and Alabama in the regular season, but lost to Georgia in the SEC title game and Alabama slipped into the playoffs. LSU is simply this year’s Auburn. An LSU win would surely see their +2000 improve, potentially to a +1000.

Speaking of Georgia (#6, +1600), the Bulldogs face off against the surprising Kentucky Wildcats (#10, +10000) for the right to be the SEC East rep against the winner of ‘Bama vs. LSU. Georgia is a 9.5 favorite on the road against Kentucky, and FiveThirtyEight gives the Dawgs a 71% shot at winning. Some of Georgia’s futures improvement will hinge on if LSU can pull off the upset against ‘Bama. Vegas will surely like Georgia’s title chances more if it has to go through LSU for the SEC title as opposed to Alabama.

Michigan (#5, +1600) has two more big hurdles to clear to have a shot at the playoffs, the first being this weekend at home against Penn State (#14, +10000). While a win won’t improve Michigan’s futures much (their match-up against #8 Ohio State carries too much weight), a loss all but submarines Michigan’s title odds.

One last match-up worth paying attention to is Washington State (#10, +10000) vs. Cal. Washington St. is the PAC-12’s only hope for playoff consideration, and Cal is no joke even as a 10.5-point dog. Expect Washington St’s futures to tick upward with a win.

Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson Prop Bets We’d Like to See

Chops October 29, 2018
Woods Mickelson Prop Bets

The Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson heads-up match is less than a month away. All of the major details are now in place: Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving, at Shadow Creek golf course in Las Vegas.

HBO released the trailer for the series 24/7 THE MATCH: TIGER VS. PHIL on Monday. As if we needed more reason to get hyped for this.

With the end-of-season up-tick in Woods’ game, the match now carries even more weight and intrigue. We wrote about how perfect this was for gambling before, and not just because these two once had bad blood (their relationship was “cool at best, unfriendly at worst”) and Mickelson has a propensity to gamble large sums of money.

Because this is a made-for-TV event with two hyper-competitive personalities, and wagering is part of the golfing culture in general, the prop bet possibilities should elevate this match to legendary status.

Unfortunately, reality hasn’t met expectation yet, particularly on the prop betting side.

The most interesting props listed to date have to do with obvious (and lame) wagers like “What color shirt” will one of them wear.

Vegas, we’re better than that.

Here’s a list of props we’d like to see.

Let’s make it interesting…

To date, the craziest made-for-(Internet)-TV golf betting event I witnessed was Erick Lindgren’s June 2007 golf prop. It was around 115 degrees that day, and there were some legitimate, “Will he even live through this?” props being bandied about.

Lindgren was a man only against his own willpower. Mickelson and Woods are among the greatest golfers to ever swing a club. Props can go in so many different directions. Here’s just a few:

  • Longest Drive: This plays well into the old 2003 equipment controversy, and is a genuine Alpha-male measuring stick. No-brainer. Bet Tiger.
  • How Many Cutaways to Tiger’s Girlfriend: There have been similar Tom Brady-Giselle Super Bowl props, and given the, “Wait, who the hell is that?” stories this generated at Tiger’s PGA Championship win, it’s a solid prop. Bet the over, whatever it is.
  • Number of Awkward High-Fives: Love this one. First, all pro golfer high-fives are awkward. Second, will Phil and Tiger be friendly? They don’t really like each other. If they pretend to like each other and attempt a high-five, it’s immediately historically meme-worthy. Regardless, given their past history and competitiveness, if this is offered, take the under.
  • Over/Under on Swear Words: Tiger was not-so-secretly an a-hole. Phil was secretly an a-hole. With a suggested $19.99 PPV price, golf them up and let them let f-bombs fly. Tiger, even when on network TV, makes Ralphie’s dad look like Mr. Rogers. Heavy bet the over if offered.
  • First to Hit Drive Out of Bounds and / or First to Hit Drive into Rough: As a glorified exhibition, these two will be pulling driver out early and often. A secondary prop to this would be, “What hole will golfer first drive into the rough…” Either way, bet Woods and early.
  • Number of Holes Tiger / Phil Use Driver: Everything about this match should be big. Including the club choice. Let it rip, take the over.
  • Total Tiger / Phil Putts: If Tiger wins, it’s because his putting game is on. If you like Tiger, then you’d like the under on this one.
  • Over / Under on Tiger Fist Pumps: Again, if you’re already betting Tiger, parlay the over on fist pumps.
  • Mickelson vs. Arizona State: Mickelson went to Arizona State. ASU plays their rivalry game against Arizona the day after Phil plays Tiger. Let’s pit Mickelson’s total vs. the over-under on ASU vs. Arizona. Maybe Herm Edwards can even give Phil a pre-packaged “You play to win the game!” pep talk.
  • Weigh-In Props: The match is in Vegas. Vegas is known for their fighter weigh-ins. Can’t somebody sponsor a Mickelson-Woods pre-match weigh-in? It’s the day after Thanksgiving, so bet the Lefty over.
  • Get In the Hole! Props: Least favorite thing about live golf are all of the “get in the hole” idiots. That could all change, of course, if it was a prop that I could take the over on. Turn a negative into a positive. Lean heavy on the over.

Step it up, Vegas. Everything about this match should be fun and semi-ridiculous. Time for the props to catch up.

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Three Week 9 College Football Games That Will Impact NCAA Futures Bets

Chops October 26, 2018
NCAA Futures Bets

Another week, another slate of title-odds-altering college football games.

But first, let’s look back at one game last week that I really, really wanted to include, but didn’t.

It’s easy to dislike Ohio State. From the ubiquitous “THE Ohio State University” uttered by ex-alums on every single one of their freaking player intros on TV, to Urban Meyer being a moral-less weasel, the only people that don’t currently viscerally dislike the Buckeyes are Ohio residents and future/current/past students.

I’ve thought THE Ohio State University looked vulnerable all year. Purdue was a team that seemed to right the ship after a shaky start and was performing well, and would surely bring a boisterous home crowd to the game.

Still, it was THE Ohio State University vs. Purdue.

Behold, Purdue was awesome, and the Buckeyes fell. However, despite the throttling, THE Ohio State University only saw their title odds dip from +1000 to +1400. This is, in part, because the Big 10 is still very winnable for them, which would clear their path to the college football playoffs. FiveThirtyEight gives them a 23% chance of making the playoffs (but just a 5% chance of capturing the championship).

The loss though means that their Nov. 24 game against Michigan has massive odds-shifting potential.

BetStars SuperBoost: Bet on Clemson, Georgia and Wisconsin to win (+163)

Looking into the futures

Enough about the past, let’s look into the futures.

The biggest game this weekend is the world’s largest outdoor cocktail party, with Georgia (+1400 at FanDuel to win title)  vs. Florida (+10000). The implications here are simple: if Georgia wins, (with apologies to Kentucky) they likely have smooth sailing to the SEC Championship where a win would put them in the playoffs. A loss by Georgia and their title odds are toast. If Florida wins, while I wouldn’t expect their futures to swing up to the +1000 range, it won’t hang back at +10000 either. You don’t need an air-brushed Florida diploma to figure that out.

After Georgia vs. Florida, the other games are of much less potential impact. Texas (+5000) plays on the road against unranked and eliminated Oklahoma State. Traveling to Stillwater is never easy, and both Vegas and computer models agree, as Texas only opened as a 1.5-point favorite.

According to ESPN’s Eliminator, the only PAC-12 team with a chance of making the playoffs is Washington State (+16000). That being the case, this week’s Washington St. vs. Stanford (#24) has some weight. While the PAC-12 is still a longshot to get a team into the playoffs, a Washington St. win coupled with some higher ranked teams losses would certainly improve their odds.

The first playoff committee rankings are released on Tuesday, Oct. 30. Along with this weekend’s games, those committee rankings (and specifically, what the committee is thinking) will certainly shift some futures as well.

Al Michaels Acknowledging Over/Unders On Sunday Night Football Needs To Be The Future Of Broadcasts

Chops October 23, 2018
Al Michaels

“Fifty-six and a half is a number a lot of the fans are thinking about right now…” – Al Michaels on Sunday Night Football.

He did it again.

Al Michaels has a long and storied history of acknowledging point spreads and over/unders. He’s even discussed it on Bill Simmons’ podcast. On Sunday night, he struck again.

With just over four minutes remaining in the Chiefs vs. Bengals slaughter, Kansas City elected to go for it on 4th and 4 inside the 10-yard line. They were already up 45-10. If they converted the first or scored a touchdown, the over hits. If they just decided to take the easy points and kick a field goal, the over hits.

Instead, they failed to convert, and every gambler who bet the 56.5 over failed to cash a winner.

Michaels knew this, and as he’s so expert at doing, found a way to work it into the broadcast so there was at least some level of suspense in a game that was decided before halftime.

Why wouldn’t you talk spreads?

Michaels is almost alone on an island as far as NFL broadcasters who actually understand the gambling component of games.

As we wrote earlier this year, CBS went so far as to ban talk of gambling on their broadcasts (Michaels calls NBC home). This could’ve been, in part, to save their broadcast team the social media ire of flubbing gambling lexicon and general understanding.

However, just because you don’t understand something today doesn’t mean you shouldn’t improve on something for tomorrow.

Michaels obviously understands what he’s talking about and has found ways to weave gambling discussion into broadcasts often when there’s nothing interesting left to cover (Sunday night being a prime example).

We know sports betting in the U.S. is only going to grow and spread over the next decade. Media companies should be embracing gambling talk and education, not running away from it.

Always follow the money

As gambling proliferates state-by-state, gambling advertising will too. From jersey sponsorship, to in-stadia ads, to traditional television spots, viewers are going to very quickly get familiarized with gambling whether they like it or not.

Being able to intelligently discuss odds and lines will be a must.

It goes further than that though.

As cord cutting becomes more prevalent, traditional television advertising becomes less of a revenue stream.  Integrating advertising into broadcasts is an obvious natural progression, and sports betting (and to a lesser degree, daily fantasy) are front-runners for monetization.

This stretches past programming and reporting, as we’ve written about previously.

This is about integrating live betting into actual broadcasts where viewers can place a wager in a click or two. There’s a future, probably not that far in the distance, where Michaels not only slyly notes the over-under implications of a decision on the field, but prods the audience to interact with their viewing device to make a bet.

This is a direction horse betting and broadcasting company TVG started exploring almost a decade ago (after being acquired by Betfair). I was part of a team that pitched a number of concepts around this interactive concept.

It behooves sports betting companies to structure their market spends around this sort of interactivity. It can’t just be a blanket branding play anymore. It shouldn’t be. There are significantly more effective means for sports betting entities to spend their advertising dollars.

Take this coming week’s Packers vs. Rams game.

As will be reported ad nauseam, Aaron Rodgers is the biggest regular season underdog of his career against the Rams this Sunday.

This type of story perfectly fits the content distribution model deployed by ESPN, Fox Sports, and others—and would be ideal for activating gamblers.

Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman do their hot take thing, and while live there’s a call-to-action on the TV to wager and direct link to a sponsoring betting site.

That clip is embedded in the ESPN app and website, again with direct links to the sponsoring betting site.

Later, there’s a follow-up story on what the public actually bet. It feeds the news cycle, provides compelling new content, and generates revenue for both the media entity and gambling site.

We all win.

Except for whoever bets against Aaron Rodgers. The chip on that guy’s shoulder…

Week 8 CFB Matchups With Huge Potential Ramifications For Futures Bets

Chops October 18, 2018
CFB Week 8 Betting

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.