You want to find a value on the US Open at the Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. The results of one bet doesn’t make for firm conclusions, but finding value bets over the long term leads to grinding out a profit.
One thing that determines value is the hold of the sports book. As a simple example, consider this match up bet at DraftKings.
- Cameron Smith +100 (50% break even probability)
- Jordan Spieth -120 (54.5% break even probability)
To calculate the hold, you sum up the break even probabilities and subtract 100%. This implies a 4.5% hold on this match up bet.
This hold on a match up is tiny compared to the outright winner market. Based on data aggregated by Data Golf (subscription required), here are the hold percentages at a few books on Wednesday morning:
- Circa, 17.2%
- Pinnacle, 20.95%
- DraftKings, 34.73%
You want to take advantage of the match up market.
The hold in the outright market also indicates the confidence the book has in its numbers. The lower the hold, the higher the confidence. It’s the difference between the blond star QB in white tuxedo as he strolls into the prom compared to the Chinese kid with a big head in a jester outfit.
The low hold at Circa and Pinnacle suggests using their outright market to find value in match ups. For example, both books are higher on Cameron Smith to win the US Open than Jordan Spieth. This suggests that Smith should have a higher than 50% chance to beat Spieth, and there is value in betting Smith +100.
In addition, the skill profiles for Smith and Spieth look similar. According to Data Golf, both golfers struggle with driving accuracy but excel at their approach and around the green.
Accuracy off the tee might seem important on a course with narrow fairways and tall fescue grass on the far side of the rough. However, the Country Club has small greens, and a close up look at the course suggests that approach and around the green will be even more important than accuracy.
Based on a similar analysis, Colin Morikawa +105 over Matt Fitzpatrick also looks like a value bet (DraftKings). This also means fading the narrative that Fitzpatrick won the US Amateur Open in 2013 on this course. That was a long time ago.
Free copy of The Logic of Sports Betting
In their foundational book, Ed Miller and Matthew Davidow provide the ultimate introduction into the sports betting world. Among other topics, they write about:
- The crucial concept of a no hold market
- The surprisingly simple procedure that market making sports books use to determine the spread (it’s not analytics)
- The truth about parlays
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