How wiseguys are betting Game 5 

June, 9, 2011

These NBA finals have been a zigzaggers dream.

Back and forth the wins -- and the covers -- have gone. And you can see how quickly bettors caught on by the way the money has flowed for Game 5. After winning Game 4, the Mavs opened as two-point favorites. Immediately, money came in on Miami. According to, 58 percent of bettors favor the Heat. In fact, there's been so much action that one of the sharpest books on the Internet, CRIS, has dropped the game from two to pick.

(Notice the classic bookmaker hedge in the Game 5 line, by the way: Despite Dallas winning Game 4 as three-point faves, the bookmakers, knowing all the money would come in on Miami, opened the Mavs a point lower at minus-2. Clearly, that didn't stop the stampede.)

So how do you find opportunity in a series like this? One way has been to bet the under. Despite the fact all four games have landed below 190, with three of them landing below 177, bookmakers have consistently settled on totals in the mid-to-high 180s. Generally, in a combative series such as this one, the scoring gets lower from game to game. And yet, I haven't seen the total moves keeping up with the actual scoring decreases.

There's another way to find opportunity that Big Al McMordie and I discussed the other day, too. Big Al was on an East Coast swing and we had sushi during his visit to New York. We had a pretty far-reaching conversation about the future of Internet sports betting, his favorite restaurants in NYC and the sharpest books online. But we also chatted a lot about finding value in a series as tight as this one, with series prices changing dramatically from game to game.

Big Al(@bigal_com) had a series of great tweets about this over the past couple of days. Since there are only a few hours left to take advantage of what we talked about, I thought I would share. Essentially, he was trying to force me to think about the series more strategically, rather than, as he put it, "Buying something you don't need, like a sunroof in Seattle."