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How Sportsbooks Troll Gamblers With Absurd Markets

Someone Trolling
If I hadn’t worked in the nightclub industry in a past life, I would probably be a lot more frustrated with betting sites that hold as much information as possible close to the vest. I’ve literally been told by a sportsbook employee as I searched for a game line, “You will find out if there are odds on the match when you log on and see whether there are odds on the match.”

Bookmakers don’t want their strategy to be common knowledge, or it might fall into the hands of rivals. But if you ask me, the stonewall-tactics are more about trying to ward-off manipulative and busybody users before they are able to wreak mayhem.

The problem isn’t that clients will “take a yard” if given an inch. It’s that 1 out of every 10 or 100 people will sense weakness and an opportunity to play the victim, and try to take a mile. It is bad, reckless business for odds-managers to give away what goes on inside the sportsbook office.

What if you could ask an online gambling site any question you wanted, and they had to answer? What would you say? I’m sure there are a lot of readers who would ask about the intricacies of Over/Under total markets or what criteria goes into selecting a new sport or TV show as an action-handle in the 1st place. All would be good to know. But I would probably ask something else.

Q: “Be real guys. Are you trolling us with some of these odds?”

A: “You will find out if we are trolling you when you see whether or not we’re trolling you…um, no, I mean, yes of course we are. What took you so long to notice?”

How a Betting Site Trolls the Gambling Public

The best way to learn is by example, so let’s look around at Bovada Sportsbook and BetOnline to see if there are any current “joke” markets. You can’t miss them once you know what to look for.

The United States’ (-10000) line-to-win Group E at the upcoming FIBA World Cup is a mild example. You can’t get anywhere gambling on a 1-to-100 line at an online sportsbook because the bet limit on any market is often at or around $100. That’s a $1 winner at risk of a Benjamin.

A more glaring example of the death-by-short-market troll was Paris Saint-Germain’s short-lived (-100000) market to win the French league again, offered at Bovada earlier this spring.

By offering bettors a dime on a $100 wager if PSG cashed-in on an overwhelming late-season lead in the standings, the odds manager was telling us, “go ahead and hunt for your sure-thing futures winners, but you’re not going to get more than a dime from me.”

Politics can breed a few less-than-serious betting markets. Marianne Williamson, a child of the 1960s whose campaign for President is garnering less than 2% in the polls, was lampooned after giving a debate performance that sounded like a public reading of a book on sale at Passages.

But Williamson, who has 0% chance to win due to her uneasy relationship with the DNC and a slew of more-popular leftist candidates soaking up her potential constituency, shows up on the BetOnline political betting board not once, but twice – as a (+15000) wager to win next summer’s Democratic Nomination and as a (+25000) bet to be the 46th POTUS.

That’s a joke – literally. But it’s not so funny when people gamble on hopeless lines based on only the immense payout odds. You’ve got better chances at a jackpot by betting on an unknown Thoroughbred to win the next Kentucky Derby at 500-to-1.

Finally, oddsmakers are known to troll gamblers by offering odds on outcomes that are so silly, so banal – like whether a reality TV host will get married or dive into a vat of Jell-O – that we get a rush of guilty amusement from the simple fact that we’re considering them.

Here’s a closer look at some of the below-the-belt jabs you’ve been taking from the bookie…perhaps without ever knowing it.

Name-Recognition Blues

The decisions made by voters impact the outcome of elections; decisions made by CEOs impact outcomes for companies and corporations. Yet while a polled voter is more likely to name a candidate they have heard of (and a CEO is most likely to hire an engineer she’s heard of), gamblers and handicappers must learn not to think like voters and stockholders even as we predict what they will do.

Bovada is among the sportsbooks which has recognized the “celebrity” self-aggrandizement of modern politics. The Presidency was originally supposed to be a quiet office that would oversee the 3 branches of government and help rat-out any malfeasance. There is no evidence that the Founding Fathers intended for Commanders-in-Chief to give stump speeches in public. George Washington never did, even though radio and TV addresses were impossible for him. Yet in modern day the simple act of running for POTUS makes any politician into a celebrity.

Donald Trump’s success in politics has opened up speculation over who will be the next celebrity-tycoon outsider to run for the Oval Office. Bookmakers realize this, and have offered reasonable markets on celebrities who have made overtures about getting into national politics. Those long-shots include names like Oprah Winfrey, The Rock, and George Clooney.

But the betting sites don’t stop there. To take advantage of the public’s gullibility, they are taking in small-but-sweet “freebie” handles on celebs who could simply never become President or win the 2020 election.

For instance “LaVar Ball” was an online futures-betting market for POTUS earlier in 2019.

Bovada’s lines-to-win the 2020 general election must be read to be believed. Unless you think the Hand of God is about to sweep over the Earth and cause some truly weird things to happen, surely you know there is no point in gambling on Joe Rogan, Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio or Kanye West to win the Electoral College and be inaugurated as the Leader of the Free World to begin 2021.

Yet there they all are in the sportsbook’s political section – all (+100000) “underdogs” to prevail on ballots cast next November.

Caution: Objects in Sportsbook More Complex Than They Appear

One of the issues I’ve got with handicapping blogs in general is that they give advice in a vacuum.

Not every website has detailed files on managing your bankroll as this one does, and even LegitGamblingSites.com articles have skipped-over the whole idea of what to do after you actually win money from the bookmaker. Gambling is gambling and real life is real life, and often a bettor who wins a jackpot on an underdog cannot withdraw the funds due to having followed the breathless daily advice of a blogger and put it all back into the markets already.

They try to be evil, but they’re not the best at it. No clumsy, lazy journalist can ever hold a candle to a bookmaker in mind-screwing the betting public.

Odds are often more complicated than they appear. A bettor might see an even-up (-110) vs (-110) line on the likely Republican vs Democrat race to November 2020. Then, scrolling down, he finds a market on Donald Trump or Joe Biden – the 2 probable party nominees – at (+130) and takes the longer line. “They think Trump has a (-110) chance but they’re giving him (+130),” the gambler thinks.

But the odds never indicated that Trump has a (-110) chance to win. They only indicate that a Republican winning the 46th Presidency is a (-110) payoff. If Trump happens to fall ill and loses to a younger, healthier opponent in a surprise primary bid, and that insurgent goes on to win the general election over a Democrat (or anybody) the (-110) wager pays off, but the (+130) wager does not.

Now think again about the Republican vs Democrat line. (-110) vs (-110) is a standard-enough market for an election far in the future, but is it actually juiced? An election is not like a basketball game where there must be a winner among the “teams” listed. If an independent candidate, say Howard Schultz, wins the 2020 general election, then both moneyline markets lose. There should be a 3rd market for “other” at long odds just as there might be a “Draw” line at (+1500) on a mismatch in soccer.

Instead, the bookie has simply disguised the juice by handicapping a 90% or 95% probable outcome – that of a major party electing the next POTUS – as if it’s a head-to-head “sports” scenario.

“Politics are like sports” is a great quip over dinner, but it’s not accurate as far as gambling is concerned.

A Little Common Sense Goes a Long Way

I wanted to mention “dead” point spreads and Puck Lines that are designed to have chaotic outcomes and create a “virtual roulette wheel” for the sports bookmaker. Bettors have a hard time finding value in 1 and ½ spreads on NHL hockey thanks to the prevalence of empty-net play at the end of games.

But having already covered that topic in a previous post, I’d like to conclude by sharing a couple of new vocabulary terms I learned today from a fellow handicapper.

The terms are “square gambling” and “Casual Joe.”

Casual Joe goes “square” gambling every day, much to his bad fortune. But I’m more concerned with the written word than with touts on ESPN. Books often try to capture Joe by attaching a “blog” with “predictions” and recommendations to the odds/markets section of the site.

It’s pretty much impossible to find a plus-handicapper working for a sports betting site. Impossible – by design.

My blogs help to sell advertising for various sportsbooks, and you’d think that we’d all be frauds, instructed to give the sites’ clientele as much bad advice as possible so that they all lose. But bookmakers don’t necessarily want newcomers to lose their 1st or 2nd wagers. They just want them hooked, and it’s easier to get in the habit of gambling when you win right away.

However, once the oddsmaker has you on-site and logged-in every day, what are the chances of getting solid advice and predictions from the articles posted there?

I’m giving it (+25000)…like Marianne Williamson’s odds to become President.

Don’t blame the bookies. Putting blog posts that pretend to tout “lock winners” somewhere on the site – racebooks are especially good at it – is a way to help Casual Joe scratch his itch while not really harming the serious ‘cappers out there.

Provided we know better than to read them, that is.