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=================================================    Thursday, June 26, 2003
Handicapping College Sports and Line Shopping in Sports Betting

Hello everyone,

The information in this newsletter comes directly from the discussion forum.

There have been a few debates on the issues of College Sports Handicapping and Line Shopping.

The first question was: Is it correct that, in general, most professionals consider it more difficult to handicap college football and basketball as opposed to professional football and basketball? If so, why would that be the case?

I found Lou E.'s answer quite interesting and here it is:

"College sports are _much_ easier to handicap than professional sports. Remember, the odds are not set because the odds-makers think Team A will beat Team B by x points, but rather x points to have half the people bet on Team A and the other half on Team B.

With college sports, many people are betting on the historical results of the team rather than the current year's performance even though the turnover of players is much more rapid than the pros.

Also, people are more inclined to bet with their hearts (and wallets) so that schools with a large number of alums (or wealthy alums) have lines that are out of whack. Ever wonder why almost all sports books have lines for Ivy League sports? It's certainly not the level of play : )

Information is also not as transparent with college games. For example, in pro football, teams are _required_ to report injuries and their severity -- coaches get fined for false reports. Whereas with colleges, injuries are typically kept secret as much as possible.

(As an aside, the only reason the injury reports are necessary is for betting purposes. The NFL requires the reports, but publicly bad mouths sports betting -- hypocritical?)

And for the most part professionals are just that, professionals. However, with college players, with less maturity, other factors are important -- home field becomes more valuable, girlfriend problems, classes/tests (for those that actually go to class) and motivational factors. Intimate knowledge of college teams is not nearly as widely disseminated as with the pros."

And there were 3 questions concerning Line Shopping:

1- How many sportsbooks should one contact when "shopping lines?"

2- Is it correct to say that, at least half the time, "shopping lines" does not improve the line that is commonly available?

3- My understanding is that "shopping the lines" increases the win rate by 1 1/2 to 2%. For those who use CanBet-------are their lines so good that a bettor could do just as well by using CanBet alone as by spending a bunch of time each day shopping the lines with multiple sportsbooks?

Again, Lou answers:

1- Three or four sports books is a reasonable number for the major sports, though you may to have more for specific purposes. For example, golf betting or Formula One -- some books have lots of wagers available and some none at all.

2- When you say improving the line, you need to be a bit more specific. In football, for example, a line of +/- 3 points will be very difficult to move, so close to 0%, however, if you are trying to improve the 11/10 (-110) odds, then 100% of the time it can be improved. 50% is a reasonable number for say a football/basketball line of 4, 5 or 6 points. In baseball, with money lines, it probably approaches 90% of the time that the money line can be improved. In hockey, you would be lucky to get a better spread 10% of the time, although the money lines could be improved a majority of the time.

3- As far as improving the win rate, again, to be more specific, the win rate in baseball will not change, since you are simply picking the winner. With the money lines though, your profit can be improved by getting better odds. In football/basketball, your assumption sounds reasonable.

Thanking Lou for his good points and his permission to have his information published.

Wishing you all the best,
Until next week,


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