Did I mention the fact that the STEELERS ARE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL?!
I really can’t think about anything else. All day long, whenever I tried to do something, I couldn’t get through a thought without the words ‘SUPERBOWL’ or ‘STEELERS’ popping into my head.
*** Update ***
I have seen some comments here and some comments at other places that makes me realize that most people have no idea how the line works in professional sports. The Steelers opening as 3.5-4.0 pt favorite in Vegas does not mean that some panel of experts somewhere have decided that the Steelers are a better team, or that the Steelers are going to win, etc.
Bookies make money on the vig (vigorish, the juice, etc.), not on having people bet the wrong way. They d0n’t make their money because 90000 people will bet on the Seahawks and lose- that is too risky for them to underwrite. They make their money on 45000 people betting on the Steelers, 45000 people betting on the Seahawks, and taking a little off the top.
In other words, they just want their bets balanced, in that half the people betting place money on the Steelers, the other half place money on the seahawks. What it means is that the oddsmakers have decided that more people are going to bet on the Steelers, so in order to sweeten the pot for people to vote for the Seahawks, the throw them some points.
Now, it isn’t completely meaningless, because as anyone who has followed sports gambling will tell you, the odds makers can be uncannily accurate. When the line moves over the next two weeks (and I can assure you, it will, and I am betting the Steelers will probably be close to 6-7.5 pt favorites or better by gametime), think of it as the same sort of distributed intelligence that happens with tradesports or the DIA wanted to do with their intelligence betting scheme from a few years back that everyone freaked out about. When the line moves, it isn’t because th bookies know something other than that they know how people are betting, and they need to balance out their bets.
That is pretty much the basics, so when either team tries to pretend to be the underdog because of the Vegas line, recognize it for what it is- something the team is using to motivate itself. The Steelers fed off that for the last few weeks, but in reality, they were more than just underdogs in Vegas, as the 6 seed never had made it to the SB before.
*** Update ***
BTW- that is about as short and concise a description of how sports betting works as I can do in 200 words or less. Additionally, I am not a sports gambler, so any more in depth and I am out of my league.
God, you are going to be insufferable for the next two weeks aren’t you?
Hell, then for a week and a half after the game you’ll be a wreck, no matter the outcome.
Love ya man.
Ok, that’s it, I’m officially picking the Steelers to win, with all that entails. I hope your happy now.
Did we mention that the Seahawks will be there too?
I might actually get into this. Feverish excitement is contagious.
Much more or this and John will turn me, against my will, into a Seahawks fan.
I am reminded of Nietzsche saying:
“In every political party there arises someone whose too vocal pronouncement of party principles drives every thinking person out of the party.”
A long time ago I was a Broncos fan. But I was hoping the Steelers would win just for you, John. The Seahawks are going to be tough to beat though.
I hear Osama is trying to scrounge some tickets from the DNC.
fortunately my steeler hatred evaporated when o’donnell tossed the 4th quarter interception to larry brown, and the cowboys scored a td to put the game away. otherwise, i would have to quit reading this site for at least a month.
on a related note, the gatorade commercial where montana throws too high for dwight clark in the end zone is a complete travesty, and it breaks my heart every time i see it.
As a bitter Broncos fan, I have to say that I want the Steelers to choke while the ‘Hawks walk away with the victory.
Since this is an open thread, here’s an interesting set of articles on Iran’s nuclear program (gonna bookmark the site, too.) H/T to tpmcafe.
He argues that there’s still time before Iran has enough material to make a bomb.
Pittsburgh opened as a 3.5-point favorite. Pretty stunning considering they are a #6 seed, and Seattle was the #1 seed. I guess the Steelers won’t be misunderestimated.
Bob In Pacifica
I was wondering what the big deal is, Steelers in the Super Bowl, but then I realized that most of the people here weren’t more than toddlers when the Steelers owned the Super Bowl back in the 70s.
And then it dawned on me that a certain segment of people here were not old enough to remember the Kennedy assassination, or Oswald getting shot, or the political assassinations of 1968, or Wallace getting shot in 1972. People who don’t remember the Steelers in the Super Bowl wouldn’t remember Watergate. They wouldn’t remember how the press reported on things, or how people on the street or at their jobs talked about these things. They wouldn’t have been there during the Vietnam War.
And this all explains to me why we’re going through the same things all over again, but worse.
Hm, you might have said something like that. Steel bowl, superers… something. I guess I can only concentrate on everything else.
Don’t worry, Alito will straighten everything out. Alas, unless impeachment hearings start in the next year or two (which they won’t), I think it’s pretty much over with. Who would have ever guessed we’d have a president who doesn’t think his powers are derived from the Constitution?
I don’t even think Gore Vidal could have predicted that.
Oh, it’s a sad day when I see rapture as the only way to get rid of these fascists.
Bob In Pacifica,
Yep, I missed all that stuff. But don’t confuse me with those idiots–I don’t even follow football! :)
I’m in the same boat.
However, I happen to live in Seattle, which means I get to be that obnoxious guy calling in to root for the “other” team! Woot!
On the plus side, a buddy is bringing over his HD projector which we’ll put up on a wall in my house (15′ tall, about 20′ wide) for The Big Picture! Gotta love it! And, everyone at the party (except for The Jets Fan) will be drinking heavily at the end — either ‘cuz their team won or their team lost!
(and, truth be told, the Seahawks seem to be talking as if they’re happy to get there, while the Steelers have the right attitude of taking on whomever is next. Vegas is probably right. ;)
If you’re sure the line will move, can’t you arbitrage the system by betting one way now and then the reverse after the shift?
Sure, you can do that. Basically you’re betting on the proposition that the line will move, sort of a meta-bet.
John’s update is not quite right, although it mirrors the assumptions of most novice sports bettors. There is actually no real consensus as to how the books set the line, but it is pretty well accepted by most professional sports bettors that they do not simply try to pick a number that will get half the action on one side and half on the other.
Rilke- Sure, and professional sports gamblers look for lines that are out of whack at different online casinos, and bet accordingly.
Steve- From what I have read and seen, all the major casinos have their own experts who have their own formulas. What is actually amzing is not the starting line, but how accurate they normally are with the line at gametime.
Now gambling I can follow. Not football per se, but gambling in a lot of sports–horse races for example–work pretty much the same way.
Very few people with an IQ above room temperature in Finland give a flying fuck about the Superbowl.
Well, Paul, I’m glad that you’re morally superior to the rest of us. If I had an IQ about room temperature in Finland, I might even resent your posturing about the fact.
Almost but not quite exactly right. Bookies don’t get a cut of winning bets (though not all bets pay even money). They want their bets to even out so they can pay the winners with the losers’ money. They make their profits on vig from the losers.
I wouldn’t get too excited about distributd intelligence rendering an “accurate” spread in this case. The Steelers have a massive national fanbase while the Seahawks toil in relative obscurity (I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that for most people outside the Pacific NW watching the NFC Championship, it was the first Seahawk game they’d seen all year). That imbalance in fanbases will undoubtedly skew the line more than it would in a normal regular season game.
John, no way the line moves that much. (Or if it does, they screwed the pooch in setting it initially.) They’ll get middled into oblivion. For those that don’t know, you “middle” by taking opposite sides as the line moves. Say it start’s at 3.5, you take the Steelers and give the points, and when it gets to 7.5 you take the seahawks and the points. If the Steelers win by between 4 and 7 you win a ton, anyother result you lose a little.
It’s also worth noting that your above description describes the traditional mode of sports bookmaking. Recently, some of the more aggressive actively try to encourage action on one side or the other if they think they know better. Without info, I doubt they’d try that on such a high volume affair as the SB, but the trend exists.
Typically, the line doesn’t move by more than a point or half-point, barring some freak occurrence. Even if you can get the Steelers -3.5 now and the Seahawks +4.5 later, it isn’t necessarily a good bet, because the odds of the Steelers winning by exactly 4 aren’t necessarily high enough to justify the juice you pay every time a different result comes up. Professional sports bettors know the odds in these situations.
One interesting side effect is that the most common results involve one team winning by 3 or 7 points. Accordingly, if you bet one team -2.5 and the other team +3.5 (you’d say, “I have a middle across 3”), you have a better chance of winning than the example I gave above, which would be a middle across 4.
Many professionals are of the belief that you simply can’t beat the popular sports, such as the NFL or NBA, by sitting there trying to predict results based on your superior knowlege of the game. You can do better than 50/50, sure, but it’s debatable whether you can beat the juice in the long run. However, you can still make money by focusing on middles and other bets of that type. For example, some bettors specialize in monitoring the odds at several different sports books and jumping on arbitrage opportunities any time there’s a significant disparity between the lines. By playing one book against another, you can find bets where you have a guaranteed return of 1-2% no matter who wins the game.
If you find one of those every day, you can obviously retire a rich man. The thing is that the books all monitor each other and try to make sure no one is getting away with stuff like this, so a guaranteed money-making opportunity often lasts for only 15 minutes or so before one of the books moves their line.
Steve — what are the marginal odds of a team winning by more than three but fewer than seven points?
Steve- My friends place bets at different casinos hoping to hit that sweet spot. When they do, it is a big payday.
Incidentally, I believe this is why they do not allow cell phones and such in most sports books.
Between 3 and 7? You’re asking the wrong guy (I’m big on the theory but I don’t actually bet sports seriously) although I’m pretty sure the information is out there on the web to be found.
Pooh is right about the cell phones although this is another area where the internet has changed everything.
It’s bizarre–you aren’t allowed to have cell phones in a sports book–but you can have one five feet outside the book. Where you can see the board and the odds. There’s nothing to stop you from walking in, seeing the line, walking out, and making your call. As if those fifteen seconds will stop bettors from finding the best spread.
I don’t think the line will move too much. I believe it opened at five and fell from there. It seems a pretty even match. I say “seems”, because the more physical and infinitely meaner Steelers will grind the Seahawks into a bluish pate.
Screw this betting crap. Betting on sports is like the lottery: a self-leveling stupidity tax. Only with betting, it’s the Mafia benefitting instead of your state. (Except in Oregon, where our Lottery does actually have a side game on NFL results.)
What I really want to say is this: I grew up in Washington State and learned to deal with sports teams which lost. A lot. WSU, the Mariners, the Seahawks, you name it. I had friends in my apartment from Chicago when the Sonics got demolished by the Bulls in ’95 in the quarterfinals… ugh. And the Seahawks were among the worst because they came so close to being contenders in the ’80s (and, earlier, with Jim Zorn, they at least played a lot of fun if stupid football).
But now, it’s all coming back to roost. The ghosts of ten thousand liver-poisoned, broken-hearted Seahawk fans will rise from the rubble of the old Kingdome and haunt this Superbowl. Their addled fans will add their unholy shriek to the rising din. The Holy Grail of football will finally be won by a team that deserves it!
Or, more likely, the Seahawks will manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and stay true to form for a Northwest team.
At least we still have Microsoft. And the Portland JailBlazers.
I also think this line will be skewed by the more numerous Steelers fanbase. The teams seem pretty evenly matched. Go Hawks!