How Do Bookmakers Set the Odds?

You head over to your favorite betting portal and see the match you’ve been waiting for has finally been listed. You don’t like the odds, so you check another one, and another one. Surprisingly, the odds listed at each of them are almost identical. You start to suspect that they have made secret arrangements – but let me assure you this is not the case. The odds are similar for completely different reason.

Statistics and Probabilities

Bookmakers have vast databases at hand, that contain all the stats of all players and teams, and people (+ algorithms) that know exactly what to do with all the data they have. They calculate the probability of each outcome you can bet on – based not on opinions or feelings, but based on statistics and other factors of influence.

Bookmakers take everything into account, even the unexpected. A team that plays away from home is more likely to lose – that’s an obvious one, but what about the time of the game, the gap since the last game and more. The referee can also influence the outcome, and so can unexpected injuries, penalties, accidents, and even the number of fans cheering at the game. These are all taken into account when calculating the odds the bookie can offer. And they take into account the fact that more punters are likely to bet on the favorite as well. Plus their own profit, since bookmakers are not charities, right?

That’s why the odds you will see on bookmaker comparison site, such as Grizzly sports betting hub,  will be more or less similar.

But, it doesn’t end there….

Why the Odds Change before the Game Starts?

I am sure you’ve noticed that the odds keep on changing all the time, even before the event starts and without any significant news. Obviously, certain facts can and should change the lines, such as Draymond Green suspension in Game #5 of the Finals. But, when there are no news, why they still change?

The answer is simple: they change according to your bets. Not only yours of course, but all the bettors combined. The bookies do not want to “take side” on any bet. Meaning they do not want to bet against you, but just server as a market place where people practically bet against each other through them. So when a significant of bets on a certain outcome are much higher than the opposite, the odds change accordingly to equalize things.

For example: let’s say that the odds on Cavs – Warriors winning Game #7 were +190 vs. -230. Then, the bookmaker (and his algorithms) noticed that there are more bets coming on Cavs win. Few minutes later, you will see the odds on Cavs win getting lower and on the Warriors going in the opposite direction:  +160/-180 or something like that.

These adjustments happen all the time, every second. That way the bets on each side will become more and more equal.

Can we use it to our advantage? We might, a bit. By betting early, when the lines published, you might take advantage of certain “miscalculation” of the odds, before other notice it as well and the odds get adjusted. The downside here is that you leave plenty of time for things to change – player get injured for example, which can turn the whole thing upside down.

What about Tipsters?

If you have enough data, you can predict the most probable outcome of a match more or less precisely. And there are people who have turned this possibility into a quite profitable business, selling their own predictions for the upcoming events. Some of them give out their betting tips free of charge, over the internet. Others – professional tipsters, as they are called – will either charge for their tips on a specific game or offer predictions regularly, for a subscription.

If you are curious about how this works, watch “Two for the Money“. The movie tells the story of Brandon Lang (Matthew McConaughey), a former football player who was forced out of the game by an injury and uses his prediction skills in the world of sports betting. He partners with Walter (Al Pacino), and enters the world of high profile sports betting. Everything’s great until… but I’ll let you discover the rest.

Sports are Predictable

Even if the average sports fan doesn’t have enough information at hand to predict the outcome of a game with the same result as tipsters or bookies, those really into the game can do so with enough precision to become successful punters.

Cleveland Cavaliers: The Difference Between 2015 and 2016

Many things can happen in few days. Just a week ago, after losing 108:97 at Quicken Loans, it was impossible to find anyone who believed that Larry O’brian Trophy will finally make its way to Ohio. I know I haven’t. I guess that’s why we love this game so much.

That’s natural that all the focus goes to LeBron. After leaving to Miami, he came back to bring the trophy to his city. He gave everything he had, he “poured his heart, his blood, his sweat and his tears”.

And yet, he wasn’t the difference between the Cavs that lost 4:2 in last year’s final to the team that executed one of the most heroic comebacks in sports history. He was definitely the MVP of this final, but he was also by far the best player in 2015 Finals as well. Despite not getting the award.

It wasn’t also the new supporting players, Jefferson or Mo Williams. It wasn’t the coach. Except the last few games, Tyronn Lue Cavs weren’t better than David Blatt’s team. Not Steph’s poor shape and probably not even Draymond’s suspension from Game 5.

The difference was one man: 6.3 tall, weighs 193lb and goes by the name of Kyrie Irving. In the last 5 games he averaged 30.8 pt. per game, with unbelievable penetrations. Hitting tough 3 pointers every time the team needed, including the one that eventually brought the title to Cleveland.

In the past 2 years, many referred to Kyrie as one of the most overrated players in the league. That he is not a leader. That he doesn’t share the ball enough and that he is worthless in defence.

Well, he is a leader that steps up when his team needs him and he was rock solid on the other end of the court as well. It’s true, running the offence is not his best quality and he will never be Steve Nash or CP3, but when it comes to bringing points to his team when it really matters – Kyrie is the guy you wish to have.

LeBron is the King, but even Kings can’t do everything themselves and Kyrie was exactly what James needed to finally bring the trophy home.

See you next year.

Cavs Plan to Run Faster. Seriously???

Do they know something that we’ve all been missing? Otherwise it’s hard to explain how  LeBron and Lue plan to beat Golden State with their own weapon. The Warriors are the best running team in history. And not only offensively, like Nash’s Suns. So why the Cavs think that they can beat them in their own game?

One is pretty obvious: we lost last year so let do the opposite. Second: arrogance, led by half of NBA legends: running is fast, everybody can do that. Second, LeBron is not exactly happy with all that Warriors carnival and would like to show that he can do that as well. None of the reasons holds the test of logic, but ok.

On the other hand, there are handful of reasons not to and the main one is that that that’s the way Warriors want to play.

  1. That’s the way they’ve been playing the past two years, while the Cavs been trying to adopt it only in the past few months. Quite unsuccessfully to be honest until the playoffs.
  2. Decision making: Cavs have two players in their starting lineup that can move the ball forward: LeBron and Kyrie. Warriors they have 4 or 5, depends if they start with Bogut or Iguodala.
  3. Last, running the ball 5, 6, 7 games in a row with NBA Finals intensity takes a lot of effort. Golden State are the deepest and most equalized team in the NBA. In Game 2 their biggest run came when Curry wasn’t even on the court. And we are talking about the reigning MVP here. Cavs second unit can defend, but they cannot match that level of execution on the other side of the court.

Game #2 showed clearly we are talking about, but did Game #3 proved the opposite?  Definitely not.

Cavs won not because of running, but because of the intensity they showed on both ends of the pitch (someone said trade on Love is coming?). And, thanks to superb games by three key players: Kyrie, J. R and one of the best games in LeBron’s carrier.

And now to the real question. Can the Cavs do it again in two days and put the pressure on Golden State? Will see. Anything but a win in Game #4 and we can forget winning the first title since 1964.

Who Can Stop the Warriors & Spurs – NBA 2016 Title Odds

The Playoffs are just around the corner and it’s time to check who is ready to go all the way and who’s not.

Eastern Conference

There is one question to be asked here: can someone challenge Cavaliers and LeBron making a return to the Finals? In November-December, the answer would be a simple no. However, the Cavs are doing pretty good job in challenging themselves. LeBron with his tweets, trips and future plans talks keeps the whole organization on its tows, making the team focus on everything except the game itself.

And yet, the Cavs are still the favourites to reach LeBron’s 7th consecutive NBA finals. The East made a huge jump forward this year: Miami are in shape, Celtics are growing up, Toronto will fight to death to avoid a repetition of last season fiasco. Some of them can beat the Cavs 1,2,3 times, but it’s hard to imagine one of them making it 4 out of 7.

James after the Nets Game
James after the Nets Game

We don’t say that Cavs way to the Final will be as smooth as it was last year. Pistons, Pacers or god forbid the Bulls, will fight and bite. In the semis, the one team that Cavs hope to avoid are the Heat. They are tough, experienced and have a great match up against Cavaliers. It’s not surprising that LeBron stands 0:4 in American Airlines Arena since his return to Ohio. If this happens, it’s going to be the best series to watch, except Warriors vs. Spurs of course.

Bottom line: Cavaliers will make another trip to NBA finals, but it’s not going to be an easy ride. Bookmakers will give you $1.40 for every $1 bet if they make it, but the way the Cavs look in recent weeks, we are not sure it’s worth the risk.

Western Conference

Here the situation is quite simple. There are only two teams which can win the conference, Warriors and Spurs. That’s it.

First, the teams that will occupy 4-8 spots just don’t have a chance to beat one of them. Grizzlies, Trailblazers and 2 out of Mavericks/Rockets/Jazz simply don’t have what it takes to compete with two of the best teams in history.

What about OKC and Clippers? Both are extremely talented and tough. They might, just might be able to overcome one of the top duo. The problem is that in order to reach the final, they will have to beat the Warriors and the Spurs in two consecutive series. That’s just not going to happen.

You can look at it from a different angle. At this point, Golden State and San Antonio have a combined record of 124 W vs. 18 L, including 69:0 at home!!! Do you really think that some team will be able to beat them 8 times in 14 games? No freakin’ way.

That’s why most bookmakers will give you 1:1 on those two to win the West. Bovada will give you even less. If you are not from US, you should check William Hill, which offers better odds. If you place two single bets there on Warriors and Spurs, you will get 104% return, which is really not bad considering the risk.

Spurs vs. Warriors

That is the only real question. Spurs seems to be gaining ground, while Stephen Curry and the Dubs are not as consistent as they were in the first two thirds of the season. Till their recent encounter, I was sure that the Spurs will go all the way. Now, I am not sure.

The Real Final
The Real Final

Although the Spurs fans were encouraged by the recent win, for me it showed that this year Warriors are just too much to handle. Yes, the Spurs won, but how many times they will be able to hold Curry to 14 points and just 1 from 12 for the three point range. And despite that, they won just by 8. Yes, Curry might have a night off once in a while, but not 4 out of 7.

Bottom Line:  Warriors win 4:2 and then 4:1 in the Final.

Tyronn Lue vs David Blatt – Which Cavs are Better?

It’s been two months since Cavaliers fired David Blatt, so it might be a good time for a short comparison and ask a few questions.

  • First, are Ty Lue Cavs Better? – No.
  • Are they a happier team? – No.
  • Do they have higher chances winning the title? – I doubt.
  • Did Dan Gilbert make the right decision by firing Blatt? – Definitely.

Now, let’s get into the details.

1. The Cavs where 30-11 under Blatt. With Lue they stand on 14-7. This comparison doesn’t do justice to Blatt. First, he achieved 73% without two of his starters, Kyrie and Shumpert, and let’s not forget the start of the season when Love came from ingury and TT missed the pre season due to his contract issues.

It’s true that Blatt’s Cavs were beaten by their main title contenders, Spurs and Warriors, but these games took place before the team could adjust to Kyrie and Shumps return. The 132-98 loss to Warriors is an exception and probably was the last straw. However, I’m pretty sure that Cavs would keep or improve their winning % if Blatt kept his position.

2. Cavs front office and the media mentioned frequently that the mood in the locker room was the main reason behind Blatt’s dismissal.

James after Cavs vs Grizzlies
James after Cavs vs Grizzlies

During the first month with Lue as the head coach it was the 70s all over again. In every interview we heard how happy and united the team is, committed to the mutual goal. A month later, we get mysterious tweets from LBJ, rumours about Kyrie not happy and more. Just seeing LeBron’s face after the recent loss to Memphis is enough.

3. Blatt might not have NBA experience, but he has 20 years of playoff experience which he proved last playoffs. A “rookie” coach out-coached the Brad Stevens, former NBA Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau and 2015 Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer. Yes, there was that stupid timeout fiasco, but I doubt it would happen again.

So if the experience was the problem, or the lack of it – here comes Ty Lue. He was an NBA player and assistant coach, but he has exactly zero experience at the leading roll. On the other hand, maybe with LeBron you don’t need a coach (we are cynical).

4. So after all that, why we say that Dan Gilbert made the right choice? Simple.

Imagine the scenario that the Cavs don’t win the title with David Blatt. All LeBron’s media will point fingers on the owners for wasting 2 years of the best player in NBA with an unqualified coach.

Hiring Lue is Gilbert’s insurance policy. If they win – great. If they loose – he did all a man can do or should we say, did everything LeBron asked him to do.

LeBron has the ball now. If they win – he will be Cleveland’s favorite son. If they loose – there is only one person to blame.

The Economic Benefits of LBJ’s Return to Cleveland

When Lebron James returned to Cleveland after his Championship run in Miami, many expected an instant upgrade to the Cavaliers’ success, but what many didn’t anticipate is the drastic effect Lebron’s return has had on the surrounding business and overall economics in the Cleveland area. One of the happiest people about this is Owner Dan Gilbert.

Not only are ticket sales up for the Cavaliers, but so too are food sales, merchandise, and parking revenue, as well. The bars that are located closest to the Cavaliers home, Quicken Loans Arena, and in the surrounding neighborhoods have seen a rapid and distinct rise in business since King James made his triumphant return home after his three year stint in Miami.

Businesses in the Cleveland downtown area have reported anywhere from a 30 percent increase to as big as a 200 percent increase in revenue, directly due to the larger crowds and attention the Cavaliers games have again, now that Lebron is back. Some financial experts have estimated Lebron’s impact on the city’s businesses to be around $500 million. While some still scoff at that number, nobody is doubting the great and direct effect that Lebron’s return has had on the city’s businesses as a whole. One financial and sports betting expert Jon Price who predicts the outcomes of basketball games says the economic impact is much greater. After LBJ signed the lifetime deal with Nike he created history. That history was created when he was signed and playing for the Cavs not the Heat.

LeBron vs Sixers
LeBron vs Sixers

The Cavaliers quickly faded back to where they came from when Lebron left for South Beach. Leaving many fans to curse Lebron and even going as far as to burn his jersey. Just 3 years later, after Lebron had won two NBA Championships in Miami, all seems to have been forgiven as he made his return home last year to sold-out crowds and screaming fans. It was like he never left.

From bars to restaurants to hotels to parking lots and everything in between, Lebron has had a hand in revitalizing Cleveland’s economy and businesses. Many bars are now keeping their bartenders staffed through the slow winter months, instead of their usual seasonal hiring habits during the busy summer months. King James has the support of the fanbase that he once turned his back on, and things seem to be on the rise in Cleveland, now the only thing that’s left is for Lebron to bring home is a Championship, like the two that he left Cleveland to win in the first place.

First Real Test

After getting the starters back, changing the line-up and playing the 7th easiest schedule in NBA so far, January will be a good time to see where the Cavs truly stand this season.

So far, Cleveland managed to pile up enough victories to lead the improving Eastern Conference. Considering the missing players, Mozgov coming back from an injury and Tristan Thompson joining only in the end of October – that’s quite good. However, the easy schedule played a big part in their success.

Now, all that is going to change. Drastically!

Cavs will go on 6 game road trip which includes few tough opponents, such as the Wizards, which is the only team that beat them at Q Arena, Spurs, Mavericks, Spurs and the Rockets. They will come back only on January 19th to play the Warriors, in a repetition of last year final. Then host the Bulls and the Clippers. Finally, will close the month again vs. the Spurs.

16 games in 28 days. 10 of them against top opponents.

So what needs to happen for David Blatt to coach the East in the Allstars?

  1. Setting the line-ups

With 2 starters back from injuries and the switch between Tristan and Mozgov, Cavs are a new team. So far the Cavs had almost a dozen different starting line-ups and that needs to change. David Blatt needs to find his permanent starters and second unit. Of course things will change according the opposition, but heed needs to have few permanent solutions.

  1. Ball Movement

For few quarters this year, Cavs played tremendous basketball. The ball was moving, tough defence enabled many fast break points. However, when things get rough, Cavs go back to slow isolation game play, which is quite hard to watch.

The ball movement is just not in this team’s DNA, yet. It was necessary last year with Love and Kyrie out and it will be used this year.

Of course, letting LeBron and Kyrie go 1 on 1 is not exactly a bad choice, but that should be Plan B. It will be enough to beat most of the teams and probably reach the finals, but definitely won’t work against the Spurs and the Warriors.

  1. Making Open Shots

The Cavaliers are 22nd in the league in making uncontested 3pt shots. Team that has JR, Kyrie, James Jones and Kevin Love, just can’t settle with those numbers. I guess the statistics will level with time, spreading the floor for LeBron and Kyrie’s penetrations. Otherwise, it’s going to be tough.

  1. Rim Protection

Cavs need Mozgov back. Yes, the league goes towards small ball and Tristan is a solid solution, but Cavs need a real rim protector.

Many underestimate the importance of Mozgov to Cavs last season second half run, but he was crucial. With Tristan the defence is much more versatile and fast to respond, but there is no safety net. You are punished for every minor mistake – proven by Lowry and DeRozan few days ago.

Cavs do not have the ability to give 48 minutes of intense defence. That’s why they need Mozgov top open the game and Tristan to wrap it up.

That’s pretty much it. Great games are ahead of us. The Cavs managed to put themselves in a solid position in the first half of the season, but now it’s time to get to work.

Of course there is still plenty of time and this team will be judged only in June, but January will show if they are on the right track.



Old Habits Die Hard

Yes, the Cavs haven’t enjoyed their optimal rooster so far this year. They suffered many injuries and David Blatt had to open with dozen different line ups in less than 30 games. JR Smith hasn’t gotten his rhythm yet this year. And yet, this all just excuses. Cavs have a problem to perform as a team under pressure.

Many would point out that the Cavaliers won plenty close games, but if you look closely, it was done against teams from the lower part of the table (Cavs had the 7th easiest schedule so far this season). Definitely not the ones they will have to go through to win the title.

Of course, missing one of the best PG in the league has it price. Without Kyrie, Cleveland miss one of the only two players that can create things for themselves when. However, this is not the issue.

The problem is that when under pressure, Cavs play ugly. It’s hard to watch. The ball is not moving. The players aren’t moving. Just standing on the far side waiting for LeBron to do his thing. Sometime he does, many time he doesn’t.

Cavs played amazing team basketball in many games this season, Memphis and the last game against the Nicks are good examples. Yet, in the fourth quarter everything stops.

It’s hard to point why it happens. Maybe LeBron doesn’t trust his teammates enough. Maybe his teammates trust LeBron too much. In any case – this has to be solved. LeBron, as good as he is, won’t be able to win the title on his own. He will be able to get to NBA finals again, but against the Spurs or the Warriors, it’s just won’t be enough.

However, there is still plenty of time. Cleveland, with all their injuries, comfortably lead the surprisingly strong Eastern Conference. They have the privilege to lose a few games and make experiments. They have to learn to share the ball when it really matters, otherwise they will end up exactly in the same way they ended last year… with compliments.