September is always a big month for sportsbetting and therefore a welcomed month for sports bettors- you’ve got the start of the NFL season, college sports are kicking off, the Premier League season is just getting into full swing and civilization is finally back from summer vacation. Add to that the surprising sportsbetting news from New Jersey and things are starting to get interesting.
For this week’s column, I wanted to find out first hand what makes North American bettors tick, where and how they choose to spend their money and get their thoughts on regulatory issues. I also think it’s a nice change to hear from actual bettors as opposed to the usual industry professionals and experts. (I’m sure its no coincidence that the Online Bingo Summit’s player panel is always the event’s most popular session).
My Boston roots have exposed me to many die-hard sports fans, many of which are also avid sports bettors. To get a view into the mind of a savvy sports bettor, I spoke with one of my good Boston based friends who wishes to remain anonymous, so we’ll refer to this particular individual as “The Kidd” for the sake of the interview.
Becky Liggero: Welcome, its always nice to spend time with a fellow Bostonian- I have secretly missed that Boston accent. So I know you are a huge (American) football fan, tell me what NFL team you love this year and why?
The Kidd: I try to look for teams flying a little under the radar. There is an ebb and flow to a season so I think identifying a value team early is important. Like any market, participants can catch on quickly and the line can change making a once attractive value team too rich so you always need to be on the lookout through out the year. I think the Texans and Chargers are two such teams now. That could change as the season progresses. I think the Broncos are way too expensive. That doesn’t mean they won’t cover some games but you will pay a points premium taking them.
BL: What are the biggest differences between betting on NFL and NCAA football?
TK: The biggest difference is consistency. College teams are far less consistent. An average team or even bad team can get up for an instate rival and get a win against a rival. Look at the rivalry in Oregon. The Oregon St Beavers and the University of Oregon Ducks always have an epic game even if one of the two is having a bad year. If I see the Beavers getting 2 or 3 touchdowns I always hammer them. They tend to play the ducks close more often than not. Also, Bama and Auburn, although both teams are pretty strong this year. NCAA is much more situational. A team coming off a big win usually has a let down the next week. NFL teams are more consistent but that’s not to say more predictable. You have to pay attention to situations the team is in as well. Look at the macro factors of Playoff chances, injuries, coaches on the hot seat. A bad coach is still a bad coach though.
BL: There really are so many factors to keep in mind, especially with NCAA I think. What information do you use to help yourself become a more savvy bettor?
TK: I look at past games and injuries mostly. But you can’t rely totally on past performance. As I said earlier, look at the situation and key injuries. Don’t be afraid to buy a half point, especially in the NFL as many games are often close to the line. The first 4 weeks are critical because there is so much turnover on rosters, last years’ dog can be this years darling.
BL: Interesting insight for sure. Coming from the online gambling industry myself, I must ask this question- what features are most important for you in an online gambling website?
TK: I like to be able to make some creative parlay and proposition wagers. Having options to make a play on a game without picking a side or total is a great way for me to try to make some money on a game that might be too hard to pick. If an online site can also provide research tools and info, that’s always good to have. Prompt and easy payouts are a must.
BL: How much do you care about where the website is licensed? How do you learn about the site’s reputation?
TK: I think you need to pay attention to where your counter-party (the book) is licensed and be cognizant of the political and legal environment they work in so yeah it’s definitely something any gambler would want to pay attention to. I would utilize reviews and blogs (yelp type stuff) to gain insight from players that have used the site and see if they view it favorably or had some issues with the way in conducts business. I’d want to read the good and the bad to determine for myself if it’s a legitimate review about an issue that I would deem important. The reputation of the book would be paramount in determining who I use and what better source for information than those who currently use it.
BL: As an avid real money gambler, what are your thoughts on fantasy sports? Does it interest you and why?
I enjoy fantasy football, but more due to my love for the game. I play in only one league with a modest $150 buy-in, but it’s more for the camaraderie with my friends and to talk smack. It can be a little tedious at times and I know some people play in multiple leagues but for me one league is fine. It’s also a good way to keep track of emerging stars which can certainly be useful in identifying teams you might want to put some money on.
BL: With the concept of Colossus Bets in mind, what level of interest would you have in a five or six leg parlay-style bet with a HUGE jackpot vs. more traditional fixed odds betting?
TK: I like 3-4 team parlays as the risk return is pretty solid. Something with 5-6 legs is going to be such a long shot but a few times a year I go in on one or two really big ones with some friends if the card for that weekend looks like a good one. They are just so hard to hit. On that note also I’m not a huge fan of teasers. If you think you need the extra 6 or 9 points you probably don’t like the side that much anyway.
BL: New Jersey has been fighting for the right to offer sports betting and they have finally made progress. How would legal sports betting in New Jersey impact your gambling destinations?
TK: It really wouldn’t make much of a difference to me. I had a friend who lived in Vegas for 5 years and I asked him if he hits the book a lot and he told me everyone just uses a local guy. The only time he hit the casino book was when people were in town or for the bigger events with a group of people. But I would have to think if there was a fun place to go with a bunch of friends to make some bets and have a good weekend I’d be heading there at least a couple times a year.
BL: Very interesting, although not surprising. What do you think of the sports gambling options in Las Vegas and how could they be improved?
TK: I like them, I had a blast at the Bellagio for the sweet 16 a few years ago. It seems like they are a little small. I think a more intimate bar like setting might be a good option. I think the casinos would prefer the players at the tables though. Anything to improve the experience of watching the game would go a long way.
BL: This has all been very insightful, I cannot thank you enough for sharing your expertise with us today. Enjoy NFL season- go Pats!