Reality Versus Perception: Language And Psychological Implications Initiated By The Oddsmakers 3,098 views

When odds and totals are established by the oddsmakers I can honestly state that I have no idea what combination of information they are using specifically to determine their displayed opening lines. It is more than likely an exceptional multitude of statistical data that includes among it; injury information, historical significance, standardized player data, etc... and would most certainly also take into account where they believe the line will end up prior to closing.

In my distant past, I would see a team I thought would prevail against their opponent and select them without paying much attention to the 'juice' or point spreads that were assigned to these contests. However, after taking the time to surmise the underlying impact these lines have on a sportsbook's clientele from a psychological and linguistic perspective, the potential advantages could very well be significant enough to warrant further research and review.

From a psychological standpoint, it is safe to say that the sportsbooks and their respective oddsmakers are well aware of the importance of getting into the heads of their opponents... those who wager on sports. Even though I mentioned earlier that I have no idea the exact combination of information being utilized to produce the opening lines, I have gained enough experience over the years to positively identify what available wagering parameters, and games to avoid, simply because the oddsmakers are expressing this through the lines they have set. The novice sports bettor will more than likely fall into this trap numerous times, quite possibly for the rest of their lives, if they do not become conscious of the fact that the oddsmakers are providing the lines not just because they have to present a number to their clients, but also an attempt to induce a perception and subliminally directed action by the player, that is far from being in the player's best interests.

The study of language, or linguistics, may not sound relevant to this situation, but let's see if I can persuade you to think differently about this matter. As in any language, whether it be spoken or written, codes can be created within the framework of the language itself, allowing important information to be revealed to some while leaving others in the dark. We have all done this in our past where certain words used within our own cliques have a distinct meaning that others outside of our groups are unable to comprehend the true meaning of what we are saying. Furthermore, language does not have to be speech or written words, it can take the form of pictures/images (Egyptian Hieroglyphics), body movements (sign language), and yes... NUMBERS! Code cracking has been vitally important over the history of humanity, specifically during times of war. My hypothesis is that there are correlations between the opening odds provided and resulting outcomes of the associated events. Why the opening lines? because they are constant and allow the researcher to establish a control group when comparing these lines to every other opening line moving forward and historically. In order to derive validity from any research it is imperative to have this consistency. Once there are external forces placed upon these opening lines, which are predominantly public and sharp money being wagered on these events, then these lines become variable and are no longer useful from the perspective of understanding the set language displayed by the opening lines.

In conclusion, if you are a sports bettor or forecaster, experienced or novice, I hope this article prompts you to search deeper into what the oddsmakers are doing when they provide their opening lines to you. Take note of your initial reaction to the lines you are looking at, examine what these lines mean from the oddsmakers perspective and how they may influence the actions of the general public. I can think of a zillion times I thought a game was a sure thing, a lock, and much to my dismay, I have to admit to being wrong probably 99% of the time.

Good luck everyone !!!

Edited 3/23/13 at 10:03AM by Timothy Wynn - No reason listed.

On mobile here sorry what I meant to say before my finger clicked send was that it shouldn't be everyday that a person loves a pick that is near-even odds.
If you always find yourself in love with a pick you are probably being tricked with mind games.
If you are losing all the time on those. Let go of your ego and fade those picks consistently.

Remember a great capper and a bad capper are both profitable.
Great post agree 100%

I spend a lot of time thinking about this type of stuff. I love the mental aspect in the warfare of sports betting. That is exactly how I think of it... psychological WARFARE. Quite honestly I love the mental games played throughout every aspect in life. It REALLY drives me. Some people call call it competitiveness and I am not so sure of that but then again I really don't know what it is.

I am not a very big person therefore I was just okay at sports, my grades where decent but not great. I only went to a community college to keep my parents happy yet for my age I have been quite successful, at least from a monetary standpoint. Rich? Hell no... very far from it but comfortable I would say. I have noticed that, in general there is one thing that separates the people that make it and those that don't.... DRIVE. Incredible, unwavering, focused, dedicated, and tireless DRIVE. This along with ability to know that you will fail plenty of times and to simply learn from your mistakes... I mean REALLY learn what happened, not just accept it.

I am not one to boast so if that came off the wrong way I apologize, it's definitely not me. This all ties together....

A few weeks ago someone asked on here what the reason that each person bets on sports is. Clearly the popular answer was money. That got me thinking... why do I do this?

Judging by some of the responses in regards to time spent handicapping I feel that I spend just as much time handicapping the handicappers. Tracking, spreadsheets, data, charts, etc... and that's just to get to a point to actually make a wager. Additionally there is tracking and charting my own performance along with dealing with all the offshore money issues. So why do I do all of this? Is it the money? Of course it is and anyone that say's it isn't is full of BS. For me, along with the money there is an equal force that keeps me at it. There is an equal force that burns to take every single chip off the table at a poker game. A force that when I sit down to make a deal for a new contract at work, I scrape and scrounge for every little piece of mental advantage to get the very best out of it. To the detriment of a few of my relationships I have tried to use every mental advantage I can to win a disagreement... even friendly ones. Clearly that doesn't work with women and it has take me a LONG time to come to terms with it.

Again... IMO this is psychological WARFARE.

I love local bookies. I love knowing that there is someone at the other end of that mouse click that thinks they are smarter then me and putting their money on the line. Someone that I get to meet every week and either collect my winnings from our war or concede defeat. I love when they know that I am getting the best of them and make comments about it. I love playing the game and making them think I am just some action junkie with a problem until they ultimately decide enough is enough, wave the white flag and THEY concede defeat by saying we must part ways. It absolutely DRIVES me to mentally beat their ass into the ground... pick them apart until they cry mercy. You want to play a game? You want to think you have the upper hand by taking your 10% tax? Let me step into the ring and lets play! Put that line up there... dare me to play it... go ahead and keep thinking you have the upper hand while I slowly drain you week by week. When it comes to offshore's I love the fact that I know the guy's name over at 5D is Tony who I am playing against along with Mickey at CRIS. It puts a name and a personal feeling to it. I have chatted with Tony and while he gets a lot of bad press over at SBR I found him extremely helpful and quite nice however him and I are in the middle of a game right now and I will do everything in my power to win in the long term... unfortunately he has been kicking my ass lately.

I respect money and I realize how hard it is to get and how much harder it is to hold onto but IMO this is one big massive game just like poker and money is just a way of keeping score. Anyone that has played chess, backgammon, poker, etc. knows that once you sit down to the game money means very little other then a way to keep score of who the sharp guys are and the fish are.

I developed the gun to wage the war through many years of trial and error. I finally found the bunker of ammunition that that's called Pickmonitor. The bookies will put up a good fight and it wont be easy, in the end I will beat their closing number and win the game that THEY offered to play.

Edited 3/23/13 at 4:33PM by Parker - No reason listed.


I've worked as a clerk for a local bookie who had been very successful over 27 years. We didn't set our own lines. For the most part, we followed the offshore books and made a few adjustments of our own. I did learn some about how the lines are made though and this thread makes me wonder if maybe we should be discussing that process more.

Basically, they set the line where they think it should be and then shade it preemptively on the side they think more money will be on. The perception is that they're trying to "trap" the public but the reality is that they're just trying to avoid excessive line movement that could leave the book vulnerable to being middled. Also, if you're making money off a local bookie, chances are he's making even more money with the information that you're providing him. If you're upfront with your bookie, let him know you're a winning player and get your bets in early so he can play them off, a bookie should love you.

There's nothing wrong with being competitive but this is indeed something of a perception versus reality issue where it's important to see things from the book's point of view as well. Players are often competitive and want to crush the book but the books are usually more concerned with volume and the bottom line, not necessarily crushing any individual player.


Most locals that I have played in the last 5 years or so have been small PPH shops or agents through offshores and most have gone online by now. As you point out their lines are set by their host books CRIS, Greek, Pinny, etc. and can easily be followed via a line service so any local would be crazy to set their own line any more. That's 1970/80 type stuff. In fact I cant remember the last time I've seen an "adjustment", typically it's just flat out CRIS or Greek lines which make them EXTREMELY tough to beat.

I know I may be in the minority with this but I don't believe in traps and I don't believe in linesmen and traders playing games with the lines, at least at the initial release. There are too many opinions out there right now, too many educated people doing this with too much information along with plenty of players looking to take advantage of arb-ing & middles.

I agree with you pickrunner that books don't want to crush people. If they did that no one would ever come back. They want to bleed us dry dollar by dollar. Where I disagree is that a local wants a sharp player. Clearly each local is different and I can only speak from my experience which sounds no where near as extensive as yours but I have been told a few times that they don't want my business anymore. It takes a long time for that to happen as a smart bookie will understand variance better then anyone. Additionally they have access to a lot of the same player rating systems that the big books do and can easily profile players. What is silly is it is only small $200-$500 type bets, small potatoes compared to some of the stuff that goes on underground. Each time I have asked about them laying off a winners action and each time the response is they don't want the headaches, they don't want to deal with the crap. They want the guy playing the local favorite teams, playing a -180 moneyline, and oh... parleys, plenty of parleys. Even better is most locals have casinos now in there software.... could there be a bigger money maker for them?

Unless they are some huge operation with hundreds of thousands rolling in weekly most locals are going to have all their action on one side or the other with very little balancing, especially with the local teams. If the players are kept square the book will win in the end. He could have 100 square players but one or two sharps could be a nightmare and bleed you for 10-20K before you even know it. Sure he could lay off there action and maybe even mirror it to make money but why? Why not just keep your action square and dumb and know that in the end the 10% tax will win?

Obviously I am really only speaking about the corner bar room bookie that is going to give you a credit line of maybe $5000 per week at the most. I understand that there are HUGE operations out there like the Pinny one that got busted this past fall who take on 50K bets along with every size in between. That is is whole other league and without a doubt a good portion of their action will be sharp.


Algorithms. It's all done using algorithms. The ones setting the lines are the same ones using HFT machines on Wall Street. They don't care about winning player because there will always be more losers. It's a statistical certainty. I don't doubt there's a psychological aspect that plays into writing the algorithms, but it's the resulting bet made after the psychological event has occurred to the bettor that matters to the ones making the lines. "Why" the bet was placed is of less importance than the fact that the bet was actually made.

It's the same reason a short biased algorithm in an illiquid stock on Wall Street will trade with itself to knock the price of the security down a few pennies every day for three weeks. The constant bleed will get non-ardent supporters or traders to dump their shares. Smart money will then be acquiring and when the next big news is released, they will sell them back to the same ones who will chase the gains they missed. Algorithms. It's all algorithms.

It's also the same reason this site (as it stands) will never be reflective of how "good" a sports bettor is. Betting from 1-5 units is a losing strategy for most over the long haul. Negative betting progressions are some of the mathematically best ways to profit. I'm not talking about the double up A,B,C system rip offs that are out there, but rather the 1,2,3,4,5,6,8 systems that exist in Blackjack and can be used in sports betting, too. In Blackjack, you have a roughtly 50% chance of making a profit, but add a subjective winning handicapping strategy in a given sport to a profitable negative betting progression and you can make a lot of money.
P.S. I love the site, Patrick. But from purely a mathematical stance you're limiting the chances of having a lot of winning cappers with the 1-5 unit systems.
I totally disagree with the last comment..I believe the 1-5 unit system is a way to get a better judgement of the cappers available. Anybody could lay a let's say $10,000 bet on a game and get lucky then only bet small bets the rest of the way and never look like a losing capper based on total profit. However, with this system, it requires us to prove day in and day out that we can pick winners without busting the "one big one". There are big dog bets available to get a big payout with a $500 bet, but it takes good cappers to find those and know when to lay the wood. If this site was setup any other way, I myself would probably not be a part of it.

Just catching up on some forum activity here. I agree with the original post and the thinking behind it. I will often consider in certain games the importance of public money and/or perceived public money whether it would be >> << than what I might see in a line.

I also agree that the 1-5 unit bet format is very useful. A good handicapper should have a progressively better ROI/Z rating as the units increase. Certain systems also cater to such a result, which is what JCMS may be referring to and that this site does not uniquely cater towards.

I have a MLB chase system that will likely not fit into this particular 1-5unit betting format. While that might be unforunate for tracking that system, as a whole I think the format for this site is quite adequate.

Even with a deeper bankroll, I assume you're suggesting at say $50K, he could have 1-5 units then a, 10, 15, 20 unit type option perhaps? Could be a useful feature for a new class of users perhaps,,, gold, plat,,, maybe some diamond grade users? ;-)


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