Pinnacle Pulse 8/9/07

The Pinnacle Pulse
Inside the Wagering Line
Simon Noble

The Pinnacle Pulse, a column highlighting betting strategy and line movement on key games. In this edition, Simon Noble of discusses handicapping college basketball games before discussing line movement on a variety of betting options at He then gives insight into the early line movement on this weekend’s big games.The Pinnacle Pulse Thursday 9th August 2007

The Pinnacle Pulse – Issue 73 part 1

English Premier League and Bundesliga Kickoff Plus Baseball
The Inside Line from the Pinnacle Sports book by Hobbes

Ah, the start of the new season. Optimism reigns supreme, with everything to play for. This weekend sees the start of the German Bundesliga and the English Premier League and although there has been little movement in the Premiership futures market, the ‘Bayern to Win’ line got hammered down to 1.54 by mostly public money before it received any resistance. Looking at specific games for this weekend, here are the hot ones according to the players:

English Premier League
Aston Villa vs. Liverpool
This game opened at -1/4 for Liverpool back in June, but it wasn’t until this week that the handicap finally switched to 1/2 a goal. This means there was probably a lot of value in the early lines (and also that punters now approve of Benitez’s £40m summer shopping spree). Since the move to a half, we’ve seen mostly two-sided action with many of our larger Asian punters backing Villa, which pushed the Reds’ side of this line up to 2.09 at one point. The Asian handicap is now -½ 2.05 on Liverpool, though you have to balance the Scousers’ clearly superior squad against the fact that Martin O’Neill’s men lost just 4 games at home last season, and the Pool scored fewer away goals than Fulham and Wigan (18).

Arsenal vs. Fulham
The Gunners’ line opened at -1½ 2.04 at home, but bettors took that number and ran through any resistance in July, finally prompting the move to -1¼. That said, the new handicap sparked a ton of Arsenal action which has continued throughout the week. By midweek, the Gunners were at 1.90 and it will be interesting to see where the line settles by kick-off on Sunday.

Totals trading on this game has been almost exclusively on the over.

Manchester United vs. Reading
United opened this game at -1½ 1.88, which sparked some early Reading action. Then late July, witnessed heavy trading on United with maximum limit bets pushing the line all the way down to 1.72. It has settled back slightly to 1.77, but with a 2:1 bet count as well as continued sharp action on Man U, we would expect the price to keep dropping, even though in four meetings last season United failed to cover the -1½ handicap.

VFL Wolfsburg vs. Arminia Bielefeld
Strangely, the Bundesliga game with the most volume this week is the one between relegation candidates Wolfsburg and Arminia Bielefeld. The line started at -½ flat for home side Wolfsburg, and despite considerable two-way action, Bielefeld’s line has deteriorated by weight of money alone. We’re still waiting for any real sharp action to show on the game, so the odds likely won’t settle until later in the week.

Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Hertha Berlin
Much like the Wolfsburg game, this encounter between two of last year’s bottom-half-of-the-table teams has also attracted early volume. The line started out as 0 “pick’em” and was heavily skewed in Frankfurt’s favour. The price has jumped around a little, but with action on both sides from all over the world, the line offered now seems to be market correct. If you see heavily skewed action at another bookmaker without a market correction from the rest of the world, figure one side likely has considerable value.


Baseball Sharp Plays

OVER on Boston Red Sox games:

The lines for Red Sox games have been bet over by our sharps continuously for a long time now. At one point it got so heavy that we would artificially raise the line earlier in the day, assuming the bets were coming even though the action we respect tends to come later on. It doesn’t happen every day, and it’s more likely to happen at Fenway than it is elsewhere, but it seems hard to go wrong with these bets.

UNDER and AGAINST the New York Yankees games:

This is the big one, especially the betting against the Yankees. For the entire year, the Yankees have been treated as the best team in the game even when they looked like nothing of the kind. Now that they are performing, the public enthusiasm has reached epic proportions. Yankee games are consistently the highest action game of the day, and the public money almost never goes against them. That’s why the sharps almost always oppose, betting into what are almost certainly inflated numbers. If you shop around and use the best available metrics, this is the greatest opportunity in MLB this season. The under is a far less extreme case, but it comes from the same public exuberance surrounding the Yankees’ lineup.


The Pinnacle Pulse – Issue 73 part 2

Baseball Betting Strategy – Team Totals
The Next Level from the Pinnacle Sports book by Locke

Normally when you handicap a game in any sport, you have to evaluate an individual team’s offensive and defensive capabilities. The performance of one during a game will usually influence the other, such as when and where the offense will receive the ball, and under what circumstances. Baseball is different as regardless of how well the offense or defense are performing, each team receives twenty-seven outs to score as many runs as they can, and a further twenty seven outs to limit the opposing team to as few runs as possible.

This provides bettors with the opportunity to focus on the element of the game where their opinion is strongest and profit where this view differs from that of the market. The way to do this is to bet on Team Totals.

Team Totals let you bet on the number of runs one team will score in contrast to other lines that depend on the scores for both teams combined. When you bet Over 4.5 runs for the Yankees, you win if they score five or more runs. Unlike betting a moneyline, runline or total, how many runs New York’s pitching allows is irrelevant, allowing you to focus on just their offense and the opposing defense. While there is the issue of whether the home team will bat in the bottom of the ninth and the risk of extra innings, these are relatively minor issues that have far less impact on your chances than the overall performance of the team’s defense during the game.

Don’t Forget the Juice
The problem with Team Totals is the same problem that all proposition bets have, the ‘juice’ or commission charged on them is higher than on the main betting lines. Most books will charge -115 (wager $115 to win $100) to bet Team Totals, whereas Pinnacle Sports prices Team Totals at -108 (wager $108 to win $100). Although this is a significant saving, there is generally not enough action for books to deal the line as sharp as they would a total or a runline, and even the Pinnacle Sports book only offers them for $2,000 per bet.

The key here is that Team Totals are closer to a main betting line than they are to a proposition bet, but they are not a true main line. When you have to pay -115 (1.87) it makes it tough to win, but it can still be done. The key is to make sure you’re getting a good number, and you have two weapons on your side:

  • You’re giving this line a lot more attention than the book probably is
  • Many books and players don’t understand what team totals are worth

Common Mistake In Calculating Team Totals
The instinctual answer for Team Totals is that they should add up to the total for the game, but this answer is incorrect. If both teams will score 5 or more runs exactly half the time, meaning both teams have a fair Team Total of 4.5, you could safely bet the game to go over 9.5 at even money even though the Team Totals only add up to 9. That’s the way runs are distributed. It’s possible to score 24 runs in a game, but it’s impossible to score less than 0.

If the two numbers add up to the total or higher, it’s safe to pay scary looking juice to go under the Team Totals. If they add up to a half run less than the total, it’s usually all right to go under as long as the combined juice is small. If you actively like the under that makes these plays that much easier, and with experience you can learn to spot which line is in error.

Going Over is harder, and there are many books where it is effectively impossible to beat the Over because

  • recreational players or ‘squares’ tend to go over not realizing that the numbers don’t add up the natural way,
  • squares often bet with an unfounded optimism on what they’d like to see happen i.e. plenty of runs, and not what is most probable.

Pinnacle Sports has much sharper players and far lower juice, making it far more common for an over on a Team Total to have value. Once again, a safe and effective way to know what Team Totals should look like is the same method recommended for runlines; Look at the Team Totals in other games and they should look similar in this one. This may sound like extra work, but you are teaching yourself to recognize value in the process and can hone in on areas where the Pinny Lean deviates from the market number, which presents another opportunity to make money.

Soft Lines
Team Totals like Runlines fluctuate in relation to the Moneyline and Total, but unlike Runlines many books do not link them as carefully and might even trade them completely independently. Therefore, if there is a large ‘steam’ move on a main betting line;

  • Check whether the Team Totals have been updated.
  • If you’ve never checked that particular Team Total at your sports book, compare it to the odds at Pinnacle Sports or against your own chart or similar games.
  • The success rate on this is larger than you might expect, and sometimes you can even find a line that has gone in the opposite direction to the main lines.
  • If someone bets the mathematically incorrect side of a Team Total, especially if this happens twice, the chances are that this will move the line and cause it to offer value. Even at we can’t be sure that we have the best of it, especially when the person betting is sharp, so often we have to move the line and offer what we think is likely to be value.

While the under is more likely to offer you value on a game where you don’t particularly like your side – especially if you’re playing at another bookmaker than – the over is where you can have vastly the best of it in the right spot. It’s never a sure thing that a pitcher will get it done. Every now and then, it’s “Lima Time”.

Sometimes a pitcher is hurt or just plain can’t cut it in the majors. In those spots, the over on the other Team Total can be a monster favorite, much more than the over or the other team. The extra juice is a good reason to be cautious, but Team Totals are an excellent way to both find value, and to bet on exactly what you like, and nothing you don’t.


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