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Plenty of bang for your buck in U.S. Open

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

June 19, 2017 07:20 PM
Brooks Koepka was priced at 30-1 heading into the U.S. Open.
© USA Today Sports Images

A “big banger” wins the U.S. Open, after all…while Colorado and Boston continue their recent runs as big bangers in Major League Baseball. Details from a busy sports weekend in VSiN City!

US Open Golf: Koepka kept coming, and Erin Hills couldn’t stop him

For much of the weekend, it looked like all the talk about “big bombers” having the inside edge at the 2017 U.S. Open had been misguided. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson hit the ball a mile but found the fescue too often. Erratic Rory McIlroy continued to be one of the most overpriced golfers of the season. Jon Rahm? Jon Wrong if you placed a bet on him.

Meanwhile, golfers of all shapes, sizes, styles, and sportswear seemingly broke par at will. Friendly weather conditions allowed all approaches a chance to thrive (outside of a temporarily stiff wind Sunday morning creating trouble for non-contenders). Any style could contend for golfers who hit it straight and made putts. There’s a difference, though, between contending and making a run at history. (Read more about that in a tournament recap from Matt Youmans on our home page.)

By the middle of the back nine Sunday, it was clear that a big bomber was going to win at Erin Hills with what could be a historic score. Brooks Koepka would coast to a 4-stroke win at 16-under thanks to a final round 67, second best round of the day behind runner-up Hideki Matsuyama’s 66. 

Look at how closely Koepka matches popular betting choice DJ in this PGA Tour ranking profile…

Driving Distance: Johnson #1 Koepka #5

Driving Accuracy: Johnson #160, Koepka #173

Holes per Eagle: Koepka #3, Johnson #23

Birdies per Round: Johnson #10, Koepka #12

Both hit the ball far, but have issues with accuracy. Both are able to turn their aggressiveness into eagles and birdies. This course was supposed to reward that style because the fairways were 1.5 to 2 times larger than regular tour courses. The high rough was brutal, but only came into play if your tee shots were wayward. DJ’s were. Koepka stayed more controlled. 

A golfer who could go long while avoiding trouble was going to be in position to earn a lot of birdies and eagles from this course. Koepka never did hole an eagle attempt, but consistently positioned himself for make-able birdie tries. 

Round One: 6 birdies, 1 bogey

Round Two: 4 birdies, 2 bogeys

Round Three: 5 birdies, 1 bogey

Round Four: 6 birdies, 1 bogey

That’s 21 birdies and five bogeys for the week…which is 16 under on the nose. No eagles, but not a single double bogey through four rounds. And, how about playing the last two days with 11 birdies and only two bogeys TO WIN YOUR FIRST MAJOR! 

Koepka was priced at 30-1 midweek at many betting establishments. Bettors who took a shot on the all the big banger “profile” options earned a profit even if their other choices flailed in the fescue. 

Note that Charley Hoffman, who attended UNLV, would score only one fewer birdie (20) than Koepka through the week. But, eight bogeys, one double, and one triple would leave him at -9, sitting alone in eighth place for a top 10 finish. Hoffman made headlines in both the Masters and US Open, as a new putting posture appears to be paying dividends. 

National League Baseball: Colorado scores 32 runs to sweep San Francisco, move to plus 23.5 betting units already!

We’re not even to the halfway point of the 2017 Major League Baseball season yet, but the Colorado Rockies are already up 23.5 betting units this season (according to the standings page at after their four game sweep of the San Francisco Giants.

The final scores of this Thursday-thru-Sunday series were 10-9, 10-8, 5-1, 7-5. 

Heading into the new week, Colorado is officially “the most underrated team” thus far, as how you’re priced reflects how you’re "rated" by the most respected influences in the marketplace. The market has misread the Rockies from the get-go (shout out to Gill Alexander of “A Numbers Game” for recognizing that potential early). San Francisco is now officially “the most overrated team” in 2017, down 21.5 units. 

Nobody’s close to Colorado in profit, with Arizona next at plus 18 units. San Francisco is worst in the NL (and the majors), with the rebuilding Philadelphia Phillies down just over 20 units.

Let’s quickly run through the NL profit/loss performance by division to see if anything jumps out…

NL East: Washington plus 2 units, Atlanta -1 unit, Miami -6 units, NY Mets -14 units, Philadelphia -20 units.

NL Central: Milwaukee plus 12 units, Pittsburgh -6 units, Cincinnati -6 units, St. Louis -12.5 units, Chicago Cubs -15.5 units.

NL West: Colorado plus 23.5 units, Arizona plus 18 units, LA Dodgers plus 7.5 units, San Diego -7.5 units, San Francisco -21.5 units. 

The NL East is down almost 40 units! Washington’s the only team with its head above water in that group…but they’re so expensive every game that it’s hard to grind out a profit backing them. The Cubs are the biggest disaster in the NL aside from the Giants. Though, Chicago is still a heavy market favorite to win the mediocre Central division. Arizona and Colorado have helped drive the West to plus 20 units.   

American League Baseball: Boston takes two-of-three in Houston, now 18-9 its last 27 games

The Boston Red Sox banged out three home runs Sunday night to defeat the AL leading Houston Astros 6-5, winning their weekend series while continuing their hot run of the past month. 

It took awhile to get rolling…but the Red Sox are finally looking like the AL pennant threat everyone was expecting to see out of the gate. An 18-9 record the last 27 games has lifted them into a virtual tie with the New York Yankees at the top of the AL East standings (the Yanks lead by mere thousandths of a percentage point). 

In money terms, this recent run has them back in the black after an inconsistent start. We just looked at the NL profit/loss by division. Let’s do the same for the American League. 

AL East: NY Yankees plus 5 units, Tampa Bay plus 2 units, Boston plus 0.5 units, Baltimore-1 unit, Toronto -8.5 units.

AL Central: Chicago White Sox plus 4.5 units, Minnesota plus 2 units, Kansas City plus 2 units, Detroit -5.5 units, Cleveland -11 units

AL West: Houston plus 13.5 units, Texas plus 2.5 units, LA Angels plus 0.5 units, Seattle -2 units, Oakland -5 units.

As we’ve discussed a few times this season, last year’s World Series teams Cleveland and the Chicago Cubs have been brutal for backers. The market priced them as superpowers early. They sure haven't played that way. (And, it looked for several weeks like Boston was going to join that list.) Congrats to anyone who thought the WHITE SOX would be 20 units better than the Cubs in money terms at this stage of the season. Hard to believe.

Houston has been the only AL team to show a double digit unit profit for investors. The Yankees had been a very pleasant surprise for their fans, but a horrible weekend in Oakland took the luster off that for the time being. Plus, New York teams are usually priced at a premium in the marketplace anyway. Even Las Vegas can be influenced by the East Coast media bias!


No true disasters in the American League (compared to the collapses of San Francisco and Philadelphia in the NL). Toronto and Detroit are the clearest disappointments. 

Sports Betting: Academic Study outlines home field and home court advantage by sport

A very interesting academic study was published last week that includes well-researched data regarding home field and home court advantage. We want to warn you up front that this report includes a lot of high end math. If you’re into that…enjoy this link to “How often does the best team win? A unified approach to understanding randomness in North American Sport”

If intense math isn’t your cup of tea, consider scrolling down to page 16 where there’s a very helpful chart that shows you franchise by franchise “home” values for the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL. 

We’ll run through the cliff’s notes for you here. Authors Michael J. Lopez, Gregory J. Mathews, and Benjamin S. Baumer determined that the following win percentages isolate what home field or home court advantage is worth in the respective sports if two exactly even teams are playing each other.

MLB: 54%

NHL: 55.5%

NFL: 58.9%

NBA: 62%

This is consistent with what other analysts have found in past studies. You may have heard Gill Alexander talking about the “universally accepted” 54% mark for home field advantage in baseball. If two even teams were to square off, the home team would win 54% of the time, the road team would win 46% of the time. That’s how we know the AL has been superior to the NL over a large sampling of seasons…because the AL has shifted that to around 58% wins at home, and 50% on the road in Interleague play. 

Many of you are more used to thinking in moneyline or pointspread terms rather than win percentages (be aware that many math-minded sharps focus most heavily on win percentages, and then convert those to moneyline prices!). Let’s post those equivalencies now…

MLB about -117

NHL about -125

NFL about -144 

NBA about -163 

If two even baseball teams squared off, the “no-vig” line would be -117. The home team should be a favorite of -117 if no sportsbooks were involved. A dime line would make that “host” -122 and “visitor “plus 112 (five cents both ways from the -117). A 20-cent line would have it at “host” -127 and “visitor” plus 107.

In the NHL, the baseline is -125. So, on a dime line, the favorite is -130 and the dog 120. On a 20-cent line, the favorite is 135 and the dog plus 115. You regulars will recall we talked about how “extreme” the NHL Final had gotten with home favorites priced around -150 apiece for awhile. 

You NFL and NBA fans are thinking, “Hey VSiN City…give those pro football and basketball numbers to me in POINTS!” 

NFL: -144 on the moneyline is between -2.5 and -3 points

NBA: -163 on the moneyline is between -3 and -3.5 points

No surprises. This academic study confirms what experts have been reporting for years. Home field advantage in the NFL is generally worth a bit less than a field goal (some sharps use 2.5 for divisional games, 3 for non-divisional games…while others get more aggressive about penalizing poor teams who don’t have impressive home histories). 

The study also confirmed the well-recognized reality that franchises who play their home games at altitude enjoy a larger than normal home advantage. This has been well-understood for the Denver Nuggets and Denver Broncos, but less well-publicized for the Colorado Rockies. No matter how bad the ERA’s of their pitchers looked on paper…the Rockies were still often showed a higher than normal home field edge. The 2017 Rockies are an anomaly thus far, finally solving the riddle of how to win on the road (25-13 to this point). 

Okay…NOW…click the link and scroll down to page 16. We think you’ll find that team-by-team chart very interesting…particularly how the leagues naturally cluster because of the impact randomness has in their respective sports.

We hope you had a great Father’s Day Weekend. If you have any questions or comments about VSiN programming or this newsletter, please drop us a note. We continue to expand twitter offerings through the summer, including video clips and audio cuts. Click here to follow us on twitter. Don’t forget that a free email subscription to VSiN City includes daily PDF files of the South Point betting sheets. Now you can follow the market like never before! Click here to subscribe for free.

Back Tuesday to preview the huge Arizona Diamondbacks/Colorado Rockies NL West series that begins tomorrow night…and to start “AFC Week” in our NFL team betting capsules. The New England Patriots and the rest of the AFC East are on tap Tuesday. See you then!

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