With the NBA playoffs underway (and Australia having the highest amount of NBA’s International League Pass subscribers in the world) our special guest on the podcast is David Solar from Sports Insights.

It’s a site where you can build sports betting systems quite easily and also get access to historical and real-time odds.

Punting Insights
– The value of various sharp money indicators
– How to make money betting against the public
– Why teams off a big loss can be a good bet in the following game
– How the betting market has reacted to the wildly successful Warriors
– Why referees can influence totals betting

Today’s Guest
David Solar

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Podcast Transcript

Dave Duffield: Hi David and thanks for joining us.

David Solar: Oh, thanks for having me.

Dave Duffield: It’s an exciting time for NBA fans and there’s quite a few of them in Australia. I wanted to get you on and just have a chat about what you guys do at Sporting Insights and also to give us some insights for the NBA betting. Like I said, it’s a pretty big deal down here.

David Solar: A little bit about Sports Insights – basically we are a live odds tool, tracking real time odds from a number of different off shore sportsbooks. We also track public betting trends from seven different off shore sportsbooks as well as the money percentage, which is a newly added feature that we’re really excited about. We look for sharp money indicators like steam moves or reverse line movement. We have a database that we use to look for various historical trends, many of which continue to be profitable during the post season.

Dave Duffield: For something like the steam moves, how would people follow that and since we’re all in it to make money, how would they profit from that?

David Solar: Basically, when we talk about steam, we’re talking about multiple sportsbooks moving their lines in a short period of time. Typically they’re moving within 30 to 60 seconds of each other. A lot of times, that will be wise guys betting syndicates who are spreading their action over multiple sports books, oftentimes because they are being limited in how much they can wager. They’ll bet it at multiple sportsbooks and your goal would be basically to find a book that was slow to react and jump on that before they had an opportunity to move their number.

Dave Duffield: For an NBA side, have you guys evaluated what a half point is worth?

David Solar: Typically, we would say that over the long term, getting that extra half point is probably worth 1% over your long term winning percentage. Every little opportunity that you can get is very crucial.

Dave Duffield: What type of people subscribe to your service then?

David Solar: Most of them are professional bettors. Or at least betting a decent amount on each game. The monthly subscription ranges between $149 and $249 a month. We do have some casual bettors and try to really make sure that we’re onboarding customers and that we’re giving free demos and tutorials to make sure that they know how to best utilise their software. Really, anybody that’s betting at least $50 per game is probably the type of person that’s most likely to use it.

Dave Duffield: What are some of the suggested ways of using it? You’ve written about contrarian approaches and betting against the public, is there still value there?

David Solar: Oh, absolutely. When our company was founded over a decade ago, our founder Daniel Fabrizio, one of the big ways he came to some notoriety is that he developed this 80/20 betting system which was for NFL bettors and looking for teams that were receiving less than 20% of spread bets at those seven contributing offshore sports books. He had found that those teams, I believe hit at a 58% rate at the time that the article was initially published.
We go back and we tweak that each year because the sports betting marketing place is constantly evolving. You’re looking for different sweet spots from sport to sport, from season to season. Betting against the public has been one of our core philosophies. We continue to track those with our contrarian plays, which is one of the bet signals that are available to our subscribers.

Dave Duffield: What’s the theory behind that? If 80% of the action is on a public team and a team that’s typically favoured by the everyday punter, you want to be on the other team? The one that’s getting 20% of the action.

David Solar: Exactly. I guess there are a few ways to look at it. The easiest way is, the house always wins. Basically betting against the public ensures you’re on the same side as the house.

Another way is that if you’re imagining the sports betting market place as a seesaw. You have enough bettors that are taking team A, the sport book is naturally going to have to adjust their lines. They’re going to have to make that team a larger favourite, in order to encourage action on the other side. Just by betting against the public, you’re oftentimes able to get an extra half point, point, point and a half, that’s purely based on public perception. During the playoffs, the number of bets increases substantially. More than two times what you’ll see on a regular season game. That really increases the value derived from betting against the public.

Dave Duffield: You’re taking a feed direct from the bookmakers . Why do they all contribute? What’s in it for them in supplying that information to you?

David Solar: Some of them, it’s a combination. We have deals with sportsbooks, some of them will make that information publicly available. It’s a good way for them to get more visibility from casual sports bettors that might not have otherwise known about them.
We really have a range. We have what we would call square books, lower limits that cater to casual bettors like Sportsbook.com or Sportsinteraction. It also ranges to much sharper books with higher limits. Like a 5dimes or a BetDSI.

Dave Duffield: Is Pinnacle part of your rotation?

David Solar: Pinnacle doesn’t contribute to our public betting trends. We do have another piece of software called Bet Labs, which allows us to basically create data driven betting systems based on our historical archive. Those are powered by Pinnacle. We use their opening lines and their closing lines, for creating new systems and tracking any current system matches.

If you want to know how home teams have fared when they’re coming off of a loss, you would be able to input that data into Bet Labs. It would tell you every team that had fit that criteria since 2005 and then it would alert you via email or text message anytime there was a team fitting that criteria.

Dave Duffield: You wrote recently about the zig zag theory, do you want to just explain that?

David Solar: Basically, the zig zag theory is one of the more popular NBA playoff theories. It’s pretty simple, it’s just bet whichever team lost the previous game. There’s this idea that teams will try to fight even harder to make up for loss ground following a loss. There’s also this ability where you can buy low. Where the public typically will overreact to a team following a loss. Especially during the play offs where there’s a microscope on every game. Simply by betting on whichever team lost the previous game has been profitable, dating back to 2005. Just if you took every team that had lost their previous game, on the spread in the subsequent game, you would have gone 409-377, dating back to 2005. It’s a slight edge, it’s exactly 52%. It’s just below that 52.38% break even point. Once you start layering on other factors, you do find that it has been a profitable system.

Dave Duffield: OK and regarding the NBA playoffs, what else stands out as something that people should be looking for?

David Solar: The zig zag theory is nice, but really what you want to be looking for is teams that are coming off substantial losses because that’s when you’re going to get casual bettors that are very reactionary.

When you’re looking at teams coming off a 10 point loss, those teams have been fairly profitable, but once you look at teams that have been coming off a 25 point loss or more, that’s when you really start getting into the more profitable region.

Again, going back to 2005, if you just bet every team coming off a loss of 25 or more points, you would have gone 40 and 20. Against the spread. Over a 66% win rate. It is, pretty consistent, over the last three years. 70% clip.

We do have a game tomorrow night. Hornets playing the Heat. Hornets coming off of, I think it was a 32 point loss in game 1 and now they’re only receiving 24% of spread bets. Whereas in Game 1, they had actually received 55% of spread bets. You can see the public is adjusting based on last games results. It would appear to be an overreaction.

So there’s an example where the Hornets have value is not just coming off the loss like the zig zag theory would tell you, but also coming off a substantial blowout loss.

Dave Duffield: Interesting that you’re talking about mainly an American client base, but it’s actually the same pretty much worldwide and definitely Australia that the overreaction to the last game in many sports is quite amazing.

David Solar: Oh, definitely. I think you start to see it a lot more, certainly in American Football when there’s a week between games and during the playoffs when there’s so few games. Every night you’re talking, there’s usually only two or three games on. It’s easy for you to key in and over react. Whereas during the regular season, there’s 82 games. It’s easy to have more of that long term approach.

Dave Duffield: OK now, betting the totals is a big part of the NBA as well. I think a few years ago a lot of the smarter guys would look closely at the under, but the market tends to factor that in over time and get a bit smarter. Is there any pattern there or how would you approach betting on the totals for the play offs in particular?

David Solar: There’s not quite the same value betting against the public on totals. You’re absolutely right that the historic value has been on the under. Over the past decade, unders during the NBA playoffs have covered 51.7% of the time. If they’re receiving less than 50% of public bets, that number jumps up to 52.2%.

So again, there’s a slight edge, but it’s not quite profitable enough where we would advise betting it. I think part of that is just sheer volume. The number of bets placed on each game is crucial to the value for betting against the public. People will bet spreads and money lines all the time. There’s just not the same number of bettors taking totals in NBA basketball.

Dave Duffield: You can drill down and even look at referees and see which have a tendency for their games to go under?

David Solar: Yeah, absolutely. One of the best that we’ve found, Mark Davis, who was recently voted the second least popular referee in a player vote that was taken anonymously, in his post season games the under’s gone 34 and 19 and during the regular season, unders in games he’s officiated have gone 302 and 254. There’s been a substantial edge during regular season and post season when he’s one of the officials.

The problem is, most of the time they’re not releasing the officials until the day of the game, typically around 9 am Eastern Time. Usually, about 10 hours before the game starts. You don’t have a ton of advance notice on who is going to be a part of the officiating crew. A lot of times you will see that total, not move substantially but move a half point if there’s a favourable or unfavourable official announced.

Dave Duffield: The line may move slightly with the referees announcement. What about as we’re chatting here, it was actually last night for us, Steph Curry was questionable for the game, didn’t get through the shootaround and then didn’t play the game. I’m just working off memory here, but was it something like 12 – 13 point favourite and then Golden State at tip off were more like 8 or 8 1/2 point favourite?

David Solar: Yeah. The Warriors opened as 12 1/2 point favorites. The line actually got down to 8 1/2 by the time they closed. Worth roughly 4 points to the spread. Although, I’ve also read other analysis and spoken to bookmakers that say he’s really worth more around the lines of 5 points. Him and Lebron James are probably the only two players in the league that are worth that level to the line.

Dave Duffield: That presented middle opportunities though, for a number of people? If you’re on at the plus 12 1/2, there must be some people taking the minus 8 1/2 and hoping for that middle which actually hit.

David Solar: Oh yeah, absolutely. If you were on the Rockets early and the Warriors late, you had a pretty fat middle to hit. Which yeah, obviously the game ended up finishing right at 9, so the perfect middling opportunity.

Dave Duffield: How do you find a team like the Golden State Warriors, considering they are incredibly successful and popular, would I assume that you would be more likely to oppose than actually back?

David Solar: Yeah. In terms of contrarian betting, absolutely. The Warriors were one of the most popular teams in the league this year. So you are consistently betting against them. Early in this season, that was rough. At the start of the season, the Warriors were covering seemingly every game but as the season went on and they were consistently double digit favourites in every game, they were really only covering it about a 50% rate down to the final stretch of the season.

It’s also funny you talk about the middling opportunity, because we actually saw the exact same thing on the total as well. Where the Rockets/Warriors total last night opened at 221 1/2, closed at 211. It ends up dropping 10 1/2 points. Final score was 115 – 106. Right on 221, again, that was an opportunity if you took the under early and the over late, once again, you would have had a nice middling opportunity.

Dave Duffield: That’s a bookie’s worst nightmare, right? I’ve heard of some Superbowl line moves where they move on or off the three and if the game was to hit on the three, some casinos would be in serious trouble.

David Solar: Oh, it definitely happens. But this past year was one of the best years for the Superbowl. The Panthers were, I think, by our numbers, it was the most one sided public betting we had ever seen in the Super Bowl at our seven contributing sports books. Most of the people that we spoke to in Las Vegas said that they saw similar one sided betting on the Panthers. So the Broncos winning ,not just covering, but winning straight up, ended up being huge for them.

Dave Duffield: Excellent. All right, well like I said, the NBA play offs have plenty of betting opportunities. Baseball’s right in season now and then we’ve got NFL’s not that far away. There’s plenty there to keep guys busy with your software, I’m interested as the NBA gets really good coverage down here and seems to go from strength to strength.

David Solar: Absolutely. We just saw NFL open week one lines all ready. Even though the actual draft isn’t for over a week, we start seeing that, seeing the NFL start opening earlier and earlier every season.

Dave Duffield: Yeah, it seems to be getting more popular here every season as well. I think a few guys will be checking out what you do, I really appreciate you coming on the show and all the best.

David Solar: Thanks a lot. I just like to say, if you do want to follow us or anyone’s on Twitter, you can follow us @sportsinsights. You can follow me personally @TheDavidSolar.

Dave Duffield: The David Solar.

David Solar: Couldn’t get my own name.

Dave Duffield: No worries at all. Thanks for coming on David, cheers.