By Jeff Fogle
By now you’re used to betting moneylines in baseball. But you probably focus most or all of your football energy on point spreads. Should you bet moneylines in football too?
Sportsbooks offer them. Why not?
Generally speaking, squares play these badly.
— Squares bet favorites on the moneyline because they want to root for superior teams, and they figure it’s safer to ask the team to win straight up rather than cover a number. They’ll be furious if their 7-point favorite wins by only 3-4 points. Why not lay -300 just to win the game?
— Squares parlay favorites on the moneyline because they’ve been tricked into thinking they’re getting a great deal at a lowered price. You can parlay a pair of -300 favorites, and you’re risking about $130 to win $100 if they sweep. That might feel very cheap. Parlay a trio of -300 favorites and it flips to risk $100 to win about $135. But the vigorish is actually the same or worse because of the need to sweep. Sweeping is harder than it looks.
— Squares avoid underdogs because they can’t imagine anything worse than asking a dog to win outright before watching them lose a heartbreaker that would have covered the spread. If asked to choose between taking six points or 220 on the moneyline, sharps will still try to weasel their way into taking the favorite. If forced to make a dog choice, they’ll take the points.
— Squares focus on fear. They’re afraid their favorites might blow a cover in garbage time. They’re afraid underdogs will break their hearts at the end. So they take the worst of it on favorite moneylines while not making the most of live underdogs with upset potential.
VSiN doesn’t want you betting like a square. Focus on long-term value, not what you’re afraid of might happen in any given game.
A great way to do this is to focus on upset potential in any game. Don’t try to justify moneyline bets on favorites. At first, just make it a mental exercise. What percent of the time will this underdog spring an upset? What are the key factors that cause upsets? Has a matchup advantage been created by a vulnerability or a distraction hurting the favorite?
This might seem daunting at first. But it’s very easy to review all the upsets that happened. You’ll probably realize they’re more common than you had been thinking. Box score analysis will show you vulnerabilities you hadn’t thought of (some overhyped teams have poor pass defenses or turnover-prone quarterbacks). Market analysis will show you which dogs the sharps were betting.
If you’re intelligently choosy, winning only half your bets will earn a profit.