Las Vegas Sun

September 15, 2019

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Columnist Jeff Haney: Money-line strategy offers more bang for the buck

Jeff Haney's sports betting column appears Wednesday. Reach him at (702) 259-4041 or [email protected]

Guidelines for determining the money line in an NFL game:

Take a look at the latest odds to win the Super Bowl on each of the 12 remaining National Football League playoff teams.

Nothing grabs you?

Odds too low to inspire you to reach into your wallet?

Consider an alternate strategy: Bet your team on the money line in each of its postseason games, continually rolling over the profits into the next wager.

In money-line wagering, the winner of the game is the winner of the bet, regardless of the point spread.

By estimating point spreads against forthcoming opponents, you can gauge the eventual payout you'll receive if your team does go all the way. (It doesn't matter what you think the point spreads should be; you're just trying to predict what they will be, as you'll be betting into the corresponding money lines.)

With just about all of the NFL playoff teams, the money-line strategy is a more profitable play than a single bet on the team to win the Super Bowl at fixed odds.

Let's use the Indianapolis Colts as an example.

The Colts are listed at about 4-1 to win the Super Bowl in most Las Vegas sports books, meaning a $100 wager today would return a profit of $400 (plus your original stake) if Indianapolis goes all the way.

Let's examine what that $100 would return if you bet it on the money line in each of the Colts' playoff games plus the Super Bowl, rolling over all of the profits into the next bet each time.

The Colts are a minus-450 favorite on the money line in their wild-card game Sunday against the Denver Broncos. A $100 money-line bet would pay $22 (plus the original $100).

Take that $122 and put it on the Colts money line in their next game, Jan. 16 at New England. The Patriots would likely be favored by about 4 1/2 points in that matchup, meaning you could easily find plus-180 on the Colts money line (see chart, this page). A Colts victory would increase your stake to $340.

Take that $340 and roll it over into a bet on the Colts in the American Football Conference championship game against their likely opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers. We think Indianapolis would come in as roughly a 3-point underdog in this game, which equates to a money line of plus-135. So a Colts victory would leave you with $800 to bet on the Super Bowl.

The Colts' most likely opponent in the Super Bowl would be the Philadelphia Eagles, and knowing what we know now, Indianapolis would be favored by about 6 points, or minus-270 on the money line. A Colts victory would increase your stake to nearly $1,100 -- the equivalent of 10-1 on your $100 wager.

If the Colts lose anywhere along the way, you're out $100 -- just as you would be if you had placed it on Indianapolis to win the Super Bowl at odds of 4-1.

That picture represents the Colts' most likely road to the Super Bowl. How does the outcome change if some upsets occur elsewhere in the bracket, making the Colts' path easier?

Well, they still have to play the Broncos and the Patriots. But their last two opponents could potentially be the New York Jets and the St. Louis Rams, for example. We figure the money lines on the Colts in those two games would be about minus-360 and minus-450, meaning your original $100 stake would yield a little more than $400 in profit -- still just as good as those 4-1 fixed odds.

Here's the outlook for each of the other NFL playoff teams (if you disagree with the predicted point spreads, just plug in your own numbers and use the accompanying chart to tally the potential winnings):

AFC teams

Even if they are "lucky" enough to meet the Broncos for the American Football Conference title and, say, the Rams in the Super Bowl, the money-line strategy should pay at least 35-1. Typical fixed odds in Las Vegas are 30-1.

NFC teams

Sun sports betting columnist Jeff Haney will be making college basketball picks at 10 p.m. Friday in a charity handicapping event hosted by Jimmy Vaccaro. The program airs on 920-AM live from the Riviera hotel-casino.