Before sports betting, I was in poker. I played often, worked in media and dealt some of the biggest cash games. I did it all. I often refer back to my days of the great game because I truly feel that the skills I learned from playing No-limit Hold'em have translated to all other aspects of my life.
In my debut ‘books to read’ article series, I talked about “The Mental Game of Poker,” written by Jared Tendler. I can’t hammer enough how useful the book has been to not just playing poker back in the day, not just to my sports betting career but now to learning how to manage the mental swings of life.
This time, I’ll refer to a book more directly related to my current role. The book: “The Logic of Sports Betting.” One of its authors is Ed Miller, who I know … through poker. Full circle. Whether you are new to sports betting or a veteran, this book is a must. Whether you create your own models or just tail bettors on Gambling Twitter, you need it. It covers topics like how to look for weak markets and avoid strong markets, how to take advantage of parlays and how to take advantage of sportsbook marketing tactics like deposit bonuses and boosts. The chapters are short, it’s easy to read and the information provided is evergreen.
Tendler’s book was all about the mindset but Miller’s book is for those wanting to familiarize themselves with the inner workings of a sportsbook. Whether you want to bet professionally or just become more educated within the space, Miller and his co-author Matthew Davidow do just that. As a content creator in the space, an analyst in the industry and a customer, I reached out to Miller directly to get his thoughts on some topics you’ll find in the book.
Why ‘fading the public’ is not enough to be profitable
With the 2022 football season quickly approaching, I thought of the one thing I hear most often, like on a daily basis, the one phrase spoken most often through February: “Fade the public!” I’ve always felt indifferent about hearing this phrase. As an analyst, I personally don’t use public money as part of my analysis. In fact, I don’t even look at that data. Should I reconsider?
According to Miller, there is a flaw in the logic. “The idea is that betting lines are set by a market (correct) and that the weight of money moves the lines (also correct) and therefore if the lines are moved by “dumb money” (the public), then there should be profitable bets on the other side.”
Let’s step back and think full gamut. Bettors tend to think of sportsbooks in terms of the one or two books they are personally using. However, there are thousands of sportsbooks worldwide and in fact, only a small number are truly influential in setting lines and moving markets and those books hardly take public money compared to money bet by professionals and syndicates.
Miller says, “the flaw lies in exactly how the betting markets work. The reality is that the opinions of those pro bettors and syndicates are reflected in lines, not public opinion.” So then should we actually fade the public’ as bettors? “It may be slightly better to be against the public than with it on average, but this idea by itself is not enough to be profitable.” Use public money as a tool but don’t blind fade because it’s something your favorite betting personality says to do and sounds cool.
The cash-out option: Use it or leave it?
The most recent addition to betting options is the cash-out option. It can be used as a safety net for some, cashing out if things are looking too dicey or clicking the button in order to ‘lose less’ to save your bankroll. But is using the cash-out feature actually hurting you? “For the most part, sportsbooks will apply more vig to bets that are branded as cash outs.” Remember, when it comes to betting, you think of price first and always. “A good rule of thumb is that if you want to cash out to “lock in a win,” then it is probably costing you money over time.”
Considering that a cash out is simply a new bet, unless you are really versed in live betting or second-half wagers, then it’s “safest to treat the cash-out button as paying a fee to the sportsbook for the privilege of getting your money out of the bet and to act accordingly.”
Are boosts a play or fade?
Is it just me or do promoted boosts always seem to lose? “Sportsbooks don’t have a crystal ball to know if the bets they boost will win or lose.” Phew. OK, so no conspiracy there. However, just like every other wager, the answer to whether you should partake in a boost or not comes down to math. Use this example from Miller to help you determine if a boost is a good option or not.
“Say a bet normally pays +300 and some math suggests it should hit about 20 percent of the time. That’s a bad bet unboosted, since for every $500 you bet, you expect to win only once and cash a $400 ticket.
You stand to lose $100 on average for every $500 you bet.
If the sportsbook boosts a play to +350, it’s still a bad bet because now even though you cash $450 instead of $400, you still expect to lose $50 on average for every $500 bet.
If a book boosts a bet to +450, now it’s a good bet because you’re cashing $550 which is more than the $500 investment.”
Betting for wagertainment
I sometimes fall into slumps where perhaps I take betting “too serious.” Look, we all want to win and losing sucks but Miller says, “betting IS for entertainment.” Whether you are a $10 bettor or a $1,000 bettor, the same applies for all. “The moment you stop having fun with it is the time you should think seriously about whether you want to keep doing it at all.”
This is just a snippet of what "The Logic of Sports Betting" has to offer. It’s a good reference for when you get stuck, need a refresher or are just trying to expand your knowledge base on a new skill. We’re all trying to be better sports bettors and Miller and Davidow have written something to help become just that.