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Don't hold breath waiting for Supreme Court ruling

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

VSiN City Court is in session! On the docket…legalized betting, creating football Power Ratings for the Big Ten, and when to take 1.5 runs in MLB.

Sports Betting Industry: Supreme Court will hear case for legalized betting in New Jersey in next session (ruling could be a year away)

You’ve likely heard by now that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the state of New Jersey’s bid to legalize sports betting at its casinos. This is the best news sports bettors have heard in a while. 

All of our shows Tuesday discussed the development in depth. Please click on this link to go to our video page for “Follow the Money” with Mitch and Pauly, “A Numbers Game” with Gill Alexander, and “My Guys in the Desert” if you were out of pocket. We have additional reading for you as well.

A comprehensive recap from David Purdum of ESPN (who was also a guest with Gill Tuesday)

Informed context from Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports

A thorough review from Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann

The Vegas angle from Todd Dewey of the Las Vegas Review-Journal

Also, if you subscribe to these publications, additional coverage behind their paywall from:

The Wall Street Journal

The Washington Post

As David Purdum mentioned in his article, a ruling could come during the fall. But court watchers believe we’re more likely to see a ruling in winter, or even as late as a year from now. At the very least, things are now trending in a more positive direction for legalized sports betting outside of Nevada. 

College Football: Building market Power Ratings in Big Ten based on Game of the Year point spreads

As promised, we’re back today to use settled “Game of the Year” college football point spreads to build estimated Power Ratings that represent “the market.” We started with the SEC Tuesday because Alabama was the market favorite to win the National Championship in futures prices…and because the respected newsstand preview publication Athlon had them as their Preseason #1. But, today’s effort will show that “the market” may well be giving the top rung on the Power Rating ladder to Ohio State. 

Let’s run through “conference only” matchups in schedule order. Note that Ohio State and Indiana play a league game in Week One, so we’ve included that as well. 

August 31

  • Ohio State -21 at Indiana

September 23

  • Penn State -10 at Iowa

October 7

  • Michigan State plus 16.5 at Michigan 
  • Wisconsin -8 at Nebraska 

Michigan State used to be a perennial power in the Big Ten, but has fallen off to also-ran pace at the moment. Remember that the South Point wasn’t high on Michigan when they first posted numbers…yet Sparty is still WAY behind the Wolverines based on that spread above. 

October 21

  • Michigan plus 8 at Penn State 
  • Iowa plus 4 at Northwestern 

Michigan opened at a stunning plus 14 because South Point sports book director Chris Andrews is very high on Penn State, and believes the Nittany Lions have the strongest home field in the country. The market has bought way back on that…giving coach Jim Harbaugh credit for training new starters sight unseen. Even at plus 8, that means Michigan is about 4-5 points worse than Penn State on a neutral field Power Rating scale. 

October 28

  • Penn State plus 8.5 at Ohio State 

This is expected to be the de facto Big Ten East championship game, though Michigan could ultimately have something to say about that. Ohio State also gets a lot of respect at home. You can see how a price like this would launch the Buckeyes to the top of the national scale. If Ohio State is about five better than Penn State on a neutral field…AND Penn State is on the short list to make the Final Four…OSU is going to represent a national ceiling. 

November 4

  • Northwestern plus 1 at Nebraska 

Not much is separating the “middle of the pack” in the West division behind Wisconsin. Should be some exciting games when the likes of NW, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota play each other. But, those exciting games won’t be featuring any teams from Athlon’s preseason top 40. 

November 11

  • Iowa plus 17 at Wisconsin
  • Nebraska plus 4 at Minnesota

You can see what we mean about Wisconsin being far clear of the field in their own division. They will still have to play Michigan in the divisional crossover though. 

November 18

  • Minnesota plus 6 at Northwestern
  • Michigan plus 10 at Wisconsin

It will be interesting to see how much respect Michigan is getting by the time this game is played. The market hit them hard vs. Penn State, but no so much here. If Harbaugh is great at teaching youngsters (which seems to be the case), this line could be halved (or more) by mid-November.

November 24

  • Iowa plus 2.5 at Nebraska

November 25

  • Ohio State -7 at Michigan
  • Wisconsin -10 at Minnesota

That Ohio State game is in Ann Arbor…so the Buckeyes would grade out at about -10 at a neutral site, or at least -13 in Columbus. 

Now we’ll build a scale for the Big Ten based on the neutral site estimates from the numbers you’ve just read. And, we can use the same numbers from the SEC scale yesterday because we have a link connecting the two conferences. A “Game of the Year” neutral site season opener between Michigan and Florida shows the Wolverines currently favored by five points. We’ll make sure Michigan is five better than where we had Florida yesterday. 

Let’s go in two steps. First, here’s how the Big Ten by itself would fall on the scale.

90-92: Ohio State

85-87: Penn State and Wisconsin

82: Michigan

75-76: Northwestern and Minnesota

73-74: Nebraska and Iowa

69-70: Michigan State

67: Indiana

(No GOY’s in league play listed for Maryland, Rutgers, Purdue, or Illinois, who are all projected by Athlon to be worse than Indiana.)

Now, the Big 12 and SEC combined…

90-92: Ohio State

88 or 89: Alabama

85-87: Penn State and Wisconsin

81 or 82: LSU, Michigan 

80 or 81: Auburn

79: Georgia

77: Florida

75-76: Texas A&M, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Northwestern, Minnesota

73-74: Kentucky, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Iowa

69-70: Vanderbilt, Michigan State

67-68: South Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana

(No listing yet for Missouri, Maryland, Rutgers, Purdue, or Illinois)

We must emphasize again that these are loose estimates. And, “the market” may do some more shifting through July and August in advance of the new season. For now, we’re going to have Ohio State sitting at the top of the heap by a slight margin because they’re further clear of Florida than Alabama is when you throw everything in the blender.

  • Ohio State is 10-11 better than Michigan on a neutral field, who’s 5 better than Florida
  • Alabama is 7-8 better than LSU who’s 6-7 better than Florida using neutral equivalents

If Michigan had stayed at its opener of -3 vs. Florida…then Alabama would have been inches ahead. Needless to say, there’s a lot of respect for BOTH Alabama and OSU entering the season. Penn State and Wisconsin are in the area that gets serious National Championship consideration as well. 

MLB: When is it smart to take plus 1.5 runs and lay juice on the run line?

Last Wednesday we talked about the pitfalls of laying -1.5 runs with high profile favorites on the run-line. Our summer series on baseball propositions continues today by studying the reverse option. When is it smart to take 1.5 runs from the market? Is it worth paying so much extra vigorish to get that run?

Those of you new to baseball betting may not be aware of the “run line” options up on the board. In addition to the regular moneyline price on the outright winner, you can lay or take 1.5 runs at adjusted prices. As we discussed last week, the much friendlier looking vigorish that’s available when you give up a run can be fool’s gold. This week, we look at paying to take the bonus run that’s being offered. 

To help you visualize the dynamics, here are three quick games from Tuesday night’s card. 

  • The Braves were around even money at San Diego, but you could lay -215 to get plus 1.5 runs
  • The Cubs were around plus 155 at Washington, you could lay -140 to get plus 1.5 runs
  • The Orioles were around plus 150 at Toronto, but you could lay -140 to get plus 1.5 runs

We need to mention again how psychology often brings out the worst instincts in gamblers. Too many in the general public will see those adjusted prices and think “Wait a second…I’ve got to lay -215 to bet on a crappy team like the Braves? You want me to lay -140 against that potent Washington offense? I’m going to lay juice with that horrible Baltimore pitching staff? Are you crazy?!”

Don’t think about how a price makes you feel. Focus on whether or not you’re getting value. Ask yourself “is buying 1.5 runs worth it in this spot?” 

Jimmy Vaccaro mentioned the other day that the public tends to lay -1.5 runs with the best teams, while “the smarts” are happy to lay a reasonable price to get 1.5 runs in their direction in the right circumstances. The smart/sharp side of the scale knows how to measure the value of a run. The public forgets how common one-run decisions are and tries to game the system with cheaper ways to bet the top teams. 

Think about those three games we just mentioned this way…

  • If San Diego had to lay -1.5 runs every time out this season, they’d have a record of 22-55. If Atlanta got to add 1.5 runs to all of their decisions, they’d be 46-29. Can you see why the market makes it more than -200 for the Braves to hang within a run? 
  • The Cubs would be 50-26 if you got to turn their one-run losses into wins. Washington falls to 34-42 if their one-run wins turned into losses. Can you justify laying odds with the Cubs after seeing those records? 
  • The Orioles jump to 49-30 if their one-run losses become wins. Toronto would be just 24-52 if they laid -1.5 runs every game. The Orioles at -140 don’t look so unappealing in this light. 

Obviously, those are general questions we’re asking. You have to think about the starting pitchers for each team, the ballpark, bullpen dynamics, and any recent lineup changes, and so on. The point is to get you thinking about this option. 

Another mental issue the public has with paying to take 1.5 runs is that they’ll get mad at themselves if the dog wins outright. “Why did I lay money to get a run I wasn’t going to need when I could have earned a nice payoff by just taking the dog?!” They’ll be mad at anything BUT a one-run loss! If their team loses by two or more, they’re angry about a lost bet. If their team wins the game straight up, they’re mad about the money they might have won by just taking the dog.

We need to emphasize again that sharps bet based on value, while the public bets based on how they feel before a game, or how they imagine they’re going to feel after the game. There’s a lot more public money than sharp money in the marketplace. As a result, sports books shade against public errors in a way that creates value for sharps. If you can make a case that the extra run offers value, it’s okay to take it!

When is it most likely that the extra run in your favor will offer value?

  • In projected pitcher’s duels where each individual run is so important
  • In ballparks that favor pitchers 
  • In games where the moneyline favorite has a mediocre or worse offense
  • In games where the moneyline underdog has a quality bullpen backing up a quality starter

When is it least likely that extra run is going to matter?

  • In high scoring environments, where runs are so cheap they’re not worth buying
  • In games where the moneyline favorite has an explosive offense that can run away and hide
  • In games where the moneyline underdog has a shaky bullpen that can let a game get away

We should also mention the reverse dynamic of the point Gill Alexander made last week about laying -1.5 runs with home favorites. If you do that, you’ll often only get eight offensive innings compared to the guaranteed nine for the visitor (losing 11% of the scoring windows you need to win by two or more). If you’re taking 1.5 runs, you can’t get shortchanged in a way that hurts. If you buy a run for a moneyline home dog…and they only bat eight times…it means you won the game and your bet.

As always, bet responsibly or don’t bet at all. If you’re not comfortable adding run-lines to your portfolio, leave them alone. At the very least, those of you who have been finding disappointing results when laying -1.5 runs to make the superpowers “seem” cheaper should consider turning the tables on the psychology of the marketplace. 

Thanks for joining us today. Back Thursday to look at the Pac 12. Where will USC sit on the national scale? We greatly appreciate that so many of you have subscribed. We’ll continue to work around the clock to get you helpful sports betting information from a market perspective. If you’re reading this on the homepage of VSiN, don’t forget that you can get free email delivery of this newsletter every weekday morning (along with PDF files of the daily South Point betting sheets) by subscribing. Have you followed us on twitter yet? Click here to see programming bulletins and snippets throughout the day. If you have any questions or comments, please drop us a note.

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