Tuley-s Takes: Derby Recap, NHL and NBA Playoffs

This past week hasn’t been the best at the Tuley’s Takes home office. While it was profitable with my posted NBA plays, it was the week when the NHL 1st Period Over/Unders truly dried up – and then there was the Kentucky Derby.

I didn’t cash a ticket on the Run for the Roses (or the undercard, if truth be told, though I didn’t bet too many races). I had #7 Maximum Security on a few tickets but with none of the horses that he was in contention with heading down the stretch. And I certainly didn’t have the #20 Country House, who was declared the winner after the controversial disqualification of Maximum Security, on any tickets. For the record, I thought it was the correct call, though the biggest upset was it was the first time a Derby winner was DQ’d for interference. Those of us who have gone to racetracks for any length of time can recall when a winner (especially one of the betting favorites) wasn’t DQ’d in a meet’s biggest race and everyone says, “if it was any other race, they would have taken him down by now.”

I didn’t have a vested interest in the outcome, but my initial emotion was jealousy for those that had used the 65-1 longshot Country House. But then I heard from longtime readers who assumed that I probably had the winner since I have had more than my share in big races over the years, and then went to Brent Musburger’s 80th birthday celebration on Saturday night and had more people tell me the same things, including Musburger himself and John Avello. I took those as a compliment, and even though I didn’t have the $132 win price, $3,000 exacta, $11,000 trifecta or $51,000 superfecta, it vindicated that I’m playing the right way as you don’t get those payoffs by playing chalk.

So, I’ll be back next week to try again in the Preakness, though who knows what kind of field we’ll get as early reports have Country House and Maximum Security both out.

The second-most topic I’ve been asked about the past few days is the zig-zag theory in the NBA playoffs. It’s probably because I’ve been continuing to track it in my nightly recaps on Twitter @ViewFromVegas and in VSiN’s daily newsletters and it caught readers’ attention when it started the second round at 7-3 ATS before the Celtics and Warriors both failed in the role on Monday night.

For those new to sports betting, the zig-zag theory was originally called the “loser of the last” and you would simply bet the straight-up loser against the spread in the next game. It wouldn’t include Game 1 of a series, but you would then take the loser of Game 1 in Game 2 and so on. The main reasoning was that teams that fell behind 1-0 in a series would have extra motivation to bounce back and would also make adjustments after a loss, while a winning team might get overconfident after a victory and not as likely to make adjustments.

Another thing behind the zig-zag theory was that the NBA and the TV networks benefit from having prolonged series, so there were conspiracy aspects of this as it seemed that some referees were assigned to certain games to help extend series (even before the Tim Donaghy era).

Anyway, as I’m sure many readers know from my VSiN colleague Jeff Fogle’s articles the past few weeks, the zig-zag theory hasn’t been as successful in recent years – some say it’s because the oddsmakers have adjusted while others point to the NBA having a bigger gap between the haves and have-nots –and a lot of people discard it completely. Personally, while I certainly don’t recommend betting the zig-zag blindly (it’s now 7-7 ATS this round and only 23-23-1 ATS overall after the 76ers and Blazers both lost on Tuesday night), I still think it’s important to be aware of it as it will sometimes explain surprising lines that oddsmakers post in anticipation of zig-zag players or early line movement that seems contrary to recent results (note: there is a subset of Game 2 zig-zag plays that had longer success than overall zig-zag plays and they’re 7-4-1 ATS this year after going 4-3-1 ATS in the first round and 3-1 ATS in the second round, but we’ll wheel back on that next week when the conference finals start).

So, let’s look at this week’s upcoming NBA games, keeping the zig-zag in mind but mostly relying on our overall assessment of the teams which has led to a 16-14-1 ATS record in the playoffs after losing with the 76ers 6 on Tuesday night, thanks mostly to passing on teams as home faves when I was hoping to get them as dogs (note: I’m planning to post an update over the weekend at VSiN.com and in the newsletter for any conference championship series starting before next week’s Point Spread Weekly).

Wednesday, May 8

Celtics 9.5 vs. Bucks: I’ll be on the Celtics as road underdogs like I was in Game 1. Boston is obviously the “loser of the last,” though note they failed in the zig-zag role after losing Games 2 and 3.

Rockets 6 vs. Warriors: The Warriors lost the last two games (in Houston), so they’re the zig-zag play, but I’m fading them in this spot as the Rockets have made a series of this and Game 5 is obviously critical with the best-of-seven series tied at 2-2.

Thursday, May 9

76ers TBD vs. Raptors: IF the Raptors win Game 5 on Tuesday night AND IF the 76ers are home underdogs, then I’ll take the 76ers in Game 6, otherwise I’ll pass.

Nuggets TBD vs. Blazers: Regardless of Tuesday night’s results, I’ll be on the Nuggets plus the points in Game 6 at Portland just like I was in Games 3 and 4.

Friday, May 10

Rockets TBD vs. Warriors: IF the Warriors win Game 5 on Wednesday night AND IF the Rockets are home dogs, then I’ll take the Rockets in Game 6, otherwise I’ll pass.


As alluded to in last week’s PSW, I was close to backing off of my NHL 1st Period Over/Under plays as the remaining #FollowtheMoney teams were cooling off in the second round and I personally shut it down after giving back my 8.5 units of profit that I had accumulated in the first week of the playoffs (hopefully others saw the writing on the wall and stopped earlier). As it stands at press-time, we’ve lost the Blue Jackets (one of the FTM6 Over teams) and the Stars (the best 1st Period Under team) and are waiting to see if the Sharks survive their Game 7 on Wednesday night. Again, I’ll post an update on VSiN. com and in the newsletter if any best bets emerge.

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