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Last Updated: January 29, 2010

Wizard of Odds on Buying and Selling Points in the NFL

Introduction

This page shows the fair price to buy or sell up to 1.5 points in the NFL, off of both the spread and the total. One practical use for this is when the sports book lets you change the point by up to 1.5 points. Of course, you'll have to lay more if buying points, and get more if selling them. Pinnacle sports book is a good example. You need to log in to do it, but they have a sliding toolbar for the adjusted prices when buying and selling up to 1.5 points. Another practical application is deciding what is the better of two lines. For example, +3 at even money, or +3.5 and -120.

The following table shows the fair price you should have to pay for buying and selling up to 1.5 points according to the fair point spread. For example, if a bet is fair at -10 even money, then it would also be fair at -11.5 at +122, -11 at +116, -10.5 at +109, -9.5 at -109, -9 at -111, and -8.5 at -113. It also answers the question posed above, that +3 even money is an equally good bet as +3.5 at -120. It also shows that it is worth paying 10 points for a half point of a point spread off or onto a spread of 7 (for example going from -7.5 to -7, -7 to -6.5, +6.5 to +7, and +7 to +7.5). So if you are going to lay 110 off of a 7 point spread anyway, it is slightly better to lay 120 for the half point, something many sports books allow.

Buying and Selling Points off of the Spread

Spread Sell 1.5 Sell 1.0 Sell 0.5 Buy 0.5 Buy 1.0 Buy 1.5
-14 117 114 111 -111 -116 -121
-13.5 127 123 112 -105 -109 -111
-13 129 117 105 -105 -106 -108
-12.5 122 109 105 -102 -103 -110
-12 111 106 102 -102 -108 -114
-11.5 108 103 102 -106 -112 -123
-11 109 108 106 -106 -116 -125
-10.5 114 112 106 -109 -118 -121
-10 122 116 109 -109 -111 -113
-9.5 126 118 109 -102 -104 -108
-9 120 111 102 -102 -106 -111
-8.5 113 104 102 -104 -109 -122
-8 108 106 104 -104 -116 -128
-7.5 111 109 104 -111 -123 -133
-7 121 116 111 -111 -119 -127
-6.5 129 123 111 -107 -114 -118
-6 131 120 107 -107 -110 -113
-5.5 128 114 107 -103 -106 -114
-5 117 110 103 -103 -110 -117
-4.5 114 106 103 -107 -114 -141
-4 113 110 107 -107 -131 -154
-3.5 118 114 107 -122 -144 -151
-3 137 129 120 -120 -125 -130
-2.5 156 144 122 -104 -108 -114
-2 150 127 104 -104 -109 -114
-1.5 133 108 104 -105 -109 -110
-1 113 109 105 -105 -105 -105
0 110 105 EV EV -105 -110
1 105 105 105 -105 -109 -113
1.5 110 109 105 -104 -108 -133
2 114 109 104 -104 -127 -150
2.5 114 108 104 -122 -144 -156
3 130 125 120 -120 -129 -137
3.5 151 144 122 -107 -114 -118
4 154 131 107 -107 -110 -113
4.5 141 114 107 -103 -106 -114
5 117 110 103 -103 -110 -117
5.5 114 106 103 -107 -114 -128
6 113 110 107 -107 -120 -131
6.5 118 114 107 -111 -123 -129
7 127 119 111 -111 -116 -121
7.5 133 123 111 -104 -109 -111
8 128 116 104 -104 -106 -108
8.5 122 109 104 -102 -104 -113
9 111 106 102 -102 -111 -120
9.5 108 104 102 -109 -118 -126
10 113 111 109 -109 -116 -122
10.5 121 118 109 -106 -112 -114
11 125 116 106 -106 -108 -109
11.5 123 112 106 -102 -103 -108
12 114 108 102 -102 -106 -111
12.5 110 103 102 -105 -109 -122
13 108 106 105 -105 -117 -129
13.5 111 109 105 -112 -123 -127
14 121 116 111 -111 -114 -117

The next table is for buying and selling points off of the total.

Buying and Selling Points off of the Total

Total Sell 1.5 Sell 1.0 Sell 0.5 Buy 0.5 Buy 1.0 Buy 1.5
33 113 111 108 -108 -116 -123
33.5 120 117 108 -107 -114 -120
34 125 116 107 -107 -112 -116
34.5 124 114 107 -104 -109 -114
35 119 112 104 -104 -109 -113
35.5 117 109 104 -104 -108 -121
36 113 109 104 -104 -116 -127
36.5 113 108 104 -111 -122 -130
37 119 115 110 -110 -117 -124
37.5 127 122 111 -106 -112 -116
38 129 118 106 -106 -110 -113
38.5 125 112 106 -103 -107 -114
39 116 110 103 -103 -110 -116
39.5 113 107 103 -106 -112 -122
40 113 110 106 -106 -115 -124
40.5 116 112 106 -108 -117 -121
41 121 115 108 -108 -112 -115
41.5 125 117 108 -103 -107 -114
42 121 112 103 -103 -110 -117
42.5 116 107 103 -107 -113 -122
43 113 110 106 -106 -115 -123
43.5 117 113 107 -108 -115 -125
44 122 115 107 -107 -116 -124
44.5 124 115 108 -108 -115 -120
45 124 116 107 -107 -112 -116
45.5 125 115 108 -104 -108 -117
46 120 112 104 -104 -113 -121
46.5 116 108 104 -108 -117 -125
47 117 112 108 -108 -115 -122
47.5 122 117 108 -106 -113 -120
48 124 116 106 -106 -113 -119
48.5 123 113 106 -106 -112 -118
49 119 113 106 -106 -112 -118
49.5 119 112 106 -106 -111 -124
50 118 112 106 -106 -117 -128
50.5 118 111 106 -111 -122 -133
51 123 117 110 -110 -120 -129
51.5 129 122 111 -108 -117 -122
52 131 120 108 -108 -113 -118

2010 Super Bowl Example

Let's take a look at an example from the Pinnacle Sports adjusted lines on the 2010 Super Bowl. The default lines are Saints +5.5 -106, and Colts -5.5 -102. The following table shows the lines on the Saints. The first column shows the point spreads available. The second column shows the prices Pinnacle offers at each spread. The third column shows the fair line. These can be found from my tables, and then subtracting 2. The reason for subtracting 2 is the Saints are slightly favored at +5.5. The fourth column shows the expected value. Note that none of the adjusted lines are ever a better value than betting the default line of +5.5.

Pinnacle Sports Lines on Saints

Spread Pinnacle
Line
Fair
Line
Expected
Value
+7 -144 -130 -4.16%
+6.5 -124 -116 -2.93%
+6 -116 -109 -2.86%
+5.5 -106 -102 -1.87%
+5 -103 101 -1.92%
+4.5 100 104 -1.91%
+4 107 112 -2.13%

The next table is much the same, but for the Colts. In this case I added 2 points to the fair lines, because the Colts are slight underdogs against a 5.5 spread. This table shows that it is a better value to sell the 1.5 points, and lay 7 points at +128, as opposed to lay 5.5 points at -106. All bets still have a negative expected value. However, if your handicapping skills led you to bet the Colts anyway at -5.5 -102, you would be better off betting them at -7 +128.

Pinnacle Sports Lines on Colts

Spread Pinnacle
Line
Fair
Line
Expected
Value
-7 128 130 -0.96%
-6.5 110 116 -2.84%
-6 103 109 -2.90%
-5.5 -102 102 -1.96%
-5 -110 -101 -4.09%
-4.5 -114 -104 -4.35%
-4 -122 -112 -4.07%

I have looked at the Pinnacle lines on some other NFL games besides the Super Bowl. To make a general statement, I think Pinnacle does a solid job setting their alternative point spreads. Sometimes I perceive a better value than the default point spread selling 1.5 points, but never enough to overcome the juice. My advice is if you are going to bet something on Pinnacle anyway, check to see if you get a better value selling 1.5 points.

Methodology

The above tables were based on NFL seasons from 1983 through 2009. To get at a fair probability of winning buying or selling points off of a given spread or total, I looked at all games within 3 points of the spread or total in question, to see how often the final score would have been affected by buying or selling points.

Disclaimer

Ultimately football is played with real people, and not statistics. Compared to other sports, the NFL has relatively few games per year, leading to a small-sample-size problem. So any advice on football betting from anyone, including me, should be taken with a grain of salt.

One might also argue that the magnitude of the total should be taken under consideration. I would tend to disagree, but other sports bettors I respect maintain that the effect of buying and selling points is more significant in a game with a low total. I did not take that into consideration.


Written by: Michael Shackleford

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