The inside line from PinnacleSports.com
by Simon Noble
11/30/2005 2:26PM EST
Welcome to the Pinnacle Pulse where the line managers at PinnacleSports.com look to give you an insider’s view of the point spread movement on key games each week and provide you with a little gambling theory to help you find a smarter way to bet courtesy of Pinnacle Sports.
It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, talking about plays you should or shouldn’t have made over the weekend, but it’s a far more daunting task to look ahead to Saturday or Sunday, make selections and consistently pick winners. Pinnacle Sports sharp players do just that.
One of my aims when writing this column has been to help readers find a smarter way to bet at Pinnacle Sports by providing an unprecedented insight into the point spread movement on certain key games each week. The idea is to let readers know well before kick off if it’s the public or pros that are causing the line movement, how big the moves are, and if we expect any further movement before game day.
One of our readers emailed me this week asking how the wise guys were doing on the featured games. Out of interest, I went back through the first twelve editions of The Pinnacle Pulse to see just how “sharp” our sharp plays were. There were 28 games where we identified sharp action on just one side of the game. Out of those 28 selections, the sharps were an impressive 18-9-1.
Now I am not advocating that you bet every game we identify as having sharp action, but sports betting is a business of information and I just wanted you to be aware that this information is available. If you find yourself opposed by the sharps, take a closer look at the game to decide if you should make a smaller play or simply pass altogether. On the other hand, agreement with sharp action might be enough to help you pull the trigger on a game that you thought was a marginal play.
In addition to detailing the sharp action in this column, it is also worth being aware of the “Pinnacle Lean”, which you can view at anytime by comparing our NFL lines against several other books when they post their lines. At Pinnacle Sports we use -104 style pricing on NFL sides, which offers bettors up to 60% better value than other books. If the market has the Colts at -14 -110 while we have it at -14 -111 following a 7 cent move, it’s a strong indication that: a) the Colts are the right side; and b) the market will creep up to -14.5 (or higher).
The best way to exploit this is to do your handicapping homework; you should have your lines set for games you are interested in very early – preferably Sunday evening for the NFL. If your handicapping favors the Colts, play it against the early number. If you’re in opposition to the Pinnacle Lean, wait for the market to move to get the best number possible.
Another way you can use the Pinnacle Lean is with teasers. If you are considering a six point tease on a +2.5 underdog, look at the lean. If the favorite is priced at -2.5 -111 or higher at Pinnacle Sports, you might want to pass or wait to make your play to avoid teasing a dog that closes at +3. If you teased that +2.5 dog to +8.5 and the number closed at +3, this leg of the teaser only hits at a 70% clip whereas 73% is required to break even.
You can also look at the moneyline on favorites to assist in teaser selection. For instance, if you were considering teasing the Chicago Bears this week from -7 to -1 you’ll notice that the moneyline is -300/+270 with our reduced margin wagering. If the moneyline is +260 or higher on the dog as it is here, this suggests that a favorite of -8.5 or less is a solid teaser candidate. If the dog moneyline drifts below +260, you might want to reconsider teasing that favorite.
If you have any questions on this article or on any other gambling topic, feel free to email me at email@example.com and I’ll try to answer as many questions as possible in future columns.
Hopefully I haven’t jinxed myself by highlighting this season’s 66.66% win percentage where sharp action has shown for one side on our featured games, but take a look below to see if you agree with the early line movement.
LSU (-1) at Georgia
LSU has won 10 straight games after dropping its home opener to Tennessee. The key to LSU’s success has been its defense ranked 4th in the nation, which has allowed just 13.5 points per game. Currently ranked 3rd in the BCS standings, if LSU had not lost to Tennessee it would be in the national championship hunt, but a victory in the SEC Championship game will secure a BCS berth for the Tigers.
Georgia is 9-2 and ranked 13th in the country, led by an explosive offense averaging 405.5 yards per game when Shockley starts at QB. Georgia’s two losses were to Florida 14-10 without starter Shockley and 31-30 to Auburn.
We opened this at LSU Pk -115. The sharps played the Tigers early driving the line towards LSU -1.5. The public is definitely favoring the Bulldogs and opposing the sharps. With moderate action, we are fairly flat on this game.
Navy (-6) at Army
The winner of this rivalry wins the Commander In Chief’s trophy since both teams have already defeated Air Force. Navy has the #1 rushing offense in the country, averaging 286.7 rushing yards per game with its triple-option attack. Win or lose, Navy will play Colorado State in the Poinsettia Bowl. Army is riding momentum following four straight victories after starting 0-6. The Black Knights have not won the Commander In Chief trophy since 1996.
This is our highest volume game of the week thus far. We initially opened the game at Navy Pk -110. Early sharps quickly corrected our line within minutes to -3 -131. Money continued to come in on the Midshipmen until the line briefly spiked at Navy -8. We took some large hits from sharps at +8, +7.5 and +7 before the line settled at +6. We dislike games where the line moves this much due to the liability of a 7-point Navy win middling us.
UCLA (+21.5) at USC
UCLA’s QB Drew Olson has quietly racked up amazing stats including 30 TDs and just 3 INTs. Despite being 9-1 behind its potent offense, the Bruins’ defense has allowed over 30 points per game and 219.5 rush yds/game. This glaring weakness will be costly against Heisman candidate Reggie Bush, who averages 8.6 yards per carry. If UCLA cannot slow him down, expect this game to be a high-scoring blowout.
We opened the game at +25 but have seen the price driven down to as low as +20 for public favored UCLA. The sharps took USC at -20 to -21, forcing the line to stabilize around -21.5. We have four times as many wagers on the dog plus the points (which I would call the public side), but we are relatively flat due to the larger bet-size of the Trojan backers.
Houston (+9) at Baltimore
If you were wondering how bad Houston is, simply look at last week’s collapse. Up by 10 points with 34 seconds left in the 4th quarter, the Texans allowed a 43-yard TD pass, a successful onside kick leading to a game-tying field goal, and finally a 56-yard TD pass in overtime. It’s not surprising that Houston’s defense is ranked last for points allowed per game. In contrast, Baltimore’s defense is #7 in the league allowing only 287 yards per game.
Both teams’ offenses have suffered from allowing a large number of sacks – between the two teams, they’ve allowed 82 combined sacks. This, in part, explains why these two teams have the #29 and #31 point-scoring offenses
Opening the Ravens at -7, our early sharps took the favorite at -7 and -7.5 (buying down to 7). Rather than drift in a teaser’s “no-man’s land” of Baltimore -8/Houston +8, we moved to Houston +9 -117. While this price is similar to Houston +8 -108, it protects us on the teasers.
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