About those PGA Championship futures bets

May 17, 2019 11:40 PM
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Brooks Koepka (left) shakes hands with Tiger Woods after the second round. Koepka leads, Woods failed to make the cut.
© Imagn

Casual golf bettors enter weekend action in the 2019 PGA Championship trying to figure out how they’re going to scramble for a par.

They’re wondering why they took so many flyers on guys who would be out of contention before the halfway mark. They’re trying to determine which “re-priced” longshots might bring them a big score. And, they’re trying to figure out why betting strategies that seemed brilliant on Wednesday flopped so badly Thursday and Friday. 

The worst thing a gambler can do is chase his losses, particularly in a sport that he doesn’t bet often. That’s not just asking for trouble, that’s virtually guaranteeing it. This issue is magnified in golf because sports books typically offer futures prices that don’t reflect “true odds.” Generally speaking, any futures bet is a bad bet in terms of value. How is anyone going to catch up from a tough stretch by placing bad bets? 

Here’s a quick refresher on how sharps bet golf…

  • Sharps don’t bet futures prices unless they get a grading on a longshot that’s been mispriced. The biggest names don’t offer value. But, there will occasionally be something like a “true” 100/1 shot that’s getting more than that on the board because he’s not well-known by the public. Nothing wrong with taking one or two “bet small/win big” shots on opportunities like that. There have to be concrete reasons for the bet based on player skill sets and course dynamics, though. 
  • Sharps don’t place multiple futures bets, with some money on a relative favorite…more money on second-tier threats…and then a few flyers on somebody from the European or Asian tours. If you bet a lot of different guys to win, at best you’re guaranteed to lose all but one! You’ll probably lose them all. A bettor who took Brooks Koepka at 10/1 early in the week…but also four other guys…turned his Koepka bet into 10/5.
  • Sharps focus on head-to-head matchups because they’re much more fairly priced. Sports books offer money line odds on these, making them exactly like a baseball or hockey game. If you believe a golfer is positioned to play very well, taking him in matchups clearly offers the best risk/return options. While you won’t win any big jackpots, you have a much better chance of turning your analysis into money. 
  • Sharps look for players to “regress” to their norms rather than believing in “momentum” or “a hot putter.” Squares are much more likely to make the mistake of betting a golfer today because he looked great yesterday…or fading a golfer today because he was inconsistent the day before. Make your performance estimates based on skill sets. Don’t back a player that happened to look really confident when he was catching some earlier breaks. Nobody catches breaks every day. 
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