12 November 2013

Introduction To Value Wagering

By Buffalo66
Buffalo, NY

Whenever I get a chance to talk sports betting in person, my conversations never seem to get to value betting.  Almost every bar stool pundit I meet just wants to know which side I'm on and how many points.  Truth be told, I used to be like that.  But learning to find value in my wagering was the very important  "A-ha" moment in my chosen career path.

So just what is value wagering?   Poker players define a value bet as a bet placed with the intention of being called by a lesser hand.  In other words, it's getting your money in with the best of it.  As punters, we want to put our money in a good spot.  That's the goal of a value wager.

Defining value in a sports bet is not an easy task.  If we have a Cowboys/Giants pick 'em game at -110 on both sides, it appears there may be no value to be found.  But this assumes the game is a 50/50 coin flip, based on the odds you were given.  If your research on the game finds one team as a strong favorite (say 70% to win), then getting -110 on that team is a superior value.  The odds pay out WAY more than they should.  That's getting your money in a good spot.

Let's look at another example from a different view point.  If the Yankees/Red Sox game is a true coin flip, both teams have an equal 50% chance of winning.  Yet if the Yankees are priced at -105 while the Sox are +120, you would take the Boston side every time.  It pays better.  It's a better value.

You can find value in games that appear to be huge mismatches.  Sometimes there is value in playing a -300 money line favorite.  A dog you think has a 35% chance of winning can be a good value bet if the odds pay enough.

One area I personally found good value is the NHL puck line.  First off, NHL odds rarely move.  Heavy favorites often pay well over +200 if they win by 2 goals.  At those odds you only need to win 33% of your bets to be profitable.  It sounds simple enough, with just one caveat:  Most punters can't handle the psychological kick in the nuts of losing 67% of the time.

I still beat myself up when I lose several wagers in a row.  It's definitely frustrating.  Now, I could stick to betting money line in NHL.  But while I would win more bets, I would also be less profitable.   Being able to realize winning less would equal more money was a HUGE step forward in my betting lifestyle.

There are other important betting concepts to learn, such as line shopping or beating a closing line.  But before you make your next sports wager, ask yourself, "What's the best value on the board tonight?"  You might be handsomely rewarded.

08 November 2013

Talking Bull(ying)

By Joe Speaker
Los Angeles, CA

I am not a fan of finger-wagging. I do not like to enforce my parameters on other people. I am no soapbox-standing, paragon of virtue who believes all must conform to my ideas of what is right or wrong or moral or ethical. My concern over behaviors in society is pretty much confined to my children and people on the train who won't share the armrest. Outside that tiny sphere, I can't find the slightest outrage or Political Correctness on topics that do not threaten the daily lives of American or the American Way (which is my way of saying I have plenty of outrage over our elected officials). But sports, and whatever is the Hot Take of the day? As the uncle of one of my best friend once said, "I have my own dick and balls to worry about."

Of course, I'm talking about the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin circus. I have read quite a bit and been mildly offended by some angles and humored by others. Most if it, however, insists on playing the blame game--Team Incognito or Team Martin?!--and, without fail, your landing in either camp would be entirely dependent on your personal frame of reference, rather than a analysis of the facts in the case (most of which are unknown). So many votes across the spectrum. From Savage Asshole to Boys Will Be Boys to Sissy-Baby Taking His Ball and Going Home. Whatever. Nowhere have I seen what, to me, is the most telling aspect of the issue.

My frame of reference, of course, is as a former athlete who was bullied by teammates. You would think this shared experience would cause me to side with Martin and express my horror, but...nah. You know why? Because I was able to take it. My personality allowed 9/10ths of it to roll off my back. (Of course, it wasn't "bullying" back then; it was just the natural pecking order exerting itself. Rites of passage.) So I'm on Incognito's side? Nope. 'Cause bullies are assholes.

The point I want to make is this. Here's where the blame goes. In a locker room, you will have cliques. You will have fights. You will have abrasive and passive personalities. You will have ribbing and frequent shit-talking. And you will have leaders. Players who hold a certain gravitas. Players who understand where the line is. Players who intuit what others, different personalities all, need.

When I was bullied, those guys stepped in. When I needed a hand that other 1/10th of the time, they were there.

You know what else? We won. A lot.

You know how many times Richie Incognito's teams have finished over .500? Zero. You know what his lifetime winning percentage is in the pros? .327. When Richie Incognito is on your team, you will lose 40 more games than you win.

There's your lesson.

If Miami had any leaders, this would have never happened. Total failure as an organization. Which expresses itself everywhere, especially on the field. So, take sides. Point fingers. But just know it's everyone's fault. And your team sucks because of it.

06 November 2013

NHL: The Legend Of "LOL" David Legwand

By Spaceman 
Nashville, TN 

The Nashville Predators are a hockey club with a short history. Preds fans have no memories of Cups won to fall back on during the injury-filled doldrums of the long NHL season. All we have is our story: expansion, playoff progress, ownership debacles, and the hope against all sane expectations that someday defense really will win us a championship. Likewise, we have no Maurice Richard, no Bobby Orr, no Wayne Gretzky in our lore. What we have is a man who says everything there is to say about the franchise: David Legwand.

David Legwand, Nashville's longest-serving NHL player.
(Photo: Frederick Breedon)
There’s been no player who has appeared in as many games, dished as many assists, scored as many goals, or won as many games on the final shot as David Legwand. Picked second overall in the 1998 draft, just behind Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lecavalier, Leggy holds all those Predators records mainly by default. Injuries have limited him to just 894 games in his 14 previous seasons. His 526 points in that span (200 goals and 326 assists) are a touch underwhelming, especially compared to the guy taken ahead of him (383 goals and 491 assists in 1,037 games), but nobody with a scoring touch has ever stuck around Nashville long enough to seriously challenge the mark. Instead the franchise’s top scorer - fittingly, given the style of play around here - is a two-way player who’s only topped 50 points twice in his career.

Though he’s easily the most accomplished player in franchise history and holds a special place because of it, there’s still a bit of a love-hate relationship with him. For all that scoring over the years he’s still been prone to zoning out during games and making some pretty ridiculous decisions. Even Preds coach Barry Trotz once said that Legwand can be “as good as he wants to be” - a nicer way of saying he doesn’t put forth full effort often enough. Just the 2012 playoffs alone gave us three serious WTF moments:

1.) Covering up the puck in the playoffs 

Legwand nearly cost his team a penalty shot in a playoff game against the Red Wings:

2.) Grabbing Johan Franzen from the bench 

This is from the same series against Detroit. Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to motive, but for some reason Leggy decided to grab Johan Franzen’s sweater from the bench and took a spear as a result. But the refs saw his move beforehand, so there were offsetting penalties as a result. If Franzen hadn’t lost his cool this could have been another disaster for the Preds:


3.) Throwing the puck in front of the goal

The second round of those same playoffs saw Legwand actually gift the Phoenix Coyotes with a goal in one of the biggest blunders of his career:


This is why I told my friend Brandon, when I took him to his first Preds game against the Jets a few weeks back, that I call the longest-serving Pred “LOL Legwand.” For all the good things he’s done over the years, he’s also done all sorts of baffling things. As goofy as Leggy can be, though, he still seems to turn it on when you least expect it - and often that comes when the rest of the team has been playing like crap.

For instance, at the game where I told Brandon about my nickname for Leggy, the veteran center made a steal in the Winnipeg zone and dished to Craig Smith for the game-winner with 17 seconds left in overtime. Two games later he put up a goal and two assists against Phoenix, and in the next game he scored twice to help the Preds beat the Kings. All told he has seven points in his last four games - something to be happy about, for sure, but also somewhat maddening when you consider how often he just disappears on the ice or acts on some bizarre impulse. If that kind of inconsistency isn’t worth an LOL, what is? 

David Legwand's contract is up after the 2013-14 season.
(Photo: AP/David Zalubowski)
Leggy’s contract is up at the end of this year. He’s the last remaining on-ice link to the franchise’s early days and his family lives here in Nashville; being part of the Preds family is a strong pull for the front office to give him another deal. He’d be able to play his 1,000th NHL game in a gold sweater if that were the case. On the other hand, he’s pretty expensive for sub-50-point production and isn’t quite as fast as he used to be, especially compared to the youth movement we have here these days. My guess is that he gets a one- or two-year extension, but there’s really no telling at this point. Whatever happens, he’ll always have a place in Nashville Predators history.


Playing without superstar goalie Pekka Rinne has been a rough ride so far. Carter Hutton (3-1-1, 2.76 GAA, .914 SV%) has done an admirable job between the pipes as Rinne fights off an infection in his surgically repaired hip, but there’s only so much an inexperienced backup goalie can do when he plays behind a team that gives up lots of shots every night.


Even without the services of Mr. Rinne, Nashville finished out the first month of the season at 6-5-2 - not terribly impressive, but enough to remain competitive in the Central Division. They got November off to a good start with a hard-fought 4-3 win over the Kings (thanks in large part to Leggy’s two goals).


Pekka Rinne had a procedure to remove the infection from his hip and picked up a second infection - this one E. coli - along the way, forcing him to miss six to eight weeks in total. The Preds were blown out 6-1 by St. Louis back on 10/26, marking their second big loss to their division rivals in this young season. The penalty killing unit, which had gone seven straight games from 10/12-10/24 without surrendering a power play goal, has given up four on 10 opportunities since 10/26. The offense, which averaged better than 31 shots through the first eight games this season, has dropped off to just 25.8/game since then; their opponents have averaged 32.8 shots in that same span.


The Preds have averaged 3.00 goals per game since Carter Hutton took over in goal, but they’ve given up 3.75 per game in that same span. Four Preds (Legwand, Patric Hornqvist, Shea Weber, and Eric Nystrom) are tied for the team lead in goals with four through 14 games. Leggy and Hornqvist are the only Preds with at least 10 points in that span. The team’s next five games are on the road against Colorado, Winnipeg, New Jersey, New York Islanders, and Pittsburgh, completing a seven-game trip before returning home for one night to face Chicago for the first of five games this season.

01 November 2013

College Football Upset Watch: Week 10

By Buffalo66
Buffalo, NY

Welcome back to another edition of the upset watch.  November is upon us with bad weather and rivalry games.  It might be too cold for ice cream!

Each week I get to highlight the games that have "live dogs." If they can pull off the upset, those juicy odds will fatten your wallet. Keep your eye on these games:

Wake Forest (+175) at Syracuse.  Wake is a team that is on the rise offensively, having beat down Maryland and almost upsetting Miami.  Syracuse has struggled to stay in games where they fall behind early.

West Virginia (+400) at TCU.  The Mountaineers makes some mistakes but they can put points on the board.  The Frogs will try to play a field position game.  If West Virginia can limit the turnovers they have a shot.

Minnesota (+285) at Indiana.  The Gophers are fresh off an upset of Nebraska.  They will continue to pound the rushing attack to control possession.  The Hoosiers will need a few quick scores to take Minnesota off its game plan.