For this installment of Across the Board, I was able to get some inside knowledge by speaking with Daniel Helm. Daniel has been a full-time odds maker for William Hill over the past two years. Before that he was supporting himself for four years only off of sports betting while living in Las Vegas.
We talked about his entry into sports gambling, how the market has and continues to change, why sports betting drove him into finally replacing his flip phone with an iPhone, as well as some simple tips that will help you build your bankroll.
I got hooked on it really my senior year in college, I was absolutely hooked. But back then I wasn’t really betting, I was just into it. I would write down what I would bet before the game, and then I would track that and see how well I did, and I was doing pretty well. Eventually I moved to Vegas 2014 and shortly thereafter got a job at the West Gate, SuperBook as a teller.
After I got that job, I was living on the cheap, but a lot of my excess money was just going into my bets and I was betting more aggressively. I was working at the Super Book for almost two years and then I felt comfortable enough and had built up what I considered a good enough bankroll I just quit and bet for myself for about four years or so.
That’s what inspired me to get an iPhone! Sounds ridiculous now, but I had a flip phone up until then. I was holding out. Then I was like, “you know, you can get the apps.”
Every sports book has its own app. So I was like, “that would really cut down on driving around Las Vegas and putting bets in. Probably would be a lot easier to bet from my phone.”
For William Hill I’ll get assigned a region. It’s all broken up. We have all these different states that we’re in now, so I’ll go in and, I’ll say, “what do you guys need me to take?”
And they’ll say, “uhhh, take Jersey. So I’ll take the Jersey window.”
So I’ll oversee all the bets coming in from New Jersey. Just see which ones are coming in from sharp people, which ones are coming in from squares and really overseeing all the bets and all the voids. Sometimes people like to cancel their bet and mostly that’s okay, but sometimes the number moved and it’s not okay.
Then just setting up different things, someone’s got to post all the results so the results can be official and people can cash out. Put up odds for a market that has to get ready, lately I’ve been doing a lot of overnights.
The first lines for baseball games will come out the night before or sometime in the afternoon usually. So I’ll usually look to see what those early numbers are. I’ll kind of all look at the bigger picture and just put us somewhere in the middle of that usually.
What I really do for a living is helping William Hill stay in market. Just depending on what the market is and where we want to be on it.
We have a service, it’s called Don’s best and it’s the odd service. So we can see what every other sportsbook is at on a game. And we don’t want to go too far off of the market. If everyone has the Cowboys as three point favorites over the Giants, we don’t want to be Cowboys minus six points over the Giants.
If we take a lot of money on one side, we might be at three and a half, but that’s about as far as we’re going to stray. So keeping William Hill in market is probably my biggest job.
Then along with that is just setting up the markets. It’s too flashy, it’s kinda like data entry. Everything’s got done by hand and some of it’s kind of manual.
We set up everything. Everything’s gotta be typed in somewhere, so that’s a big part of it. Then just communicating with customer service. If they get questions from customers that they don’t know the answer to, they call us and we help them out when we can.
The NBA, the NBA was my bread and butter.
The NBA was easier to bet then too, because the three point shot wasn’t so prominent, the three point shot has randomized the game a lot.
The variance has just gone way up and down. Just a numbers game. It was just a lot easier to predict when it was mostly two point shots. Now there’s 43 3-point attempts and they could make seven of them or they could have a great night and make half of them. If they make 20, that’s 60 points right there.
Nowadays any team can really get hot for a night and hit a bunch of three-pointers and they could be the lesser team, but they could still win just because they made a bunch of threes and three is worth more than two.
The NBA basically became a three-point shooting contest. Where before you might be looking into the match-ups of the game and the way a team plays versus the way their opponent plays. Now a team gets hot or a team can’t hit a three to save their life and you can kind of throw all that other stuff out the way.
You’ll see reports from people, one sports book just took a huge bet on this or that. Most of those bets are not coming from particularly sharp people, they’re just coming from people that have a lot of money.
99 out of a hundred times, or even more than that, the sportsbook’s going to limit someone that they consider really sharp. If there’s someone really sharp, they’re going to cut them down and not let them bet quite that much.
If it’s in a casino, it could just be some guy, some CEO who’s flying in and he just dropped six figures on baccarat. Now he wants to make the big sports bet and maybe the book could be kind of lopsided on that game already. Either way the book is compelled to take that bet because of the big money involved.
When I was first working at the West Gate, they didn’t even have an app until 2016. It’s way faster now, information is lightning quick. It really makes it harder I’d say to bet in general, because all the information is out there. If someone has info and then they’re betting, the betters are now molding the lines into what they are.
So say a sharp bettor has some information and they’ll bet an underdog plus three. Well before, you know it, it’s plus two and then it’s plus two everywhere. Everything’s super streamlined now. There’s more money being bet quicker and the information out there about all the teams is spreading faster with Twitter, being what it is now.
An injury will happen, the reporter will put it on Twitter and then that will affect the line. Everything is lightning fast and I think it makes it tougher for bettors because there’s not much value that’s there for very long.
Say a team is plus four and that’s a good play because you found out the starting center was out when Harvard plays Yale. Back in the day before the internet, that would have been golden, golden information. Now with the internet, that stuff spreads and the adjustments are made really quick.
I definitely think it’s going to continue to be more widespread when everyone sees how much money is being made from it. Massachusetts is looking at Rhode Island, which has sports betting. They see people literally driving across state lines so they could place their bets. The states like Massachusetts are realizing or are seeing in real time how much money they’re losing out on and realize it would be financially wise to pass some bills to get sports betting.
I know Roger Goodell in 2015 I think it was that the NFL is opposed to sports gambling. We’re still opposed, blah, blah, blah.
Now I think just recently the NFL announced partnerships with Foxbet, BetMGM, a couple of other sports sports books. Once states see how lucrative it is and how much money it generates, there’s really no going back. In my opinion, it’s kinda like how legal marijuana keeps spreading to every state because it’s such a cash cow and sports betting, I think is like that but even more so.
It’s just going to become more ingrained in the culture. It’s been like this in Europe for a while. You’ll see them advertise on the side of the field whatever partnerships with whatever sports books they have deals with.
I watched a Golden Knights game and you could see William Hill’s logo on the sideboards. As far as the betting, the live bedding has really grown. It was more of a niche market before and now it’s, it’s pretty massive. There’s a ton of money being bet as these games are going on now, which was not the case 10 years ago.
Um, So when the Patriots play the Jets, they could have been seven point favorites before the game started. Then the first drive of the game the Jets go down and score a touchdown and they’re up seven-nothing. And now the game’s a pick’em.
I think that really plays to people’s attention span these days, like the games going on and the odds are constantly changing and you can just bet throughout the game. So that’s been a major change as well.
One good one I like is, don’t ever lay points with the lesser team.
I remember the Heat were playing the Thunder, this was the year after they met at the Finals. There was just this perception, like, I know the thunder have revenge on their minds. You know? and the Thunder, they ended up being five point favorites over the Heat. Even though the Heat had beaten them in the finals. There was just this perception, like the games in Oklahoma city and they’re getting revenge or whatever.
That’s an angle a lot of people like to look at, this team beat that team last time. But, if you had to pick one game, I mean, even if you follow the NBA a little bit, you knew that the Heat were better with Wade and LeBron, they were just the better team, but they were getting five points at Oklahoma city because people thought it was Oklahoma City’s time to beat them.
That always stuck out to me, and then the heat won the game. That game always stuck out to and there’s been a ton since but that one stuck out as one where the better team was getting five points. Basically, fade whatever ESPN is saying because people like to overreact to what they just last saw.
The general idea is, one team’s going to lose one week that doesn’t change who they are. It doesn’t change their power ranking if you’re doing power rankings. You could have the Patriots as three points better than an average team for instance. They play a stinker one week and everyone wants to overreact and bet against them the next week.
The seasoned better knows that it’s one game, don’t overreact.
Bet small, bet smaller than you think you should because it adds up. Any losing streak adds up pretty fast.
The other thing with the NBA was the schedule changed so much. They used to have like four games in five days or five games in seven days all the time. So you could play off of those factors.
A team was playing their fifth game in seven days. How was that going to affect the game? You could look at that now everything’s a lot more spread out. There’s usually a day off between almost every game now. You can’t really look at that. I would always look at this one angle that would always win.
When it was when a team was coming back from a long road trip, like if the Celtics were coming back from a 10 day west coast. It was their first game home and they were road weary. If you combine that with the road team playing their fourth game in five days, those games would always go under. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but just take my word for it.
Those games would always go under the total. They’re always really unbalanced, kind of sluggish games without a lot of points in them.
I would say in general, look at the schedule of a team, even in football. The team has two straight away games and they had to travel cross country, or maybe they’ve had to play in London. How is that going to affect their performance?
The biggest, most important thing is to get a good number.
So the Patriots could be minus four on Monday, and then two hours before the game they’re minus six. So if you’re laying six, you gotta ask yourself, is there really any value in your betting when you could have had minus four? That’s kind of technically what the definition of a sharp player is.
If they’re consistently getting the best of the number. The bettors like to say that, squares bet teams, pros bet numbers.
I think they sometimes just say that to make themselves sound smart, but there is a lot of truth to that too, you got to get the best of the number.
If you’re betting the Patriot’s minus six, when you could have had them at minus four earlier in the week, you probably shouldn’t be taking it too seriously and you should not be betting a lot on them.
Oh man, I’ll say the Bucs are winning the super bowl. They’ve got a crap division. Figures to be a pretty weak division as opposed to say the NFC west, which is just stacked. You look up and down the Bucs roster and they’re so stacked.
It’s hard not to say the Bucs with their somewhat mediocre schedule and how talented they are, and Tom Brady. That guy’s just a robot.
The Washington Football Team might be a sleeper. With Fitzmagic at QB, their division’s not great, they’ve got a really strong defense that came on strong at the end of last year. The NFC I’ll say Washington.
AFC I’ll be a Homer and say the Patriots. I think Mac Jones is good, he’s got a strong offensive line, a pretty good offensive coordinator to help him get going, and an organization that has a bit of a chip on their shoulder.
One thing is all of these books, especially when they’re opening and in new states, they’re giving out a lot of promos to try to gain market share. So for instance, William Hill, when we first opened in Virginia, we had this promotional bit, will LeBron James score a point?
This was for Lakers playoff games. So the max bet was like 50 bucks, but it was free money. There’s a lot of promos, maybe not that easy, but there’s a lot of promos that bettors should be taking advantage of, to build their bankroll.
Definitely be on the lookout for promos and free bets that all these books are giving away. Pretty pretty wild one recently, William Hill’s opening up in Arizona and they’re giving people a $5,000 free bet.
What do you know. We happen to keep a nice list here on Betting.net that tracks all of the best Promos going on so you don’t have to!
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