How is the Point Spread Made?

Is it just some old Italian mobster in a smokey room with a chalkboard and a newspaper sports section, like in Casino?

Is it some computer program that is one glitch away from turning Skynet online?

The answer is somewhere in between, but don’t worry it doesn’t involve Terminators or cement shoes.

A Vegas Line is created by a math model using a wide range of inputs, and then a human being will review it and use their experience posting lines to adjust one way or another based on what they think the market will do. But let me expand on that a bit.

1. What are the inputs the math model uses?

Lets take baseball for example.

A baseball math model for a line would take in – projected starters – home/road splits – strength of the opposing pitcher in comparison to your projected batters – ballpark – fatigue…aka has one team played the past couple of days – weather

2. What does the human being factor in? – weather; because it is too hard to predict weather when the line is created, it makes for a poor input in a math model. However the human can reason out things for the game like temperature, wind, humidity, all of which affect how far the ball flies. The guy managing the line will then adjust as this information becomes more reliable closer to game time. Because rainouts typically just end in cancelled and refunded bets, linesmakers don’t really care, while DFSplayers do care because their players don’t get stats. So the DFS player has to be wary of a rain out, you won’t get that info from watching a Vegas Line. A Vegas Line won’t start plummeting downwards towards the under if its a thunderstorm, it just won’t get any bets. – incentives; is one team playing for the playoffs and another is out of contention, the line will get skewed a little bit. Managers will be more incentivized to play some prospects and bench star players that might be a little fatigued or banged up. The team fighting for a playoff spot or seeding will be bringing their A Squad all the time here. – market behavior; if it is New York Yankees vs. San Diego Padres the human behind the line will always skew it to make the Yankees more expensive to bet. There are just a lot more Yankees fans out there in the world than Padres fans, so the more public team will draw more action. The smart bettors know this and will wait out the push from the public to get the best price possible on their Padres bets.

3. What does this mean for a DFS player? – you dont need to factor in ballparks, this is included in the line and already factored in. – you DO need to be wary of potential rainouts – you DONT need to factor in wind, humidity, temperature, the guy moving the line off of bets and his judgement is weighing this in and has a lot more experience of placing a numeric value on this stuff than you. – while the line is made off of a players potential stats in a game, its combined as a team to form the Moneyline, Spread and Over/Under. So you still have to do the work to figure out how much an individual player is going to score. But you can use the Vegas Lines to work backwards from.

Good Luck!

Mark Herberholz @herberheezy
Product Development for OwnThePlay
DFS Writer for Wagertalk

The Breakdown: Sports Handicapping & Pythagorean Theorem

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