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Reason #2 why the Wizard likes Bovada: No-hassle practice games
Most online casinos spend more effort trying to separate you from your money than they do trying to give you a good experience. They have all kinds of popup windows, they usually make you download their software, and if they do offer play-in-browser games then you have to register an account before you can play. And if you register they start sending you emails trying to get you to deposit real money.
But Bovada is different. They have no popup windows at all, and their practice games play right in your browser, with no download, and no registration required. You don't even have to give up your email address. It couldn't be simpler: just one click and you're playing the game.
I wish all online casinos showed this much respect for their players. Other casinos practically ask for your first born child to play for free. Meanwhile Bovada is patient and does not twist anybody's arm to play for real money. You can play as long as you like for free with no obligation. The real-money games are available if that's your preference, but if not, you can play the free practice games for as long as you like without hassle.
This page assumes the reader already has a good grasp of sports betting terminology. If this is not the case, I recommend reading my general page on sports betting first.
Point Spread Bets
I admit "point spread bet" is not a common term in sports betting, but I'm trying to change that. What I call a point spread bet is a basic bet against the point spread. Many people call this a "straight bet" but this term can also be used, and is printed on tickets for, money liney bets, total bets, and any other bet involving just one game. So I invite the rest of the world to adopt this term.
In the NFL home underdogs have historically done well against the spread. The following table shows the probability of winning, losing, and pushing according by various breakdowns. The table covers every game from the 1983 to 2008 seasons. The expected return is for the standard laying 11 to win 10. The expected return when laying 105 to win 100 is about 2.2% more than when laying the same odds.
Expected Return against Point Spread in the NFL
|Event||Win||Total||Push||Exp. Ret. (-110)|
Following are the result of every NFL game from the 1983 to 2008 seasons:
- Over wins: 48.00%
- Under wins: 49.52%
- Game ends exactly on total: 2.49%
Overall the house edge on over bets is 5.89% and on unders is 2.98%, assuming the bettor risks $11 to win $10.
The following table shows the actual data. The estimated probability of winning is based on smoothing out the ups and downs. The fair money line is based on the estimated probability of winning. This table does not factor in "key numbers" in the NFL. In other words, some margin of victories are much more likely than others, especially 3 and 7. It is a much bigger handicap to be given 3.5 points compared to 2.5, thus the 3.5-point underdog is going to have a significantly lower chance of winning compared to a 2.5-point underdog. I'll leave adjustment to the reader (sorry).
To find the fair money line on a favorite, just multiply by -1. For example, a 7-point underdog shows an estimated probability of winning of 28.9%, which corresponds to a fair money line of +249. Thus, a 7-point favorite would have a 71.35% chance of winning, for a fair money line of -249.
Probability of Winning in the NFL by Point Spread
|Spread||Wins||Loses||Actual Probability||Estimated Probability||Fair Money Line|
Here is my quick advice on parlays:
- If you bet off the board, either do a pick-3 or mix in one leg that isn't at the standard -110 odds, to get off the lousy parlay odds table, and force a fair calculation.
- If you bet a parlay card, I recommend the the "half point" cards, where ties are impossible. Overall, the best odds are the William Hill half-point card.
- On parlay cards, try to capture as many points as you can compared to the "off the board" point spread.
I have much more information about parlays in my page on Parlay Bets in the NFL.
Here is my quick advice on teasers:
- If you bet off the board, the best odds are at Jerry's Nugget.
- Try to cross the 3- and 7-point margin of victories with the extra points.
- Teaser cards are a sucker bet.
- If you must bet a teaser card, I recommend the the Ties Win Teaser Card at any Caesars sports book.
- On teaser cards, try to capture as many points as you can compared to the "off the board" point spread.
I have lots more information about teasers in my page on Teaser Bets in the NFL.
Buying Half a Point
Sometimes a sports book will let you buy a half point off the spread for total. For example, moving a point spread from +10 to +10.5. The price for this is laying an extra cents, in most cases laying 120 instead of 110. However, rarely will a sports book let the player buy onto point spreads of 3 or 7, for example moving from +2.5 to +3, because 3 and 7 are frequent margin of victories in the NFL. To be specific, the margin of victory is three 15.9% of the time, and seven 9.5%.
The following table shows the fair price to pay for most spreads and totals. For example, moving the spread from +2.5 to +3, +3 to +3.5, -3.5 to -3, or -3 to -2.5, would be buying the 3. In these cases if the favorite won by 3, or the underdog lost by 3, then it would turn a push into a win, or a loss into a push. The table shows the fair price to pay for the 3 is 20.8 cents. In other words, the bettor should be indifferent between betting +3 -110 and +3.5 at -130.8.
Buying a Half Point Off the Spread
My page on alternate point spreads shows what it is worth to buy or sell up to seven points off the spread.
The next table shows the fair prices to pay on NFL total bets. Like point spreads, there are key numbers in totals. For example, 37 and 41 points are the two most common totals at 4.4% each. However, the key number effect is not as strong in totals as point spreads, so there is not as much variance in the fair prices.
Buying a Half Point Off the Total
My page on alternate totals shows what it is worth to buy or sell up to seven points off the total.
- Alternate point spread calculator.
- Parlay calculator — What a parlay pay composed of events of miscellaneous odds should pay.
- Parlay bets in the NFL
- Teaser bets in the NFL
- Betting MLB In-depth look at betting professional baseball.
- Betting the NBA In-depth look at betting professional basketball.
- Appendix 1 Comparative study on who has the best lines in Vegas.
- Appendix 2 Various topics in sports betting.
- Appendix 3 List of Las Vegas sports book families.
- Appendix 4 Fair prices to buy and sell points in the NFL.
- Appendix 5 Explores sports futures in greater depth.
- Appendix 6 Lost and expired tickets.
- Appendix 7 Companion to appendix 1, showing NFL money line pairs from several Internet sportbooks.
- Appendix 8 Comparitive study on who has the best lines offshore.
- Appendix 9 Companion to appendix 8, showing NFL money line pairs from offshore sportbooks.
- Total number of kickoffs in Super Bowl 43. Were there 9 or 10?
- Vegas sports book comparison at WizardOfVegas.com. Who offers what odds on parlays and teasers, as well as rebate percentages.
- Alternate Point Spreads — What it is worth to buy or sell up to seven points off the spread?
- Alternate Totals — What it is worth to buy or sell up to seven points off the total?