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Andrews: Inside the betting action for the Red Sox-Astros ALCS

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I thought my bosses were nuts. But, earlier this week, they told me to go to a dime line on the series price in the American League Championship matchup featuring the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before in a sports book. Games? Sure. A series price?

As you can imagine, this decision created a lot of action here at the South Point. We often had the best price on Houston to win the series…and the best price on Boston to win the series…at the same time.

To win the ALCS and advance to the Fall Classic, I opened Houston -140/Boston + 130. First action was on the Astros. I went up to Houston -148/Boston + 138. Next bet was a big whack on Boston. That + 138 was a great return for a series bet. That dropped me to Houston -144/Boston + 134. We stayed there for several hours. But, more Boston money came in Thursday. I’m now at Houston -138/Boston + 128.

I expect ALCS bets to continue pouring in at our ticket counters with that short straddle. 

Both teams have also been generating action to win the World Series on the futures board. We don’t have exposure to either from prior betting. So much money came in on teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and even the St. Louis Cardinals, that those were our major concern. Current World Championship prices for the Astros and Red Sox…

Odds to win World Series

Houston + 250

Boston + 400

Boston had been + 450 on Tuesday before I took a 5K bet on the Sox to win it all. Houston was as low as + 200 earlier this week. I was able to lift that price to + 250 with money coming in on other teams. 

Friday night’s series opener in Houston will be heavily bet between now and first pitch. Here are current odds for Game 1:

Friday, Oct. 15

 

Moneyline

Boston + 125

Houston -135

 

Run Line

Boston + 1.5 runs -160

Houston -1.5 runs + 140

 

Over/Under

8.5 runs (Under -120/Over even money)

Early betting has been limited because Boston hasn’t formally announced its starting pitcher as I write this. Sportsbooks will adjust if needed after that announcement. Probably not much unless it’s a big surprise. I’ll tweet developments @andrewssports late Friday afternoon. 

While I’ve got you, a quick word on run lines. You probably know that many recreational bettors love “lowering the juice” on big favorites by laying -1.5 runs at a cheaper price. That’s generally not a good betting strategy. It works often enough to get you in trouble. 

You see, it only seems like you’re paying less vigorish. But, that -1.5 runs you’re laying is its own form of vigorish. You now lose your bet on one-run victories. That could really matter in championship showdowns where every run matters.

Casual bettors (and the mainstream media) don’t realize that sharps often go the other way. They’ll lay a price to get that 1.5 runs in their favor. That’s about the only time you’ll see sharps laying chalk. They know the math works in their favor in baseball (and hockey) to take 1.5 runs (or goals) rather than lay them. 

I’m not telling you how to bet. You have to handicap each game as it comes based on the starting pitching matchup and series dynamics. I just hope you’ll avoid the temptation to lay -1.5 runs because you want to make the price cheaper. Sportsbooks know you want to do this. They’re actually charging you a premium that you’re not recognizing. 

How many pitchers duels should we expect through the rest of October? Would you rather be taking + 1.5 runs or laying -1.5 runs in those games?  

Thanks to all of you baseball fans for checking in today. I’ll have another special report tomorrow in advance of the National League Championship Series. I’m planning to cover game-by-game betting developments on Twitter through the rest of baseball. I’ll have one last expanded market report before the World Series that begins Tuesday, October 26. 

Chris Andrews is the Sportsbook Director at the South Point in Las Vegas, and has been a Nevada bookmaker for 30 years.

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