Thanks for all the notes of condolence and wellness checks sent to the Tuley’s Takes home office Monday night and Tuesday morning, but they really weren’t necessary. I’m fine despite favorites going 20-1 on Monday — 4-0 SU and ATS on the opening day of the NBA playoffs, 4-0 in the NHL playoffs and 12-1 in MLB. My only malady was a headache from reading so many chalk bettors on Twitter patting themselves on the back about how they’d had such a great day.
What I didn’t read was how many of those favorites were “wrong-side winners” and bettors admitting they got lucky to cash so much. The Nuggets needed overtime to cover as 4.5-point faves over the Jazz, the Celtics had to rally to win and cover -6 vs. the 76ers and the Clippers were losing as seven-point favorites against the Mavericks before Kristaps Porzingis was ejected for committing two technical fouls. The only “right-side winner” of the NBA’s opening day was the Raptors routing the Nets 134-110 to cover as 10-point chalk.
In the NHL, the Bruins trailed the Hurricanes 2-0 heading into the third period and had to rally to win 4-3, while MLB had several lucky winners. The Braves needed four runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Nationals, the Angels needed two runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Giants, the Cubs — after being the only favorite to lose Monday in the first game of their doubleheader against the Cardinals — trailed 4-1 heading into the sixth and the Dodgers trailed the Mariners 8-6 heading into the bottom of the seventh.
All those teams and their backers were fortunate to win, yet everyone acted like “we had it all the way.” Heck, I lost my biggest bets on the 76ers and Mavericks. At least I cut my losses with an MLB chalk parlay like the ones I’ve been writing about the last few weeks, so I’ll be the first to admit I got lucky with the Dodgers capping my parlay as -330 favorites.
What we didn’t hear was bookmakers whining about the results and paying out all those chalky bets. Do you know why? First, they know no one is going to cry for them, but they also know that ultimately it’s good for business. I equate it to when you walk into a brick-and-mortar casino and see people hitting slot-machine jackpots. The casinos want the rest of their customers to think, “If they could win that, so can I.” In fact, you’re more likely to see bookies congratulate winners on a day like Monday. It’s like they’re saying: “Look how easy it was for bettors to beat us Monday. Just bet the better teams and laugh all the way to the bank.”
And that’s why I’m OK with Monday’s chalk fest because it keeps those bettors betting that way. Otherwise, underdog bettors like yours truly wouldn’t get any value.
As if right on cue Tuesday, the Magic upset the Bucks 122-110 after closing as 14-point underdogs in Game 1 of their NBA first-round series. That line opened between Bucks -10.5 and -11.5 and got steamed Tuesday from all those chalk eaters who thought: “It doesn’t matter how many points you have to lay. It’s easy money.”
Here’s hoping that regular readers of this column don’t fall into that trap as we continue to look for betting value with the underdogs, especially when the whole world is loading up on the favorites and making our payoffs better.
OK, let’s get to this week’s schedule in the NBA and NHL. (I don’t need to give my MLB picks as you just need to bet chalk parlays, right?)
Tuley’s Takes on NBA
As promised in last week’s “Point Spread Weekly,” I posted my NBA betting preview at VSiN.com when the playoffs started Monday. I went 0-2 ATS with the 76ers and Mavericks, but at least I was on the right side with my recommended play of the Magic + 12 vs. the Bucks on Tuesday. Let’s go through all the series, starting with Wednesday’s four Game 2s:
Jazz vs. Nuggets
I’m glad I passed on the Jazz + 4.5 in Game 1. It went to overtime and they ended up not covering (don’t you hate when that happens?!). I saw enough to confirm my initial thought that these teams are pretty equal, so I’ll take the Jazz + 4 in Wednesday’s Game 2 and probably anytime we get four or more points the rest of the series.
Raptors vs. Nets
I definitely made the right call in passing on the Nets in Game 1 and didn’t see anything to make me reconsider, even though Wednesday’s Game 2 line is up to + 11.5.
Celtics vs. 76ers
We lost Game 1 with the 76ers, but I still believe what I wrote in the preview: “I know they’re without Ben Simmons, but consider me in the camp that believes the 76ers are better when the offense runs through Joel Embiid and the team can play as a team instead of having to give Simmons his shots (and his free-throw shooting is a late-game liability).” I took the 76ers + 5 for Wednesday’s Game 2 and still expect them to end up with a winning ATS record in this series.
Clippers vs. Mavericks
The 76ers’ non-cover was rough, but I can console myself that it was a 50/50 result at the end. The Mavericks’ non-cover was tougher to take with the Porzingis ejection. The fact is the Mavs were outplaying the Clippers as I had hoped, and they let them off the hook. You can argue that the Clippers still might have won the game, but I think I win the argument that it would have gone down to the wire if Porzingis had played the whole game and the Mavs would have at least covered. Moving on, I’ll be taking the Mavs + 6 on Wednesday and any other game as long as Porzingis doesn’t get suspended.
Bucks vs. Magic
After cashing on the Magic in Game 1 (no, I didn’t bet the moneyline, as I certainly expected the Bucks to win these games straight up), I’ll pass on Game 2 as we’re sure to see a more focused effort from the Bucks. Assuming the Bucks win Wednesday, I’ll probably pass on Saturday’s Game 3 and plan to take the points again in Game 4 on Monday.
Heat vs. Pacers
I passed on the Pacers in Game 1 because I thought the line was too short. They jumped to an early lead but ended up losing and failing to cover, so I felt justified and will continue to pass on this series.
Thunder vs. Rockets
I took the Rockets + 1.5 in Game 1. As I wrote in my preview, “I expect James Harden to pick up the slack” with Russell Westbrook sitting out. Unless I see anything to change my mind, I’ll probably continue to take the Rockets when taking points but will flip to the Thunder if Westbrook returns and the oddsmakers overadjust in making the Rockets too-big favorites.
Lakers vs. Trail Blazers
I led my NBA playoff betting preview with the unexpected opinion that the Blazers were not as live an underdog as a lot of people were saying. I thought the line was too short at + 5.5 in Game 1, though it did rise to + 6.5 with all the chalk bettors loading up Tuesday. So I was unable to pull the trigger even though I had been very happy to fade the Lakers and go 7-1 ATS in the seeding games. I’ll have to wait to see how the early games in this series play out to know if I’m willing to back the Blazers in any later games.
Tuley’s Takes on NHL
I’ve had a mixed bag of results in the Stanley Cup playoffs, so let’s see how my Takes have fared as I give my Takes moving forward:
Lightning vs. Blue Jackets
I passed on the Blue Jackets, as I was pretty sure the Lightning wouldn’t take them as lightly as they did last year when Tampa Bay became the first President’s Trophy winner to get swept out of the playoffs when the Blue Jackets turned the feat. That has been a good move so far, with the Lightning leading 3-1 heading into Wednesday’s Game 3. I’ll continue to pass.
Bruins vs. Hurricanes
I lost with the Hurricanes + 120 in Game 1 in double OT but won at + 105 in Game 2. The ’Canes were leading 2-0 in Monday’s Game 4 before losing 4-3 to fall behind 3-1 in the series, but I’m going to take one more shot on them Wednesday at + 135 to stave off elimination. I said last week I liked the Under 5.5 in each game, but the oddsmakers have now lowered the game O/U to 5, so I’ll pass.
Avalanche vs. Coyotes
I passed on the Coyotes in Game 1 and jumped in on Game 2, but I lost that before winning at + 155 in Game 3. The Avalanche routed the Coyotes 7-1 in Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead, and I’ll pass the rest of the series.
Flyers vs. Canadiens
I passed on the Canadiens and feel good about that, as they trail 3-1 with just a + 126 upset in Game 2. My original prediction was the Flyers to “dispose of the Canadiens in four or five games,” so I’ll pass on the Canadiens in Wednesday’s Game 5.
Blues vs. Canucks
I also passed on this series and was kind of kicking myself when the Canucks won Game 1 at + 132 and Game 2 at + 125. But then the Blues won the next two games to even the series 2-2. With this series looking like a toss-up, I’m willing to jump in on the Canucks at + 130 in Wednesday’s Game 5.
Stars vs. Flames
The Flames won Games 2 and 4, but I passed on them as they were only short dogs of about -105 in the first four games. They went off at + 105 in Game 5 on Tuesday (again, probably due to the whole world jumping on the favorite bandwagon). But I still passed in this coin-flip series and will continue to do so unless I get + 120 or higher.
Capitals vs. Islanders
This has been my most profitable series of the first round. The Islanders + 140 was my only bet, and I felt pretty good going into Tuesday night’s Game 4, plus I already won with the Islanders + 120 in Game 1, + 110 in Game 2 and -105 in Game 3. I passed on Game 4 as they went off as favorites of -115 to -120 and will just let my series bet ride.
Golden Knight vs. Blackhawks
I did lose on the Blackhawks + 180 in Game 1, but that was mostly a hedge against my Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup bet in case the Blackhawks made a series of it. The Golden Knights led 3-0 before losing Game 4 and were looking to close out the series late Tuesday night. I also went 2-2 with 1st Period Over 1.5 bets and will continue with those as long as the series lasts.