Sunday, September 16, 2012


The title of this post is the record "Hammerin'" Hank Greenberg put up last year on his picks for professional football games over at ESPN.  I was prompted to check it out since while I was on the dreadmill today, Hank came on and gave his picks (against the spread, as always).  I think they said he is 3-4 this year so far against the spread.

Sports networks try to avoid talking about gambling and the spread and things of this nature, but they are sort of foced to since it is such a big part of the game for many, many people.  Giving five minutes per morning to Hank is maybe a tip of the hat to the degenerate gamblers who actually know what he is talking about when he is making his picks.

But more importantly, lets look at that 59-50-3 record from last year.  Imagine, all this guy does for a living is try to pick the winner against the spread and he does it at a 54% clip (at least that is what he did for ESPN, but who knows what he did on a personal level).

Not a bad living if you can muster it.  But...

If you factor in the juice that most bookies/casinos charge, you must win 52.4% of the time to break even.  It is extremely rare that anyone can pull off anything even close to 60% of correct picks, which shows you how hard it would be to make a living at sports betting.  And that is why most people need real jobs.


Carl from Chicago said...

Maybe this is more an example of "those that can, do, and those that can't, teach" with teach be replaced by "talk on TV".

If this ESPN guy was that great at picking vs. the spread he'd be doing it for a living instead of talking about it on TV.

What I am amazed at is how good the spread must be if it averages so close to 50%... that is all Vegas is trying to do, and collect the juice on the spread.

Unless you are betting on a prop bet that the Super Bowl will total less than 13 points or something in which case it is just found money ha ha ha

Dan from Madison said...

Yes I agree with most of the people on TV are idiots, but most of these handicapper guys like Greenberg do it for a living AND go on TV so you can see that he definitely needs a day job.

As far as your comment on how good the spread is, I guess I don't get it. They really don't care how "good" it is and they constantly adjust the spread during the week if the action starts leaning one way or the other. They have computer programs that tell them at any given second how far off of the magic middle point they are and they will adjust as the week goes along to push action around and get to the middle.

Carl from Chicago said...

You are right that my comment on the accuracy of the spread doesn't make much sense since it does move.

Likely a better question is - how much does the final spread vary from the "initial" spread - that would be a better measure of the accuracy of the Vegas odds process.

Dan from Madison said...

Typically the spread doesn't move a ton, but each point represents a HUGE amount of money. Like I said, it doesn't matter how "good" the spread is (per the result of the actual game) as long as they line it up with half on one side and half on the other.

A MUCH better measurement would be if you could somehow corrolate the actions of players, refs and coaches to the spread. I know, black helicopters and all that but that glass is always half empty with me.