### May 2014

Sports picksMay 16, 2014

Prior to theÂ Kentucky Derby, you are typically required to lay about \$1000 to win \$100 on a “no” bet that there will be a Triple Crown Winner. Now that California Chrome has won the Kentucky Derby, there are only two legs left and the odds have shifted. Chrome’s owner is guaranteeing a Preakness win and is predicting a Triple Crown win. The media is again going crazy talking about the possibility of the first Triple Crown winner since 1978. It seems so inevitable!Â So should you bet California Chrome to win the Triple Crown?

Let’s look at the current odds:

Will there be a Triple Crown Winner in 2014?
Yes +235
No -275
(line available at 5DimesÂ withÂ similar lines are also atÂ bovada.lvÂ andÂ sportsbook.com)

So what was once a bet that required a huge lay-to-win ratio of 10 to 1Â has now dropped to under three tenths of that.

Why? The public now has a “name” to go with for the “yes” bet. The media is “Chrome” happy and you have seen his name written hundreds of times since the Derby. You’ve heard his name countless more times on the radio and TV. PeopleÂ wantÂ a Triple Crown winner desperately. All of this hype invariably leads to over-betting on the “yes” for this prop.

But the public is acting irrationally. And from that, we shall profit.

A “yes” bet on the Triple Crown Winner prop pays +235 now. That equates to an assumed “win” percentage of about 30% to break even. So, in order to bet “yes” you have to believe that California Chrome has greater than a 30% chance of winning BOTHÂ The PreaknessÂ andÂ theÂ Belmont Stakes!

Let’s assume California Chrome’s chances are equal in each of the two upcoming races. If he is to have a 30% chance of winning both, that equates to a 55% chance of winning each race individually (.55 x .55 = .26). Does this horse have a 55% chance of winning the The Preakness AND if he does,Â a 55% chance of winning the Belmont against fields of 10? The oddsmakers are pegging Chrome as having about a 55-60% chance to win the Preakness, so that is pretty spot on. But, thats only one of two remaining races. And, there’s that old saying about “the best laid plans…”

History would also say no way Chrome completes the Triple Crown sweep.

In 139 years of Triple Crown racing, the winner of the Kentucky Derby has won The Preakness 33 times (23.7%). That’s pretty far off from 55%.

Those that have what it takesÂ to win the first two legs (the absolute best of the best in the history of the sport) only win The Belmont Stakes at a 33.3% rate (11 out of 33). Again, that’s nowhere near 55%.

In 139 years of Triple Crown racing, 11 horses have won the coveted trifecta. That’s 7.9%. Yet, California Chrome supposedly has a 30%+ chance? What’s so special about this horse to warrant a belief that this horse has a 3.8 times better chance than the historical average? In fact I would argue that if anything, this horse has a worse than normal chance (see below).

So if you are considering a “yes” bet on whether California Chrome will win the Triple Crown, think again. You are betting a 12-to-1 longshot and only getting paid out as if it were a 2.35-to-1 bet. We haveÂ a 7.9% historic figure that people are betting into as if it were over 30%. Granted, the historic numbers are just averages and maybe California Chrome has a better than average chance. But, even if that were true, the odds are still off considerably here.

That provides tremendous value on the opposite side – in this case, the “no” bet. Based on the actual historic chances over the 14 decades, a “no” bet should require a fair line of -1160 here.

So, we get to lay -275 on a bet that based on long-term averages, should be -1160. Talk about value!

When Big Brown was going for the Crown in 2008, he had a decent shot. Big Brown was a favorite in every race and for good reason. While Chrome could very well be the favorite in both of the two remaining legs, this horse is not one of the best of the best ever – far from it. Asking him to win The Preakness and the Belmont Stakes is just asking too much.

I ask you: Is California Chrome really better than the following list of horses:

Silver Charm, Real Quiet, Charismatic, War Emblem, Funny Cide, Smarty Jones, Big Brown, I’ll Have Another

None of those recent Triple CrownÂ contendersÂ (all of whom actually won the first two legs)Â could pull off theÂ herculeanÂ task. Remember, only 11 horses have ever done this. Is Chrome really that good that he will defy these odds and win three in a row against the best fields the sport has to offer? Not very likely.

Wunderdog says: Take the “no” at -275 as you will rarely find a bet with this much value. Again, anything under -1160 odds technically represents value based on long-term averages and even if California Chrome is better than average, the odds should be much longer than -275.

Click to bet this prop bet at:Â atÂ 5DimesÂ or bovada.lvÂ orÂ sportsbook.com

If you are interested in having success with NBA picks, the first thing to know is that there is no magic bullet. The people who win are generally those people who put in the time to research the games and those who have the best information. With that being said, there are some good rules to live by with NBA handicapping that will keep you from falling off the tracks.

Everyone makes a run

If you are a person who likes to do in-game betting, then know that every team makes a run. Just because one team goes up by 15 does not mean that they will stay up by that amount. You can expect all teams to make runs during the course of a game, so do not make the mistake of thinking that just because one thing happened, that it will continue to happen over time. This is a major fallacy.

Small amounts of points matter

This should be self-evident, but some NBA bettors still seem to miss this. If you are going to have betting success, then you have to shop around for the best lines. In basketball, even a half-point can make the difference between a winner or loser for you. Donâ€™t think that a favorite will be able to cover 5.5 just because you think they are going to win.

Expect variance

As an NBA bettor, you have to be prepared for a certain level of variance. Over the course of a season, you are going to make a bunch of good picks that end up as losers. At the same time, you will get lucky a few times as your would-be losers turn into winners. The key is to expect variance and account for it whenever possible. As long as you exercise good bankroll management, you should be able to see your true results play out over the course of time.

Some people only like to make NBA picks once the playoffs role around. Others among us are veterans who make bets during the season and during the playoffs. Ask any person who does the latter, and they will tell you that certain things change when the playoffs are upon us. One of the best examples of this is that teams tend to play a little bit tighter on the defensive end.

Better effort on defense

One might rightly call the NBA the effort league. This is because the performance of teams can vary wildly depending upon how much effort they are putting in on a given night. In the playoffs, you will see much more effort on the defensive end. This can lead to lower scores than you might be used to seeing out of certain NBA teams. The regular season is long, and it tends to produce a kind of general malaise about the players. They know generally where their team is going to fall in the playoff hunt. The playoffs are a different beast, however.

Matchups matter

In the playoffs, matchups are incredibly important. Over the course of a seven-game series, matchup issues with two teams can truly come to light. If one team has a significant advantage â€“ for instance, they have an inside rebounding presence while their opponent struggles to keep teams off of the glass â€“ then this is likely to be magnified over the course of many games. As teams become more familiar with one another, the matchups are that much more critical. As you make NBA picks, you must keep this in mind.

Every person knows that when making baseball picks, it is important to use numbers. After all, Major League Baseball is the sort of game where data analysis has become incredibly important. You can use numbers to help with your basketball bets, too. This is a little bit more difficult because the numbers are not quite as obvious, but there are some serious stats out there that can break down matchups.

Efficiency Stats

Some of todayâ€™s best NBA bettors use efficiency stats when breaking down their NBA betting picks. Efficiency stats are those that tell bettors what a team does on a per possession basis. This are especially important for understanding just how effective a team has been overall on the offensive or defensive end. Efficiency stats can help you determine whether there is a matchup problem. Does one team get to the hole very well, while their opponent has trouble with putting people on the free throw line? Things like this could predict problems down the line.

Pace-related stats

So you want to make NBA picks on the totals of games? You better know all about pace. Ultimately when it comes to NBA totals, it will not be the offensive and defensive effectiveness that will have the biggest impact. This will matter some, but it not be the determinant. Rather, the biggest determining factor will be how quickly the two teams play. Look at the pace of play for each team to determine whether they will be getting up and down the floor or whether they will be playing at something closer to a snailâ€™s pace. The slower the game, the better it is for the under.

As you are making NBA picks, whether it is the NBA playoffs or during the regular season, you will want to look at a number of critical factors that are likely to influence a player and a teamâ€™s play. Your goal will be to try and figure out whether factors exist that will make your particular team play better or worse than their expected value. How do we factor motivation into this? What factors help to motivate teams?

External motivation

There might be times when some media outlet has written something that will motivate a player. Just before game six of the 2014 opening round of the playoffs, The Oklahoman, a newspaper in Oklahoma City, published a headline entitled, â€œMr. Unreliableâ€ about Kevin Durant. Rather than sulking, Durant went out and played easily his best game of the series. For those who were paying attention, this was an obvious factor that could have helped them make their NBA picks. Remember these things as you make yours.

Internal Motivation

While external motivation will be pretty easy to spot, more difficult is internal motivation. Unless you work for a team or have a serious connection within a team, you are going to have difficulty figuring out when a team is excited to play for its coach and when a team is not excited for that opportunity. Rather than trying to read the tea leaves on a team, you should not engage in this kind of handicapping. Understand that there are some factors that you will just not know. As you make NBA picks at VictivÂ , leave internal motivation to other bettors and focus on the tangible factors that can help you.