by Simon Noble of Pinnacle Sports - 10/06/2005
In our last few articles, we have talked quite a bit about "sharp" money. A sharp or professional player is one we expect will win in the long-term. How can we tell if any given player will be a consistent winner going forward? The most accurate way we have found is to compare the line a player received when they made their bet in relation to our closing line.
If a player consistently beats our closing price at Pinnacle Sports, he is likely to be a long-term winner - period. Interestingly, we have found that this test is more reflective of a player's future winning potential than their historical win/loss record with the company.
For example, if our closing price on the Eagles was -3 -104 and a customer played -3 +105 earlier in the week - that was a sharp bet. When a player can anticipate the line movement and does this consistently over a series of 100 bets or more, that player is conclusively sharp and will be up substantially in the long run.
What's the quickest way to identify a player that needs to adjust their style of betting? One who pays a bad price. If other online sports books offer the Eagles at -3 -120 and a player wagers there instead when a better price was available elsewhere such as -3 -104 at Pinnacle Sports, he is almost certainly not sharp. Even if he has been winning thus far, that player will probably lose over time.
How can you use this information to your advantage? By adopting the process known as "comparison shopping". Not only is it second nature to sharp players, but it is one of the easiest ways for any player to increase their potential winnings by playing at the best available price. This is done by having accounts at multiple sports books so that you no longer remain a captive to the 20-cent line of a single book.
The objective when comparison shopping is to shrink the margins on both sides of any given match-up to around six cents or better wherever possible. This is when you are in a position where you can lay -104 on the favorite at one sports book or take back +100 (even money) at another book on the underdog for example.
Once convinced of the benefits of applying comparison shopping to your own personal betting, it's worth conducting some Internet research to find a selection of sports books to use. Ideally in addition to your existing bookmaker, you should be looking to hold accounts at one or two reduced juice bookmakers such as Pinnacle Sports together with a couple of recreational books, where you'll find inflated favorite prices and most likely attractive odds on the underdog.
If you are having difficulties comparing the prices between books that offer different lines simply request a free user name/password and log into www.PinnacleSports.com. You can then check the buy/sell feature which is available on the member's section of the site. This will allow you to determine the difference in price between playing the Colts at -14 -110 or -15 +100 at different books and allows you to equalize the lines.
Still not convinced about comparative shopping? If you don't have an account yet at Pinnacle Sports, try taking the "Pinnacle Challenge". Whenever you place a bet for the week ahead, check the odds on that wager at www.PinnacleSports.com compared to the price you played at. Don't be surprised at how much money you may be missing out on by not having an account at Pinnacle Sports. You could even take the test on the games listed below where we have already seen some interesting early line movement.
Oklahoma (+13.5) at Texas
Oklahoma has won the annual Red River Rivalry on the last four occasions including a 12-0 victory in 2004 when Adrian Peterson ran for 225 yards. This season, Oklahoma's offensive woes were worsened by Peterson's ankle sprain last weekend making him questionable for Saturday's meeting between the two teams. The Sooners are averaging only 137.5 passing yards per game and if Peterson cannot carry the running game, this match-up could get very ugly.
We opened at -11 and instantly received heavy Texas money. Within 45 minutes the early sharps bet the Longhorns out to -13.5. The market seems to have stabilized at this level where we are now seeing two-way action.
Georgia (+3) at Tennessee
Tennessee finally picked Rick Claussen as its starting quarterback after leading a second-half comeback at LSU a week ago. The starter now has a myriad of problems including Achilles tendonitis, a bruised left throwing shoulder, a thigh bruise and has dislocated two fingers on his non-throwing hand. Despite this, Claussen is expected to start against the Bulldog defense, ranked 7th in the country. Georgia is coming off a bye-week and hope to avenge last season's 19-14 loss. The last three times these teams have played, the visitor has won.
We opened the game at -3, which looks like a solid number and we've seen two-way action the entire time.
Bears (+3) at Cleveland
Cleveland has scored only four touchdowns the entire season and three of these were against a hapless Green Bay defense. Both teams are 1-2 but Chicago appears defensively solid allowing just 13 points per game.
The game opened at -2 and was quickly bet up to -3 +105 / +3 -113 on Sunday night. Moving onto or off the "3" is a big step and forced money on the Browns. Since moving to -3, Cleveland bets are outnumbering Chicago bets by a ratio of two to one.
Steelers at Chargers O/U 45
Based on yards per play, Pittsburgh and San Diego are the #1 and #4 ranked offenses in the league with 6.7 and 6.1 yards per play, respectively. Looking at points scored per game, they rank #2 and #4 with 31.8 and 27. Two factors adjusting the total downward though are the Steelers stingy defense, which is allowing just 12.3 points per game, and their +7 turnover differential.
We opened the total at 44 and took four bets on the over for every one placed on the under. The market has now settled around the 45 to 45.5 mark where we are seeing balanced action.