Let It Ride: Josh Boeke Gambles On Football

Gambling, a vice as old as humanity itself (or so I’ve been told by people who were there).  What exactly is it about a game of chance that entices us to throw away rational thought and just “let it ride”?  I’m sure there are many complicated answers to that question, none of which I intend to delve into here, but whatever the case it just makes everything better, especially NFL football games.

Now I won’t sit here and claim to be some kind of expert on the subject.  In fact, when it comes to the intricacies of sharps and squares, vigs and money lines, I’m about as green as they come.  What I will say is that picking football games based on point spreads has been an enjoyable, and dare I say, rewarding, experience for me.  One that I wish to share with the masses.  So in this new weekly piece I will be looking at four games that I believe have value against the spread. 

Before I get into that, let’s do a quick overview of some of the gambling terms I will be using, .  If you are already familiar with sports betting then please feel free to skip ahead (or better yet head over to SportBetting.ag and put some actual money on this sh*t, 60% of the time my picks are right every time*), but I know that when I was first learning about the wonderful world of gambling I would have liked it if someone had explained the terms up front.

The Spread – You probably hear this term a lot but maybe wonder what exactly people are talking about (I know I did for a long time).  Well the spread is simply a mechanism created by bookmakers in the 1940’s to entice betting on both sides of a binary wager (such as a win-lose proposition in a football game) when the outcome might otherwise not be equally weighted.  Obviously if Arizona is playing New England everybody is betting on New England, well, if you give Arizona 14 points (or a 14 point spread) then people might be enticed to bet on Arizona, not to win, but to lose by fewer than 14 points.  The spread is generally written in a + or – fashion.  In the scenario above, Arizona would be +14 because they are being “given” 14 points, and New England would be -14 as they are having 14 points “taken away.”  Makes sense right?

Money Line – The money line is a different type of betting and I won’t generally use it here though I may make reference to it.  In a money line wager you are betting that the team wins “straight up” or with no point spread.  The money line is set based on probability of an outcome, so in the scenario above New England might be -500, which means you would need to bet $500 to win $100 (the money line is always written in terms of 100).  The money line isn’t always the same for both teams (in fact it usually isn’t), so Arizona might be +800 (bet $100 to win $800) and New England might be -500 in the same game.

Over/Under – Over/under betting in NFL terms is simply trying to guess how many combined points will be scored in a particular game.  So if the over is 40.5 then you would either bet over, meaning you think the teams will combine for 41+, or under, meaning you predict 40 or fewer.  This is a very popular form of betting (though deceptively difficult to predict) because people tend to believe they can guess how many points will be scored generally, even if they don’t feel comfortable guessing which team will be doing the scoring.

Okay, so those are the three major kinds of NFL betting, though of course when it comes to gambling you can bet on almost anything (which team will score first, which player will score first, # of TDs, # of FGs, first half scoring, second half scoring, over/under on words spoken in the halftime coach interview, etc. etc. etc.).  For this exercise I will be using lines provided by SportBetting.ag.

*This is not a guarantee. 

There you have it, my gambling guide for week 15 in the NFL.  Odds are I will miss on one or two of these, but that’s why we gamble after all, to beat the odds.

Good luck.

And, as always, follow me on twitter ; I will give you gambling advice.  For free.