The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 26, 2021

PiRate Picks For August 28, 2021

Welcome to all the newcomers to the PiRate Ratings site for the 2021-2022 football season. Saturday, we have the fortune of having a dress rehearsal for the college football season. Nine FBS teams will be in action, as one FBS team plays an FCS opponent.

The PiRate Ratings enjoy issuing picks against the spread or money line on Thursdays each week until January. Because we are most concerned with Money Line Parlays, there are only five options to combine games this week, and many of the books do not issue a line for FBS vs. FCS games. So, in a quest to obtain the best odds, there really are just four games.

This presents multiple issues that basically make it close to impossible to issue a real wager, because the options don’t fit our paradigm. Let’s take a look.

First, before we get started, you must know and understand one thing. We offer these selections purely for the fun of it. It is math and not gambling to us. We NEVER bet on sports. We play with a pretend bankroll that never runs out. We wager the same amount of fake currency on every selection–$100. It could just as easily be $5, $10, $1000, $5000, whatever, but $100 is an easy number and typical of many wagers in real life.

Second, we urge you with everything we can say about it to NOT use this weekly feature as betting advice, unless you have legitimate advice or are a professional, and then this becomes a secondary reference.

Third, we hunt around for the best possible odds on our pretend wagers. You may or may not be able to find the same odds we do, because you would have to search at the exact same time we do. Because, we are not limited to just the legal books available to us in our state of Tennessee, where betting is legal, we might pick a parlay based on a sports book that is only for people in Nevada, or New Jersey, or even off shore.

Okay, now that you know the ground rules, here is our specialty–Money Line Parlays. The money line is different from the spread of a game, but the number is the equivalent of a spread. If a team is favored by 7 points, their money line is going to be roughly -330, and if a team is a 7-point underdog, their money line is going to be roughly +250.

How does a Money Line work? If the line is a negative number, if you wager the amount of the negative number and win, you will receive $100 plus the amount you wagered. So, if you wager on a team at -300, and you bet $300, if the bet wins, you will get back $400 (your investment money plus $100). If you lose, you are out the $300. On the other hand, if the line is a positive number, you can win that amount of money with a $100 wager. So, if the line on a team is +300, you can wager $100, and if the team wins, you receive $400 (your investment money plus $300).

In Money Line wagers, all that matters is that the team you picked wins the game, be it by 1 point or 63 points. Obviously, if Alabama is playing Mercer, the odds are going to be such that to win $100, you will have to put up maybe $100,000. So, if you bet $100 on Alabama at -100000, when Alabama wins, you receive $100.01. Would you risk $100,000 to win one penny?

When you wager on more than one money line to win as one bet, this is called a parlay. Let’s say that you like Mississippi State to beat Arkansas and Oklahoma State to beat Texas Tech. Mississippi State’s money line number is -275. Oklahoma State’s money line number is -250. By combining these two wagers into one bet, with $100 riding on the outcome, instead of attempting to win a little more than $36 on MSU and $40 on OSU, by combining the two games into a parlay, you stand to win almost $91 if both teams win. If you bet them individually, you would only win $76, so by combining the two, you win $15 more. Of course, if one team wins and the other loses, your losses would be less by playing the games separately.

The question you most likely wanted to ask while reading the above paragraph is, “Why risk playing two separate games that both teams you selected must win and still not get even money?” Did you ask it? The answer to that question is, “You are correct; why wager $100 to just win $91 and then have to be right twice to cash it?” You can bet a regular game against the spread and get 11-10 odds, just a fraction better than the odds of the parlay above.

The ultimate answer is that we are only looking for parlays that pay better than even money. We really don’t want to play any parlays at less than +120 odds, where we would win $6 for every $5 wagered.

The next question you might have is, “Isn’t finding two teams to win and pay off at +120 going to require me to bet an underdog to win outright?”

Our answer to you is, “Yes, but we don’t look for many two-team money line parlays. Let’s take a look at another example with three teams.

Let’s say that we believe that Washington will beat Oregon State, and the money line is -260.

We also believe that Army will beat Temple, and the money line is -240.

And, we believe that Wisconsin will beat Purdue, and the money line is -250.

If you wager $100 on these three teams to win, and all three teams win, your payout is just under $175 plus the $100 you wagered for almost $275 ($274.62 to be exact.)

Let’s take a look at 5 wagers, where we win two and lose three at these odds

We bet $500 at $100 for 5 wagers.

On the two winning wagers, we receive $275 * 2 or $550.

Invest $500 and win $550 by being right 40% of the time. In one week, we have made a 10% return on an investment. What investment on the Stock Market makes a 10% gain in one week after you have paid the commissions on the trip?

Ah, but here’s the rub: how often can you wager on 5 money line parlays that average +175 and win 40% of the parlays? Most people fall into this trap and only win about one of five of these parlays. At 20% success, you lose $225 a week for a 45% loss. Now, where can you loses 45% in the stock market in one week? We put our real money in high-cap value stocks with durable competitive advantages, long histories of consistent increases in earnings, and long histories of consistent dividend payouts. The pretend money is just fine for football wagering.

By now, you want to know who we are picking in Week 0 of the college football season. Maybe, you have figured it out already. We don’t have any official picks this week, because there are not enough games to come up with a parlay better than +120.

Here is a practice parlay that is not an official pick, but shown here to show you what we mean.

The three games involved are: Nebraska versus Illinois, UCLA versus Hawaii, and UTEP versus New Mexico St.

Let’s say that we think Illinois will upset the Cornhuskers, UCLA will take care of Hawaii, and UTEP will win the big rivalry game.

Here are the three Money Lines for these three games.

Illinois +215 vs. Nebraska

UCLA -875 vs. Hawaii

UTEP -390 vs. New Mexico St.

This parlay calculates to +341. If we wager $100 on this game, and Illinois, UCLA, and UTEP all win, we receive $441 in our account (The $100 we wagered plus the $341 on the win).

Why isn’t this an official pick? We believe that Illinois might have been an excellent pick against the spread when the Illinois-Nebraska game spread opened at -9 1/2. But, it has come down to -6 1/2 as of this writing. Sharp money was wagers on Illinois +9 1/2, and also on Nebraska -6 1/2. A three-point middling is too good to be true. Playing both sides, the Sharps only need to have the game win both sides one out of every 19 times (5.26%) to make a profit. The spreads of 7, 8, and 9 account for 10.8% of all FBS college football games. That’s double the amount needed to make a profit. The key is the Sharps can find these spreads when they open. Also, playing the opening lines is the most effective way to win for a Sharp.

The UTEP-New Mexico State game is the biggest issue in this parlay. One axiom that older Sharps believe in is not to rely on a losing program to have to win for you to win. The Miners are probably a 3-9 team, which is almost a good year for this program. The Aggies are really weak and should be an underdog in every game, but this is their big rival, maybe bigger than playing New Mexico. The I-10 rivalry frequently is a tossup game.

Two out of three of these games are iffy. The chances that Illinois pulls off the upset of Nebraska are not good enough to have faith in this parlay winning. Scott Frost is in deep cow poo if the Cornhuskers don’t win at least six games and earn a bowl bid, and losing to the weakest Big Ten team will turn the heater on in his heated seat. This will be Bret Bielema’s first game as Illinois head coach, and he brought in an offensive coordinator that runs a system totally different from what the Illini ran under Lovie Smith. Expect growing pains.

We hope this gets you pumped for next week, when there will be more than enough games to play some parlays.

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