World Series provides lesson in arbitrage

October 23, 2018 12:26 AM

Early prices for the 2018 World Series matching the American League champion Boston Red Sox and the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers have shown some global geographical variety. That could hold true right up until Tuesday night’s first pitch.

A day after the Dodgers dispatched of the Milwaukee Brewers, the Westgate in Las Vegas had to lower its opening series line of Boston -135/LAD 115 down to Boston -125/LAD 105. A big bettor had stepped in on Dodger blue. For major sports events, Las Vegas is basically a suburb of Los Angeles. True in the best of times for the Dodgers, Lakers, USC, and now even the Rams. Books in the sports betting capital of the world (until New York legalizes) will be flooded with Dodgers money in the coming days. 

If you’re new to baseball betting, a line of -125/ 105 means you risk $125 to win $100 on the favored Red Sox, while a $100 bet on the underdog Dodgers returns $105. Of course, you’re not “forced” to bet those specific amounts. Those are the ratios for any bet, small or large. A casual Boston fan could risk $12.50 on the Sox to win ten bucks. A deep-pocketed Hollywood celebrity could bet $1 million on the Dodgers to win $1,050,000.

At the same time that prominent Vegas book was showing Boston -125/LAD 105…the Red Sox were getting much more respect offshore. Bookmaker.eu was showing Boston -151/LAD 135, with Pinnacle at Boston -145/LAD 128. 

A big difference. In fact, a difference so big that well-connected betting syndicates with global access were in position to “arbitrage” a sure profit. Lay the lower odds with Boston at the Westgate…take higher returns with the Dodgers offshore. 

Sports Investment Arbitrage 

Bet $130 on Boston to win $104

Best $100 on LAD to win $135

Boston Wins WS = Plus $4 ( $104 and -$100)

LAD Wins WS = Plus $5 (-$130 and $135)

A little confusing. But it’s worth thinking through the math for FREE MONEY. 

That might sound like a hassle just to make four or five bucks. Well-connected betting syndicates have much deeper pockets. They can lock in a profit of several thousand dollars just by acting quickly to exploit the opportunity.

For most of you reading this, the fundamental lesson is to shop around to get the best prices on your bets. Do you have any friends in Las Vegas? If you’re a Red Sox fan, maybe he can get you a good price. Though, if he’s a Dodgers fan, he might be begging you to help him find a friendly number. 

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