Friday, December 20, 2013


I received an email this afternoon from a hero who would prefer to remain anonymous, alerting me to this gem. It's Insider (which is hilariously absurd, as you'll see), but the premise is going through each team in the playoff picture, and assessing their likelihood of making the playoffs, as well as which seed they should be expected to receive.

The article is written by Danny Tuccitto of Football Outsiders. He begins with the Broncos:

On the heels of a massive upset loss -- they were an 86 percent favorite -- Denver's probability of earning the No. 1 seed dropped from 76 percent to 63 percent. [...] But don't fret, Broncos fans. With remaining games coming against two of the worst three teams in the NFL (Oakland and Houston, according to weighted DVOA), our projection model says there's only a 15 percent chance Denver loses either game.

Well, this is worrisome. At 11-3, the Broncos are tied for the best record in the conference with the Chiefs. Denver owns the tiebreaker over Kansas City, having beaten them twice. So, stands to reason that if DEN wins out, they'll be the top seed.

With that in mind, let's revisit two things:

Denver's probability of earning the No. 1 seed dropped from 76 percent to 63 percent.

[O]ur projection model says there's only a 15 percent chance Denver loses either game.

Yeah, that's not gonna work. Even before considering the possibility that other teams may lose (more on that in a minute), Denver is 85% to get the one seed according to their W16 and W17 win probabilities. That same 63% number is here; maybe they're just splitting ties in half rather than, you know, considering that one team wins the tiebreaker 100% of the time?

To boot, the Patriots have a 74 percent chance of sweeping their last two games, which is only slightly lower than the Bengals' 81 percent.

New England is currently a two-point underdog in Baltimore on Sunday afternoon, so it seems like 74% to win out may be a bit high? FO's numbers famously don't "adjust for the future impact of recent injuries" so it seems possible that could be playing a role here? Not that there's any mention of that in the article, or that you could ever get to 74% by doing anything reasonable anyway.

According to our projection model, Indianapolis is a 19-to-1 underdog at Kansas City this weekend, while Cincinnati is a 19-to-1 favorite at home against Minnesota. Put those two odds together, and there's a 90 percent likelihood that the Colts will have nothing to play for in Week 17.

The best part of this is how casual he is about these insane numbers. The Colts are 6.5-point underdogs in Kansas City, and +233 at Pinnacle. But yeah, 19-1! Moving right along!

There is no point in any type of "analysis" like this if you're going to use 95% for the Chiefs' win % this week. If you actually think that, just bet as much as possible on Kansas City, and get very rich, very, very quickly.

According to our model, the Ravens are underdogs in both of their remaining matchups, with this week's game against New England presenting slightly less of a threat (42 percent win probability) than their Week 17 game at Cincinnati (31 percent).

The Ravens are 42% to win this week? Against the Patriots, who are 74% to win out? What? Where am I?

After Week 13, the Chiefs' likelihood of earning home-field advantage throughout the playoffs was a mere 2 percent; it's now 24 percent. Although that means Kansas City's still a 3-to-1 underdog, it nevertheless makes them Denver's No. 1 contender and twice as likely as New England to overtake the Broncos for the top spot. Both Kansas City and Denver are better than 90 percent favorites this weekend, so the battle for home field will likely come down to a pair of West Coast games in Week 17. The Chiefs will need to win as a slight favorite in San Diego (53 percent) and hope the Broncos lose as a huge favorite in Oakland (93 percent).

So, the Chiefs' HFA shot likely comes down to W17, where they need to win (53%) and have DEN lose (7%). Seems rather unlikely? Nope! There's a 24% chance that Kansas City gets the top seed.

I'm not even going to bother with the NFC. It's absolutely remarkable that the writer didn't pick up on any of this while writing and/or proofreading, and the fact that this then passed through an editor (assumption?) and was published on ESPN Insider (just $8.95 per month!) is mind blowing.

Keep building that brand though, guys. Build the shit out of it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

VFV's Adventures in Predicting NFL Line Movement With Darts (Week 15)

Thankfully for everyone involved, this did not become a weekly thing. But now seems like as good a time as any to remind everybody how absurd this exercise really is.

Using lines from Bodog and LVH this time because #whocares.

Chargers at Broncos minus-10.5 (Thursday): The line was re-opened Sunday afternoon at the LVH and the CRIS offshore book at 10.5. Both books were bet down to 10, which was where the Wynn opened it, though they were bet up to 10.5. So, it looks like this line will settle at 10 early in the week, but it wouldn't be surprising to see the public push it back higher toward game day.

Closed at 10 at LVH, was 10.5 at Bodog all week. Good start!

Redskins at Falcons minus-4.5: By the close of betting Sunday night, this had steamed to 5.5 at just about every book that posts early lines, as no one is looking to bet the Redskins. Betting hasn't slowed yet, but I'm guessing it won't get to 7 (or at least not without some heavy juice).

Closed at -5.5/6, but Washington was +7 -110 at LVH for most of Wednesday afternoon, and Bodog had that same price for almost 48 hours during the week.

49ers minus-5.5 at Buccaneers: This was at minus-6 last week and even though the 49ers gutted out a win over the Seahawks (though they didn't cover the 2.5-point spread), this line was re-opened at minus-5.5. Part of that is due to the Buccaneers covering four of their last five and being more competitive. Still, the 49ers are more of a public team, so this will probably go back to 6.

You know, if you could predict line movement just based on which team is "more of a public team," it'd probably be a lot easier. This never got to 6 at LVH, although Bodog did have that price for most of the week.

Cardinals minus-3 at Titans: This opened Cardinals minus-1.5 but was reposted at 3 after Arizona's rout of the Rams while the Titans were blown out by the Broncos. It was bet down to 2.5 at the LVH, so I expect this to waver between 2.5 and 3 most of the week.

This is exactly what happened.

Seahawks minus-7 at Giants: The Wynn went with minus-7 (even money) -- and that's where the LVH moved the line after early bettering -- while William Hill went with 6.5. This will probably hover between 6.5 and 7.

This is...not. See, this is the problem. These posts consistently underestimate how much these lines can move between Monday and Sunday. If you say a line will probably "hover between 6.5 and 7" and it closes at 9 (at both LVH and Bodog)...what's the point?

Texans at Colts minus-6: Earlier in the year, I would have predicted that the public would push this line to 7, but now it looks like we'll see it settle at 6 or 6.5.

Settled at about 6.5. So, correct on this one. However, it seems concerning that the only time these line "predictions" are right is when the line is stagnant throughout the week.

Bills minus-1.5 at Jaguars: This was Bills minus-2.5 last week but the Jags beat the Texans and the Bills were blown out by the Buccaneers, so it was reopened at 1.5 though other books opted for 2. The initial move at the LVH was up to 2, though I wouldn't be surprised if it got bet back toward pick 'em.

Would you be surprised if it closed at Bills -4? Because that is what happened.

Patriots minus-2.5 at Dolphins: This was Patriots minus-4 but they struggled to beat the Browns and lost Gronkowski, plus the Dolphins kept their playoff hoped alive, so this dropped to 2.5. I can't see how this doesn't get bet back to the key number of 3.

Miami ended up being the favorite here, by 2.5 at the LVH and slightly less at Bodog. So I guess it didn't quite get back to the key number of 3?

Eagles minus-4 at Vikings: This has jumped from Eagles minus-3 last week to reopening minus-4 at the LVH. It was then bet up to 4.5 before snapping back to 4, so that looks like the right number at least for now.

No mention of AP injury because #whocares, line closed at PHI -6.5/7.

Chiefs minus-3.5 at Raiders: This looks like the most solid line of the week at minus-3.5. Some books have heavier juice on those taking the Raiders plus-3.5, but they'll probably be reluctant to move to 3, and if they do it won't last long.

The "most solid line of the week" ended up moving from -3.5 to -6.5. We're really struggling to the finish line now.

Bengals minus-3 (even money) at Steelers: This was only Bengals minus-1 last week, but it reopened at 3 (with added juice on the Steelers plus-3) after Cincinnati's convincing win over the Colts and the Steelers' loss to the Dolphins. Some offshores went with 2.5, so it should hover between 2.5 and 3 until the market picks a side.

Closed at -2 at LVH and -3 EV at Bodog.

Ravens at Lions minus-6 (Monday): The advance line was Lions minus-4 but went up Sunday afternoon at Lions minus-6. CRIS went with 5.5 and got bet up to 6, so it's looking like a pretty solid number.

Closed at -5 at LVH and -6 EV at Bodog, so cool I guess.

The  line moves portion of Tuley's column is described as:

Here are the openers from the LVH. We'll look at how we got to those numbers, including where the offshore openers might have differed, how they moved in early betting Sunday afternoon and night [...]

This seems accurate enough.

[...]and how they might move during the week. While the biggest part of winning at football is picking winners, it's just as important to be able to read the market and know when to place your wagers to get the best number.

I realize this is the goal, but seriously, come on. I think at this point we have sufficient evidence that Dave Tuley has absolutely no clue how NFL lines are going to move during the week. Not that we really needed much in the first place, considering he's a rec gambler who happens to live in Vegas and have an ESPN column. Even if you did know that the Bills would move from -1.5 to -4, why in the world would you ever publish it on the internet?

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Problem with R.J.

Yes, this article about the LVH's "massive liability" on Auburn futures has "a much more TMZ feel than actual news". Sure, it's absolutely hilarious that R.J. ends up tweeting stuff like this in response.

But the real issue here, as pointed out by @jbxx, goes back a bit further. Let's look at R.J.'s post from (and the date is important here) July 26:
Who are the Wiseguys betting? Thirty-five-year bookmaker Jay Vaccaro is one of many pointing to Mississippi (from 500/1 to 100/1). LVH also reports significantly sharp action on Auburn (1,000/1 to 300/1) and Florida State (40/1 to 18/1).
Getting past how the phrase "significantly sharp action" is either a typo or makes no sense, this in itself is fine. At 1000-1, a wager wouldn't even have to be that large ($100? $500?) to be considered "sharp" and give the LVH a bit of risk.

Always annoying, though, when somebody comes through with those pesky "facts". Here's generally respected, non-tout Vegas reporter David Purdum on December 10:
The LVH Superbook took 14 ham-sandwich bets on Auburn to win the national championship at 1,000-to-1. All the bets were for $5 and $10 and placed between January and June. The bet the Superbook took in August was much larger. 
As we head into bowl season, a $100,000 futures ticket is in play on the last BCS National Championship Game. 
In August, a bettor placed $500 on three SEC longshots to win the national title. He took Tennessee at 500/1, Ole Miss at 100/1 and …. Auburn at 200/1.
Uh oh. Let's take a look at the timeline of events here:
January through June: Fourteen "ham-sandwich bets" (between $5 and $10) placed on Auburn at 1000-1. 
July 26: R.J. reports that there has been "significantly sharp action on Auburn" at the LVH; odds have moved from 1000-1 to 300-1. 
Sometime in August: Someone bets $500 on Auburn at 200-1. 
December 7: Auburn 59, Mizzou 42. Massive liability, etc.
There's really only one way to interpret this, right? That the LVH got more random tourists than they expected betting $5 or $10 on their Auburn price, and in response moved the Tigers from 1000-1 to 300-1, because why wouldn't you?

And then somehow -- either because noted #makingshitup enthusiast Jay Kornegay misrepresented the facts, or because R.J. has no clue how line movement and #SHRAP action and risk work, or maybe some other reason -- these tiny bets were reported as "significantly sharp action". Which, really, is not acceptable.

Obviously, R.J. the Analyst is pretty much a joke. And anyway, if you think you're going to make money on widely available NFL lines by listening to anybody on the internet, well, probably not.

However, simply reporting facts just shouldn't be that hard. If you were making a legitimate effort, that is. But R.J. is such a fraud that he can't even reach that relatively low bar. When you're so eager to please and so obsessed with people retweeting you (as often as possible), when you have no clue how these markets actually work, and then on top of that you're so loose with the facts themselves...even if you WERE reporting something which was pertinent and interesting, why would anyone believe you?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks For The #WOAT

Thursday, November 14, 2013

This Is What We're Up Against

Be safe out there, kids.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Take The Book And Burn It

Broncos-Chargers yesterday. Down 28-13 with 10:42 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Chargers score a touchdown, bringing the score to 28-19.

For a coherent take on whether to go for two in this situation, click here. For the complete opposite of that, well, take it away, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms:

NANTZ: Of course, it's too early to go for two, if you do the math on it. Everybody would know, you wouldn't want to leave yourself nine down if you failed, so you go ahead and get yourself in a one possession game by kicking the PAT.

SIMMS: The book says go for two, but I think that shows you something. All books don't tell the truth.

NANTZ: I'll tell you what, if that's what the book says, take the book and burn it.

SIMMS: [laughs]

NANTZ: Seriously. I mean, who in the world would go for two with 10 minutes and 42 seconds to  go in the game?

SIMMS: To me, here's why you don't evn think of going for two. You want to continue the game, in other words you want to at least have the Denver offense and team think about, "Hey, they're only one score down, we have to keep pressuring [sic] the issue." So if you went for two and did not get it, that takes a lot of pressure off of the Denver football team. So I would say, continue the game, and make the other team make plays.

NANTZ: Let me just add, that's not exactly a New York Times best seller, that book. Because 32 out of 32 NFL coaches would be kicking the PAT right here, and that's what we're gonna have.

SIMMS: Well, they just put that up there to get you riled up. So that was good, we love that.

[PAT is good]

NANTZ: It's an eight-point game, it's a one possession game.

SIMMS: There we go.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

VFV's Adventures in Predicting NFL Line Movement With Darts (Week 2)

There is no shame in not being able to predict NFL line movement, There is plenty of shame, however, in pretending you can in a weekly column for (all my lines from Pinny):

Jets (+11) at Patriots (Thursday): By the time the Cowboys-Giants game ended Sunday night, the LVH was holding the line at 11, but the Wynn was at 12.5 and the William Hill chain was at 13 (and most offshores at those numbers as well). I expect this line to keep climbing but not go any higher than 13.

Line closed at Pats -10.5 -109 at Pinny.

Chargers (+6.5) at Eagles: This line was Philly minus-6.5 last week, re-opened 6.5 and looks solid (though obviously could be impacted by either team's performance Monday night). 

Way off, wrong side of 7, including these games pre-MNF is pointless, especially early in the season.

Browns (+6.5) at Ravens: This also looks solid at Ravens minus-6.5. It might have gone lower if the Browns hadn't lost 23-10 to the Dolphins as 2.5-point closing favorites, but they did.

-5.5 -109.

Dolphins (+3) at Colts: This is a solid minus-3 for the Colts at even money. This isn't likely to move to either 2.5 or 3.5 all week, so lay the lowest odds you can on the side you like.

"Isn't likely to move off 3" -> closes at IND -1 -113, good try, good effort.

Panthers (-3) at Bills: Similar situation here with the Panthers minus-3, even, on the road. Both teams played well in losing efforts to elite teams. This is more likely to dip to 2.5 than rise to 3.5[...]

Rose to -3.5 -101.

Rams (+6.5) at Falcons: This opened Falcons minus-6 or -6.5 most places here and offshore, but we saw movement toward a touchdown, so chalk players should lay it before it gets to 7, while dog bettors should wait.

Line closed at -4 -104. Can't make this shit up, folks.

Redskins (+6) at Packers: This looks like a pretty solid Packers minus-6, though William Hill made it -6.5. This could move a little depending on how the Redskins look Monday night.

Way off, wrong side of 7, including these games pre-MNF is pointless, especially early in the season.

Cowboys (+1) at Chiefs: This was pick-em a week ago, but the LVH upgraded the Chiefs to minus-1 after their blowout win at Jacksonville. After the Cowboys' win Sunday night, Kornegay said he thought he might raise it to minus-1.5 or -2 if Dez Bryant is out (he was injured late in the game).

Dez Bryant ended up playing (quite well, actually). Didn't stop the line from closing at -3 -117.

Vikings (+6.5) at Bears: This looks like a fairly solid Bears minus-6.5 with William Hill and some offshores at minus-6, so I'd expect it to dip instead of rising to a full TD.

Closed at -6 -108, so nailed it I guess?

Saints (-3) at Buccaneers: If you like the Saints, you'd better lay the minus-3 before it's gone. Late Sunday night, several books were already at minus-3 (with -120 attached to it) while the Wynn was already at minus-3.5. With the way the Bucs lost to the Jets and the Saints holding off the Falcons, this is almost certain not to stay at a field goal.

Stayed at a field goal (-3 -114).

Jaguars (+5.5) at Raiders: The LVH countered by going even higher at Raiders minus-5.5, but all of the early money has been coming in on the Raiders and pushing it to minus-6. It's going to be hard for bookies to find anyone willing to back the Jags, so it wouldn't be surprising to see this keep climbing.

Closed -3.5 -110 at Pinny, I guess they found someone willing to back the Jags?

Broncos (-4) at Giants: [D]on't be surprised to see this number drift higher, especially since William Hill already made it minus-4.5 before the Giants' game. This should be the case of "bet the favorite early if you like it/bet the underdog late." 

Highest line at Pinny was the opener, line closed at -3.5 +102, I guess this wasn't very good advice?

49ers (+3) at Seahawks: In Week 2's other marquee matchup, this one on Sunday night, this number has been Seahawks minus-3, has continued to be minus-3, and while I think the juice will be adjusted (and some books have shaded it toward minus-3, -120 on the Seahawks), I don't think any book will go off the key number.

Steelers (+6.5) at Bengals (Monday): As discussed above, this has been the biggest movement from the advance line. Normally I'd say that this can't be adjusted any further, especially since the Steelers have been a far more public team than the Bengals, but there are already indications that this could be moving to a full TD. That's how ugly the Steelers really looked. If the Bengals had held on to beat the Bears, we'd probably already be there.

Kind of nailed FNIA and MNF, I guess?


Monday, September 16, 2013

Is Safety Rating A Real Thing? An NFL Survivor Primer

Way back in 2008, for whatever reason, I decided to sign up for's Eliminator Challenge. After thinking about my Week 1 pick for probably five minutes, I decided the strategy behind the contest was somewhat interesting, and decided to write a blog post about Week 2. Those two picks both won, as did the next 15.

This unlikely streak had two effects. Most immediately, it thoroughly annoyed me that I hadn't profited from going 17-0, as I was only in the free ESPN contest, and lost the tiebreaker.

The more lasting effect was that my shiny 2008 record caused people to think I knew what I was doing when it came to NFL Survivor contests. Which certainly wasn't the case at the time, and remains overstated even now. But here we are, five years later, and I'm still writing these posts. Considering that most of the people reading at this point surely weren't doing so in '08, and even then I never spelled out (had?) an overall strategy, now seems like as good a time as any to do just that.

Friday, September 6, 2013

How Not To Handicap A Prop Bet (2013 Edition, V2)

Barnwell, Vegas, props, #notthattricky, etc etc etc. Go:

The NFL season might have started yesterday, but today is the day for my annual NFL over/under and assorted (likely losing) bets column.

Life is so great. What did I ever do to deserve this?

This is the third year I've done this column for Grantland...

Absolutely mind blowing that this guy has been allowed to write about wagering on sports for more than a paragraph, let alone three years.

As a result, a line that opened with the Chiefs over 7.5 wins at a price of -115 rose to the point where it ranged from -175 to -195 at the books I visited during my week in town.

This sentence may not seem notable now, but please remember it for later.

Last year, the bets I chose to make would have lost 5 percent of their value had I not been robbed of the tickets.

I had honestly forgotten this ever even happened. What a pro. I'm the single least responsible person you will ever meet and I've never lost a ticket in my life.

Let's get started with one that looks great right now!

Okay Bill, I'm ready for some math. Let's do this.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How Not To Handicap A Prop Bet (2013 Edition)

Second annual!

For the most part, you don't see things with lots of obvious factual errors or inconsistencies posted on major online publications. This is because editors exist. However, an exception to this rule can be made for topics relating to sports betting. There's really no reason to think an editor would know anything about math, let alone gambling.

On this topic, the editors probably assume that the writer knows more than they do, and just focus on spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, etc. Especially if the writer previously wrote for a stats-focused football website, and lived in Vegas during the 2011 NFL season, the editor assumes that the writer must have at least a basic grasp on simple concepts relating to math and betting.

Boy, are they mistaken. Take it away, Bill Barnwell:
Will there be overtime?
Yes: +700
No: -1000

Vegas normally gives the team at home an average of three points on the spread, so if the 49ers were at home, we'd expect this line to be 49ers -6.5; if they were in Baltimore, the line would be 49ers -0.5.
This makes no sense. I honestly don't understand how this isn't ridiculously obvious to anyone who thinks about it for more than two seconds. For the eight millionth time: ALL POINTS IN THE NFL ARE NOT OF EQUAL VALUE. Teams win by three a bit more often than they win by five. You can't just blindly add or subtract three from the spread.

This becomes especially clear when Barnwell claims that the spread would be 49ers -0.5 in Baltimore. So, if HFA was worth four points, that spread would be 49ers +0.5 which is...the exact same thing (in the playoffs). But we made HFA worth 33% more, how did it not change? It's lazy and wrong to calculate it this way.
Bet on a specific margin of victory.
Ravens win by 1-4 points: +450
49ers win by 1-4 points: +350

If you really thought the game was going to be close, you could bet $100 on either side of this line and basically get +300 odds that the game was going to finish with one team winning by three points or fewer, since you'd win $250 if the Niners prevailed by 1-4 points (the $350 prescribed in the odds above minus $100 for a losing bet on the Ravens winning by 1-4 points) and $350 if the Ravens won by 1-4 points.
So, by betting $100 on either side, we are risking a total of $200, to win either $250 or $350. And we are claiming this is the equivalent to getting +300? Huh? What just happened?

Also, I'm pretty sure "1-4 points" and "three points or fewer" are not the same thing.
Total number of different 49ers to score
Over 3.5: -130
Under 3.5: +110

A defensive or special teams touchdown would make this one really likely to succeed, so you could parlay the +165 odds on that occurring with the Over 3.5 odds here if you wanted.
This is similar to last year's Gronkowski example, where Barnwell says one simple thing that immediately makes it clear he doesn't understand anything.

Parlaying these two is a great idea, except for one small problem, which is clearly stated on the LVH odds sheet that Barnwell links to:
Of course you can't parlay these. If you could, it would basically be printing money, since lots of them are very correlated. If you could, it would be ridiculous to only mention it in one throwaway line of a post, because it would be such a profitable strategy that it would render every other aspect of props-related analysis completely irrelevant. But:
Moving on.
Will there be a safety?
Yes: +900
No: -1300

This was my biggest prop bet loss last year. I laid out the logic suggesting that betting "No" was a good play, followed through with a bet, and managed to lose within seven minutes of the opening whistle. It was such a big loss that I needed to win every other one of my prop bets to break even (and that didn't happen, either).
Just wanted to cut in real quick and mention that this is my favorite part of this whole train wreck. But sorry, continue educating us, Bill.
But here, again, I'm going to point out why the "No" bet is the right one. Over the past five years, there have been 1,280 NFL regular-season games and 82 safeties, suggesting that safeties will occur in 6.4 percent of games. The odds above suggest, after adjusting for the vig, that safeties will occur in 9.7 percent of games. Furthermore, the most likely scenario that leads to a safety — a quarterback getting sacked in the end zone — is unlikely to occur, since these two teams have had relatively anemic pass rushes during the playoffs. So, again, I think there's value in betting "No" here.
What the fuck is this?

The price that gets you to a breakeven of 9.7% is -931. So, yeah, "no safety" would be a good bet at -931. The thing is, and this should really be clear to anyone that can read, the odds on "no" are not -931. They are -1300. So, the 9.7% is completely irrelevant when you're deciding whether or not to bet. The number we should be using is 7.1%, which is really not that close to 9.7% at all; in fact, it's quite close to 6.4%!

I really hope there's a safety.
How will the opening coin toss land?
Heads: -102
Tails: -102

This is basically a sobriety/IQ test from Vegas to see if you're interested in giving them free money. The LVH actually moved the vig on this up from one cent (-101/-101) a year ago to two cents this year, suggesting that they think they can get just as much action on this bet with the extra juice.
Not much to see here, just your basic absence of logic. The vig is twice as high now, of course they don't need to get the same amount of action for this to be a good idea.
How long will Colin Kaepernick's first rushing attempt go?
Over 5.5 yards: -110
Under 5.5 yards: -110

If Kaepernick doesn't have a rushing attempt, the Under bet wins. If his first run is a kneel-down at the end of the first or second halves, the Under bet wins. The median run for Kaepernick this year is four yards, but the mode (most frequent) run for Kaepernick across his 81 carries is for seven yards.
The mode is completely irrelevant. Why are you bringing it up as a counter-argument against the lower median? It just doesn't matter at all, and offers no value beyond what the median gives you. Not that the median is even the best way to analyze this (the concept of looking at "distributions" seems to be generally lost on Bill). How do you possibly have a job where math is one of the core competencies?
Which color will the Gatorade/liquid dumped on the winning head coach be?
Clear/water: +175
Orange: +250
Yellow: +250
Green: +750
Red: +750
Blue: +750

Red just seems like such a great long shot when you consider that one of the teams wears red as its primary color. Finding purple Gatorade to soak John Harbaugh might be a little more difficult.
I realize most people don't/shouldn't take handicapping these silly prop bets as seriously as I do, but this is completely just making shit up. Since when do people choose the flavor of Gatorade they drink based on their team's colors? Why would they do that? It doesn't even make any sense.
How many times will the game be referred to as Harbaugh Bowl, Har Bowl, or Super Baugh during the game?
Over 2.5: -110
Under 2.5 -110

Someone is going to get paid by an online sportsbook during the game to watch the contest and just listen for whether the announcers refer to it by any of the above names. What a wonderful, dumb world we live in. This seems low to me, even if the Harbaugh family isn't in attendance; one video package might be enough to knock this one out.
Rules? What rules?
From kick off until final whistle. Live pictures only, any taped pictures or past video does not count towards wager. Half time does not count towards wager. Must say full name. Book manager's decision is final.
Good work, Bill.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Most Ridiculous Super Bowl XLVII Props

Sixth annual! Let's get to it:

Section 1: Standard Nonsense

What will be the result of Super Bowl XLVI Coin Toss?

Heads, -101
Tails, -101

Heads, -115
Tails, -115

Not much analysis to do here, obviously (well, maybe not obvious to everybody), just wanted to include the best and worst odds I've seen. Unfortunately nobody is offering plus money on either side this year (it's been as high as +103 in the past).

Anyway, just wanted to note how absurd it is to offer -115 on a coin toss when you offer -110 on sides, which are somewhat more predictable than, you know, a coin flip. If you're looking for a summary of coin toss results at each of the previous 46 Super Bowls (?), you can always count on Stockle Mon.

Who will the Super Bowl MVP thank first?

Teammates, +140
God, +250
Coach, +1200
Family, +1200
Owner, +2000
Does Not Thank Anyone, +190

God, EV
Teammates, +175
Coaches/Owner, +400
Family, +500
Does Not Thank Anyone, +300

God, EV
Teammates, +200
Coach, +300
Parents, +600
Fans, +600

An old friend. Eli didn't thank anyone when we won last year, so adding that to last year's chart, the winner has clearly been "Does Not Thank Anyone" in four of the past five years. And that's really more like 4.5/5, since some books graded it as a winner when Rodgers won two years ago. So at +190/+300, that is clearly the way to go on this one.

Very disappointing that SBET is not offering "Does Not Thank Anyone" as one of their options.

Who will the winning Super Bowl coach thank first?

Team, -150
God, +120
Coaching Staff/Owner, +450
Family, +450
Does Not Thank Anyone, +800

Same deal as above (see chart). There was some controversy on this one last year, but Sportsbook did grade DNTA as the winner.

What Color will the Gatorade (or liquid) be that is dumped on the Head Coach of the Winning Super Bowl Team?

Clear/Water, +175
Orange, +250
Yellow, +250
Blue, +650
Green, +650
Red, +650

Clear/Water, +150
Yellow, +150
Orange, +250
Red, +500
Lime Green, +550
Blue, +1000

I think these odds are reasonable, to the extent that betting on Gatorade being dumped on a grown man can be "reasonable". The Giants dumped purple Gatorade on Coughlin last year, which is (still) not even a listed color. "Clear" had a great run from 2005-2008, but it's now lost four times in a row, so that is sad.

Section 2: Alicia Keys

How long will it take Alicia Keys to sing the National Anthem?

Over 2:12, EV
Under 2:12, -140

Over 2:12, -120
Under 2:12, -120

Over 2:05, EV
Under 2:05, -130

Over 2:05, -170
Under 2:05, +130

Over 2:12, +190
Under 2:12, -270

This is is the highest the Anthem O/U has been since I started doing these posts; in the past it's been between 1:34 and 2:01. The reason that folks are expecting such a lengthy Anthem seems clear:
“Wait till you hear this one,” Keys said with a wink. ”You’ll see. I’m gonna do it in a way that only I can do.”
So that should be interesting, and could affect the props below. But for this one, between the uncertainty with her approach and lack of research materials, it's hard to know. When in doubt, just go for the available arbs/middles.

Will Alicia Keys forget or omit at least 1 word of the official US National Anthem?

Yes, +170
No, -250

Yes, +190
No, -270

Will Alicia Keys add at least 1 NEW word of the official US National Anthem?

Yes, +200
No, -300

Will Alicia Keys play a piano during her rendition of the National Anthem?

Yes, -600
No, +250

Quite a bit going on here. For not omitting a word, -250 seems pretty short. I think this is due to a) Aguilera screwing up two years ago, and b) Keys' aforementioned promise to mix it up a bit. But really, what Aguilera did seems pretty irrelevant, and while getting creative certainly increases the odds of a mistake, it's not like she can't practice in advance. I'd go with "No" on that one.

Will Alicia Keys be booed during or after her rendition of the National Anthem?

Yes, +500

Would definitely stay away here. I'm not sure what exactly would have to happen for a Super Bowl crowd in New Orleans to boo the Anthem, but I'd say there's under a 16.7% chance that it happens here.

Section 3: Beyoncé

What predominant color will Beyonce's top be at the beginning of the Super Bowl halftime show?

Black, +225
Gold/Yellow: +275
Sliver/Grey: +350
White: +500
Red: +650
Pink: +750
Orange: +1200
Blue: +1500
Green: +1500

Gold, +250
Black, +300
Silver, +300
Red, +300
White, +600
Yellow, +750
Blue, +750
Green, +1000
Purple, +1000
Pink, +1000

BK is from Texas (sorry), so I think we can rule out 49ers and Ravens colors. Doesn't get us very far though. Honestly, I don't have much of an opinion here, just thought it was important to make a really forced reference and post the lines.

Will Beyonce be joined by Jay-Z on stage during the Super Bowl halftime show?

Yes, +110
No, -150

Will Hill:
Yes, +200

Another arb. Not sure what to do with this one beyond that; maybe there will be an angle on the Beyonce props coming out of her press conference (3pm EST on Thursday).

Will Beyonce's hair be curly/crimped or straight at the beginning of the Super Bowl halftime show?

Straight, +110
Curly/Crimped, -150

As we have seen with the "Thanks" props, there can be some controversy on how these unusual props are graded. On the subject of Beyonce's hair, however, Bodog is getting out in front of this issue. This prop includes a link to a separate page, with examples of Beyonce with curly, crimped, and straight hair.

Will Beyonce be showing cleavage during her first song?

Yes, -500
No, +300

Okay, probably time to move on.

Section 4: The Harbaughs

There are a LOT of these. Most of them seem pretty dumb. For example:

Attire - Both coaches wearing hats (will be graded in first quarter):

Yes, -1000
No, +600

I realize you could say this same thing about this entire post, but: who cares???

How many times will Harbaugh be said during the game?

Over 20.5, -140
Under 20.5, +110

This would at least be fun to keep track of, and/or a good drinking game. No real opinion though; once about every three minutes seems reasonable.

How long will the postgame handshake/hug last between Jim and John Harbaugh?

Over 7 seconds, -120
Under 7 seconds, -120

The "sharp" money has come in on the under thus far, as this one has come down from 7.5 seconds. I'd still go with the under -- that's a pretty long hug -- but they are brothers, and I'm sure there will be a decent amount of chatting involved, so who knows.

How many times will the game be referred to as the Harbaugh Bowl or Har Bowl or Super Baugh during the game?

From kick off until final whistle. Live pictures only, any taped pictures or past video does not count towards wager. Half time does not count towards wager. Must say full name. Book manager's decision is final.

Over 2.5, EV
Under 2.5, -140

Included the fine print on this one since it seemed important. I would go under here. The game is on CBS, and in the past they haven't messed around much with nonsense like this. Add in the fact that pre-kickoff and halftime aren't included, and that all of these names are completely ridiculous/worthless, and I think this comes in at two or fewer.

Section 5: Miscellaneous 

How many times will Jay-Z be shown on TV during the game?

Over 0.5, -120
Under 0.5, -120

Same fine print as the "Har Bowl" prop. I would also go under here, since CBS does not generally pay much attention to celebrities during the actual game. My main concern would be that they show his wife in the second quarter when mentioning the halftime show, but it seems unlikely that they'd be sitting together at that point.

If Ray Lewis is interviewed on TV after the game on the field or in the locker room how may times will he mention "God/Lord"?

Over 3, -120
Under 3, -120

"Does Not Thank Anyone" is in some serious trouble if Ray wins the MVP.

What will be the highest tweet per second during the Super Bowl?

Over 17,000, -140
Under 17,000, EV

This one opened at 15,000, so has been bet up a bit. It looks like last year's game peaked at 12,223 TPS, which was up from 4,064 two years ago. A bit more recently, the Euro 2012 final maxed out at 15,358 TPS. These odds seem pretty reasonable, it probably just depends on whether there's one play that's especially notable. If there's something like Flacco-to-Jones for 70 yards on Sunday that would likely crush all these numbers.

Enjoy the game.