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When To Bet? 707 views

There are 2 equally important parts of handicapping - Who to bet and When to bet them.

Who to bet involves math models, algorithms, analytics, and a gathering of information to put a price or a line on every game. Then compare your line to what's available in the market and bet the games you have an advantage in.

Who to bet can obviously be a lengthy discussion, but When to bet is the next step that most handicappers never take. Let's take the Colts vs Chiefs game as an example. The line is Chiefs -5 or -5.5. The Chiefs are a public darling because of their offense so the public is going to be on them. Then look at the early money showing up on the Chiefs and all indications are that this number is going to -6 eventually. When looking for this information, only use Bookmaker or Pinnacle. Money coming in at BetOnline or 5dimes or anywhere else doesn't matter.

So anticipating the number going to -6 means those looking to bet the Chiefs should do so now at -5 or -5.5. But those looking to bet the Colts should wait for the line to move to get a better number. Now once the line goes to +6 for the Colts doesn't mean you bet right away. Instead, you should look again for where the money is going. If it's still piling in on the Chiefs, continue to wait. Might get +6.5 or possibly +7. The idea is to continue watching line movement and where the money is going at each new number.

But now take a look at the picks on this game here at PM. Two-thirds of the picks are on the Colts. Why would these guys do that? Even if you had no idea which way the line was going to move, why would anyone bet a dog at +5 or +5.5? If the line moves down, you will still get +5 or +4.5. There's no difference between +5.5 and +4.5 because 5 is a dead number in football. But if the number moves up to +6, that's a big difference. So by waiting, there's everything to gain and nothing to lose. Then do some work to discover which way the line is likely to move, and waiting to bet the Colts will be valuable.

Learning When to bet is a step most handicappers never reach because it takes a lot of time and work, but it's very valuable to get the best number possible.


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Not sure I agree. It's not like NFL can only move a half point at a time. Colts bettors clearly think the line will move to +4.5 -- or more generally, they think the implied chance of the Colts winning is more likely to rise than fall.

Who do you like in this game, by the way? I'm probably laying off, but rooting for KC.

Edited 1/7/19 at 6:46AM by evo34 -

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While I'm asking, any view on the way the Pats line will move this week? I got some LAC +4.5, but suspect I should wait to put more on.

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Good information and insight Eppley :) I took the Chiefs and Chargers as soon as the lines were available. The Colts will have big problems in KC this weekend, and mostly due to turnovers, which I believe KC will have a significant edge... something like 4 - 1, and the Chiefs will easily cover the spread. Secondly, I also believe the Chargers have a team that will be able to defeat the Patriots on their home turf. Took the Chargers money line. The AFC conference title game will be the Chargers visiting the Chiefs... should be a good one ;)

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I took Indy +6 last night at Bookmaker. The +6 didn't last long, just a few hours. There's still some +6 out there. CG Technology in Vegas is still at +6, BetOnline and Pinnacle are +6 with higher vig.

The Chiefs defense is atrocious. They rank 31st in total yards and passing yards. The Colts are a top 5 offense in yards and points. And the Colts are best in the league at 3rd down conversions at 49%. The only way the Colts punt is if they get penalties or drop passes. It won't be because of KC's defense.

Since week 7 the Colts have the best defense in the league, allowing 16 points per game. KC's offense will have to score 40+ against this defense. I don't see that happening.

The line on the Chargers game may stay at 4.5 for a while. The public will likely bet the Chargers, but sharp money will show up on the Patriots at some point. The Chargers have to fly LA-Baltimore-LA-Boston, while the Patriots sit at home and rest for 2 weeks. This spot always draws sharp money on the rested team, but the question is at what number will they get involved. Right now there's little action, so it's a waiting game.

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I couldn't bet against the Colts, not anymore. If I took anything (other than the Colts) it would be the "OVER". Indy keeps winning tough games on the road. That's REALLY HARD to do. So, I could see their defense being a little softer than usual. Andy Reid is a master mind so this game will be a lot of fun to watch.

Also, I definitely like all the insight being provided. It's like a sounding board for decisions.

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OK, gotta chime in ... I know my PM numbers are not that good. That's because I test out a lot of "Systems" here that dont always work. I supplement my income with totals, mosty MLB and NBA. If you look at my PM ROI on totals you will notice I do well even with my failed tests included. For the most part I bet opening numbers the night before or very early in the morning. Too often totals move against under bettors like me as gametime approaches. I know in the case of RLMs it's a good thing but why not get the better number. Night game opening O/U lines are different than day games. This is not an accident. If you know why and how to exploit it you will profit from it. Here is an example: Since I have been keeping records (2006) If you simply take an NBA game starting at either 5 pm or 7 pm PT (that's west coast USA for my out of USA friends) where the opening total is 200 or higher and the Home team's defensive turnover rate is between 14 and 15 per game you will have a flat bet ROI "In the green." No need to sweat gametime numbers. Of course I have tweaked it over the years where I currently have my ROI around 18% this season. Line movement doesnt really matter but if you want to filter some of the negative situations go right ahead. I prefer to take an occasional loser in order to free up time for somthing else.

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Point spreads moving a half point one direction or another is noteworthy but way overblown. For example colts and chargers in a two team teaser puts both dogs over double digits.... just something to conside

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Typical example NBA - ORL @ SAC starting at 7pm tonight. O/U opens at 224, the public pounds the over in both bets and $. Here it is 40 minutes to game time and it's down to 221.5 you can't tell me 224 wasn't an inflated line. The books do this all the time. RLMs like this are profitable but why not get the opening number? I use visitor rebounds, game start time and home team win % to make this play. I dont care what the closing number is, I got 224 last night.

Edited 1/7/19 at 9:35PM by goldendd - No reason listed.

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Hi Eppley, please allow me to retort lol Not that I disagree with the points you have brought up, because they are facts, and legitimate, I suppose I just have a different take on how the games will play out.

The Chiefs defense, although atrocious, have forced 25 fumbles this season (recovered 12), and acquired 15 INT's. The Colts also have 15 INT's, 15 forced fumbles, and recovered 11. The Chiefs have generated 71 offensive TD's to the Colts 52. My thoughts are the Colts D, although the best in football right now, will not be able to slow the Chiefs down at home, with an extra week for Reid and the team to prepare. I also think the turnover battle will be won decisively by the Chiefs in this spot. If all of this is brought to fruition, I think the Chiefs easily win by 10+ points in this game.

As for the Patriots, I also agree with you that having them rest and have the extra week to prepare has been deadly in the past. However, there was one time when a team walked into Gilette and completely befuddled Brady & the offense. It was the Jets D that pressured Brady so consistently, they were unable to get anything going, and the upset occurred. I liken this Chargers team to that Jets team. They are built like them on defense... but with a far more potent offense. I think this game will play out like that game in 2010 (I think it was 2010, possibly 2009), and the Chargers will not allow Brady any time which will effectively limit their ability to score... but the Chargers (if mistake free which is a lot to ask for) can dominate this game. They have been road warriors all season long.

That being stated, best of luck to you Eppley... I do respect your opinions :)

Ranger30, yes, I agree, this thread has provided some excellent information. Thanks for you insight as well :)

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Timothy, retorts always welcome. Turnovers can change any game, but there's no way to handicap them. There's no long-term correlative statistic that predicts turnovers efficiently to produce 52.5% ATS winners. So turnovers fall into the luck category, similar to a PDO in hockey.

Let's remember what's happened to QB's making their first playoff start: Watson (Houston) lost, Jackson (Baltimore) lost, Trubisky (Chicago) lost. Historically the list isn't any better. If turnovers do occur, I'd suggest it's Mahomes that gets fooled with something he's never seen before. I would trust Luck to make better decisions than Mahomes.

Should a team with the 2nd worst defense in the league and a QB making his 1st playoff start be nearly a touchdown favorite in a playoff game?

Thanks for writing opinions and giving a different perspective. It should be a great weekend of football.

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Golden, I'm assuming RLM is reverse line move? Let me know if you meant something else.

There's a big misunderstanding of these moves and I think your Sacramento game provides a good example. You mention the total opened at 224, then you say the public pounds the over in bets and money. The number of overnight bets on the Over was greater than the number of bets on the Under, but the Under bets totalled more money than the Over bets. This is reflected in Pinnacle's overnight line move to 223 at 11:35pm.

Both Bookmaker and Pinnacle go to full limits at 11am Eastern. A lot of sharps won't show their hand for 1K on the overnights, so they wait until the limits increase. So line movement between 11am - 12pm Eastern is critical to monitor.

Line movement on the Sacramento game total at Bookmaker: open 224, move to 222.5 at 11:13, move to 221.5 at 11:24. Line movement at Pinnacle: open 224, move to 223 overnight, move to 222.5 at 6:03am, bounce back and forth between 223 and 222.5 until 11am, move to 222.5 at 11:13, move to 221.5 at 11:20. So sharp money bet the Under at 11:13 at both books and continued to bet Under 222.5 until 11:20 at Pinnacle and 11:24 at Bookmaker. Once 221.5 showed, sharps stopped betting the Under.

The public bet the Over 221.5 the rest of the day, but the books were happy to get that action to balance out the truckloads of Under money. So the final tally was 56% of the bets were on the Over, but there was more money on the Under.

The line never moves opposite of the money. Reverse line movement refers to when more than 50% of the betting slips are on one side but the line moves the other way. When this happens, it means that one side has lots of small bets while the other side has fewer bets but for larger amounts.

Hope this helps with understanding line movements.

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Evo, I use 3 different places - Sportsbook review.com (SBR), Sportsinsights.com (SI), Vegasinsider.com (VI).

I use SBR to see the betting percentages, I use SI to see money percentages (there is a monthly fee of $49), and I use VI for closing line info.

There's also a trick you can use if you don't want to pay SI. Watch the bet percentages on SBR for Bookmaker and Pinnacle. When you see a line movement opposite of the bet percentage (reverse line move), you can bet the stale number at another book. You'll probably have about 60 seconds.

So watch SBR starting just before 11am and have a good idea of which sides and totals you're looking to bet. If you see a reverse move off the side you liked, you can still bet that number somewhere else if you're quick.

SI makes things a little easier because I will see the bet percentage going one way and the money percentage going the other way. I'll know the line move is coming and have more time to find the best number before the move.


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Thanks. How do you see bet pcts by book at SBR? I'm only seeing one number for each game.

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Go to Sportsbookreview.com. Click on menu in upper right and click on betting odds. Then choose a sport, then click on full view in the upper right. Click on any individual game, then click on settings in the upper center. Choose the book you want, I personally open 2 windows with one on Bookmaker and the other on Pinnacle.

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Its indy or nothing in this one imo.. the colts blueprint on d is to not give up big plays or “eplosive for the analytics nerds” and keep everything in front of them, thus limiting big plays which the kc thrive on while kc can dink and dunk the big play is important and the colts d excels at limiting big plays, obviously everyone already knows about the dreadful kc defense this game is colts or pass, most likely pass finding value in a 4 game slate better off flipping coins

As for the line dont overly concern yourself with it play whatever you deem value as the line in the nfl is meaningless as it barely comes into play... at the end of the day in the nfl you are just picking the winner of the game.. the advent of the 2 point conversion will effect this a bit its yet to be seen how much but for years the nfl has always been a just pick the winner sport — ie when the fav wins they covers when the dog covers they win outright

Please dont trust betting percentages Pinny n cris are not giving this info out this is just a consensous sites like si are useless and dont represent any type of “sharp betting”

And yes most pro’s do not bet openers because there is not enough liquidity in the market because these corporations “sportsbooks in 2019” dont open limits up to actually put a real Until its already lunch time

Goodluck everyone



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Eppley, thank you for that detailed explanation. I have been in the casino business in some capacity for 35 years. I occasionally hang out with people who bet "Nosebleed" numbers on sporting events. I trust what they tell me. I do subscribe to a "Signal" service but I don't really use the info. When someone i trust (who shows me a 5 figure betslip) tells me something I tend to believe them. Maybe that's nieve, I don't know. Plus I have a job and not a lot of time to sweat boards.

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