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Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 1:00 PM

I’ll pop in on Wednesdays through the winter to talk about college basketball. There’s not much point to monitoring the “Futures” prices this season because the markets are fairly stable. The big name programs are still getting the most respect, even if most have taken a step back this season. Things could get really interesting in the Futures once teams like Kansas, Kentucky, and Duke start LOSING in the Big Dance. I’ll decide at that time whether or not to include Futures in our regular round-by-round tournament coverage of sharp betting.

Today I wanted to talk about that…sharp betting. I don’t think that it’s generally realized how little “square” money from the public influences the college basketball market during the regular season. You’ll sometimes hear pundits or PR guy talking about how odds are being “stacked against the public” who has lined up on the same side in a game.

You need to know…

*The public just doesn’t bet that much college basketball until the NCAA Tournament

*The public that DOES bet isn’t respected enough to move the line

*What you see on the board through the regular season typically reflects the battle of “oddsmakers” vs. “sharps.”

Sportsbooks don’t mind taking a position against the public because they know they’re going to win over the long haul (public ignorance plus the 10% vigorish really adds up!). So, even if squares suddenly jumped in on somebody in a big TV game, sportsbooks would stand pat if they were confident of their number. You saw this in the NFL in the AFC Championship game. The public was extremely one-sided on New England. Sportsbooks stood pat and accepted that big exposure. Stores won huge in that one when Denver sprung the upset. The line didn’t move to New England -4.5 or -5.5 to “balance the books.” The books stayed unbalanced, and it paid off for Vegas!

If you see a line move in college basketball this month, it’s because of sharp action or news about an injury. The public won’t move the number, generally speaking.

Second point. Individual sports books will move their lines even if sharps aren’t betting at their place! It’s finally becoming more widely understood that “modern” oddsmaking in Nevada simply means copying (or “cloning”) what the most respected offshore places have posted after the numbers have had time to settle.

Imagine a sportsbook right in the middle of the strip. They won’t post a number in a game until well after the best offshore places have. Then, if sharps step in and hit that game offshore in a way that moves the number…the sportsbook in the middle of the strip will also move its line even if nobody has bet at their locale.

Dumb money is fairly invisible in February, and wouldn’t move the line even if it did show up. The lines you see are based on what happens in the battle between offshore oddsmakers and respected money.

What does that mean for handicappers? You’re in for a tough battle!

*You’re not trying to outsmart the public

*You’re trying to outsmart a relative handful of people who really know what they’re doing

*You can’t really “shop around” to get “bad” lines to exploit

Winning is possible, particularly if you pick your spots in areas that you know very well (certain, teams, conferences, or proven strategies that the market hasn’t noticed yet). You just need to have respect for your challenge. Stories you’ve heard about how the sausage is made in Las Vegas were probably true 10-15 years ago (and further back). Right now, the market has evolved to a point where corporations play it very safe (and blame-free) by copying their lines (and moves) from other places.  

I still enjoy handicapping and betting this sport, even if the world has changed dramatically in my years here in Las Vegas. The thrill of the hunt is still there! My BEST BETS are available daily right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. It’s easy to include Sunday’s Super Bowl with any longterm basketball package.

Back with you tomorrow to talk NBA in advance of TNT’s doubleheader. My final football report of the season will go up around lunchtime Friday, as we discuss sharp betting in the Super Bowl. Will that Wise Guy money ever come in on the Denver Broncos? Sportsbooks are mostly very one-sided right now with Carolina Panthers money. A lot can happen between now and kickoff.

Thanks for reading!


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Richie B. on twitter @vsm_baccellieri

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