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And they're off . . . at the British Open

Jeff Fogle
VSiN.com

July 20, 2017 09:05 AM

Early golf from the Open Championship highlights a busy Thursday in the world of sports…and therefore a busy Thursday in VSiN City…

The Open Championship: Jordan Spieth went off as favorite overseas, but it was Rickie Fowler at the South Point
By the time you read this, Open Championship #146 will have started at Royal Birkdale in England. Early-week favorite Dustin Johnson was not a popular betting choice as the tournament approached. Jordan Spieth had moved into the favorite spot at the Betfair exchange overseas. And well-deserved as Spieth shot a 65. Rickie Fowler as such a popular betting choice at the South Point in Las Vegas, that he became the favorite at that locale. 

(Note that you can click this link to monitor live Betfair exchange pricing throughout the event. The blue column represents what backing that golfer would pay to win. Subtract one from the total you see because it represents the return including the one-unit investment). The pink column represents what you have to lay to bet that he WON’T win.)

Betfair exchange prices as of Wednesday evening:
Jordan Spieth: plus 1550 to win, minus 1600 that he won’t win
Rickie Fowler: plus 1650 to win, minus 1700 that he won’t win
Dustin Johnson: plus 1800 to win, minus 1850 that he won’t win
Jon Rahm: plus 1900 to win, minus 2000 that he won’t win
Sergio Garcia: plus 1900 to win, minus 2000 that he won’t win
Justin Rose: plus 2200 to win, minus 2300 that he won’t win
Rory McIlroy: plus 2300 to win, minus 2400 that he won’t win
Hidecki Matsuyama: plus 2300 to win, minus 2400 that he won’t win

Back on Monday, we posted prices entering the new week. DJ had been 1550/1600 at that time. Both Spieth and Fowler were 1700/1750 at that time. Note that Rahm is down a smidge since Monday, while McIlroy and Rose have slightly more favorable pricing (which means informed bettors think they have a slightly less chance of winning). 

If you’re not familiar with exchanges, they tend to have more favorable pricing than you see in Nevada because the exchange just takes a limited fee for matching Yes/No bettors. The prices of an exchange better represent “true odds” in a major event because it’s a very liquid and strongly influenced by informed bettors. 

If you watched or listened to VSiN programming Wednesday, you know that the South Point sports book was hit with action on Rickie Fowler. He was the favorite there as of Wednesday evening. 

Late Wednesday South Point Prices
Fowler: 6/1
Spieth: 8/1
Rahm: 10/1
Johnson: 11/1
Garcia: 12/1
McIlroy: 13/1
Matsuyama: 16/1

Be sure to check out VSiN programming throughout the day to see how the opening round has impacted futures prices. Matt Youmans posted a preview article Wednesday that you may have missed. Please click here to enjoy that breakdown. 

Sports Betting: More from Britain, as suspicions of match fixing arise after Wimbledon
Buzzfeed news was first to report today that suspicious betting patterns for three matches (two qualifiers, one from the main draw) have raised concerns about match fixing at the recently completed Wimbledon championships. Click here to read the full article. 

Remember, as our experts have discussed often during our first five months of programming, monitoring the markets for suspicious gambling patterns is the BEST way to discover match fixing. Fair, regulated markets expose corruption. 

MLB: Big battles Thursday as contenders collide
The logjam in the American League Wildcard race isn’t doing much to work itself out. Front-runners Tampa Bay and the NY Yankees both lost Wednesday, while seemingly out of it Baltimore might be seemingly back in after taking its third straight from Texas. 

While there’s less mystery in the National League, the NL Central is getting very interesting with first-place Milwaukee losing four straight, while second-place Chicago has won six straight, and third-place Pittsburgh has won four straight. 

Four games on the Thursday card feature relevant teams going head-to-head. Let’s look at the “three true outcome” and fielding independent pitching stats for the probable starting pitchers. 

Milwaukee (52-45) at Pittsburgh (47-48) at 12:35 p.m. ET
Early Line…Pittsburgh -125, total of 8.5 Under -120)

  • Jimmy Nelson: 26.7% K’s, 6.1% walks, 0.9 HR/9, 3.23 xFIP
  • Jameson Taillon: 22.3% K’s, 7.7% walks, 0.7 HR/9, 3.56 xFIP

Some good pitchers on the mound today because it’s the natural spot in the rotation for guys who threw the first game back after the All-Star Break. Nelson is the ace of the Brewers staff…so they REALLY need him to bust their slump here before lesser arms come up again. Very similar pitchers in terms of these key indicator stats. The Pirates know how big this game is for staying in striking distance. Pittsburgh heads to likely Wildcard Colorado for a weekend series, while Milwaukee gets to visit relative weakling Philadelphia. 

Texas (45-49) at Baltimore (45-49) at 7:05 p.m. ET
(Early Line…Baltimore -105, total of 10 Under -115)

  • Cole Hamels: 14.3% K’s, 7.8% walks, 0.8 HR/9, 4.90 xFIP
  • Wade Miley: 19.2% K’s, 12.6% walks, 1.5 HR/9, 4.58 xFIP

That’s a shockingly low K-rate for Hamels. But he’s made nine starts, so it’s not like that’s a small sample size issue for just a couple of appearances. Miley’s walk/HR combo is a recipe for disaster. He’ basically Earl Weaver’s nightmare! Since this isn’t vintage Hamels, we could have a tight thriller after Baltimore’s taken the series 25-5 to this point. A quick note that a record of 45-49 right now almost eliminates both from serious consideration. Unless NOBODY in the race gets any separation and something like 82-80 is destined to win a Wildcard. Either of these teams would have to go 40-28 to reach 85 wins, or 45-23 to reach 90 wins. Neither currently has enough pitching to go 45-23. It’s like almost everybody in the logjam needs everyone else to stay in the logjam to have a chance at the playoffs. 

Detroit (43-50) at Kansas City (46-47) at 8:15 p.m. ET
(Early Line…Detroit -120, total of 9 under -120)

  • Michael Fullmer: 17.6% K’s, 5.5% walks, 0.5 HR/9, 4.07 xFIP
  • Danny Duffy: 19.4% K’s, 7.4% walks, 0.7 HR/9, 4.55 xFIP

Detroit’s really a borderline call for the Wildcard. But the market has been pricing them with so much respect this week that you should probably think of them as “Wildcard caliber” as you handicap their games for the time being. Both of these pitchers have better ERA’s than xFIPS, which means both have been a bit over their heads. You can see that neither is a K-force, but both limit damage because they deny walks and home runs. This weekend, Detroit has a chance to send a message at Minnesota, while Kansas City hosts the gradually vanishing Chicago White Sox. 

NY Yankees (48-45) at Seattle (45-45) at 10:10 p.m. ET
(Early Line…NY Yankees -115, total of 8 Over -120)

  • Luis Severino: 28.1% K’s, 6.3% walks, 1.0 HR/9, 3.11 xFIP
  • Felix Hernandez: 21.0% K’s, 5.8% walks, 1.9 HR/9, 3.84 xFIP

Wow…great pitching matchup here. Though, King Felix has had some issues with the longball this season. He’s still capable of leading the Mariners back to relevance from their current .500 mark. This is the first game of a four-day weekend. If the hosts can take at least three of four, they move past the Yanks in the Wildcard race. Seattle just won two of three in Houston, while the Yankees fade from 15 games over .500 continued in Minnesota. 

Canadian Football: Ottawa gets first win Wednesday over Montreal
An offensive showcase that stayed Under by a touchdown anyway. Both teams did a good job of “moving between the 20’s.” That resulted in big yardage counts but a low final score.

Ottawa (-4) 24, Montreal 19

  • Total Yards: Montreal 495, Ottawa 420
  • Yards-Per-Play: Montreal 7.8, Ottawa 7.8

Montreal had those extra yards…but the edge was cancelled out by two interceptions, and a critical late failure on third and short (only three downs in Canadian football) which served as another virtual turnover. Montreal was in “desperation” mode much of the night too, also helping them compile what turned out to be meaningless yards when the Redblacks defense stiffened.

Ottawa moves to 1-3-1 against a very tough schedule. Montreal falls to 2-3…in a division where 2-3 just might lead the way once Week 5 is in the books. Actually, if Ottawa can win at Toronto in a quick return to the field Monday, we’d have a three-way tie atop the East with Montreal and Toronto at 2-3, Ottawa at 2-3-1. 

Against the spread, Ottawa is now 80% to get the money with a 4-1 mark. Montreal falls to 2-3.

Canadian Football: Previews of remaining Week 5 action
Four more games to discuss. Let’s get to it!

Thursday: Edmonton (-3, total of 53) at Hamilton 
If you believe Hamilton is still light years behind the rest of the league based on their early stats, then the small road favorite here is going to be very appealing. Handicapping usually isn’t THAT easy, so regression and Edmonton’s furthest road trip so far this year might help make things interesting. In raw stats, this is a league power visiting a doormat.

  • Hamilton was outgained 524-232 by Toronto, losing YPP 8.7 to 4.5
  • Hamilton was outgained 466-206 by Saskatchewan, losing YPP 7.5 to 4.6
  • Hamilton was outgained 507-424 by British Columbia, losing YPP 9.2 to 6.8

And, BC was using it’s backup quarterback when gaining more than 500 yards and 9 YPP against the Tiger-Cats. 

Friday: Winnipeg at British Columbia (-4 total of 56.5)
British Columbia has won and covered three straight road games since getting upset in its home opener by dangerous Edmonton. This is a fairly condensed league though, particularly if you trim off the extremes. So…any favorite laying more than a field goal suggests caution. In fact, dogs of more than three are 8-4 against the spread so far in 2017.

Saturday: Saskatchewan at Calgary (-10, total of 58.5)
Based on the current futures prices, this is the most extreme game you can have in the CFL right now. Though, Hamilton is acting like it is much worse than Saskatchewan regardless of what the offshore futures prices say. That price tells you how condensed the league is. If you assume three points for home court advantage, the best Power Rated team is only seven points better on a neutral field than the worst team in the futures prices. Note that Saskatchewan is coming off a bye, and that Calgary’s defense has mostly been disappointing outside a good performance at Winnipeg. 

Monday: Ottawa at Toronto (-2, total of 54)
This is Ottawa’s second game of the week, which is already tough enough without the opponent being an up-tempo spread attack that’s going to try to wear the opponent out. The Redblacks do have revenge off a 26-25 home loss to the Argos two weeks ago. But Toronto won stats in that game 410-395 and 7.7 to 6.1 when NOT enjoying home field and extended extra rest. Monitor the line through the weekend to see if any CFL sharps are on the cheap home favorite. They will know the impact if any of this “two games in five days” CFL stretch better than us neophytes in VSiN City. It’s our first run through the league. Remember that first place in the East division will be at stake. 

Look for more CFL conversation on our broadcasts this weekend. We’ll pick up newsletter coverage Monday with boxscore summaries. 

Horse Racing: Day 1 on Del Mar dirt shows a speed and rail bias
“The first day of summer” for horse racing enthusiasts is in the books after a busy Wednesday at Del Mar, watched by an official attendance of 34,182. If you haven’t had a chance yet to read Ron Flatter’s introduction to the biggest betting meets that begin this week, please click here

Professional horse racing (and sports) bettor Alan Denkenson told VSiN City that “the rail looks exceptional on the Del Mar dirt.” Early races “produced rail winners who were all out and seemed more lucky than good.” 

We asked if that’s a normal characteristic of the track. Denkenson said, “It varies. At a few Del Mar meets, speed was very good on dirt, but it does change at times.” (Denkenson reported that “the turf played fairly Wednesday in a limited number of races.”)

For handicappers, Denkenson noted that awareness of a track bias is important when evaluating future potential for affected horses “who were helped or hindered by bias in the past.” And he also recommended the following four “bet back” horses the next time they run: Dermot, Yolanda’s Stone, Preacher Roe, and Out of Patience.

Best of luck to all of you handicapping the races. Gates open for Day Two at Del Mar Thursday at noon Pacific. First post is at 2 p.m. Saratoga’s summer session begins Friday. 

Enjoy the busy sports day…with morning golf from overseas, afternoon and evening pennant race baseball, and another day at the races too if you’re so inclined. We’ll be back Friday to close out the week. If you’re reading this on our website home page, remember that a free subscription to VSiN City gets you an automatic entry to earn a complimentary entry into the Westgate SuperContest (a $1,500 value!) and access to the daily South Point betting sheets. 

Programming and news bulletins are posted throughout the day on twitter. Click here to follow us if you haven’t already. If you have any questions or comments about VSiN programming or the weekday newsletter, please drop us a note

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