Betting the Field
by Joe Paciella - 10/15/2007
Does betting the field really increase your chances to win by giving you more dogs in the hunt? Let's take a look.
First, let's examine wagering on an individual player for golf tournament betting: During the 2007 PGA Tour season, Tiger Woods made 16 starts and won seven times. If a bet was placed on Woods to win each time, nine times the bet lost. If all bets were of equal value an overall loss was the result, since each event was right around even money. This is an example of why betting on one player or team (if they are playing in a tournament) can be disastrous. Even Tiger can't win enough events to justify betting on him for every start. This is the general principle behind betting on the field. The field is not made up of players such as Phil Mickelson or Vijay Singh; it's usually comprised of long shots, that on their own have odds too high to place on the odds list. However, lumped together there is a very real chance of one coming out of the pack for a win.
When should you bet the field? There are certain times that the field will give you great value for your money and there are other times when players or teams in the field don't stand a chance. Here are a few examples of each:
A glance at the odds of the 2008 Masters from Sportsbook.com will reveal that Tiger Woods is the favorite (I'm not even sure why I needed to mention that), followed by around 100 players or so that have their own odds. It may seem that all of the players with a realistic opportunity to win are covered, but some up-and-coming players that have a real chance would count towards the field bet. Players such as Sweden's Johan Edfors and Korea's YE Yang both have shown growth in the past year and could be around come Sunday afternoon. Don't forget, John Daly was the ninth alternate in the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick when he cashed in his first major victory.
Majors aside, a regular PGA Tour event can be a good place to bet the field. When choosing tournaments to go this route, never consider the field in any event where Tiger tees it up. This alone makes the bet a much riskier one, since any player that would be part of the field bet will most likely be intimidated out of contention before he even gets to the practice range. After you eliminate those events take a look at the rest, keying in on any that have very weak fields or are played opposite majors. This is by no means a foolproof way to win on the field bet every time these situations occur, but it will increase your success rate and put some more dollars in your pocket in the long run.
On the flip side, if you enjoy losing money, then go with the field in a team tournament for the sole reason that many upsets are likely to occur. Take the NCAA men's basketball tournament for example. Everyone knows a slew of underdogs win games and make noise. But that is no reason to blindly throw money on a field wager for NCAA futures betting. Odds to win the 2008 NCAA Championship are posted at Bodog. What is interesting to note here is that the field is listed at 45-1 odds. At first glance, one may think that this bet is a great one, since it has potential for a great return. However, after taking a closer look, the sharp bettor realizes that with the amount of teams that have their own odds, the teams considered the field are virtually reduced to your potential Northeast Conference and Sun Belt Conference Champions. Schools such as Drexel, Hofstra and UC Santa Barbara even have their own separate odds. True, two years ago George Mason would have qualified as one of the field teams, but they only made the Final Four. This is not high school algebra, and you don't get partial credit for your answer. That field bet still lost, since the Gators won. So, if you think that Davidson or Holy Cross has a shot to cut down the nets this April, by all means make that field bet. If not, then you may want to lay off it completely.