My first foray into being a total degen smart sports speculation came in high school when I bet every dollar to my name on which NFL teams would receive opening kickoffs.

It was either bet on kickoffs or continue my career as an employee of Mayflower Moving Co., and I wasn’t about to go back there for a second day. Idk if you knew this — little secret among movers — but people only ever ask you to move their heaviest items! It’s bizarre.

So right around the time Carlos’ knee went out (old mover’s trick) and I myself had to feign a back injury to get the hell out of there, I decided instead of picking things up just to later set them back down in a different location, I’d much prefer not moving, both physical things and my own body.

So when I saw the kickoff props, I knew this was my time. On the surface, betting on kickoffs seems ridiculous given the large vig and the fact that the coin toss is random. However, the NFL had just made a rule change that season that allowed teams to defer until the second half (as had been the case in college for a while), which meant that the team receiving the opening kickoff was no longer directly correlated with winning the toss. Looking at preseason and early-season tendencies, you could see that certain coaches always deferred, while others always choice to receive. When two such teams played, you knew with a pretty high degree of certainty which team would receive the opening kickoff, and yet certain sportsbooks were still offering lines that suggested the kickoff was effectively random.

I fired the max I could get on these bets until they were no longer posted, and I believe I lost just one along the way when Sean Payton (10% chance it was actually Payton) decided to defer when he normally chose to receive. I invested my winnings very wisely and definitely didn’t buy thousands of dollars of art supplies and bunch of glass in an effort to become a famous artist despite having zero artistic talent and because my grandpa told me the price of glass was going to soar (what does that even mean?). Those things for sure didn’t happen. I’d admit to them if they did. You guys know that. You don’t know hustle until you’re banging on strangers’ doors at 5 a.m. asking to buy their vases is all I’m saying.

Anyway, the point of this needlessly long intro is two-fold:

  • There’s an edge in props.

These aren’t NFL spreads and totals. The limits are lower and, especially in the Super Bowl, a bunch of donkeys are firing on a whim just to get action. The books aren’t putting tons of time into setting these lines, the market isn’t robust enough to quickly correct props that are wrong, and they very often aren’t updated as quickly as they should be. I do believe that will change in the future as a younger generation of bettors begins focusing on player-centric bets, but for now, there are inefficiencies.

  • Vig doesn’t matter (sort of).

Obviously juice matters. Just ask the cranberry guy.

 

That video doesn’t really make a lot of sense here but I love Brian Regan. Moving on.

When I say that vig doesn’t matter, I mean that you can’t just label both sides of a bet “bad” because the juice is crazy, which it often will be on prop bets (especially those on low-probability events). The vig doesn’t change whether or not a bet is good or bad; it just decreases the odds of one side of a prop being +EV.

And if you think about it, why would the odds on one side of a bet affect whether or not the other side is sharp or not? Yes, the vig can be a lot higher on props, but the lines can also be off enough that you can still find +EV sides. If I’m betting on whether or not there will be a safety in the Super Bowl, I’m snap-firing “no” at -900 regardless of whether “yes” is +600 or +200.

With that said, let’s make some money.

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Credit:

James Lang-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Eagles head coach Doug Pederson

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