2022 NFL Week 5 has begun. I included the year in that final sentence because I expect this to be an instant classic that people refer to and reread for years, and I want everyone to know at a glance when it was written.
Is there a Pulitzer for sports betting? Finally!
Like clockwork, Twitter users are saying the NFL spread is irrelevant. The spread has come into play in only 20% of games this year, so if you favor a team — especially an underdog – bet them on the moneyline. Winners matter.”
20%of something isn’t nothing
First, those who act as if 20% is nothing don’t appreciate one-fifth of anything.
20% is much. 20% of your pay, taxes, heat bill, bar tab, etc. Observe 20%.
20% of your bankroll is affected.
20% immediately affects money and real goods.
Too many people act as if 20% is almost 0% when considering possibilities.
20% of NFL games isn’t negligible.
Spreads vs. moneylines
Monday, October 3rd. Twenty-two. Monday Night Football starts soon. As I read Bet Labs’ database (through Action Network), I find the following statistics from 2003.
- ATS, ROI, moneyline (ML).
- 4,808-4,808-270 (-2.3% ROI)
- (-2.9% ROI)
Moneyline bettors historically lose more than spread bettors.
Spread market juice is 20 cents with -110 odds on both sides. When oddsmakers change one side to -115 or -120, they usually offset it with -105 or +100.
In the moneyline market, bookies add more juice and generate a larger hold, so there’s less value for sports bettors.
This disparity affects your financial account over time.
Smaller holds mean less juice overall.
Price sensitivity doesn’t matter if all you do is pick winners, but 1) I’m joking since 2) it’s hard to pick winners, so 3) price always matters.
So we should be cautious that the spread doesn’t matter and that we should invest in the moneyline market.
Spreads offer gamblers more value historically.
NFL Underdogs and Spreads
If you prefer an underdog, you might as well bet on the moneyline, they say.
- ROI: -0.6%
Since 2003, if you blindly bet all underdogs against the spread, you’d be down 30 units.
That’s not bad. Former bettors would prefer to lose only 30 units over 20 years.
- ROI: -2.6%
Should I quit now? Could, but won’t.
Bettors have lost more than quadruple the money by betting underdogs on the moneyline.
Money alone. Moneyline bettors win less often (51% vs. 33.4%) and have a larger point loss (-0.19 vs. -5.58) than spread bettors.
2:1 odds are tough to lose. Losing is tougher if you weren’t close to winning.
If moneyline betting were more profitable over time, it may be worth it.
Nope. No way. Bettors lose a fortune.
For the past 20 years, sports bettors have paid a 400% phony tax for the chance to win one-third of the time.
“Dummy tax” is just right.
NFL Favorites: Spreads vs. Moneylines
Has the spread-versus-moneyline dynamic changed for favorites?
- 49% wins
- ROI: -4.0%
OMG. I hope you understand.
- 66.6% wins
- ROI: -3.1%
Amazing. If you like the underdog, bet the moneyline; if you like the favorite, wager the spread. No. That’s wrong historically.
Over the past 20 years, betting favorites on the moneyline has been better than the spread.
You’d win bets 2:1. Average moneyline bets would’ve won by less than a touchdown.
Sure, you’d have lost tons of money. Your entire bankroll. You wouldn’t have lost as much if you’d bet favorites against the spread.
A little aside seems appropriate here.
Favorites vs. underdogs
Historically, it’s been more beneficial to bet underdogs than favorites, whether against the spread or on the moneyline.
Each case is unique. Every game is different. You should gamble whatever market value you see based on your numbers, provided they’re developed in a systematic and informed way.
Really? Gambling gods favor self-starters.
Since 1995, market favorites have ballooned. We shouldn’t bet on them.
You can’t blame the quarterback, coach, officials, weather, or anything else if you bet on a favorite and lose.
Not bad. Bad bet.
When you bet on a favorite and lose, you only have yourself to blame, according to history.
Back to the article…
2022 NFL Underdogs vs. Spreads
Long-term is usually more important. Larger samples have more weight than smaller, more recent ones.
The big picture.
Tobias: As a therapist, I’ve counseled a number of couples to consider an open relationship, where they stay emotionally engaged but can have extramarital affairs.
Lindsay: Did they succeed?
No, Tobias. These individuals fool themselves, but it might work for us.
You’ve seen them. “Maybe this is the year to bet on moneyline underdogs,” you think. ”
Underdogs 2022 ATS
- 61.3% wins
- ROI: 16.8%
Excellent! Underdogs against the spread lost in Week 1 (8-8) but won in Weeks 2-4 (10-5-1, 11-5, 9-6)
ML underdogs 2022
- 43.5 win%
- ROI: 10.7%
Not bad, but not as good as ATS.
Betting underdogs on the moneyline instead of the spread hasn’t made sense in 2022.
NFL underdog betting is fun
First, “Betting on huge underdogs at long odds is fun.”
Fun when they hit. Plus-money betting and winning is exciting.
Books know it. Extra cost.
I won’t stop you from betting moneyline dogs for fun. Do it. Bet moneyline dogs for fun. And then some.
The market needs happy losers.
Moneyline dogs are allowed.
If you want to regularly make money, don’t go to the moneyline market if you fancy an underdog against the spread.
Is this NFL data relevant?
The market can change, so this previous data may be irrelevant.
Fine. Yes. Changeable market. But the market’s people rarely change. Over time, individuals show the same biases and inclinations, making them — and the market — predictable and exploitable.
I prefer old data to no data.
I suppose those who express this concern want it to go just one way. If I told them they couldn’t utilize previous data, they wouldn’t like it.
Most objections about the data’s usefulness based on its length are irrelevant. Long timeframes ensure useful data by providing a large sample.
I’ll consider another dataset objection.
Spreads vs. moneylines: Bet underdogs
Despite what you’ve indicated, betting the moneyline makes sense for short underdogs due to unequal scoring, hence your total dataset is irrelevant because you included all dogs.
Really? Fair point. Well-spoken. True.
Only short underdogs.
+0.5 to +3 ATS underdogs
Excellent! Bet on short dogs against the spread for 20 years. Moneyline?
+0.5 to +3 (ML)
Finally. I’m sold.
Moneyline underdogs have been more profitable than spread underdogs.
Short underdogs on the moneyline…
In the “bet underdogs on the moneyline” discussion, short underdogs are overlooked.
If someone says, “Bet them on the moneyline because if they cover they’ll win,” that’s fine. Perhaps they’re smart. Perhaps.
If someone says, “They’re +9.5, if you like them simply bet on the moneyline because the spread almost never counts,” that individual may not have effective sports betting tips.
And moving from the spread to the moneyline isn’t easy. Correlation, but not perfect.
The Cardinals are +5.5 home favorites against the Eagles with -110 odds.
These three bookmakers offer equal Cardinals (and Eagles) spread odds, but different moneyline odds.
- OKBET Cardinals +190, Eagles -225
- Eagles -255, Cardinals +210
- Eagles -235, Cardinals +192
+190 and +192 are close, but you should always bet the better line.
+190 and +210 differ significantly. At +190 odds, the Cardinals need 34.5% wins to break even. At +210, it’s 32.3%.
The difference between +190 and +210 is merely 2.2%, but when trying to stretch a 1.6% ROI to 2.4%, it’s huge.
If you bet at +190 instead of +210, you may be selling yourself short and making a worse bet than if you’d chosen the Cardinals at +5.5.
Should short underdogs be gambled on the moneyline instead of the spread? Yes. Sometimes. Possibly.
Context and odds matter most.