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.

In-Game Sports Betting Strategy: A Veteran Sports Bettor’s Observations And Tips

The post In-Game Sports Betting Strategy: A Veteran Sports Bettor’s Observations And Tips appeared first on SportsHandle.

He’s a professional sports bettor and handicapper and a well-known name on Sports Betting Twitter. He appears as a guest on VSiN and on one of our favorite sports betting podcasts, Bang the Book. Reynolds is also a contributor to The Action Network and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. (You can follow him @WesReynolds1).

Reynolds was generous with his time in a recent conversation with Sports Handle about in-game or live sports betting, which is popular in Europe and is becoming increasingly popular here in the U.S.

He offers insights here about in-game NFL betting with examples in baseball, too. We hope you enjoy and learn a thing or two. (This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.)

In-Play Sports Betting Strategy: Live Wagering on NFL, Baseball, Developing Good Habits and Beyond

Sports Handle (SH): All right, in-game wagering, something you’ve come to avoid or embrace?

Wes Reynolds (WR): I’ve really come to embrace it, and as time goes on probably will embrace it more because in terms of betting, especially with football and basketball where you are trying to beat the 11 to 10 (-110), it’s harder to do nowadays. There’s not as many line discrepancies.

But, the books don’t necessarily have the edge on the players anymore in terms of getting information. A wise veteran once told me, you don’t have to bet every game, but the books have to put a line on every game, and now you can bet in-game, too.

SH: Can you give an example using totals of a good approach to in-game betting?

WR: Say you’re looking at a game and think that ‘this total is too high even with two high-scoring teams playing’. Certain bettors are going to say, ‘Oh you got two high scoring teams. It’s going to be a shootout.’ So they’re going to immediately bet the over when the lines come out, and you’ve got sharper bettors who are going to try to take a position on that total, knowing that people are going to bet it.

You can bet it and come back on the other side, or wait for a play in-game. For example, let’s say it’s the Patriots and the Saints. The total’s at 56 or 57. Suppose both teams score on their first drive. So it’s 7-7, nine or ten minutes into the first quarter. Well, obviously that total is going to increase. Both these teams march down the field so now the in-game total might end up being 59.5 or 60 or something like that.

in-game sports betting high scoring totals strategy

In-game options gives you a chance to maybe narrow down your card and wait for better numbers after the game’s started, because usually it’s public bettors are doing live betting. They’re going to bet on what they’ve just seen, just like in pregame wagering they would what they’ve seen last week. When it’s 7-7 several minutes in the game, well they’re going to be like, ‘Aw man, I better get in on this over. This is going to soar way over.’ And maybe sometimes they’re right.

But other guys are looking to say, ‘Okay how can I get to the under here?’ Because people are going to bet that number up enough that some guys might not have been interested in the pregame number, but that may change after kickoff. I’m getting however many points more than the original number was on the game. So some of those guys too might even have a position on the game already and that gives them chance to work a middle.

SH: One thing you touched is that basically all the lines have tightened. Have you noticed with pricing on in-game wagering, is there more differentiation to potentially exploit, due to the speed of things?

WR: There’s a little bit of differentiation when you look sometimes. I’ll use baseball for example, maybe one shop will have an in-game total of 7.5 juiced to the over. And then another might have 8 with it juiced to the under. There’s a little bit of differentiation and they’re going on the action they’re getting, plus what the other [books] are doing. I think the sharp books on pregame or halftime-type wagering are also going to be the sharp books on in-game wagering. More often than not.

SH: What are some in-play football bets, generally speaking, you’ve found yourself gravitating toward?

WR: If I like an underdog, getting 7 for example, and then all of a sudden they go down 7 points. Maybe the other team started with the ball, or maybe the dog turned it over or there was defensive touchdown on the other side.

in-game nfl betting strategy online sports betting

Well I may not have taken the 7 pregame, but now I can take maybe 9.5  half or 10 on this team. Those are things I’m looking to do because you look to try to middle it, and you use that for little different edges and that’s the thing about betting nowadays is you’ve got a full menu. You’ve got live betting, you’ve got quarter wagering.

And the one I mentioned earlier when you have a total and the both teams score on their first drives where it’s like, ‘Oh man the defenses aren’t going to stop anybody.’ I’ve seen it so many times where it’s a high total and then it’s 7-7 right away, and then the scoring gradually will slow. Or it’ll be a real high score in the first half and then it’ll be 10-3 in the second half. Those are ones I like to bet.

SH: To what extent does coaching or the head coaches factor into this equation for you?

WR:  I think you have to look at that. And you have to look at the circumstances of the game, whether you’re watching live or you’re following it online or something. How did they score the touchdown? Did they march right down the field or did they get a 40- or 50 yard pass interference penalty to help them move out. You have to put all that stuff into context.

And that’s the thing is I wish I was more of a academic type math guy that some of these sports bettors are, who can deal with all these algorithms and probabilities, and I wish I was more like that, but I’m not. I’m more of an instinct guy and I look at the process. I don’t just look at the number ’cause I think it makes a very big difference if a team gets an 80 -yard drive and 30 or 40 yards of it are off some BS pass interference penalty, rather than, ‘Okay they’re just marching down the field gaining yards every play.’ Eight yard game here, then they run the ball for 5 yards. Fifteen yards pass over the middle.

SH: Do you have some general advice for newcomers to in-game/live betting?

WR: Don’t necessarily go off what you saw last because you’re going to be paying a premium anyway. They’re obviously baking that into the line. Maybe stick to limited amount of games. Focus on sides or totals and looking at what your opinion was; always write down what your opinions are on games.

Let’s take the NFL for example. Write down the opener on a sheet in notebook or if you want to type in a Excel spreadsheet, what was the opening line and what was the closer on Sunday? And take that into account when you’re doing in-play betting where it’s like, ‘Well this total opened 37.5 and now it’s closing at 41 on Sunday.’ So obviously they’ve had to have taken some action on the over.

And then now, if you have an in-play line that’s substantially higher than that, you’re looking to try to get line value. Keep mental notes and you can find winners when you see where these lines have opened and then were they’ve closed.

[Also See: 6 of the Most Common Beginner Sport Bettor Mistakes]

Because sportsbooks are going to use those as their guide in terms of what they’re going to offer on a live betting menu, in terms of overexposing themselves on a game if they’re really exposed on a side, or really exposed on a total. They’re either going to really trust their opinion or they’re going to want to get out and limit liability, which is more often than not. They want to limit liability as much as they can. So always keep that in mind.

SH: We talked about changes in the spread and totals in-game, based on circumstances early, a little bit on quarters. Do you go deeper on in-game opportunities and look at discrete drives or plays? Basically props in-play, for example, will Le’Veon Bell catch a pass on this drive?

WR: If you really have an edge then you should bet it. You’ve got to trust your instincts, but I got to tell you, I don’t have time to get into as many of those prop markets as I would like to. Obviously people do them for the Super Bowl because it’s the Super Bowl.

But you got a full menu in terms of betting and I think if you’re new to it you don’t want to get into these advanced things until you learn how the basic stuff works. We all have good runs and we all have terrible runs, where it’s like, ‘Man what am I not seeing, where you’re going with the traditional spread or over, under markets or moneylines. Do I need to maybe look at something different? Do I maybe need to look at the first quarter?’

SH: Sounds like you might have a bit more friendly advice.

WR: I think you also want to be unpredictable as a bettor… don’t be a guy necessarily that always thinks the sharp plays are always the dogs and the unders. More often than not would I say I play more dogs and unders than I do favorites and overs, but it’s not that big of a difference.

You want to be unpredictable where it’s like, I’m not always going to take that position in this situation. I’m not going to be just a certain type of player. And it’s the same thing with people that are favorite players. Don’t always play the favorites. You got to read between the lines. I think reading the market is so important. Do not necessarily listen to when people say, ‘Okay the wise guys are on these plays and the public are on these plays.’

Really look for yourself, look at the market, look and see if you’re getting a tell within the market and ask yourself a question. You can even do it out loud where it’s like, ‘Why do they have it at this number and this book has it at this number?’ And there’s any number of reasons it could be. Maybe a book caters to more public bettors and pumps the favorites or maybe they have a different exposure at book A versus what they will have at book B.

SH: To finish up, can you talk a bit more about market and line movement?

WR: There’s any number of reasons books move lines, so don’t just always look at the line move and assume it’s the bettors causing that line to move. Bookmakers can take down and put up lines whenever they want.

So sometimes it’s not a player’s action moving the lines, it’s a bookmaker that’s moving the line. And it could be totally artificial. That’s a thing too about reading the market that you always try to learn. It takes a lifetime to master I guess, to look and see, ‘Okay why did that line move? Did somebody really come in heavy on this side or are they just moving it to get out ahead of people?’

That’s in a way of what I do and that’s why I think the live betting provides a good thing. But a lot of it is timing. Go back to the example where the two teams score right away… some are going to bet the over but maybe I don’t want to go right away and bet the under. Maybe instead of betting that under at 59.5, all of the sudden they move that thing to 60. Now I want to bet it. I like it at this number but not at this number. It’s a waiting game — sometimes you’ll miss an opportunity and sometimes you’ll get an opportunity.

The post In-Game Sports Betting Strategy: A Veteran Sports Bettor’s Observations And Tips appeared first on SportsHandle.