Live Betting on The NFL: Insights From Kambi’s Head of In-Play Betting

The post Live Betting on The NFL And Football — Insights From Kambi’s Head of In-Play Betting appeared first on SportsHandle.

Previously in an interview with veteran bettor Wes Reynolds, we examined live betting (aka in-game or in-play wagering) from the player’s perspective. In this article, we pull back the curtain on live betting from the operator side — in a conversation with Simon Noy, the head of live betting for Kambi Group, which has partnered with DraftKings as the latter’s sports betting technology/product supplier. 

In this exchange with Noy conducted over e-mail, we focus on NFL betting and football betting. In Europe, where Kambi is based, the popularity of in-game wagering is already enormous and will only continue to grow in the U.S.  What can bettors expect not only at the DraftKings Sportsbook — which launched for New Jersey sports bettors on August 6 — but at most sportsbooks as in-game offerings continue to expand?

Put simply, the availability of betting options will only be limited by imagination, bettor appetite, and the ability of oddsmakers/suppliers to hang sensible numbers.  (Note: This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.)

Live Betting on NFL and Football In General — Lines, Props, Keeping Blowouts Interesting and What You Can Expect

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Sports Handle (SH): For football, what types of events or outcomes draw the greatest number of wagers, in terms of total tickets and handle?

Simon Noy (SN): Very much as you’d expect: spreads, money lines, and totals – both in terms of tickets and handle. After that it’s about player props. For some time, the emerging trend has been to follow players, not teams, and we see the effect of this in betting behavior too.

With this in mind our expert trading team is always trying to devise and price up the most interesting markets per player – a quarterback to make at least three touchdown passes, or total passing yards over 300, or even offering in-game options like next touchdown scorer or our total points per player markets in the NBA.

SH: Are the majority of in-play wagers coming in on an adjusted moneyline or spread for the game’s outcome? Or 1Q, 3Q scoring? Team totals? Player props?

SN: Player props are popular among bettors and we only see them becoming even more so. The other important trend over the years from an in-game perspective is wagers on markets with shorter time frames, such as quarter, inning, etc. This is a really exciting way to bet, plus with so many games being played simultaneously, some users dip in and out of games and prefer to wager on the intervals they are watching in-game.

Taking this further, our offer of ‘instant markets’ is also proving very popular, with their super quick pay outs and enabling the player to bet throughout the game even if the game is one-sided. For instance, the outcome of next drive in NFL, will a golfer hit the green, or will the next batter get a base hit in MLB — players can bet on these markets until the final play or pitch even when the game is essentially won.

SH: Your team obviously doesn’t have much time to compute lines and then get the board down in time. Are the lines coming purely from an algorithm or from humans or some combination? What happens when an offense goes into hurry-up mode?

SN: Absolutely, we have a high degree of modeling and automation but we have also invested consistently over the years in building up a highly-skilled group of traders – we’re talking a trading team close to 300 sports fans here – so we definitely believe best results are achieved only with a combination of the two.

There will always be something yet to be modeled or automated, and that’s where the human touch can make a difference. In your example of the hurry-up mode, the human trader who will have in-depth knowledge of the players and teams involved will have an informed opinion on what plays will likely unfold next, enabling them to adjust their inputs and thus odds accordingly, thereby keeping markets open to bet. A sportsbook without this expertise will likely suspend their markets – that’s not the kind of UX which will keep players happy.

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SH: Has an influx of available data given bettors more advantage in recent years? Have the books benefited in the same way to nullify any edge?

SN: The increased availability of data has been great for the both the industry and for the players, particularly from a product perspective. We are able to compute more accurate and timely probabilities enabling us to expand our offering to include more relevant and interesting bets. I wouldn’t say the data has given bettors more of an advantage, but it’s certainly closed the knowledge gap between bookmaker and player – bettors are more informed than they’ve ever been.   

[Also See: The Marriage of Sports Betting, Analytics And Novice Bettors]

SH: Do you notice that some players are targeting or exploiting certain events in NFL games? Do some players simply hammer in-game wagers throughout the course of a game?

SN: I wouldn’t say anyone exploits a market – the line or price would move quite quickly if we felt someone had an edge on us. What we do have are players who enjoy particular markets because they find them entertaining, which was reflected in the handle we saw for ‘Outcome of Drive’ props in the Super Bowl.

Similarly, in tennis, players enjoy betting on each point as the match progresses, wagering smaller amounts. In that example it’s similar to someone placing a few dollars on the spin of a roulette wheel each time – it delivers a quick thrill with the next opportunity just seconds away, but also they have an angle based on their opinion of the players in that moment.

SH: Amongst NFL bettors, have you observed much appetite for betting on the outcome of every single play?

SN: For the Super Bowl we rolled out a new market, ‘Outcome of Drive’ where the users were able to wager on what would be the outcome of each drive as it unfolded and there was plenty of appetite for this, so we will be offering it on more events in the new football season. We are always pushing to innovate and add something new, and like a lot of our product this offer was totally unique when compared to other B2B providers.

Overall, the majority of wagers are on the main offers – so another element we focus on is to ensure that these core markets are available and remain attractive for as long as possible during a game. When I say attractive, I mean we ensure the lines and prices offered reflect the current situation of the match. For instance, if the total points line of a basketball match is 200 but we have 180 on the board after the third quarter, simply offering a short price on 200 is no fun. We update the lines offered throughout the game to ensure bettors can still get an even wager on each side. This might sound simple, but if you look around the market you won’t see many updating their lines in-play.  

SH: What’s the typical hold for a sportsbook on in-game wagers?

SN: The hold is typically smaller on in-game than pre-game because the naturally quicker nature of in-game lends itself to less parlays and more singles, while in-game markets can be much harder to price, with traders and algorithms reacting in seconds to the conditions of play. We can’t go into too much detail on our operator’s results as these are not public figures – but our years of experience offering markets on US sports and leagues means we are confident in our pricing even when offering the niche markets and situations we’ve been explaining here.

SH: Do you think in-play betting eventually surpasses pre-game straight wagers or props by overall volume?

SN: Certainly. It has already happened in most regulated markets and there’s no reason the US won’t follow suit very soon. In-game can offer an exciting product that pays out 24/7 and we are sure this will appeal to the US player once they get used to the wider offering and wonderful sports on offer.

For this to happen, quality of the product will be key: not just in terms of the number of relevant and exciting markets, but how those markets are presented and are they always priced up and available to bet on throughout the game. This is something we’ve been working hard on at Kambi – offering maximum availability even at the most crucial and exciting moments in the game.    

SH: What’s some advice for novice bettors when looking at betting menu?

SN: Take your time, start with small stakes, ensure you understand the rules of the markets you bet on.

The post Live Betting on The NFL And Football — Insights From Kambi’s Head of In-Play Betting appeared first on SportsHandle.

What Sports Bettors Need To Know About Football Handicapping Contests

The post What Sports Bettors Need To Know About Football Handicapping Contests appeared first on SportsHandle.

One of the major drivers of sports betting handle in Nevada has been football handicapping contests. In Part One, we presented a history of this under-appreciated foundation of football wagering.

Such contests helped grow sports wagering’s popularity in the Silver State and will likely be offered to attract bettors in emerging legal sports betting markets nationwide.

But before you enter such a contest, there are some keys worth considering in the pursuit of a big prize — and the pride of winning such a contest.

NFL Lines Pick ‘Em Contests: Finding the Contest That Works For You

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When considering entering a football contest, keep in mind that a high entry fee translates to fewer entrants, but a bigger cash payout to those who pick the most winners. These contests usually require entrants to pick against the spread. A win percentage above 60 percent is often enough to win lower-entry affairs. They usually only include NFL games on Sunday and Monday night. If you prefer to bet college games, they are not a part of most contests because of the more volatile point spreads in the college game, compared to the pros.

Part of the appeal of any contest is that it appears easier to pick winners than it really is. Big-money contests are a serious handicapping challenge, even for the best in the business. A casual player in any contest must always consider the competition. If you risk $1,000 or more to enter, you are likely to be facing off against the best-of-the-best.

Can You Really Beat Them?

These professional or semi-professional football bettors do their homework, watch All-22 films, and consider the market and their selections carefully. They often have multiple entries and if their pockets are deep enough, will utilize friends and family members to add even more.

With a lone entry, it’s a major accomplishment to win because players with multiple entries or syndicates can isolate the best plays and then “dutch” — the term for playing both sides of a game — thereby increasing their chances of picking more winners than you can on one or two entries.

[Also See: Breaking Down The Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest Winner’s Picks]

It takes skill and a bit of luck to win a big-money, high-entry fee contest($1,500) such as the Las Vegas Westgate’s SuperContest, which paid $1.3 million to first place winner in 2017, in a field of 2,748. Entrants in the Westgate’s SuperContest Gold ponied up $5,000 apiece in the winner-take all tournament. If you are relying on luck alone, the others may have you a major disadvantage.

Playing a “No-Spread” Contest

The more casual player may want to look for a no-spread football contest with a smaller entry fee, such as one in which buying four entries gets you a fifth one free. In such contests you just need to pick winners, never mind the spread.

Now, you may be able to play both sides of evenly matched teams just like the pros do. However, now your problem becomes the sheer number of entrants you have to beat.  The lower-cost, no-spread contests in a major casino/resort may boast more than 100,000 entries. Many entrants will pick only the favorites. Such contests typically offer weekly prizes that get divided between hundreds of winners, and can result in a pocket change reward.

Being the sole weekly winner in any weekly subset of a no-spread contest is very rare and can only happen when numerous underdogs win outright. If you pick too many underdogs during a week when favorites win, you seriously undermine your chances for a significant year-end prize. The spreads exist for a reason. Then again, if you zig when others zag and the underdogs string together a good week or a season, you stand to climb the standings and fetch a real prize while others blindly back the favorites. 

For all of these reasons, a no-spread contest should be generally regarded as entertainment with the idea of taking any serious cash home only a by-product of the fun. Such contests are enjoyable because they make the games more interesting. You can win. Just don’t count on it.

Bar Cards at your Neighborhood Tavern


A third kind of contest exists at some local bars or restaurants and is usually completely free. These established may offer a big prize, perhaps as much as $10,000, for perfect card. That might mean getting 16-of-16 games against the spread, perhaps more using totals. The Monday night game total is often used on a “bar contest card” as a tie-breaker, but usually totals are not part of the higher-end or mass-market competitions.

Your local bar may offer smaller prizes and swag to the customer who picks the most winners each week, but usually these are weekly contests, with no year-end prize for the most winners. Again, these kinds of contests are used to get customers to come back and reward those that do. If you can determine how many entrants a contest has, you can better determine if it’s worth your time to enter.

These contests generally have fewer entrants and although the grand prize for a perfect card is almost never awarded, they can still make watching the games more enjoyable. Many regard sports betting as a social activity and contests can make a few hours watching the games with friends at a local pub more fun than ever.

Final Thoughts

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Many of the contests that will spring up near you will be played using a kiosk. For better or worse, the mass appeal, low-entry fee or free competitions are now largely marketing tools to get you to come back to the casino again and again. That sportsbook near you wants your physical address and e-mail address so they can advertise to you. They may even sell that information to a third party. These kinds of contest almost always require a visit to the book and are not available online.

An internet-only contest, and there are many out there, will have so many entrants your chances of winning are greatly diminished. Again, your e-mail address is required, so get ready to get bombarded by offers for all manner of products and services.

Many contests use the Monday night total as a tie-breaker, so it’s important to spend a few moments making this selection. It can be the difference between a little cash and a lot.

Be sure and read the rules and all the fine print. You might be required to do some publicity and have your picture taken if you win and, be advised, your winnings are taxable income. That can influence your relationship with Uncle Sam in many ways including your Medicare payments and other government programs.

Stay away from the big-money events unless you are a serious bettor. Enjoy the mass-market contests for the pleasure. Don’t expect to get rich.

However, someone always wins and it could be you.

Robert H. Mann, a 31-year resident of Las Vegas, is the industry writer and columnist for Gaming Today newspaper and His opinions are his own and may not reflect those of Sports Handle.

The post What Sports Bettors Need To Know About Football Handicapping Contests appeared first on SportsHandle.