So I had a very successful DFS football season and as much as I hate to admit it, basketball isn’t my greatest sport. I feel a lot of that is because the general public doesn’t play as much basketball as they do football leaving more sharks in the water. Although I don’t lose overall in basketball, I do because I don’t win nearly as much as I do in football.
As a professional this is frustrating because it sucks not having the fantasy income that I’m used to during the football season and I need to find another way to make money. Well I have been preaching for about two years that fantasy players can make great money betting on player props on online sites and this can mean even more income.
In this article I am going to explain exactly what “player props” are and how you can use the information you already gather from daily fantasy sports in making your lineups to really make some extra income if you choose to make these types of wagers.
What Do the Las Vegas Lines Mean and How Do They Work?
If you play DFS at all you are familiar with Vegas lines because it’s a crucial part or our research when we are finding what games to target. Some games are obviously not an even matchup and the wise guys at Las Vegas make a line (or point spread) to make games more even. I will use an example in case you are completely unaware of what I am talking about.
Let’s say the best team is playing the worst team in a league. Well, if you could bet 100 bucks to win 100 bucks that the best team will win, towns like Las Vegas wouldn’t exist. Instead they will adjust the game so the weaker team has a fair chance by giving them points.
If the 76ers are playing the Cavilers and the Cavs are favored to win by 13. The game will read 76ers +13 vs. the Cavilers -13. This means at the end of the game you add or subtract 13 points to the team you like. So if you select the 76ers +13 and Cleveland wins 100-90, you add 13 to the 76ers. Meaning you will win this bet because (90 + 13) is 103 to 100 in the eyes of Vegas.
Vegas will also project the total points in the game and this is known as the over/under or total. So if the total of that game was 193, you are betting whether or not you think the total points scored (from both teams combined) will be above or below 193. In this particular example where the score was 100-90, the total was 190. If you bet the under you won the bet.
The other thing that we need to understand is the money line and how that works. Money line is another way that the books (Vegas) make things more even by telling us what we need to bet to win what. Money lines are more popular in sports like baseball and hockey because they don’t use point spreads. Money lines are based on $100 units.
If you see -150 that means you need to bet $150 to win $100. The most common mistake people make is thinking “why would you bet that? So if you win you lose money?” That is not the case because even though you are not winning as much as you are betting, you are winning $100 and will have $250 at the end of the bet. You get the money you risked back if you win and most people don’t understand that.
You will also have the other end of the spectrum where you will see something like +135 meaning if you bet $100, you will win $135. Again, this doesn’t mean you only win $35 but you profit the whole $135. If you bet $100 with a money line of +135 and win, you will have $235 at the end of your bet.
So the (-)is the favorite, and the (+) is the underdog.
How Does This Apply to Player Prop Bets
Online sites will apply these bets to players and their personal performance during games on a specific stat. Typically they will take a player and use their season average on a stat and make it an over/under. Meaning you can bet whether you think a player will go above or below their season average.
So for example, a player may average 20 points a game so a site like Bovada will offer a bet like “Ty Lawson total points 20.5” where you can bet if you think he will score over or under 20.5 points that game.
How Can We Profit From Player Prop Bets
Combining our fantasy sports knowledge with the Vegas prediction makes player betting very profitable! As a fantasy player, we know what a team’s strengths and weaknesses are by the fantasy production they allow to each position. We know what teams struggle to guard a certain position and what teams guard a position very well.
When Vegas puts out the lines on a game, they are predicting what they believe the final score will be giving us and idea of what will happen in the game. I always trust what the odds makers say because they know the game more than anyone.
Let’s say we are targeting a game and take a look at the lines. Vegas has set a line that looks like Denver (-2) Vs Minnesota (+2) with a O/U 208. This is telling us that Vegas is expecting this game to be high scoring and very close (only two points are given to the weaker team Minnesota). If things play out the way the odds makers say, Denver will win 105-103.
Now when we look at both teams from a fantasy perspective, we can see where each team struggles and excels when covering positions. The first thing I do in high scoring games (any game that has a total over 200) is look at both teams to see which teams gives up the most fantasy production to a position. In this game, the Nuggets are ranked 28th (out of 30 teams) guarding the small forward who happens to be Andrew Wiggins.
So I take a look at Andrew Wiggins’ game log. I look at how many minutes he has been playing and how he has been performing. I notice in his last five games he’s been playing over 35 minutes and his scoring trend is up. Even though his average on the season is 18 points per game, he has exceeded it in 4 out of the last five games and Bovada.lv has his over/under on the night set at 18.5 points. From everything I’ve seen so far from researching this, all signs point to him scoring above 18.5 points.
Wiggins is logging over 35 minutes in his last five games, he’s scored above 18.5 points in four out of his last five games, and is playing the Denver Nuggets who rank 28th out 30 in the NBA defending his position.
When you break it down like this, it is a no brainer.
This was an actual example from a game this season and a bet that I took. The final result was Wiggins scored 22 points and I won my bet. Understanding how game flow works and how players are trending gives serious fantasy players a HUGE advantage that the recreational bettor wouldn’t have.
Just because everything leads us to believe something will happen, doesn’t mean that it will. It’s important to understand that there is a lot of variance that takes place that we can’t account for. But in the long run, we shouldn’t expect to win every bet we make, instead we hope to win about 54%.
Because the house takes a rake, we will lose money if we win 50% of our bets. This is why it’s important to understand bankroll management and bet the same amount on your bets. Don’t go betting $500 on one bet, then $100 on another. You should feel confident in all your bets and treat them all the same because you never know what can happen. Players can get hurt or a coach may decide to pull a player because they are upset with them. Or a player can just have a bad night, it happens!
One thing I try to do when making a player prop bet is avoid as much variance as I can. I try to avoid games that may end in a blow out. Vegas helps us out with that by giving us a point spread. If you see a double digit point spread, it may be best to avoid the game.
In my early years of betting, I would take the over on players in games where their team was favored to win by 16. The problem was they would start off hot and on track for me to win my bet, but sit the fourth quarter because their team was winning by so much. Nevertheless, they wouldn’t reach the amount of points I needed to win my bet. In basketball, it’s important to account for the blowout potential and assume the player won’t be playing in the fourth quarter in this circumstance.
The theory is “if they aren’t playing the fourth quarter, then they won’t get enough playing time to score enough points to reach the over.” Well sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. I’ve seen players reach their over without playing a full complement of minutes. Also, I’ve seen the game not be a blowout at all (when it was predicted to be) and they ended up playing their full 35 minutes and hit the over. It’s just best to ignore these games and look elsewhere for that advantage because it can be a crap shoot.
Patience is Key!
Another common mistake for most sports bettors is betting too much. Just because there are games doesn’t mean you need to bet. This isn’t a race and you don’t need to bet X amount of times a day. I’ve had days where there were twelve games that night and I only made two bets. Then I’ve had days where there were only two games and I had five bets.
Don’t think that the amount of games being played should determine how many bets you need to be making. Some people prefer betting one or two times a week! It’s all personal preference, but the way I play is I bet smaller and more frequent as opposed to bigger and less frequent. Because I believe I have an advantage, usually after I place 100 bets I will have won over 54 of them.
Don’t be fooled by the books money line either. If you see that a over/under line is something like “Anthony Davis over 12 rebounds (-140) under 12 rebounds (+105)”. This means you need to bet $140 to win $100 on the over and you actually get a little more than you wagered if you bet the under and win. A common mistake is thinking that since the over is favored, the site is giving you a worse price on the line. Truth be told, since the general public thinks this way, these can be traps! What this means is the general public is betting that Anthony Davis will have more than 12 rebounds in this games. It’s best to try and ignore the money line on a bet and not let it persuade you one way or another.
Last Minute Changes
Being a DFS basketball player, we know that we can study all day and throw everything out the window fifteen minutes before the game because of breaking news. This is especially true when it comes to player prop betting and I’ve made incredible amounts of money by being on top of breaking news. Just like in fantasy, when a player gets scratched, the outcome changes dramatically and it’s crucial to strike quickly. It feels like the movies where people are screaming at the top of their lungs on Wall Street to buy or sell, but it’s exactly like that when it comes to player prop bets.
I remember a day where Enes Kantar of Utah had a line out like “Kantar points and rebounds 17.5”. Kantar had been playing well but only seeing roughly 20-25 minutes a game. Then about 20 minutes before the game it was announce that Derrick Favors would be sitting out that game and Kantar would be the starter. Since Favors wasn’t playing, Kantars minutes would be going up to about 30-35 minutes. I went to that line and bet the over the minute I heard the news about Favor. Then ten minutes after I made the bet, I thought to myself “I really should put more on this bet”. The problem was Bovada isn’t stupid and they took the bet off the board. But I got to it before they could take it off and they had to honor my bet and Kantar reached the over by halftime.
Being familiar with teams and knowing who benefits when a player is scratched is crucial to making money. Being able to spot things like this and act quickly is very important as well because you typically have a small window to act on this type of information.
To the average person this article may seem complicated and may not make sense. But the average person usually has this mind set, “Lebron James is awesome at basketball! I’m going to bet that he scores over 30 points!” For this reason you see billion dollar Casinos in Las Vegas and sites like Bovada are in business for over ten years.
Very few people can use something like wagering on sports and turn it into a living. So you can’t have a simplistic mind set when approaching something this. But the advantages are there and with DFS blowing up the way it is, the research tools are available like never before giving the advantage to us!
This may not seem very simple but it isn’t supposed to. If it were, there would be thousands of people making thousands of dollars by waking up at noon, cracking open a beer and watching sports center.
Sure that seems like the life, but unfortunately that isn’t what goes into being a professional sports bettor. If you really want to be successful at something you are going to have to work at it because nothing in life is free.
But people are delusional and think they have what it takes to win at sports betting when they don’t. Sure someone can get hot and win a few bets, but can they consistently win year after year?
Not if they aren’t doing the work!