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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.

‘Inside Injuries’ Makes Good Business On Athletes’ Pain And Suffering

Chops August 10, 2018
Inside Injuries

The “how are we going to make money off of sports betting” industry is as bullish as ICOs were in 2017.

TheLines has explored many technologies looking to capitalize on the inevitable U.S. sports betting boom.

Now one U.S. company having some success is looking to bring their technology to Europe. With Inside Injuries, athletes’ pain is their gain.

Injury reports a staple for bettors…

There’s a reason the NFL requires teams to supply injury reports: it’s always been a wink-wink nod to bookmakers and bettors.

Inside Injuries takes the reporting mechanism and puts an analytic spin on it, spitting out data from a proprietary algorithm detailing the overall impact an injury can have on a player and/or team.

The company already provides player injury data and reports for all players in the MLB, NBA, and NFL.

What they’re not currently covering is the most popular and globally bet game in the world: soccer. According to SportTechie, that across-the-pond hop is coming, and it’s driven by sportsbooks.

And now bookies want an edge

A service that is beneficial to bettors would obviously help bookmakers too. According to the article:

Bookmakers are also scooping up as much data as possible to gain an edge over their competitors when setting lines.”

While not mentioned in the article, the ability to forecast individual injury impact on teams can particularly give punters and bookmakers a leg up on in the futures market.

For example, Inside Injuries pushed notifications to their subscribers over a recent Aaron Judge wrist chip fracture. They followed up with data that said, “Our analytics show that he should miss a lot more time (7 weeks),” the report said. “When he is cleared to return, his power won’t be the same.”

Now, while that data couldn’t have foretold the utter shellacking the Yanks received from the Red Sox this past week, it certainly could impact their divisional and World Series future odds.

Woods vs. Mickelson $10M Showdown Confirmed: This Is A Sports Bettor’s Dream

Chops August 2, 2018
Woods vs. Mickelson

Golf Powers That Be, thank you.

Thank you for “getting it.”

The date is (more or less) set for the Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson (likely) $10 million (possibly) winner-take-all showdown. It will (definitely) take place in Las Vegas at the Shadow Creek Golf Course on either Friday, Nov. 23 or Saturday, Nov. 24.

Why this is great for golf and sports bettors

Gimmicks work.

The November 9 at the World Series of Poker was a gimmicky idea that initially brought more attention to the game and broadcast.

Baseball is almost never part of the national dialogue any more…but this year’s Home Run Derby definitely was.

Unless Tiger Woods is involved, nobody watches golf on TV anymore. Yes, being able to fantasy bet on it helped, but Tiger moves the needle. With this event now in November, the public will be able to 1) watch Tiger Woods, 2) in a gimmicky event, that 3) is tailor-made for betting.

Genius.

This will work.

Holding the event in Vegas is perfect. It opens the door to discuss the betting elements and integrate that dialogue into the coverage. Also, there’s a billionty percent chance that Mickelson and Woods will have side bets going on. Be open about it. Make it a part of the coverage.

Further, what a way to promote Super Live betting to the public. Every hole, every swing, every putt can matter not just to the golfers, but to the bettors.

Where this SHOULD go

The Tiger vs. Lefty match should be the tip of the iceberg.

If handled properly, this showdown can be the forerunner for TV products that cater to the betting public. Think of the free-spending poker boom years where PokerStars and Full Tilt created and funded show after show in a customer acquisition arms race.

While those types of free-spending days are not replicable or sustainable—a slimmed down version of that model is. Create one-off events (or a series of events), underwritten by a sportsbook, with exclusivity to that sportsbook for betting (or the in-game feed), and watch wagering explode.

Let’s do this, William Hill.  Step up, MGM. You got this.

Claim Your Free Bet Up To $200 At DraftKings Sportsbook!

Regional Bias: Lakers, Celtics Betting Futures Aren’t Close To True Value

Chops July 30, 2018
Celtics Betting Futures

With its current roster construction, in no way shape or form should the LA Lakers be third overall title favorites in the NBA this season.

But they are.

Is it just the LeBron Effect or is it regional bias?

ESPN calls this increased handle the “LeBron Effect.” The Lakers currently post between 5/1 and 8/1 title odds in Las Vegas, and they’ve received more bets than any other team.

A midseason Kawhi Leonard trade could certainly make the Lakers more of a true 5/1 shot, but that futures line itself is a longshot as of today.

According to Ed Salmons at the Westgate in Las Vegas, “True odds for Lakers winning with this team are probably 15/1.”

While the odds shift has a lot to do with LeBron, the Lakers have received a high handle volume before LeBron and will continue to after LeBron. The 5/1 odds reflect regional bias as well; Sin City has long been a Lakers town.

The same can be said teams on the East Coast, where William Hill reports more bets on the Boston Celtics than in Vegas.

For a more pronounced look at regional bias, take the soon-to-be Vegas Raiders.  The Raiders Super Bowl odds are massively inflated at 18/1 at the Westgate as of last week. Offshore books have the Raiders at 30/1 to 35/1, which given their roster holes, contract issues with Khalil Mack, and disaster potential of Jon Gruden’s coaching return, seem a bit generous too.

To a lesser degree but still relevant in terms of regional bias, the Golden Knights are listed at 10/1 in Vegas to win the 2018-19 Stanley Cup and are around 12/1 offshore.

Sportsbooks limiting their liability via adjusted regional lines makes sense. The public willing to light their money on fire for these bets does not. But hey, Vegas isn’t building casinos if the public was always right.

The PGA Tour Might Soon Be Betting Big On Sports Betting

Chops July 26, 2018
PGA Tour

Golf and gambling are like peanut butter and jelly: they go well together, perfect compliments for each other.

It’s been proven time and time again. Gambling makes golf more fun.

This week, Golf.com examined why the PGA Tour itself believes that gambling, and in particular live betting, may be big business for golf.

Live betting may fuel growth of golf gambling

If you harken back to the early poker boom years, the names Martin de Knijff and Bill Edler may ring some bells.

Martin won an early WPT tournament (for then a record-setting $2,728,356) and Edler won a 2007 WSOP bracelet and WPT title.

They’ve both been on the business side of sports bookmaking and technology (Edler was listed in the “Molly Bloom” indictments). The two are now with Metric Gaming, and they see a booming future in “Super Live” golf betting.

As de Knijff notes, while Super Live betting, which in golf’s case gets as micro as recalculating odds for a certain golfer based on the distance of each putt, has some absolute degenerate appeal, it can draw in casual fans too, stating they may view it as, “…hey, I’ve got some time to kill, and here’s something I can engage with right away.”

As with most things, the truth is in the middle there. Super Live betting is like crack for degenerates, but also provides casual fans with some edge-of-seat engagement too.

While possibly a somewhat self-serving believe, de Knijff believes that golf betting (and presumably with Super Live action) can capture 10% of the total turnover for U.S. sports betting.

And the PGA Tour is good with this?

Of course.

The PGA Tour has already announced starting an integrity program and has joined other sports leagues in a push for integrity fees and official data rights.

Plus, you know that the PGA Tour knows that Tiger Woods isn’t going to be in contention every Sunday (where he’s good for a 37% or more ratings bump).

And as we’ve noted on TheLines, there’s some correlation to increased golf ratings and the rise of fantasy golf on DraftKings.

Integrity fees aside, increased ratings equals increased advertising and sponsorship dollars. Anything to juice the ratings, especially as golf has seen its viewership decline the past decade, is good for the bottom line.

You don’t need Metric Gaming to calculate the odds of the PGA Tour supporting live betting. It’s absolutely in their best interest to do so, perhaps more than any other sport right now.

Rickie Fowler Is A Favorite Again At The Open Championship … Why?

Chops July 18, 2018
Rickie Fowler

The 2018 Open Championship at Carnoustie tees off Thursday.

Listed at +1,600, Rickie Fowler is among a group that is second favorite overall (behind Dustin Johnson at +1,200).

Rickie Fowler has never won a major championship.

Rickie Fowler is consistently among the top wagered golfers to win championship events.

Why?

Close only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades

The Ringer examines this Fowler-betting phenomenon. There are a number of potential factors as to why people love them some Rickie: he’s been consistently near the top of the leaderboard; he’s young; he’s likable; he’s due.

According to the Westgate’s Jeff Sherman, the Fowler Phenomenon™ is far from unprecedented. While he claims that Fowler was bet heavy as soon as he joined the Tour, it’s not uncommon for the public to wager on “the new guy”:

“A lot of people like to pick the golfer that is supposedly the best golfer that hasn’t won a major yet. We saw a lot of that with Sergio García over the years, and now Rickie Fowler kind of has that title.”

Essentially, it’s a psychological thing. It’s a fun bet, but also not necessarily a bad bet.

While not discussed in the article, Fowler briefly resided in Las Vegas, giving him at least some “local favorite” appeal for sportsbooks in the city as well.

Will the public be rewarded this time?

According to The Ringer, the course at Carnoustie is similar to ones that Fowler has performed well at in the past, like Gullane.

So, maybe.

Enough about Fowler, all we care about is Tiger

He’s listed at +2,200.

He has won three Open Championships (2000, 2005 and 2006), although none of those were at Carnoustie. The last time the Open Championship was at Carnoustie was in 2007 and he finished 12th.

Wait, isn’t Carnoustie where that French guy self-destructed?

Why yes, yes it is!

Now That France Won, It’s Time to Start Looking Ahead To World Cup 2022

Chops July 16, 2018
World Cup 2022

The 2018 World Cup is a wrap.

Late money on Sunday poured in on Croatia, meaning Vegas and Atlantic City sportsbooks were happy as frogs clams with the French win.

Given the NCAA tournament level of randomness in this year’s World Cup, looking for value in futures for 2022 is as wise of an idea as dropping a grand on Kylian Mbappe scoring a goal against Croatia.

Who is the 2022 favorite?

It’s not France.

Despite its wealth of mostly young talent, France is listed at +650 in 2022 futures according to the Westgate (still good for second overall). Maybe it’s because it’s really hard to win back-to-back Cups. Or has been beaten to death, maybe it’s because four of the past five World Cup winners have not advanced out of group play the following Cup.

Brazil is the favorite at 6-1. This year’s finalists, Croatia, who will likely not see superstars Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic back in 2022, are listed at 30-1.

No shockers as the Westgate has Germany (7-1), Spain (8-1), and a likely Messi-less Argentina (10-1) among the favorites.

The United States, who failed to qualify for 2018 and have to get their collective shit together for 2022 qualifiers, are listed at 60-1.

The longest shot for a country likely to qualify (because they get a free spot in as host nation) is Qatar at 150-1.

If you’re looking for relative value, you could do worse than England (14-1) and Italy (16-1).

2022 World Cup opening odds to win (via Westgate)

CountryOpening OddsCurrent Odds (7/15/18)
Brazil6/16/1
France13/213/2
Germany7/17/1
Spain8/18/1
Argentina10/110/1
Belgium12/112/1
England14/114/1
Italy16/116/1
Netherlands20/120/1
Portugal30/130/1
Croatia30/130/1
Uruguay40/140/1
Colombia40/140/1
Chile50/150/1
Mexico50/150/1
USA60/160/1
Serbia80/180/1
Denmark100/1100/1
Sweden100/1100/1
Ukraine100/1100/1
Russia100/1100/1
Turkey100/1100/1
Paraguay100/1100/1

Chinese Authorities Break Up Illegal $48M World Cup Betting Ring

Chops July 9, 2018
World Cup Betting

The Chinese government busted up an illegal online gambling ring focused on World Cup betting. Authorities arrested 42 people involved in the ring and removed approximately 320M yuan ($48M USD) from the illegal gambling ecosystem.

Bookies running the operation used apps like WeChat to communicate with patrons and take bets. The article claims that China has the world’s largest base of soccer fans. We have no idea if this is actually true (this chart doesn’t seem to agree), but given China’s overall population size, as well as Chinese hackers ability to infiltrate our servers if we make some snarky joke about that potential Trumpian misuse of data, we’ll just let it slide.

What can’t the Chinese illegally bet on now?

Not much. With (almost) all the favorites falling, 2018 World Cup odds are pretty straightforward now. France has looked the best all tournament and are 2-1 favorites. Our pick since the beginning, Belgium, is 11-4. Thanks to being on the easy side of the bracket, England is 5-2 and Croatia is 5-1.

They’re all pretty evenly matched though, and 538 gives France the best chance of winning the tournament (29%) with England second (27%), Belgium third (26%) and Croatia fourth (18%).

If that’s not boring enough for you, Harry Kane is listed at 1-7 to win the Golden Boot award. However, if England gets knocked out in the semis, Romelu Lukaku (10-1) and Kylian Mbappe (25-1) have longshot potential.

LeBron Doesn’t Make LA Lakers La Favorites; Cleveland’s Odds Rocked

Chops July 2, 2018
LeBron

LeBron James is now a Laker. So much for the odds-halting uncertainty from earlier in the day Sunday.

The Lakers are now, inexplicably, second favorites (along with the Boston Celtics) to win the ’18-19 NBA title. They’re listed at 7/2 odds at the Westgate in Las Vegas.

This is a terrible price. Given the Lakers’ “other” free agent signings on Sunday (Lance Stephenson, KCP, Flotsam and Jetsam), they no longer have the pieces and salaries to feasibly trade for Kawhi Leonard or outright sign Boogie Cousins. As great as The King is, a team trotting out LeBron, Lonzo, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma in crunch time might not be favored to win a playoff series, let along win a title.

But yeah, the Lakers are a public team with some seriously over-confident fans, so 7/2 odds seems about right.

Poor Cleveland

First of all, Cleveland is in way better shape post-LeBron than back in 2010. They still have Kevin Love (stop laughing). Collin Sexton is promising. He’s got potential to be a top-tier point guard in 4-5 years.

OK, they’re screwed.

Vegas seems to think so too, listing them at 500/1 title favorites post-Decision 3.0.

As for the Warriors?

11/12 favorites. The interesting side effect of LABron is that it removes a viable challenger to the Warriors relentlessly boring path to a three-peat. The Cavaliers could maybe pull off a trade or find a piece that could give them a chance. Yeah, they were swept in the Finals this year, but two games came down to the wire and they were one boneheaded JR Smith play away from stealing the first game and series momentum.

The Lakers, as currently constructed, aren’t even close. And they’re in the Western Conference.

That sound you hear is bottles popping already in the Bay.

Sure, Germany Is Gone, But Favorites Are Still Favorites At 2018 World Cup

Chops June 29, 2018
World Cup

Group play is done. It’s the knockout stages of the 2018 World Cup.

With Germany gone and the appearance of almost NCAA tourney level parity (ok, that’s a stretch, but still…) affecting the World Cup, and one side of the knockout bracket clearly stronger than the other, odds for the prohibitive favorites surely have shifted, right?

Not really.

The more things change the more they stay the same

Brazil and Spain were favorites pre-tournament. They’re the two favorites today. They’re on opposite sides of the bracket. They could very well meet in the finals.

Odds for Brazil are roughly between 3-1 and 4-1 at various books.  Spain has the easier path the finals. They are locked in solidly at 4-1 at most books.

Brazil and Spain should be favorites. Both countries have looked strong. Spain has the easier path and is the safer play. Plus we all know Sergio Ramos will go full on Cobra Kai and just cheap shot any potential attacking threat out of the tournament for Spain.

Websites like 538 seem to agree with those odds. Despite being in the “Bracket of Death,” 538’s analytic model gives Brazil a 25% chance of being Cup champs. Spain is at 20%. No other team hits double-digits.

But if it was somebody else…

We’ve been saying all along that Belgium was legit. They were a strong value at 10-1 to 12-1 pre-tournament. Both 538 and Vegas give them the third best overall odds to capture the Cup (9% and 7-1, respectively).

What about England? Despite drawing Colombia in the Round of 16 and, well, being England, both 538 and sportsbooks have The Three Lions as fourth overall favorites (8% champ and roughly 8-1 odds).

If you’re really value hunting, Croatia and Uruguay have looked strong. Croatia has a much easier path to the finals and are 6% on 538 and 12-1 odds. Uruguay has to survive Cristiano Ronaldo’s Adam’s Apple in the Round of 16 and make it through the Bracket of Death to the finals, so 538 only gives them a 3% chance of winning it all. Vegas has them close to pre-tournament odds at 22-1. Uruguay can score on anyone though and soccer is fluky when it comes to attempting and converting shots. If you have two of the best strikers in the world like Uruguay, it’s like playing the Golden State Warriors: if the shots are draining, forget about it.

Similarly, if you have a goalie like this, well, anything can happen.

Chris Christie Trolls Gov. Phil Murphy For Losing NJ’s First Ever Sports Bet

Chops June 28, 2018
Chris Christie

Deep down in the recesses of your soul, just admit that you kind of sort of really wish that former NJ Governor Chris Christie had been Donald Trump’s running mate.  Come on, admit it. Trump and Christie would literally break Twitter with their blend of insult comedy and 3rd-grade level trolling while shirtlessly screaming, “Are you not entertained?” They’d turn a 24-hour news cycle into a 24-second news shot clock.

Don’t even try to process what it would do to your Facebook feed.

Anyway…

Chris Christie’s replacement as Governor of New Jersey is Phil Murphy (D-obv). Gov. Murphy placed the first post-PASPA legalized sports bet in New Jersey. That bet, which seemed perfectly reasonable at the time, was for Germany to win the World Cup.

Granted, had he read TheLines, he’d have looked at the value of Belgium instead of the boring and obvious pick of Germany, but that’s neither hier und nicht dort. Murphy did what all other non-Trump/Christie politicians do: he went the safe route and dropped a Jackson on Germany.

Let the good times troll

After Germany lost to South Korea in stoppage time Wednesday, a defeat that left many in Duetchland violently screaming that it was, ”Jena and Auerstedt all over again!,” Christie decided to dig in. Murphy had lost his $20 futures bet.

Quote Christie:

Gov. Murphy didn’t respond to TheLines’ request for a witty comeback, mostly because we didn’t ask him for one. But if we had, rest assured, it would’ve been some OTR jab at Christie’s weight.