NOTE: This article was made possible thanks to donations from my boy Sam Miller, a dedicated fan of beer and the Delaware Bluehens. Thank you for your support Sam. It will not be forgotten.
This is me post Brazil-Germany yesterday.
After 1,500 words on why Love and Faith and Karma would carry Brazil to victory, the host nation got absolutely blitzkriegged on their home turf. It was a soccer match like none I had ever seen. Yesterday, I wrote of Brazil, “This is greater than home-field advantage; this is battling an interstellar war on your home planet.” What I failed to acknowledge was that usually the planet that is getting invaded during interstellar war is supremely fucked.
Brazil was that planet yesterday.
I had gotten lost in the fairytale of sports that I often romanticize, where anything is possible and Shane Falco leads the Sentinels to improbable victory. But yesterday was not that movie. Instead, my fantasies of togetherness and “Joga Bonito” went the way of Ned Stark in a match that very well could’ve been scripted by George RR Martin. I told myself (and you) that higher powers could help will the Brazilians to victory, and Germany took the pitch to argue that dreams don’t come true and soccer matches are decided by sheer human willpower and dominance.
God was dead.
But (surprisingly) my wallet was not.
Yes, I placed a $20 bet on Brazil to advance on even odds. But, post-article writing and pre-game I ran across the Las Vegas Strip to the Cosmopolitan and placed one more bet: $25 on Over 2 goals to be scored, -125.
Shockingly, we came out even on the day folks. My winning over bet covered my big-fat-loser bet on Brazil. We can come out of this better than before. Even the egg thinks so! Check out how dope my hair looked post egg-smashing.
The past is in the past and we can learn from the mistakes of my first article without the nightmarish reminder of the German onslaught haunting my every word via my empty wallet. All of the money that you donated to the cause (we got all the way up to $145!) is still safe and sound and ready to be gambled with.
So how do we make this article better? I change my aim. Yesterday, I tried to entertain you; convincing you why Brazil would be fun to root for and then frivolously bet your money on the home team.
Today, I will teach you. I will show you why my bets are good bets, and take you behind the scenes to show you how hard I work in order to ensure that these bets are the best possible ones I can provide for us.
Today, we will learn about shopping.
“Shopping” in gambling parlance is basically means the same thing as it does in other parlance. If you were going to get a new shirt, you could choose to be lazy and snag the first shirt you see at whatever price it was listed and go home wearing that shirt. Or you could choose to do the work, and find that shirt at three different stores, comparing the prices and deals. Maybe your shirt is only $20 at J. Crew, but if you go to Banana Republic they’ll give you a 30% discount as long as you clear $50. Depending on your lifestyle needs in the shirt-department, you make a decision.
This possibly overlong metaphor that gave you possibly a bit too much insight into my clothing preferences was meant to illustrate a simple point: you shop around to find the deal that fits your needs.
In Vegas, most casinos have a sports book, but most of those books are run by one of two (for lack of a better term) “betting conglomerates” – Cantor Gaming and MGM. Cantor Gaming runs the books at, among others: The Venetian, Palms, The Tropicana, and The Cosmopolitan, while MGM operates The MGM Grand (obvi), Mandalay Bay, The Bellagio, Vdara, Aria, The Mirage, and a few more.
If you wanted to bet on a particular game, all of the Cantor properties would list the same line, as they are all working together when it comes to sports betting. However, the lines at Cantor can differ from those at MGM books, which is where and why and how shopping comes into play. Any time you are going to make a sports bet in Vegas, especially if the bet is for a more substantial amount of money, it is worth it to check one book under each umbrella, to ensure that you are getting the best value possible for your bet.
Let’s look at today’s match for example: I want to bet Argentina to win, and I am interested in betting the “Over” again if the number is right.
With this in mind, I checked the prices at Mandalay Bay. Argentina was listed as a -160 favorite to advance, and the over/under for total goals was listed at 2.5, with the over odds at +150.
Quick tangent to explain what those numbers mean: Odds are all based around $100. A number preceded by a minus sign (-) means that you must bet that much money in order to win $100. So Argentina -160 means you would have to risk $160 to win $100, and thus receive $260 when you collect your bet. A number preceded by a plus sign (+) means that you would win that much money if you bet $100. So Netherlands were +130 last time I checked, meaning a bet of $100 would win you $130, and thus get you $230 returned once you cashed your winning ticket.
ANYWAY, I checked the prices at Mandalay Bay – Argentina -160 to advance, Over 2.5 goals +150. I wrote these numbers down and then walked all the way down Las Vegas Boulevard to The Cosmopolitan, where I could cash in my winning over ticket from the Brazil game and check the Cantor lines to see how they compared.
Cantor also had Argentina listed as a -160 favorite. But their over/under was at a flat 2 goals, with the over price at an extremely tasty -130. This filled my heart with glee.
The difference between betting the over on 2 goals vs. 2.5 goals in soccer is HUGE. With either over bet, I would lose if the game goes 90 minutes at a 0-0 draw, or a team wins in regulation 1-0, as extra time is not included in over/under bets. But if I take over 2 and the game ends 1-1 or 2-0, the bet is considered a push and I get my money back. When betting over 2.5, 1-1 or 2-0 are both losers.
The difference here is in pricing and value. Obviously, if I bet over 2.5 I am getting better odds for my money: +150 vs -130 turns into 80 “cents” worth of value difference. But the risk of betting over 2.5 is much higher. Despite what Germany may have made you think yesterday, goals are usually tough to come by in soccer. Giving up that extra 80 cents is a small price in order to cover myself in case the game falls on exactly two goals after 90 minutes.
Pleased with my results, I placed my two bets at The Cosmopolitan and walked back to Mandalay Bay to watch some baseball. Currently, this is what our World Cup betting sheet looks like:
I think today’s match will be brilliant. I bet Argentina because I have to bet every remaining game of the World Cup and I would much rather be cheering for something astounding to happen as Messi lines up his free kicks than fearing him. Also, Robin van Persie is likely out for the Netherlands due to sickness. Had he played, there is a chance I would’ve taken the Dutch simply so I could embed this .gif into my article like, seven different times.
But there will be no RVP today. And thus, the .gif only is embedded once, and I bet on Argentina. Also, a World Cup in South America without a South American team playing in the final would be a total bummer.
Let’s go Messi. Please don’t let the Netherlands put more egg on my face.