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Money Lines, Parlays and Live Puppies

   by Al McMordie - 09/04/2011

Football is here! Each weekend, sports bettors work hard to identify winning edges and soft lines. Some bettors grow impatient and aren't entirely satisfied with laying $330 to win $300, for example. They think about maximizing a small wager into a large, quick profit. While you can do this in the stock market, such as turning a penny stock into an outstanding profit, it still doesn't happen overnight. It takes many months and even years to do this. But sports betting can offer investors the opportunity to double and even quadruple their money in a few hours each weekend.

This is possible with parlays and money line dogs. However, let me throw some caution into those consumed with a quick football profit, a mental state also knows as "greed." Parlays are difficult and sports books make a terrific return on bettors who ante up for three, four and five team parlays by players looking to hit the mother lode in one college football Saturday. Other times, bettors will identify an underdog that they think has a chance of winning the game outright, so they take a shot with the money line.

I recall one season Louisiana Tech was a 14-point home dog against Fresno State, with a money line return of +435. If you put $200 on La Tech to win the game, that investment was quadrupled into $870 when La Tech won the contest, 28-21.

But this is also very difficult to do, especially on a regular basis. Oddsmakers are very good at what they do. Just check out how many games land right around the number each week or how spreads are often decided right up until the final play. My advice is, if you identify a dog that you think has a shot at winning the game straight up, it's better to increase your wager and take the points, rather than take a shot on the money line.

For example, last year at this time North Carolina, because of injuries and suspensions, became a +8 dog to LSU after opening as a favorite. A money-line shot at +8 has a terrific return – if the dog wins. The depleted Tar Heels came close, but fell short in a 30-24 defeat. A bettor who had the +8 got a win, those who hoped for a pig payday on the money-line ended up throwing the ticket away.

You'll notice the big money line dogs do win the games on occasion, but more often than not they don't. Another way to handle that is to step up and put more money taking the points with the dog, and in addition place a smaller wager on the money line. For instance, in the above example, that could mean laying $250 on North Carolina at +8, then placing $50 on the money line at +300. That covers both bases and doesn't leave you out in the cold hoping for a huge payday with an all-or-nothing play on the money line dog. With LSU winning, 30-24, a backer of North Carolina would have won $250 on the +8, lost $50 on the money line, so they are still ahead $200. Sure, winning both would be sensational ($500), but being patient and managing your bankroll smartly with each wager is better over the long haul.

Finally, you'll notice I've been discussing wagering on money line dogs. What about playing money line favorites? As a general rule, don't do it. Remember: You're not going to win every bet and even the big favorites are no sure thing. The idea in sports betting is to carefully grind out a profit on a slow and consistent basis. You need to be able to absorb tough losses, tough losses to your bankroll as well as mentally.

Placing $700 to win $100 on a minus-700 favorite – no matter how much a "can't lose" play it appears – is not the way to go. I recall one season top-ranked Florida was a 17-point favorite at LSU and minus-1,000 on the money-line. Can you imagine wagering $1,000 on Florida to win $100 on the money-line, then watching in horror as the Gators lose the game? They did, 28-21. Upsets happen and there is never a “sure thing”.

Betting with your head and being smart increasing your bankroll on a slow, careful grind is the way to approach sports wagering, and not by putting large chunks on one or two big favorites. As the NFL season starts this week, be smart and manage your money carefully. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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