This weekend we see NFL week 8 action and hundreds of prop betting opportunities to choose from. With so many prop bets on offer, how do you select which bets to place? Most recreational gamblers will decide by gut feel and instinct, others will look at a few past stats and form an opinion on where the line should be. When it comes to prop bets the most successful players have a firm understand of Poisson distribution and it is the basis with which they will price and handicap props.
There are also some practical ways to price a prop bet quite quickly without using Poisson distribution. Take for instance the very common "Who Will Score First" NFL prop. To formulate your own line on this prop you will need to know the NFL First Half Spread Lines both point spread and over under total. From those you calculate the projected score for each team in the 1st half by subtracting the point spread from the total, dividing that number in half which gives you the underdogs points and then adding the spread back on to obtain the projected score for the favorite. From there you calculate the favorites odds by -100*(favorites projected score/underdogs projected score), you then reverse that price for the underdog.
Let's look at the following example for this weeks clash between the St. Louis Rams and New Orleans Saints. The first half spread is Saints (-7.5) and the total is (o/u 24.5). Ok so the Saints are obviously and rightly so the favorites. To get the projected scores for each team we subtract the spread from the total 24.5 - 7.5 = 17, 17 divided by 2 equals 8.5 which will be the Rams estimated 1st half points. We add the spread back on to that number 8.5 + 7.5 = 16 which is the Saints projected points.
Taking the projected points we will convert them to an odds price for the favorite Saints by -100*(16/8.5) which equals -188 (1.53 in decimal odds), we simply flip the -188 to a positive for the Rams +188 (2.88). Now we have priced our own odds for the prop "Team to Score First Rams v Saints" we can compare them to those offered by the Leading Online Sportsbooks. Currently Bodog Sportsbook have this prop priced at Rams +180 (2.8) and the Saints at -250 (1.4), with neither price reflecting any value compared our odds at this stage.
Once you have priced up all of the remaining games in the same way it is a matter of comparing them to the odds offered by the sportsbooks to see if any value exists. Of course just how much difference between your price and theirs makes it worth betting on is subjective and can really only be measured by back testing. As game time nears the odds for this prop will move around at the different bookies so it is worth checking on a regular basis. You may also want to check for movements in the NFL First Half Spread Lines in order to adjust your pricing.
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