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Time to tee and kick off

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

Dustin Johnson closes as top choice to win the 2018 U.S. Open. Spain fires its head coach on eve of the World Cup. Numbers and notes from Mission Control as these major sports betting events finally blast off!

U.S. Open Golf: Dustin Johnson clear of the field according to betting marketplace
The most important influences in global sports betting have had all week to weigh in. No developments that would change the fact that World #1 Dustin Johnson is the clear choice in a loaded (and crowded) field to win the 2018 U.S. Open that began early Thursday morning in New York. 

There’s still about a 90% chance that he WON’T win the 156-man field. Here are the latest Yes/No odds from the Betfair Exchange overseas (click here for up-to-the minute exchange rates throughout the weekend). 

Dustin Johnson: $1 earns $9.50 if he wins, risk $10 to earn $1 that he won’t
Justin Rose: $1 earns $14.50 if he wins, risk $15 to earn $1 that he won’t
Rory McIlroy: $1 earns $16 if he wins, risk $16.50 to earn $1 that he won’t
Jason Day: $1 earns $17 if he wins, risk $17.50 to earn $1 that he won’t
Justin Thomas: $1 earns $18.50 if he wins, risk $19 to earn $1 that he won’t
Rickie Fowler: $1 earns $20 if he wins, risk $21 to earn $1 that he won’t
Jon Rahm: $1 earns $21 if he wins, risk $22 to earn $1 that he won’t
Jordan Spieth: $1 earns $22 if he wins, risk $23 to earn $1 that he won’t
Tiger Woods: $1 earns $31 if he wins, risk $33 to earn $1 that he won’t
Brooks Koepka: $1 earns $33 if he wins, risk $35 to earn $1 that he won’t

Support for Justin Rose to make a run. Skepticism globally about Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods through the week. Now more expensive to bet “No” on both, with a better return if either wins. 

Domestically, here’s a look at late Wednesday odds from the South Point... 

Dustin Johnson 7/1
Justin Rose 10/1
Rickie Fowler 10/1
Jason Day 12/1
Brooks Koepka 12/1
Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth each 14/1
Tiger Woods 15/1
Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas 18/1

Chris Andrews and crew must have been seeing some support for defending champion Koepka, and more for Spieth and Woods locally than is true overseas. 

A couple of props from the South Point…

Winning Score
Over 275 (-115)
Under 275 (-105)

Lowest Round
Over 65.5 (plus 240)
Under 65.5 (-280)

There’s a full sheet of head-to-head matchups for the first round and the whole tournament. Couldn’t come close to listing them all here. We grabbed a few involving Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods. These prices are for the full tournament. 

Select Tournament Matchups involving Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson (-135) over Justin Rose (plus 115)
Dustin Johnson (-135) over Rory McIlroy (plus 115)
Dustin Johnson (-140) over Jason Day (plus 120)
Dustin Johnson (-145) over Justin Thomas (plus 125)
Dustin Johnson (-150) over Rickie Fowler (plus 130)

Select Tournament Matchups involving Tiger Woods
Brooks Koepka (-145) over Tiger Woods (plus 125)
Jordan Spieth (-125) over Tiger Woods (plus 105)
Jon Rahm (-120) over Tiger Woods (even)
Henrik Stenson (-120) over Tiger Woods (even)
Hideki Matsuyama (-120) over Tiger Woods (even)

Play will be well underway by the time you read this. Enjoy this annual Father’s Day Weekend treat!

World Cup: Spain fires its head coach the day before action begins
The soccer world was SHOCKED when Spain fired head coach Julen Lopetegui one day before the start of the 2018 World Cup (two days before Spain’s opener vs. Portugal). Lopetegui was fired because he accepted the recently opened head coaching position at Real Madrid. Responsibilities weren’t to begin until after the World Cup. Spain’s power structure did not approve!

Markets reacted instantly to the news. At the South Point, Spain had been -120 on the three-way line to defeat Portugal (Portugal plus 350 to win, a draw plus 230). The line moved to Spain plus 105 to win (Portugal plus 250 to win, a draw plus 210). Though Spain’s training and preparation shouldn’t have been affected by such a late development. The potential for shock and distraction clearly caused a price adjustment. 

Updated lines from Pinnacle offshore… 

*On the pure money line (draws are refunded), Spain is -222, Portugal plus 194. (On a three-way line, a bet on Spain is LOST if there’s a draw…on a classic money line, bets on Spain are refunded if there’s a draw). 

*On the goal line, Spain -0.5 goals…you get Spain plus 110, but have to lay -118 on Portugal. 

(Serious soccer bettors have multiple outs which allows them to shop for the best numbers). 

Of course, the first game is TODAY as you read this, with Russia FINALLY hosting Saudi Arabia in the opener fans have been waiting for since the schedule was announced long ago. (Heck, if you live in the Pacific Coast time zone and sleep in, it might be over by the time you read this!). Kickoff is at 11 a.m. ET, 10 a.m. Central, and 8 a.m. Las Vegas time on FOX. 

On the three-way line at the Westgate
*Russia -250
*Saudi Arabia plus 800
*Draw plus 335

Pinnacle’s goal line is Russia -1, with Russia -123 and Saudi Arabia plus 115.

In our Friday report, we’ll run key stats from that one, and update odds for a tripleheader that features Egypt vs. Uruguay (8 a.m. ET on FS1), Morocco vs. Iran (11 a.m. ET on FOX), and Spain vs. Portugal (2 p.m. ET on FOX). 

Estimated “market” Power Ratings for those Group A and Group B teams in action Thursday and Friday…

Group A: Uruguay 1.9, Russia 1.5, Egypt 1.1, Saudi Arabia 0.3
Group B: Spain 2.4, Portugal 2.0, Morocco 1.1, Iran 0.8

MLB Wednesday: 19-year old Juan Soto’s two home runs lead Nats over the Yanks
Washington earned a split of its short two-game series in the Bronx against the Yankees with a 5-4 victory. Young phenom Juan Soto hit a pair of home runs (the first a three-run shot) to carry the Nationals

Washington (plus 160) 5, NY Yankees 4
Total Bases Plus Walks: Washington 19, New York 18
Starting Pitchers: Fedde 5 IP, 5 ER, Gray 5 IP, 4 ER
Bullpen: Washington 4 IP, 0 ER, New York 4 IP, 1 ER

You have to do damage against the starting pitcher if you want to beat the Yankees. Washington was able to get to Sonny Gray. He’s been inconsistent this season, but had thrown five quality starts in his last seven outings (at a time when quicker hooks from managers make those harder to achieve). Erick Fedde has only started twice this season for Washington. His ERA is a poor 5.91 as a fill-in. 

Washington moves to 37-28 to stay a game behind Atlanta in the NL East. The Yankees are 43-20. Because they’ve had so many rainouts, New York is actually a game behind Boston in the AL East even though it has a slightly better winning percentage! That will work itself out in due time…and one fan base will be furious its team has to play a Wildcard play-in. 

Milwaukee (-110) 1, Chicago Cubs 0
Total Bases Plus Walks: Chicago 11, Milwaukee 9
Starting Pitchers: Montgomery 6 IP, 1 ER, Chacin 6 IP, 0 ER
Bullpen: Chicago 2 IP, 0 ER, Milwaukee 3 IP, 0 ER

Second-straight shutout loss for the Cubs. The only run of the game came on a Lorenzo Cain solo shot. Part of another mostly low-scoring early day-game-after-night-game slate (four of six went Under, and one of the Overs needed two runs in the bottom of the ninth to barely get there). Milwaukee rebuilds its lead to 1.5 games over Chicago in the NL Central. Respective records are 41-27 and 38-27. 

Seattle (even) 8, LA Angels 6
Total Bases Plus Walks: Los Angeles 29, Seattle 27
Starting Pitchers: Richards 2 IP, 2 ER, Gonzalez 5 IP, 3 ER
Bullpen: Los Angeles 6.1 IP, 6 ER, Seattle 4 IP, 3 ER

With all the low scoring games we’ve been recapping lately, that recap looks like slow-pitch softball. Seattle was a bit more effective bunching its bases, breaking a tie on a two-run homer with one out in the bottom of the ninth. 

We haven’t had much of a chance to talk about Seattle this season. Its games end so late, and they’ve had a relatively soft schedule during their long tear, all things considered. But, this was a series sweep of an opponent with a winning record. And, Seattle is 33-14 since an 11-10 start. You can’t fake 33-14 no matter who you’re playing! 

Seattle is now 20 games over .500 at 44-24. The Halos are 37-32, 7.5 games behind the first-place Mariners, and losing touch with the Wildcard race. 

Sports Betting: Markets aren’t based on a league’s proprietary stats!
Amidst the jibber jabber you’re hearing from professional sports leagues during the “integrity fee” and “licensing” debate surrounding legalized sports betting, is an assertion that oddsmakers “need” proprietary statistical information created by those sports to make a line. 

This is crazy, and needs to be categorized that way by the mainstream media. THE MARKET makes the line. 

Imagine it’s September…I’m going to post the first line up for next week’s Monday Night Football game…but I’ve forgotten who’s playing! I know people want to bet MNF, and I want my sports book to make money. So, I make the home team a 3-point favorite at low limits. The first people racing to the window pound the favorite, so I know my point spread is way too low. I lift it to -4. The line at the window is still long. I go to -5, and then -6. Finally, at -7…many people sit down because they don’t want to bet the favorite any more. But, some new people show up to bet the underdog at plus 7. Nobody’s betting the favorite, just dog money now at plus 7. So, I go back to -6.5, and raise the limits considerably. From that point forward, customers bet either side evenly at 6.5. And, what I make from vigorish at high limits more than offsets the initial unbalance at very low limits.

The market just told me the line was “home team -6.5.” I didn’t need stats from any league. I didn’t even know who was playing. Bettors determine the line. Not officially endorsed league stats. 

And an awkward side-angle…after YEARS of color announcers who were former coaches or players talking about how stats can be meaningless in terms of determining who “true” winners and losers are, it’s going to be a tough sell that proprietary stats are ESSENTIAL for making point spreads reflecting who the winners and losers are going to be. 

Many opponents of legalized sports betting, or proponents of the leagues getting a cut of legalized sports betting, have invented fantasy worlds that show they have very little understanding of real world markets. Hopefully VSiN can help rectify that!

WNBA Wednesday: Bizarre night sees Connecticut rally from 30 down in loss to Washington, Vegas Aces cover by 25 in brutal night-after-overtime spot 
What in the world?! The Washington Mystics led the Connecticut Sun 59-29 with 2:29 to go in the second quarter. Connecticut erased ALL of that with a 48-17 run to take a 77-76 lead with just under seven minutes to go in the game. It was nip and tuck the rest of the way until visiting Washington won the final 42.5 seconds 6-2 to eke out a wild, upset victory. 

Washington (plus 9) 95, Connecticut 91
2-point Pct: Washington 51%, Connecticut 49%
3-pointers: Washington 9/21, Connecticut 8/24
Free Throws: Washington 24/26, Connecticut 15/17
Rebounds: Washington 34, Connecticut 33
Turnovers: Washington 12, Connecticut 11

Ultimately, a close game with an even box score. Washington’s free throw edge was the difference maker. Just the second loss of the season for Connecticut. Washington moves to 6-4, and is happy to have Elena Delle Donne back in the lineup after a sustained absence. She led the Mystics with 36 points. 

Las Vegas (plus 10) 78, New York 63
2-point Pct: Las Vegas 51%, New York 57%
3-pointers: Las Vegas 3/12, New York 4/24
Free Throws: Las Vegas 15/20, New York 3/6
Rebounds: Las Vegas 27, New York 26
Turnovers: Las Vegas 11, New York 13

Yesterday we talked about the very tough schedule challenge facing the Las Vegas Aces. After rallying to beat Indiana in overtime Tuesday night, the Aces had to play in New York in a back-to-back. They covered the spread by 25 points in an easy win!

A lack of long-range production wasn’t an issue for LVA because New York was a horrific 4 of 24 from behind the arc. Liberty also failed to do much from the free throw line. If NY got the ball inside, they could get some easy buckets. But, virtually nothing from behind either stripe. 

Both teams now have three wins this season. New York is 3-5, Vegas 3-7. Some minor tweaks to our estimated “market” Power ratings… 

87: Connecticut
85: Los Angeles
84: Minnesota
82: Phoenix
81: Seattle, Washington, New York
80: Dallas, Atlanta
74: Indiana, Chicago, Las Vegas

See you Friday!

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*Click here to subscribe to Point Spread Weekly for just $149.99. Our weekly article on handicapping Over/Unders looks at group play in the World Cup. We’re also providing box score notes for Arena Football League action to make sure you can crunch some numbers when handicapping those games. 

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