Friday, October 07, 2005

The Line On Today's Game

I do not gamble on sports myself, and am not particularly interested in doing so. However, I do frequently look at betting lines on a particular week's games to see how the oddsmakers handicap a game, which is an explicit statement as to their belief concerning the probability of a team winning a game. Very few things shock me when it comes to sports betting lines. Usually, those guys in Vegas are good and the lines are reasonable.

However, I was extremely shocked to see that the
Red Sox are -168 to win today's game. In sports betting terms, that means you need to bet $168 on the Red Sox to win $100. By contrast, a $100 bet on the White Sox would get you $153. Given the juice (the difference between what the house keeps on the bets), the "true odds" seen by Vegas is that the Red Sox are 160:100 favorites to win Game 3. Putting that in percentage terms, the oddsmakers are saying that the Red Sox have about a 61% chance of winning this game.

That strikes me as very high given Wakefield's poor performance against the White Sox historically and Garcia's good performance (1) on the road; (2) during the day; and (3) against the Red Sox historically. I guess the Red Sox are the World Champions, and Fenway is a tough place to play, but it seems to me that the Red Sox do not win this game 6 times out of 10. If I were a betting man, I wouldn't bet against the White Sox today.

[That said, given my post yesterday, one of my good friends suggested that the smartest thing to bet on would be to bet $100 on the White Sox to win Game 3 and $100 on the Red Sox to win the series. If the White Sox win Game 3, you'd be $53 ahead. If they lose, you'd be down $100, but that Red Sox-to-win-the-series bet (probably like 8-to-1 now) would be a much better bet. That is probably the only gambling advice I'd ever give out.]

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