Monday, March 31, 2014

How NOT to do a mock-draft story.

Leave it to the Houston Chronicle.

In a blatant effort to drive up page views the Chron has, once again, presented John McClain's mock draft in slide-show form.

The kicker?

Because the Texans have the number one pick the slides go from 32-1 in reverse order instead of starting at 1 (as most do).  This means that the user will have to click through 32 picks to get to the Texans pick at one.

Not that any mock draft means anything, but c'mon.

As for the Texans pick?

McClain thinks they'll grab Bortles. 

I'm not so sure as I think they still might trade down and take a QB in the later rounds.  That way they can start Ryan Fitzpatrick while the new Texan acts as an understudy until QB guru (where have we heard that before?) O'Brien can mold him in his fashion.

Still, it's all just guess-work at this point and I will say that McClain probably has more information than I so he could be correct.

Texans fans won't like it, but it sure will make the under bet for the season look tempting.

Friday, March 28, 2014

MLB World Series Odds.

Courtesy of Bovada via Yahoo! Sports:

Odds to win the 2014 World Series      Los Angeles Dodgers — 13/2
St. Louis Cardinals — 8/1
Detroit Tigers — 9/1
Boston Red Sox — 12/1
Tampa Bay Rays — 12/1
Washington Nationals — 12/1
New York Yankees —  14/1
San Francisco Giants — 16/1
Texas Rangers — 16/1
Oakland Athletics — 18/1
Atlanta Braves — 20/1
Los Angeles Angels — 20/1
Cincinnati Reds — 22/1
Pittsburgh Pirates —  28/1
Seattle Mariners — 28/1
Baltimore Orioles — 33/1
Kansas City Royals — 33/1
Philadelphia Phillies — 33/1
Toronto Blue Jays — 33/1
Cleveland Indians —  40/1
Arizona Diamondbacks — 50/1
Chicago White Sox — 50/1
San Diego Padres —  50/1
Chicago Cubs —  66/1
Milwaukee Brewers — 66/1
Colorado Rockies — 75/1
New York Mets — 75/1
Miami Marlins — 100/1
Minnesota Twins — 100/1
Houston Astros —  200/1

There are some interesting numbers in there.

I like Tampa Bay at 12/1 and the Oakland A's at 18/1.  If you're looking for a longshot that has an outside chance at paying off you could do worse than the Pittsburgh Pirates at 28/1 or the Kansas City Royals at 33/1. While both teams have long been considered bottom feeders, they are both young teams stocked with a ton of talent who have been getting better year over year.

If I were laying a bet today  however I'd take the Cincinnati Reds at 22/1. 

For one, I think the Cardinals are going to fall back to Earth this year and, two, I think the Reds underachieved last year and are due a bounce-back season.  They are solid, though not spectacular, at every position and have good depth on the mound. And while they wouldn't be my pre-season pick to win it all (That would be the Dodgers  in line with pretty much everyone else) I wouldn't be surprised to see them in the mix.  Of course, the thing about long-shots is that they are typically not your first choice right?

Of course, the ALstros are bringing up the rear (some books have them at 250/1) again. *sigh*

At some point we're going to have Major League Baseball back in Houston.  Maybe.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

So your bracket is busted. Now what?

If, like most, you're either done for the Tournament due to a string of odd basketball in the NCAA's or, like me, you're hoping that your Sweet 16 and beyond picks can pull you out of the fire, the question becomes what strategy to take going forward to try and recoup losses. Full disclosure: During my trip last weekend to Vegas I was stricken with food poisoning so I really have no losses to speak of since I was in my room for most of the trip.

Had I been betting however it would not have been pretty.  So I, like most, would be considering how to get back on the good side of things starting Thursday, assuming that I had not gotten right in the NIT.

With that thought in mind, I'm going to opine a bit (in no particular order of preference):

Take a chance with a longshot and hope you're right.  Before we left Vegas, the wife put down a small bet on Dayton to win it all at 60-1.  You can do this, but the odds of getting your money back are very long.  I think Dayton is two and done in the Sweet 16, beating Stanford and then losing to Florida in the Elite Eight.

Blast the favorites. After the mess of the first two rounds, historically things tend to right themselves heading to the Final Four.  In this case it might be wise to wager heavily on Florida and Arizona since they appear to be two of the strongest three teams. If you're way in the hole this won't work, due to the projected payouts being too small.

Play the hot hand. Iowa State is 6-0 ATS in the last six games.  Against UCONN I think they have a good chance of going 7-0. I also think Iowa State could net you some pretty big value for money. They won the tournament for arguably the toughest conference in the country and appear to be peaking at the right time.

Pick a (slight) underdog. Baylor anyone?  Right now they're 3 1/2 point underdogs to Wisconsin. The way the Bears are playing I like them to beat that number and possibly give Arizona all they can handle in the Regional final.

Experience Matters. As frustrating as they are to root for, Michigan has been there before and look like a team that might be there again.  Granted, Louisville will be a tough out but, as 2 1/2 point favorites against Tennessee, they appear to be a pretty good bet and in a solid position to make it to the Elite Eight.

One final thought:  I saw a blurb on Odds Shark that Michigan State has never not beaten the spread in the Sweet 16 round. They're currently coming in as 1 1/2 point favorites against a solid Virginia team.  It's that kind of information which causes a lot of sports bettors to make foolish decisions.  Trends like this don't matter, especially in College where the only constant from year to year is coaching.  That said, I always will find it hard to take too short of a position against Larry Izzo whom I consider to be one of the best coaches in basketball today.

Whatever you do, keep it fun, don't get a stomach ailment in Vegas (as I did), and don't bet above your means.  Consider losses as a sunk cost.  You're starting the Sweet 16 at zero and looking to move forward from there.

As always, since I'm back in Texas where sports gambling is illegal I will not be placing any bets on these games so take my advice for what it's worth (nothing). I will however be rooting like hell for Dayton because the wife's future bet is the only money I currently have down on the remainder of the tournament.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Why I won't pay for a betting advisor

Even after yesterday's Black Tuesday thrashing 2-5 result on some minor games picks I'm still floating around 50% for the year picking NCAA Men's Basketball games. I got there due to a pretty hot streak near the end of the Conference tournaments (I really don't pay much attention to in-season games, much like the NBA where there's too much a chance of indifference).  During the recent college football season I went 87-40 straight up, and 62-63-1 against the spread. Those ATS numbers included several Michigan games on which I would not have bet. (I never bet Michigan, Oklahoma State or San Francisco in the NFL & Arsenal in the BPL)  If you strip out the Michigan and Oklahoma State I was actually closer to 54-55%.

Given that even the best handicappers clock in at around 56% over time I'd be looking at paying several hundred dollars for a 1% advantage.  I fear that a lot of sports gamblers don't take this kind of analytical look at their results and pay large amounts for what is sure to be a minimal payoff.

All that said, I don't begrudge the handicappers and services there money either.  Most work hard and some are honest, the best ones however offer free advice as well as paid subscriptions, and I'm not just referring to advice on how to lay.

For me, I'm constantly looking at lines, even though I'm not actively betting. Unlike most sports gamblers I don't utilize the offshore, online betting services and I only bet during times when it's 100% legal, say, when I visit Las Vegas.  This might seem overly conservative to some but in my current job it's incumbent on me to be in compliance. That's why I'm up at 5AM banging out a blog post on sports gambling after I looked at lines. (Delayed publishing on blogs is a great thing)

I love the game.  Action is a fun thing so I will continue to follow the industry and lay bets down when I can. Whether or not that makes this blog of any interest to you?  Well, I hope to include enough other content to whet your appetite to make you a consistent reader.

During these other times I track what I would have "won" just to see how it would go.  I'll never make the cross-over to gambling professionally because I would hate the grind, but I have the upmost respect for those who do.

I say all of that to (finally) come to this point:

If, like most, you're a recreational gambler then I believe you're wasting money purchasing packages from a gambling service. I liken it to a very large royalty that takes away from your income stream. If you're a frequent gambler then I can see a need for a service because your income, if bet correctly, will be sufficient enough to eventually render the package price moot.

If you consider yourself a professional gambler and are subscribing to a service I question your sanity.  If you're subscribing to a service and then submitting them as your own picks? (this happens, believe me) then I question your integrity.

For the remaining 99% of you who just go to Vegas to have a little fun?

You're going to lose enough money anyway.  And no, you won't make back those losses in free drinks and comps. Trust me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

NIT Lines

Courtesy of

Albany (-2) vs. Mt. St. Mary's (139.5)** - I like Mt St. Mary's here and the over.

Alabama St vs. Sam Houston (-9.5)  (143.5) - The line is large, but I think SHSU is going to wipe the floor with ASU.  And I'll take the under.

Columbia vs. Valparaiso (-3.5) (130) - Huge Valpo lean here, plus the over.

VMI vs. Canisius (169) Under play only. The line feels right.

The NIT provides more opening round mis-matches than does March Madness. Plus, the lines makers are unfamiliar with some of the smaller teams so you're more likely to find an 'off' line.  Were I in Vegas tonight I'd be laying on all four of these games.  Probably one unit each except for the Valpo game where I'd risk more.

Good luck if you're gambling and remember, this advice is worth exactly what you paid for it.*

*Note: I am not a professional bettor, nor do I charge for my gambling "advice".  These are just the way I see things and how I would bet it were I in a state where gambling is legal.  If you follow this advice and lose money, you've been warned.

**OK and one play-in game

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Change is good (again)

As anyone who has followed my blogging for any period of time knows, I change everything frequently.

Today's change involves revamping No Upgrades into Sharp as a Marble, which is going to be my sports/sports betting/horse racing/stuff blog as Your Drink Order Please moves to more of a political/issues blog, basically returning me to my blogging roots.

I'm doing this in conjunction with a change to my Twitter feeds where I've now created two accounts.

The first account BlogAwful will be my primary account and will continue to pull from NoUpgrades and my Pinboard feed.

The second account SportsAwful will pull from this blog and will be sports/sports betting/horse racing/other stuff.

For now I'm keeping the travel stuff over on the other side, reserving this for sports and gaming.

One thing, I'm very excited about both of my current blogs and expect them to be around for a long time (this time, I promise)

Sports Section