NFL Playoff Tip: Focus on Rolling Parlays, Avoid Futures Prices

Vegas Stats & Information Network
A public service from VSiN via Jeff Fogle . . .

With the NFL playoffs kicking off this weekend, it’s time for our semi-annual article on how NOT to bet championship futures prices.

Odds to win a title can be interesting to study, and do a great job of painting the general picture of expectations for favorites and longshots. You can see below how current numbers from William Hill (percentage equivalents in parenthesis) give the best chances to bye teams, even in a season with dangerous floaters all over both conference brackets.

New Orleans +170 (37%)
LA Rams 5/1 (17%)
Kansas City 5/1 (17%)
New England +650 (13%)

There’s a 100% certainty that somebody’s going to win the Super Bowl. The four bye teams gobble up 84% of the win expectation all by themselves. You regular readers know there’s a catch. Here are the remaining contenders.

Chicago 8/1 (11%)
LA Chargers 15/1 (6%)
Baltimore 18/1 (5%)
Dallas 25/1 (4%)
Seattle 25/1 (4%)
Houston 25/1 (4%)
Indianapolis 28/1 (3%)
Philadelphia 30/1 (3%)

The dangerous dozen add up to 124% in win expectation. Sports books build a universe larger than 100% to create a house edge.

A minor head scratcher in there. The Chargers pay off worse than the Ravens, even though the Chargers are underdogs head-to-head with the Ravens Sunday. Sports books are known to shade “current” futures prices based on prior exposure. Nothing way out of whack.

What IS out of whack is the fact that bettors would earn a much better return by backing their preferred teams on a “rolling parlay” through the postseason rather than betting futures prices. Let’s say you believe that Indianapolis has a great chance to shock the world as a wild-card team running the table. And that 28/1 return appeals to you because it seems like a jackpot. Risk $100, win $2800. Dream payoff!

Not really. If you bet Indianapolis on the money line this week to beat the Texans (say, risking that same $100 to start things off), then re-invest your return each week through that hoped-for four-game sweep through Houston, Kansas City, New England, and probably New Orleans in the Super Bowl…you’d end up with something closer to $4500 at the end. Though 28/1 looks great, 45/1 is even better.

Also, the “rolling parlay” approach gives you more flexibility. Let’s say Andrew Luck suffers a season-ending injury in the final minutes of a victory. Any futures tickets would be virtually dead. You can stop right there and pocket your profit. Sequential bettors can adjust to any new information as it becomes available. If you’re the conservative type, you can also choose to lock in a profit along the way. That lowers your ceiling, but makes it more likely that you’ll actually pocket some sort of return on your longshot.

Bottom line, if there’s a team that appeals to you on the futures board, you’re much more likely to be better off backing that team on the money line week-by-week. If you do it right, same exposure…better return.

Meet the winner of the Golden Nugget’s Ultimate Football Challenge

From the outside, it looks like Rich Velez, playing under the contest alias of Monsterloc, coasted to the $119,200 first-place prize in the Ultimate Football Challenge at the Golden Nugget as he went 7-0 in Week 1, took over first place in Week 12 and never gave up the lead.

But it wasn’t quite that easy with some moments of doubt as well as a slew of sharp handicappers putting up impressive records of their own heading down the stretch. The UFC, which costs $1,000 to enter, requires players to make 7 NCAA or NFL picks a week against the contest spread over the course of the 17-week NFL season (and extending through the New Year’s Day bowl games).

More from Dave Tuley on how Velez adjusted his betting to win the contest.

Seen & Heard on VSiN

On Follow The Money, Westgate SuperBook director John Murray recaps Rose Bowl results and shares his thoughts on the National Championship Game line.

"The line is no bargain." Check out this bit of gambling advice from Matt Youmans as he and Jonathan Von Tobel discuss betting strategy for the Seattle-Dallas game.

Robert Walker of US Fantasy Sports weighs in on the NFL handle for Week 17 and wild-card round and shares his opinion on a few of the postseason matchups.

On The Edge, Youmans has his plays for the 2019 Tournament of Champions at Kapalua Plantation Course and explains why Xander Schauffele could be in for a big year.

“Do you think the Chargers can win the game?" Brent explains why the road trip to Baltimore is in is a bit worrisome for LA Chargers backers.

Subscribers-Only Features

A new Point Spread Weekly is out

You can download it here when it’s ready.

This issue includes previews of Monday’s college football national championship and the four wild-card weekend games.

VSiN Betting Resources

South Point daily sheets

Compare lines across top sports books

NFL: Wild-card weekend betting previews

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Today's Broadcast Schedule on VSiN.com and SiriusXM 204
7-10 a.m. ET/4-7 a.m. PT: Follow the Money with Mitch Moss and Pauly Howard

10 a.m.-Noon ET/7-9 a.m. PT: A Numbers Game with Sam Panayotovich

Noon-3 p.m. ET/9-noon PT: Follow the Money (encore)

3-5 p.m. ET/Noon-2 p.m. PT: The Edge with Matt Youmans and Kenny White

5-6 p.m. ET/2-3 p.m. PT: Between the Sidelines with Matt Youmans and Kenny White

6-8 p.m. ET/3-5 p.m. PT: My Guys in the Desert with Brent Musburger, Vinny Magliulo and Amal Shah

8-10 p.m. ET/5-7 p.m. PT: My Guys in the Desert (encore)

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