It’s fun to carry your gambling action around with you. Like pets, good cigars, and Skittles, a placed wager can be a conversation starter. “Oh, you’ve got Tigers for $50? I’ve got Hornets for $75” often leads to a spirited discussion. There’s more in it than just fawning about the big game too – Las Vegas odds themselves come with a sort of fascination for folks who are still learning what the terms and markets mean. It’s like playing a lottery that about half of everybody wins every weekend…and understanding its rules well means you’re scratching-off your cards with a better nickel.
Not all of the thrill is social. The best reason to bet on sports is to help produce a rooting interest, and a rooting interest becomes a pastime even when the game’s not on.
Notice how seriously parents, relatives, and friends of the student-athletes take Division 2 and Division 3 college sports? No one outside a circle of alumni cares much whether the North-by-Southwest-Eastern Rhode Island Fire Ants win a basketball game, any more than a majority of FBS fans care if Eastern Michigan beats Toledo. But the excitement is alive in those who do care. Betting on a team – any team – can produce those “hometown” feelings toward an unfamiliar squad. If you gamble 5 days before kickoff (or tip-off) the feeling can persist all week as you devour the team’s media coverage.
But for bettors who take the “sport” of beating the bookmaker more seriously than any club’s shield or school colors, it’s not always a good idea to put down cash ASAP and then partake in the long anticipatory waiting.
Sometimes – most of the time, maybe – it’s a better course of action to wait for the lines to move and the payoff odds to change, and place that wager right before the game’s start time. It’s like fishing in the rain. Not always a barrel o’ laughs, but a great tactic to catch the big ones.
Here are the 4 best reasons to keep a patient trigger-finger at the sportsbook.
Reason #1 – Can’t Fade the Public Before the Public Gambles
The #1 reason is the simplest – Sin City line-movement caused by casual gamblers placing bets is always likely to open some doors for the smart shark as a game approaches. Bookmakers must balance their action on both sides of a line to protect a healthy “vig” or house %, causing odds to change with as the betting “handle” grows larger in a given market.
We know, for instance, that too many casual bettors opt to go with the moneyline favorite in an NFL contest, consumed with “picking the winner” as opposed to looking for the best risk-reward market and weighing chances of a won bet against potential payoff. As a result, favorites’ NFL lines tend to become too short and underdogs’ lines too long – a nice setup for waiting until Sunday morning to take the ‘dog at the cheapest price possible.
That syndrome results in O/U lines soaring when they should be steady, or steady when they should be falling. Casual fans like the wager the high-side of the Over/Under because it’s more fun to cheer for teams to score points, but again, the more-serious handicappers out there have a resulting opportunity if they focus on hunting for solid Under picks on the point total.
Sometimes it’s mere sentimentality moving the lines. Given the cult status of “other” franchises such as the New York Jets, Chicago White Sox, and Brooklyn Nets, it’s no wonder the L.A. Angels are admired by baseball fans – and the club went through a heartbreaking tragedy earlier this season. There was no hardball-analytics reason for the Angels to have been a popular underdog pick headed into a series with Oakland at the start of September, but fans wagered with their hearts. Vegas lines lengthened on the contending A’s as the Halos’ underdog line shrank to (+146) for the opener…an opener the Angels would lose as the Athletics scored in bunches while L.A. only pecked-away at the A’s starting pitching.
Really, gamblers? Did nobody want Mike Fiers vs Jamie Barria?
We can wonder why people make the bets they do. But be thankful for Casual Joe – especially if you had Oakland to win. The A’s payoff line might have been 1-to-2 or steeper were it not for the unwise rush of action on the Angels, and yet another set of speculators who waited until the last possible moment were rewarded over those who took the A’s at a short opening moneyline.
Waiting for lines to move – in a favorable direction – is not the only perk of last-minute sports betting.
Reason #2 – Complete Information
31 NFL teams must submit injury reports each Friday during the season. (The New England Patriots release a mysterious document alluding to “space viruses” and “Himalayan colds.”) College teams (or their NCAA overlords) are getting better at making injuries known to the public well before kickoff.
But injuries and starting-QB/RB/MLB decisions aren’t the only bits of information that a shark would want to find out prior to a kickoff.
I laugh sometimes when handicappers talk about “information.” Information is great. But you’ve got to know something about a game you’re gambling on that the fans, players, maybe even the coaches don’t know yet – and that means successfully predicting likely scenarios that could occur during the span of 3 hours (or 1-2 hours if you’re handicapping soccer or basketball).
Scenarios such as the weather, and exactly how Mother Nature plans to welcome an outdoor event.
As you may have heard, the weather can be notoriously difficult to predict ahead of time. For instance, I thought I had the “Over” pegged prior to the Army-Navy Game in 2017, since there was a rush of “Under” action that drove the O/U line down 5+ points as of 5 days prior to the game. Sure there was a chance of snow in Philadelphia that weekend, but heck, I thought, a little snow will keep the defenses from stringing-out opposing triple-option plays and designed pitches. A brief, light shower of flurries would be just as likely to help the final point total higher!
Ha, ha. Ha ha…ha.
I missed on the O/U by 50 points as the final score was 3 to 2…or something like that. It was hard to read the scoreboard through 15 inches of snowfall.
Probably the biggest disadvantage an online ‘capper has is that we can’t wait until the last day and gather information before posting a preview and a recommended wager. Take advantage of your advantages, non-bloggers of the world! Wait until an hour before kickoff to place bets…when even the TV meteorologist is able to get the weather right.
Reason #3 – Flexibility
Let’s face it, betting on sports in fall or winter is more of a weekend-vocation, even if your favorite sport isn’t football.
The biggest basketball, baseball and hockey games are scheduled on the weekend when possible.
95% of college and pro football, 95% of the English Premier League, most of Australia, and a good chunk of Europe plays its “football” (of all different varieties) on weekend days and nights.
Managing a bankroll at the betting book can be kind of like balancing a checkbook or managing a credit account – trying to come up with 365 different day-by-day “game plans” for the budget would be too much overwhelming stress.
Smart gamblers manage a bankroll from betting session to session or from week to week, capping the number of potential bets placed as well as the units (amounts).
If your weekly wager-limit is say, 10 total bets, then what happens when you place all 10 early in the week only to find that a line has moved fortuitously on Texas vs Oklahoma? Skip a moneyline winner on the Red River Showdown? No way! But whoops…now the choice is to go over-budget or get left-out.
Waiting until Saturday morning to make those moneyline picks is the best way to stay flexible in case things change and you’d like to adjust a strategy. It’s like cooking…it’s easy to throw bets in and you can always throw-in more…but you can’t remove them from your account once having made them.
Reason #4 – Live Odds Magnify the Public’s Mistakes
No, this post about last-day sports betting isn’t intended as a “gateway drug” to lead all readers to the live-betting markets.
As we discussed in an article on live-gambling posted last week, in-play betting takes quick thinking, excellent hardware, a strong internet connection, and nerves. In short…it’s a tricky business. As a fan – not necessarily as a Las Vegas sports profiteer – I strongly prefer making a pregame bet and sitting back to enjoy the ride.
But sometimes the prejudices of the betting public – already a factor in line-movement – can be magnified as soon as the event begins.
For instance, you might like Underdog X to beat the Dallas Cowboys on a given Sunday night, and there’s a pregame moneyline offer of (+200) on your pick from an NFL betting site. However, perhaps your pregame handicapping (or the almighty “information”) has led you to believe that the underdog is likely to have a slow start and a great 2nd half.
In that case, your best bet (excuse the pun) is probably to wait, tune-in to the game (and the casino’s live-gambling lines), and wager when things look superficially bleakest for the ‘dog in the 1st quarter. Maybe Dak Prescott throws an early TD pass or Ezekiel Elliott gallops for 40 yards before the defense can make any adjustments between possessions or a halftime.
When a favorite scores early, the in-play lines can go off-the-scale as optimistic favorites’ gamblers rush to hurry and gamble before the line grows so short as to be unprofitable if the Cowboys prevail. You should be able to get 5-to-1 or 7-to-1 odds on the underdog then…for no other reason than the natural ebb-and-flow in the opening 15:00 of an NFL game.
It’s just another reason to practice patience when looking at early-week NFL, FBS, and Premier League lines for next weekend…or Major League Baseball lines for tomorrow.
Place that wager an hour before, not a week before the game starts, and enjoy advantages that even pro prognosticators don’t have.