We’re coming off a weekend of celebrating not only my birthday at the friendly confines of the Tuley’s Takes home office but also the return of major team sports. The NBA and NHL joined MLB to give us a full betting menu along with golf, NASCAR, the UFC, the WNBA, soccer, horse racing and other sports. The return of the major sports has also brought the return of my betting recaps on Twitter @ViewFromVegas, which I hope most of you see at the end of each night’s action or in the next morning’s VSiN Newsletter.
I appreciate all the comments I’ve received the last week from readers who were excited to see the return of the recaps, especially as a sign of things getting back to normal, at least a little. But I’m even happier when readers understand what’s written between the lines.
Those tweets are limited to 280 characters, but there is also unwritten subtext. I post these to show how favorites, underdogs and Over/Unders have done on a given day, but they also usually capsulize how the books fared against bettors as the public tends to side more with favorites and Overs. There are exceptions, but it’s true more often than not.
These are mostly news items, but I believe they can also be used as another tool to add to our handicapping of upcoming games. I often cite which trends are “hot,” and I know a lot of followers like to jump on those. There’s an old saying among gamblers that you want to ride a streak instead of fading it because “you can win multiple times betting on a streak and only lose once”; conversely, “you can only win once betting against a streak, but you can lose multiple times.”
However, and this seems contradictory, I try to warn readers of another ulterior motive for doing these recaps. That’s to show that by the end of the season or tournament, no matter how strong faves or dogs or Overs or Unders might start, they usually even out by the end. Part of this is because, just like flipping a coin, things naturally regress to 50/50 in the long run. But it’s also because oddsmakers adjust their odds to make it harder for bettors trying to tail hot streaks, and that makes it harder to keep hitting such high percentages.
Let’s look at what’s been happening in the three major sports and see if we can find any plays for the rest of this week.
Takes on MLB
As I tweeted last week, road teams were actually leading 51-41 straight up through Thursday as home-field advantage appeared to be non-existent without fans in the stands. I had some success riding this trend early in the season but lost big last weekend as I stuck with them too long and should have seen the regression coming. So that’s a lesson learned (again). Home teams went 9-3 Friday, 8-3 Saturday, 6-7 Sunday and 6-3 Monday to take a 70-67 lead overall. We have to think there’s some advantage to playing at home, so we expect the trend will continue with home teams having a slight edge, so I’ll be looking more at home underdogs but certainly not hesitating to back them on the road.
Underdogs I’m considering for the rest of the week are the Blue Jays at the Braves on Wednesday and Thursday; the Giants at the Rockies on Wednesday and Thursday; and the Padres vs. the Dodgers on Wednesday and Thursday.
I occasionally bet chalk parlays in baseball when I want to group them in case they all come through. I’ll also bet chalk parlayed with the Over or Under if I think I have an edge.
Another early-season mistake I made was thinking offense would rule. Instead, Unders were 73-59-4 (55.3%) through Monday, so I jumped off the Over fairly early. However, I believe there are times to go with particular teams, and I agree with Matt Youmans and Jonathan Von Tobel from last week’s “Point Spread Weekly” TV show that the White Sox are a good Over team (6-4 through Sunday) due to a potent offense and weak pitching staff. I’ll continue to play White Sox/Over parlays for their games Wednesday and Thursday in Chicago against the Brewers. Other favorites I’m looking to parlay Wednesday and Thursday are the Twins at Pirates, Cubs at Royals and Astros at Rays.
Takes on NBA
The betting trends in the Association have been on a roller-coaster ride since the restart. Underdogs went 2-0 ATS and Unders were 2-0 in the opening-night games, but then favorites were 5-1 ATS and Over went 6-0 Friday. Both trends leveled off over the weekend as faves stood at 13-10-1 ATS through Monday (with one game closing pick’-em). Overs held a slight 13-12 edge.
I’ve also had a roller-coaster start to the season. Last week I gave out the Jazz and Clippers plus the points vs. the Pelicans and Lakers, respectively, in the Thursday openers, so that was a nice 2-0 ATS start. But then I went 0-2 Friday with the Grizzlies (a bad beat in overtime vs. the Blazers) and the Celtics vs. the Bucks only to bounce back with winners Saturday on the Pacers vs. 76ers and Raptors vs. Lakers.
With the Lakers clinching the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed, I see no reason to stop fading them down the stretch of the regular season, and that includes Wednesday with the Thunder, Thursday with the Rockets, Saturday with the Pacers and Monday with the Nuggets.
I also wrote last week about fading the Bucks, as these games mean virtually nothing to them (and we’re 2-1 ATS after they lost outright to the Nets as 19-point favorites to further illustrate our point). We’re planning to bet against them Thursday with the Heat, Saturday with the Mavericks and Monday with the Raptors.
Takes on NHL
Through Monday, NHL favorites were 9-6 during the restart. That’s pretty close to what’s expected from hockey faves in neutral settings in Toronto and Edmonton, especially with the teams seeded for the best-of-five qualifying matchups of the revised playoff format.
Our top pick as listed in last week’s column was the Blackhawks, the No. 12 seeds in the West, over the Oilers, and they came through with a 6-4 win in Game 1 on Saturday. The Oilers evened the series Monday, but I’m letting my + 150 series bet ride on the Blackhawks. If you want to jump in before Wednesday’s Game 3, they’re still available at + 130 or better at most books in Nevada and elsewhere.
The big betting news so far has been that Unders were 12-4 through Monday. As alluded to earlier, continue to bet the trend if you’ve been on it already, but be wary of it reversing if jumping in late.
While I fortunately haven’t been betting a lot of games Over, I did start with 1st Period Overs to see if we could catch lightning like last season. The 1st Period Under also got off to a 12-4 start, though two of those Overs were on the Blackhawks-Oilers games, so I might just play those straight.
I don’t plan to get involved in too many other opening series and instead look forward to the real start of the 16-team Stanley Cup tournament next week.