A Bandwagon Well Worth the Ride

The date was October 1, 2017.

As a senior hockey writer for RotoWire, I had been eager to start penning post-game wrap notes for the preseason finale between the Golden Knights and Sharks. While it’s often said that exhibition games are meaningless, I was smitten by the idea of an expansion team breaking ground in my happy place. At this point, sports gambling and its associated controversies were largely confined to Vegas, so I had a profound interest in knowing how that would all shake out. Plus, my childhood adoration for the film series “The Mighty Ducks” — which has deeply rooted ties to Anaheim’s NHL franchise — has fostered a personal affinity for expansion teams.

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Valuing Parlays vs. ATS Bets

Now that sports betting is about to be legal in various states, it’s worth going over some basic parameters in that space. I wrote a detailed, but by no means exhaustive glossary of gambling terms a few weeks ago, but I want to delve into the value (or lack thereof) of parlays in particular.

From the glossary:

The key point is that for a two-team parlay, you need to win both legs of the bet. Each leg has a 50 percent chance of coming in, so your chances of winning both are 50 percent of 50 percent or 25 percent. The true odds of a bet with a 25 percent chance to come in should be 3:1 – 75 percent chance to lose, 25 percent to win = 3:1.

But two-team parlays pay out only 2.6:1. That’s where the sports book takes its rake. The question then is how big is this rake, say, compared to the book’s usual -110 rake on straight bets against the spread.

To find out, let’s assume you made 100 $1 bets against the spread (ATS) and won half of them (the expected number, as it’s a 50/50 bet.) You’d win $50, lose $50 and then lose another $5 in rake for a total of $-5. That’s because you have to risk $110 to win $100, i.e., the reason the odds are typically denoted as “-110.”

If you made 100 $1 two-team parlay bets and won the expected amount (25 of them), you’d win $25 * 2.6 = $65, while losing $75 for a net of $-10. As you can see, the rake on the parlay is twice as big as the rake on the standard ATS bet.

Accordingly, you should never parlay two (or more) teams unless you think there’s correlation between the two legs. For example, if you parlayed the Raiders +10 at Pittsburgh and over 50 (the total number of points in the game), and you thought the most likely way the Raiders cover is in a shootout, 2.6:1 odds could be more than enough. Specifically, if you thought the game had a 70 percent chance to go over if the Raiders covered, then you’d be parlaying a Raiders cover (50%) and the over (70%) for a total 35 percent chance of hitting both. At those odds, anything over 2:1 (66.6:33.3) is more than enough to compensate you for the risk, and 2.6:1 would be a massive edge.

Bottom line, only parlay correlated bets.

 

NHL Caps on the Brink of History

  • Hero to goat. Marc-Andre Fleury used to be a Conn Smythe shoe-in. Now, he’s the reason the Knights are one loss from their season ending. Crazy. He’s still the one and only reason Vegas is playing in the Final.
  • The Golden Knights have no answer for the Caps’ three franchise players — Evgeni Kuznetsov (four helpers), Alexander Ovechkin (one helper) and Nicklas Backstrom (three helpers).

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Best of Five for Lord Stanley

  • Are the Caps screwed if Evgeny Kuznetsov’s wrist is as broken as it looks? Let me rephrase that — HOW SCREWED are the Caps if that wing is busted?
  • Holy Holtby. Marc-Andre Fleury will win the Conn Smythe, win or lose, but Wednesday’s MVP was big bad Braden. That sprawling paddle save late in the third on that five-on-three PK was SportsCenter worthy.

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RotoWire Baseball Championship – 5th Qualifier

It’s the stretch run Wednesday night of the RotoWire/Fanduel Baseball Championship.

The contest includes six qualifying rounds, and only you’re best three scores count for the final leaderboard. There are still two rounds remaining, so even if you’re just finding out about the contest today, you’re still very much in the running. The top 25 scores on the overall leaderboard will compete for $2,000 and RotoWire subscriptions in the Championship Round on June 27.

Meanwhile, the experts here at RotoWire are competing in our own parallel contest. Jake Letarski (rotojakeski) won the contest two weeks ago with a score of 135.70, led by a pair of Red Sox in Chris Sale (42 points and Xander Bogaerts (25.7). He received consistent scoring through most of the lineup with Marlins’ Martin Prado (12.4) and Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger (12.2), but he received great value in the utility spot with Dodgers’ Max Muncy with 16 points.

In the overall standings Letarski sits at sixth place while Adam Wolf (rotosomething) holds the top spot (1053), but by only a little more than 27 points ahead of James Anderson (realjranderson) and a little more than 37 points ahead of Erik Halterman (ehalt). In terms of my placement this season, don’t ask. In relative parlance, I have basically hit into the shift almost every week.

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Ovechkin FINALLY heads off to the Stanley Cup Final

  • Braden Holtby saved his best for last. Game 6 was his first shutout of 2017-18. Game 7 was his second. 159:27 minutes of domination.
  • Alexander Ovechkin’s game has gone to another place, courtesy of a whole new level of maturity. That snipe 62 seconds in was yet another big point in a big game. And he finally seems to have shed the thought he has to do it all in order for the Caps to win.

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