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.