Sportsbooks impose a cost when you bet a spread. -110 means you wager $1.10 for every $1 in winnings. This extra ten cents is a hold that lets sportsbooks make money.
But what if you only had to wager $1 for every $1 won? This price of +100 on both sides of a spread is an example of a no hold market. If you picked games at random, you would not lose money in the long run.
No sportsbook has these odds on a spread or total. However, as suggested in The Logic of Sports Betting book by Ed Miller and Matthew Davidow, you can find these no hold markets by looking at related markets.
For example, let’s look at the Jazz vs Clippers series which tips off on Tuesday night. At FanDuel, the Jazz are -4 in game 1.
With 3 points in playoff home court advantage, this implies that the Jazz are a point better than the Clippers on a neutral court. Given this difference, my code works out the series win probability by careful multiplication of the win probabilities in individual games.
If Utah is 1 point better than Los Angeles, this calculation gives Utah a 60.8% series win probability. The market price for the series is -130 for Utah, which implies a break even percentage of 56%.
There are two possibilities.
- You like the Jazz, believing in their NBA best regular season record. You would bet Utah -130 for the series at DraftKings.
- You like the Clippers, believing in the talent of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. You would bet Los Angeles +4 at FanDuel.
Personally, I have no idea which side to like. I have neither run numbers or watched much NBA this season. Listening to my advice would be like making Nathan Peterman your franchise QB.
But you’re a lot smarter than me, and you can use this no hold market to bet this game/series.
Of course, there are uncertainties in my calculation of the series probability. FanDuel has a higher juice to bet the Clippers side (-114 instead of -110). In addition, maybe home court isn’t quite 3 points for Utah in this series.
To account for this, I ran the calculation again assuming Utah is 0.5 points better than Los Angeles. I also assumed a home court of 2.5 points, which hurts the home team Utah. Utah has a 56.6% series win probability, still higher than the break even price -130.
I doubt this no hold market will last until tip at 10:05pm Eastern time on Tuesday night.
The Logic of Sports Betting is a fantastic read which I highly recommend. Check it out here.
Data driven betting information
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