poker sportsbetting

The ITH People’s Champion Fund is up and running

I officially launched the ITH People’s Champion Fund a little less than a week ago and we have raised almost $7,000 so far.  Of course, the strongest supporters joined up quickly and there will be some people who sit on the fence and sign up right at the last minute, but I think we probably are making enough progress that we will succeed in our goal.  We may have to sell shares after the fact to get there, but I remain confident that we will get there.

The sense of community at ITH is a pretty cool thing.

It looks like I should have let my bet on Miami ride, but what are you going to do?  My hedge looked pretty smart four games ago.

poker sportsbetting

End of season ITH League freerolls, Mafia and NBA follow-up

First of all, I wanted to talk about the ITH League season-ending freerolls.  These were great events with great prizes and great opposition.  I’ve had such a great time playing with my fellow ITHers and talking trash with them.  It seems to me that it gave me an experience akin to that of the professional tourney circuit players — I got to play a lot of the same people over and over.  Many of the ITH players are very, very good and it has been fun to learn how to adapt to each of them.  I’ve also had to figure out who had what style of play and how best to counteract that.  It has been an experience altogether unlike most online MTT play, where a significant number of the players are donkeys and I rarely see the same one twice.  There are some ITH’ers that give me fits every time they are at my table and I’ve patterned my play on things they taught me.  I’ve had a number of unhappy comments when I’m moved to a new table, so I think I’ve accomplished my goal of being someone that nobody is happy to see at their table.

I blew up in a completely disasterous start in the minor WSOP event freeroll.  I called a blind steal with 64s in the BB, along with ebo in the SB.  I check-raised a 64x flop and ebo called.  The turn was 5 and ebo bet out.  I called, because he is perfectly capable of representing the straight when he doesn’t have it.  I figured if he had it, he’d bet the river again and I’d have to let it go if I didn’t improve.  If he was making a move, he’d check the river to me.  I also thought that since I had the initiative, he might have check-raised the turn if he had a straight.  We’ve banged heads a lot of times and he had to figure I would bet there.  The river was a bullseye for me, coming a 4 and giving me 4s full of 6s.  To my astonishment, he pushed the river.  I said to myself if it was boat over boat, I was just going to have to go home and called.  I was going home.  I was the first out!

To make matters worse, SuitedPair was the second out.  She raised JJ preflop and got a pair of callers.  When the flop came J55, she was happy as can be with the nut full house.  There was a little action on the flop and the turn, but the river went bet, raise by Suited, push by DTheater.  DTheater is also quite aggressive, but he had to have a boat in order to play the river that way.  However, Suited had the nut boat so she wasn’t going anywhere.  It turns out that the nut boat is not the nuts and DTheater turned over quads.  We were 1-2, although not at the end of the leaderboard we were hoping to be at.

I played a whole lot better in the WSOP ME qualifier.  I started slowly, taking some flops but having to get away from most of them.  I drifted down in chips a bit, before I ran into a terrible stretch of hands.  I got rivered by a four outer, then a three outer, then a two outer and all the sudden I was the short stack.  I just had a few hundred chips left when the average stack was almost 3,000.  About this time Matthew dropped by to taunt me.  He pointed out that I’ve donked off my chips before, so I should be good at playing a short stack by now.  He had a point.  I do think I play the short stack pretty well, although it makes me anxious.  I found good situations to push and win good sized pots, many of them without a flop.  Both times I had to showdown I had big hands.  I battled my way back up off of life support, up near average and then all the way to among the chip leaders.  I believe I was playing some really good poker.  I was restealing from the right people and calling down with medium strength hands at the right time
and cruising along well.  Of course, with my style I was up and down a bit, but things were going well.  I made it to three tables with a heathly stack and was near the lead when it made it to two tables.  I was in healthy position when we made the final table, somewhere around the middle of the pack.  We lost a few people and were down to 6 or 7 when I took my last bad beat.  I hate bad beat stories and don’t usually tell them, but this was for a $12,000 WSOP seat, so I’m going to indulge myself.  A very active UTG player made a standad raise, which with his range could be probably top 15% of the hands or so.  Maybe AT+/44+/two face cards — he’s definately not a JJ+/AK guy in that spot.  A short stack pushes in for not much more than the original raise and I find KK in the SB.  Of course, I push, thinking I’ll probably end up heads up or maybe against an underpair or two.  UTG doesn’t think for long and calls me.  He has me covered by a bit.  UTG turns over AJ and the shorty had A7 or some such.  I’m very pleased to have them down to two outs between them (I’m about 75% to win) and am already imaginging myself back amongst the leaders.  The flop comes all babies and I’m now like 87% to win.  Of course, the Ace spikes on the turn.  It leaves me with a cruel hope because it is the third heart and I’m the only one holding a heart, so I have 9 heart outs and 2 king outs, so I’ve still got better than a 25% chance to get saved by the river.  Unfortunately, no saving card is coming for me and I join the rest of ITH on the rail.

Toronexti, who is a really nice guy, goes on to win the whole thing.  On top of that, he wound up cashing in 6th in the Stars million later that night.  That was worth 25k to him and his adhoc group of backers (arranged before the event in IRC), so he had a 37k day.  Not bad work if you can get it!

To add insult to injury, I was having a really great time playing in the ITH version of the mafia game where I was the Detective.  At literally the exact same time I busted out in the WSOP freeroll, I got the PM letting me know that I was now dead.  This is the worst possible result for the town because I had pretty much completely unravelled the mystery but hadn’t been able to explain what I knew because I was still playing the game and trying to uncover the remaining mafia players.  If the doctor got killed and I knew I had only one day to live, I could have explained everything to town and improved our chances to win a lot.  Now I have to watch from the sidelines like everyone else.

I did lay off my free bet on Miami by taking Dallas straight up.  I still think taking Dallas to win in 5 or 6 would have been a better bet, but I went with the straight up bet — locking in a small win.  I’m glad because otherwise I’d be sweating the next two games.  The way the NBA plays out, I’m pretty sure Dallas won’t sweep because Miami will make a strong effort at home if they get down 3-0 and Dallas won’t really be in that game, but you never know.


NBA Update

Miami did pull off the Eastern conference victory and I’m still holding some 9:1 free money on them to win the championship.  With Dallas winning the Western and being a significant favorite to win it all, I’m trying to decide how to handle it.  I think Dallas is running around -135 or so, so I could lay off and lock in more than half of the bet on the whole series.

The other interesting option is to run bets of Dallas in 5, 6 and 7 games.  That pays slightly better and I really can’t imagine a four straight game blowout.


Free money in hidden corners

As I’ve posted before, I believe in making sports bets that are sure things.  I look for arbitrage opportunities so that I’m going to win no matter what happens.  However, certain betting situations just don’t lend themselves that well to that kind of play.  For instance, as an enticement from one of the sportsbooks I joined, they gave me a free $25 bet in the middle of the NBA season where I had to pick the eventual winner of the NBA championship.  There was really no way to ensure that I got free money, so I had to make an old-fashioned wager.

Now, I know that the proper approach to making free money wagers is to bet on long shots.  You don’t want to take favorites because you don’t get good enough leverage from your money.  I’ve explained this in a previous post, but the upshot is that your EV increases for long shots.  On the other hand, there was no way I was going to pick Portland even getting 2 million to one.  So I had to look for a team that seemed like it had some kind of chance, but was getting nice longshot odds.

I decided to concentrate on the Eastern conference, where I thought there was a better chance of a longshot coming through.  At the time I made the bet, no one in the East was given a serious chance by the oddsmakers but Detroit.  At the time, Cleveland and New Jersey were the next favorites and Miami had a very nice longshot price, so I took  my free bet on Miami and more or less forgot about it.

Now, I’m feeling pretty good about the chances of getting Miami into the finals, but I’m thinking I’m going to have to lay off the free money bet with an arb on San Antonio or Phoenix in order to ensure that I get some cash out of the deal.

poker sportsbetting

Winning at sportsbetting, losing at freerolls

I got a real nice bet down on the Carolina/Seattle game, where I was assured of a 2.5% profit no matter who won. It involved some risk because I locked in one side of the bet way before I bet the other side and I couldn’t be sure the line would move the way I thought it would. I had some good advice and I felt pretty certain that it would, but you never know for sure. I had a brief panic when one of the books got overwhelmed in between games Sunday and I couldn’t get my offsetting bet down. They wouldn’t even take the wager on the phone. I was really afraid I was going to get burned, but I got the bet placed minutes before the game started. I was going to have to hedge on live betting with Pinnacle and I would surely have booked a loss if it worked out that way.

I also played yet another protégé event. This one was for the top 1,000 point getters over the last few months. Although 1,000 qualified, only 288 showed up. I was fairly happy with my play, but wound up bounced out again in 46th.

I drifted down to 1,275 chips in the middle of Level 2 when I couldn’t catch any flops. I intentionally decided to see more flops than usual to try to get some of the free money that the crazy players always give up early in a freeroll. There was one guy who pushed pre-flop about 20 times and I finally decided to look him up with AQs, figuring I was a coin flip at worse. I was right — he had AT and I busted him and chipped up to 2,230. A couple of hands later I flopped a set and took down a nice pot with a turn check-raise. I ended the level 38th of 252 remaining.

In level 3 I lost a big pot. A fairly bad player min-raised pre-flop and I re-raised with JJ. I flopped and overpair and bet about 3/4 of the pot. He pushed and I thought I was toast, but it wasn’t many more chips, so I had to call. He had QQ and I fell all the way to 825 chips. Ouch!

In level 4, I start pushing because I’m down to 675 chips after an orbit or two. I steal the blinds with AJ and KQ. Then I’m in the SB with J9s. The BB is away and the Button raises first-in. I decide he could have all manner of crap, so I push. He calls (uh-oh) and then reveals AQ (double uh-oh). However, I had two live cards and he didn’t have any of my suit, so I felt pretty good. I think I was about a 40/60 dog. If you throw in a 20-30% chance he folds, I think the push was OK there. I get very lucky and river a 9 and double up to 2050 and 89 of 161. I steal once or twice in the next level and end up with the same 2,050 for 81/134 at the break.

I play some real solid poker after the break. I steal in spots, resteal with TT and take pots down on the flop with and without good hands. I never have many chips at risk and steadily move up the board. By the end of Level 7, I’m sitting at 4,780 and 37th of 77.

I start Level 8 with a SB/BB confrontation that goes badly, but follow that two hands later with a nice hand where I limp with KK on the CO against an all-in BB. The SB decides to push to isolate and I quickly call. SB shows AJ and I bust them both and climb to 5,890 and 31st of 58.

Right at the end of Level 8, I go broke. I’m happy with my play, I just got unlucky. An overactive EP player raises 3x BB and I find AKs. Given that the standard 3x raise is now 1,200 chips and any reasonable re-raise will commit me to the pot, I just push my 5,000 or so chips to the middle. Unfortunately, the big stack pushes behind me (he’s been playing fairly solid) and the BB calls all-in! The big stack shows KK and the BB shows AQ, so I’m down to 2 outs for my tourney life. No miracle card arrives and I miss out on another seat.

I’m quite happy with my play, despite failing to qualify for a seat. I believe that I’m achieving my primary goal of getting more tourney experience. I’m seriously considering going up to the Borgata this weekend for some SnG action and maybe winning my way into the WPT event.

poker sportsbetting

A slack weekend with just a little gambling in the mix

I’ve been dealing with one of those colds that isn’t really a real cold. Its been just enough to keep me feeling a bit off my game, but not enough to really bring things to a halt. It has sapped my energy a bit.

I did make a number of sports bets on the playoffs and made my second mistake. I was in a hurry to get a decent arb established and I didn’t check carefully to make sure I was getting the numbers right and I made a mistake and wound up risking $200 instead of having everything in balance. It turned out that the right team won and I won the money, but I’m mad at myself for doing something dumb like that. I’ve started a winning streak at Hollywood and losing my huge balance at CRIS. I really thought I could never lose the whole CRIS amount, but it looks like I might. The bad thing is that I am going to have cleared my wagering requirement there, so I’d really rather lose at Hollywood. Trying to get bets laid down that will move all money into one book has really slowed down my bonus hunting and my bankroll has actually drifted slightly south of its peak. I’m now up $2,800 and am resigned to losing a bit more as I work my money free so that I can add on some more bonus money.

I found what appears to be a major arb on the Candian election. It looks like -500 at CRIS (on the conservatives) and +1182 at Pinny (on the liberals). The lines are so far off I wonder if they haven’t defined their terms differently. It would work out to a sure win of about $50 on a $550 bet. They limit these types of bets to relatively small amounts. I haven’t pulled the trigger yet while I try to figure out the catch.

Poker has been good when I’ve managed to play. I’m up another $365, bringing the Party total to $722 in five days or so. I’ve not played very much, but I’m pleased with my game. I had one of those funny guys who has a VP$IP of 80%, yet he insists on berating the other players for bad play. I just felt like I really had a great read on him. This is a good example of a hand where I was pleased with the value I got from him:

Party Poker
Limit holdem Ring game
Limit: $15/$30
8 players

Pre-flop: (8 players) Hero is BB with 8â?  Jâ?¦
4 folds, CO raises, Button folds, SB calls, Hero calls.

Flop: Tâ?  Aâ?¦ Jâ?  (6SB, 3 players)
SB checks, Hero checks, CO bets, SB folds, Hero calls.

Turn: Aâ?¥ (4BB, 2 players)
Hero checks, CO bets, Hero raises, CO calls.

River: 7â?¦ (8BB, 2 players)
Hero bets, CO calls.

Final pot: 10BB
Hero shows 8s Jd
CO doesn’t show Tc Qd
I really thought he would show just a King or a Queen, but I was sure that was a good value bet on the river.
I feel much more confident about playing maniacs these days, although the swings can still be brutal. I think I used to fall back in my shell too much and missed some good chances to take them down while I waited for good hands. I’m doing a much better job of taking it to them now. I still think I’ve made a few too many “clever” folds. I was reviewing my river folds tonight and i think 2 of the 7 folds on the river in the last five days were a mistake.

It looks like I should have a few protege updates coming next week. I should have qualified for the top 100, 500 and 1,000 as well as the round 2 for Seat 1.

poker sportsbetting

Update on this weekend’s action

I have been concentrating on my sports betting action. I put a few more dollars into play and I’m currently up $3,000 exactly. This is slightly misleading because I have unmet wagering requirements at some of the sites. I had won six bets in a row into CRIS and was getting closer to meeting the wagering requirements to cashout there. Now that I’ve decided that would be a good outcome to end up with all my money in CRIS, I’ve been losing at CRIS again. Instead of busting out at Hollywood and meeting my WR at CRIS, I’m now about even at Hollywood. This is bad because my WR at Hollywood is even bigger. I joined BetWWTS and deposited the full $2,500 to max out the bonus. I bet the whole thing against CRIS on the Redskins ML and promptly doubled up at WWTS. Since I haven’t been finding that many arbs (or the arbs are on bets that limit my bet size), I haven’t been able to get all my money in play as nicely as I’d like. This is also a bit of a problem because arbs are harder to find at some books than others and so far these three haven’t given me many good plays.

I took a big risk by picking one side of a bet on Monday and waiting to close the other side until game time on Saturday. I was convinced I knew which way the line was going to move. I was correct, but it didn’t move as far as I had hoped, so when I placed the offsetting bet I took a small loss. If I had the nerve to hold on until five minutes before game time, I would have got the arbitrage, but I lost my nerve. I don’t know if I’m willing to make these kind of speculations often.

So far, I’ve joined five books and busted quickly out of two. Three of the remaining books are above what I deposited to start with. Since two of them are close in value, I’m seriously considering making one huge bet pitting them against each other. That way, I’m sure to bust one of them. Even if I lock in a small loss, I may consider the escape from the WR worth the loss.

I’ve not played much poker. Real life got in the way and I didn’t play the Weekend at Daniel’s freeroll. I played a bit of 15/30 at Party and finished up $220 on the weekend. I had a lot of fun sweating Tanya at the Stars 500K. She was in the chip lead pretty deep into the money, but she decided to take a coin flip for a huge chunk of her chips and flipped wrong. Had she won that one, she would have had such a dominating chiplead that she probably would have won the whole thing. It was fun to watch.


How to handle “free play” bets on sportsbooks

Some sportsbooks simply give you your bonus money as extra money in your account to do with as you see fit. These bonuses are my favorites, of course. However. many books give you the bonus as a “free play.” The rules for a free play are that you get to make a wager with the money, but you only keep what you win. You don’t keep the free play money (win or lose). So if you make a standard -110 bet with a $100 freeplay, you will get $91 if you win and $0 if you lose. This leads to some interesting math.

Obviously you prefer to win, since that leaves you with some money and losing leaves you with nothing. If you have nothing, you didn’t get a very good bonus at all.  So, let me pose a thought problem to you. Assume you have a $100 freeroll. Would you prefer a big favorite that pays -400 ($25 on every $100 wagered or $400 to win $100) that will win 100% of the time (let’s assume you have connections who can fix the outcome) or a bet that pays +400 and will win 10% of the time (It should win 25% of the time, but let’s assume there are very bad odds)?

Many people immediately say they’d rather have the guarenteed winner. They are wrong. Let’s assume you have 10 of these free plays. If you play the big favoprite that always wins, you will win $25 10 times or $250. If you play the $100 at +400, you’ll only win once, but you’ll win $400 the one time you do win. Furthermore, the real odds say that the +400 will win about 25% of the time and the -400 will win about 75% of the time, making the bet even worse for the favorite.

So clearly, you want to wager your free play on an underdog, to increase your leverage with the free money. But you may be saying to yourself that I told you that I prefer to bet where I don’t care who wins the game. You would be quite right. I don’t like risk all that much. Never fear, there is a way to handle these free plays in a risk-free manner.

Let’s return to our big underdog who pays +400 (a $400 payout on every $100 wagered). In the real world, it is very hard to find an underdog who pays +400 and a favorite who pays -400. That would leave no money for the book. You will find these from time to time, but not that often. So let’s assume a fairly normal vig for the books and say that the best line for the favorite is -450. You bet your $100 free money to win $400 on the underdog at one book and you bet $329 to win $71 at another book. If the favorite wins, you lose your free $100, but win $71 at the other book. If the underdog wins, you win $400 from your free play and lose $329 at the other book for a net win of $71.  Viola!  No matter which team wins, you gain $71. This way you lock in 71% of the free play no matter what happens. In my experience, you can pretty much always find a return of 70% or so of your free play. A return of 80% or more is extraordinary good and should be jumped on.

Calculating the correct amount for the off-setting bet is not intuitive, so I’ve built a Free Play Calculator using Excel that you can use for that purpose. You can play around it and eventually the relationships will start to make sense to you. Although you want a big underdog, you also want a reasonable vig. If you find a +1000 dog, but the favorite only pays -1500, it isn’t that good of a free play. Sometimes you might find a fairly small dog where the favorite pays such good odds that it is a good free play. Experiment and see what you find.

Good luck and let me know how it works for you.


The risks associated with sports betting my way

I’m interested in sports betting purely as a way to make a few dollars with my otherwise idle poker bankroll. I’m particularly interested in arbitrage opportunities and bonus chasing. I believe that it is possible (and I think this may be conservative) to earn 1% on my sports wagering bankroll every other week after I’ve fully exhausted the bonus opportunities. In my more optimistic moments, I think I could do it weekly. When I compare the 0% NeTeller is paying me in interest and the 3% offered by my bank, 26% or 52% looks pretty darn good to me.
As an attorney, my lovely bride spends most of her time anticipating any possible way that things could go wrong and she and I have brainstormed the dangers of this pastime extensively. As best we can figure, here are the potential dangers in this game:

1) Financial collapse of a sportsbook while holding my money. This seems like the biggest risk to us. These sportsbooks are operating in a legal grey area, so they could scam you out of your money with very little recourse available to you. Moreover, they are in a highly risky business and it is almost impossible to obtain trustworthy information about their capitalization and business sense in running a profitable sportsbook. Because your goal is usually to win all your money into one book, they can end up holding a whole lot of money and it would be tragic if they didn’t handle your cashout. I’m mitigating this risk by doing a lot of homework first. I check Sportsbook Review and The Offshore Wire for reviews and have stuck thus far to the top rated books in both places. I also scan the popular message boards for any discussion of slow paying or bad experiences with a particular site. Its not perfect, but I’m semi-comfortable with this approach. If something goes terribly wrong, this is what I think it will be

2) One thinks of my style of wagering as pretty much risk-free, but there are a few ways you could screw it up. You could inadvertantly bet the same side twice instead of betting both sides of a contest or you could make a data entry error on one of the sites and not bet the proper offsetting amounts on each side. This would put you in the position of actually gambling on the outcome of the event, which clearly involves risk. I’ve already made one mistake that is a variation on this. I thought I was betting at a site that would reimburse 10% of my losses and I factored that into my balancing equation only to learn that the fine print excluded me from getting the 10% back. This cost me almost $400 — but the bonus that they paid more than made up for the mistake. I’m still very, very careful when I enter the numbers and calculate the proper bet amounts, but there is some risk that I will eventually get sloppy as I get more comfortable playing this game.

3) An event could cancel under the rules of one site (a one day postponement due to weather, for instance) and still be valid under the terms of the other site. This could again cause you to be making an at-risk wager on an evernt where you didn’t intend to do so. If you are careful and make the offsetting bet later, even if it means locking in a loss, you can protect against this danger.

4) If you don’t pay close attention to the betting limits, a site might retroactively reduce your wager and leave you with an at-risk situation. Most of the top rated sites will alert you at the time you place the bet and not accept a wager that exceeds their limits, but I’ve read some horror stories of sites that change your wager after the fact. The worst stories involve sites that reduce your wager after you win, but take your stake when you lose. Careful research should avoid those sites, but you should also read the rules at each site carefully and try to make the right wagers. I have a spreadsheet with each sites bonus terms and wager limits that I refer to all the time.

Finding appropriate betting opportunities costs some effort and you won’t find suitable ones every time you look, but when you do find them it can be like free money. The Internet was abuzz today with various opportunites to get $0.25 scalps on the Rose Bowl tonight. This equated to a 3% return on your money, which is crazy. Sadly, because I had to work late I didn’t get in on any of that action.

I’m a pretty cautious guy and I’m convinced that this is going to be a profitable venture. I’ve also found a few angles that seem like they will assure an even higher rate of return, that I’m not yet prepared to post in “public.” Drop me an email if you decide to get into sportsbetting and I’ll dish.


My first forays into SportsBetting

My main man Bullajami talked me into jumping into the world of sports betting two weeks ago. I had always avoided it because it seems like the kind of gambling that your mother warned you about. You know what I mean, every movie that starts with someone betting on sports always ends with the same guy getting his kneecaps busted up with a baseball bat or living on the streets.

So far, it doesn’t look like either one is going to happen to me. I’m limiting myself to the highest rated sportsbooks by Sportsbook Review (which may or may not be reliable). Some people say that they effectively get kickbacks from sites who get the highest scores, but you’ve got to trust someone. Consumer Reports isn’t likely to do an off-shore wagering issue anytime soon.

I signed up with Pinnacle, CRIS and Hollywood. All highly rated and all with some kind of decent bonus offer. Hollywood offered $750 in cash and $750 in free plays on a $5,000 deposit. CRIS offered $1,000 in free play on a $5,000 deposit and Pinnacle offered $500 on a $5,000 deposit. I decided to wager them against each other willy-nilly and sort out the damage once I was done.

I looked for arbitrage bets and found what seemed like solid bets on every event. Since I had money on both teams, I pretty much knew what the results would be before games were played. Unfortunately, I misunderstood the terms of one of the bonuses and gave up almost $400 in value by misplaying my wagers. Fortunately, the bonuses covered my mistake and then some. I busted out of Pinnacle and lost most of my roll in Hollywood. CRIS almost tripled.

I can’t get my money out of CRIS until I’ve wagered a whole bunch of money, so I need to keep betting against them as often as I can. I added some more money to Pinnacle and got a $100 bonus on a $500 deposit at VIP. I managed to lose the entire $600 in one bet to Pinnacle and then lost all the Pinnacle money into CRIS again. At this point, I’ve done it for two weeks and I’m up $2,200. Of that total, $46.63 is my profit on arbitrage and the rest is bonus money. I’m not sure this will be a great money maker once I exhaust the bonuses, but it is pretty good when you add them in.

I’m going to try to finally burn through my wagering requirement at CRIS and get at least one other bonus this week. I’ve also got a $150 freeroll wager to place, which should yield at least $100 risk-free. I’ll post something on the strategy of freeroll betting later.