by Simon Noble - 01/25/2006
With nearly two weeks until the Super Bowl, bettors have plenty of time to decide which team they like in the championship game. During this period, you should not only study how the teams match-up, but also how to maximize your earning potential on the big game.
If you like a particular team in a match-up, you should decide whether to bet the spread or the moneyline. To decide which line offers better value, you need a "moneyline to spread" conversion chart. Most linesmakers have made one of these charts by tallying wins and losses for favorites of different spreads. You can make your own chart by looking at games at each spread, and comparing the wins versus losses. The ML for a favorite at a given spread is (-100 * wins / losses).
You can create a database to make a conversion chart, or use this basic moneyline to spread conversion chart for ease of reference:
This chart is just a general guideline. To gain more power, generate your own conversion charts for home/away, and high/low totals. In general, home teams do slightly better at any given spread. You'll also find that as the totals decrease, the moneyline for a given spread increases. So a 7-point favorite in a game with a total of 30 might be -330 (instead of -280 for a typical game with a 42.5 total).
At Pinnacle Sportsbook we offer reduced margin wagering on moneylines using a ten cent line which offers bettors up to 50% better value than other bookmakers. You may find that Pinnacle Sports book is the best price on whichever team you like in the Super Bowl.
Sometimes you'll find a spread and moneyline that really don't coincide and this is often the case in the Super Bowl. In last year's game between New England and Philadelphia, the Patriots were 7-point favorites and -230 favorites on the moneyline. For this match-up, you'd normally expect the no-vig moneyline to be about -290. In this case, public betting caused an inaccurate conversion.
The public tends to bet the underdog on the moneyline and the favorite on the spread. These two tendencies combine to force the spread and moneyline out of alignment. Whether this is the result of public betting or a linesman sleeping on the job, alert players can profit as there are many ways to benefit in these situations.
If you're certain one of the lines is off, but not sure which, many professionals play "the middle" by betting on both the moneyline favorite and the underdog on the spread. In the last two Super Bowls, sharp bettors have profited by simply fading the public. In last year's Super Bowl, wise guys "middled" the game by making the following bets:
$1150 to win $1000 on Philadelphia Eagles +7.5
$1498 to win $652 on New England moneyline
In this case the middle paid off as New England won by 3 points, paying sharp bettors on both the moneyline and the spread. If the Patriots had won by more than 7 (or if the Eagles won), the bets would have had a combined net loss of $498. These bets in combination are giving you 3.3 to 1 odds on the prop "Will the Patriots win by 1-7?" when the fair odds would be closer to 2.6 to 1. The gap between 3.3:1 and 2.6:1 is the overlay caused by public bettors.
There's no guarantee that this Super Bowl will have a public-forced conversion opportunity, but the the game always presents lots of other opportunities to profit from proposition bets. There are more props on the Super Bowl than any other event and at Pinnacle Sports there are literally hundreds of low-juice props to choose from. Next week, we will focus on how to analyze the type of game props you'll typically see in the Super Bowl. If you have a particular question on props, feel free to submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to cover them in next week's column.
Seattle (+3.5) v Pittsburgh O/U 47 ML +169/-179
Years ago, Super Bowls were expected to be blow-outs. Scoring was usually at a frenetic pace and the game was often effectively over by half-time. The recent trend has been parity with three of the last four Super Bowls decided by exactly three points.
Another trend to watch is that underdog bettors have won the last four Super Bowls against the spread. Notwithstanding the dominance of favorites this year, many players will be waiting in the weeds for the best price on Seattle. Between new found parity and the ever increasing amount of public money, there will always be value in the dogs for high-profile games.
This is also the first time that a low seed has opened as a favorite against a #1 seed. The Steelers are the public team in part due to recent results - they have won the last three games impressively against the top AFC seeds. In addition, two of Pittsburgh's losses happened when Ben Roethlisberger was injured.
On the other side, Seattle has quietly routed teams all year, winning the "last 13 games that mattered." The Seahawk's red-zone defense has been especially impressive - their opponents scored only 24 TDs all regular season, compared to 34 field goals. Part of this was due to Seattle's schedule, which included two games against both Arizona and San Francisco plus another freebie against Houston.
We opened this game with the Steelers as 3-point favorites, and the early money quickly pushed this up to -3.5 and -4 across the market. Once the number stabilized, we've had a staggering volume of balanced two-way action. Knowing we had a good number, we raised the limits on sides bets to $100,000 per click (you can contact us for higher limits). The sharps have been quiet thus far which suggests they might play Seattle on or near game day when the dog spread is usually best for high-profile games.
We opened the moneyline at Pittsburgh -170/+160 and took nearly two Seattle bets for every one on the Steelers. Despite the influx of Seahawk money, the moneyline still drifted up due to the climbing spread. We now have the enviable position of taking Seattle money at +160, and being able to sell it off at -179. We've taken some minor sharp action, but there is no clear consensus as of yet and the light action by wise guys is split relatively evenly.
The total opened at 46.5 under (-110). We saw a moderate volume slightly favoring the over which pushed the total up to 47. The sharps have stayed off this game, possibly waiting for public money to force the total higher. Super Bowls always have a constant upward pressure caused by public money, as the public find it painful to watch a game and constantly root for nothing to happen. Interestingly, scoring has been historically higher when there are two weeks between the Championship games and the Super Bowl.