Editor’s Note: This recurring series is written by Billy Costigan.
Even though there are no games to bet this week, this bonus article will provide you with the knowledge you need to approach betting futures. In this case we’ll look at betting who will win the 2022 PLL championship.
First, let’s take a quick look at how the fifth week of the regular season played out.
PLL Week 5 Recap
PLL Week 5 certainly did not disappoint! With 3 games decided by just 1 point and one decided by only 2 points, these games were exciting right down to the last second. I know they most certainly kept me on the edge of my seat and my eyes on the TV.
Below is a recap of all the straight bets for the games from this past weekend:
As you can see the results were somewhat similar to Week 4. Once again overs and unders split even, while underdogs continued to dominate the spread and favorites continued to dominate moneylines.
If Cannons had scored 1 more point then underdogs would have gone 4-0 against the spread. Also if Waterdogs had lost by 1 instead of winning by 1 then favorites would have gone 4-0 on the moneyline.
These results speak to the trend I highlighted last week, if you like a favorite they’re a safer bet on the moneyline but if you like an underdog the spread is the safer bet.
Underdogs lead this year so far against the spread 13 wins to favorites’ 7 wins. While on the moneyline favorites have the lead 14 wins to underdogs’ 6 wins. We will have to see if this trend continues.
All these close games speak to the parity in this league. Each team has so many talented players that really any game, anyone can win.
While this can make it harder to pick winners for single games, it can also create value in the futures market. Somehow, the longest shots on the board to win the PLL Championship don’t feel like as long shots as maybe, the teams with the longest odds in the NFL.
Any PLL team just has to make the playoffs (which all but 1 team do), then they’re 3 wins away from a title. A hot goalie or team at the right time can steal the PLL title even without the prettiest wins / loss record.
Now let’s take a deeper look at some tips and betting strategies to use when trying to pick a winning futures bet for the 2022 PLL Championship.
All of the betting advice, theory, formulas, and angles below combined with your own knowledge of lacrosse, the games you’ve hopefully been watching, some research, and maybe anything you’ve been picking up from my articles should be more than enough for any bettor to evaluate the 8 PLL teams and make their own confident informed decision.
I would love to hear from any readers that apply this stuff and make a pick and maybe it wins!
One of my favorite things since I have started writing for Lacrosse Playground has been when people I don’t know have messaged me with betting strategy or theory questions and I was able to give them some new knowledge or advice, then later they wrote back again about how it worked or helped them finally understand something.
That stuff means a lot to me, I really am just trying to help you all readers to enjoy betting and lacrosse as much as possible.
What is a futures bet?
First off, a reminder that a futures bet is a bet on something further down the road. Opposed to betting on a single game in the next week or so, for a futures bet you might be betting on things that could be decided months out.
Most futures bets are on things decided towards the end of a season such as the winner of a division, conference, or league as well as any number of player awards or statistical leaders.
This article will use the 2022 PLL Championship futures board for our examples. The only other futures bet available right now for the PLL is the Most Valuable Player award, but we can take a deeper look at that in my next piece.
For now, be thinking of 2022 PLL Championship odds that may be available to you and see if anything from this futures betting guide can help make some of those odds look appealing (or not) to you.
Common Mistakes Futures Mistakes & Advantages To Futures
When you first glance at the list of 8 teams each with different moneyline odds (that can change at any time) next to their name, it can be a bit overwhelming. But don’t worry there are strategies to help make sense of it all.
Since future bets are so far out, the odds tend to be much higher than for say the winner of a single regular season game. If you find a team you believe has odds too high relative to what you think is their actual chances to win, that possibly be a bet on factor.
Especially in the PLL, with so much parity (that almost any team has a shot) you may be able to find a bet with big payout odds that will still be live come playoff time.
So one common trap new gamblers fall into is just in how they look at and read the futures odds a sportsbook posts. It’s important to remember the list of odds you’re looking at is just a sportsbook’s opinion at the time those odds are posted.
Often gamblers get hung up on looking at a team in relation to their position on the odds board when considering a futures bet. The mistake is to let it seep into your head, as a definite fact, that just because a team is first on the list with the shortest odds that they will definitely win, or to completely discount a team with longer odds just because they fall further down the list.
How To Approach Futures
What you need to do first, is decide your own opinion on what teams you think will cash the bet. You can spend time compiling information on each team and let the info build up cases for or against them. Then using what you’ve learned about each team you can rank them yourself based on who you think is most or least likely to win the bet.
Once you have your own rankings, you compare them to the sportsbook’s and look for discrepancies. If you find that you think a team is much more likely to win than a sportsbook is saying they are, then that’s where you may find a bet to place.
That’s kind of the name of the game with futures, finding a bet where you think the sportsbook is giving you better odds than they should, and if you’re right it can pay off big time.
Remember since these odds can change frequently it’s important to be checking the futures board often to spot a chance where the team you are confident in has the best odds possible to maximize your profit. It also helps if you have as many sportsbooks available as possible, to shop around for the best lines.
Using True No Vig Odds & Understanding Futures Odds Better
One tool that can really help bettors get a better grasp on what the sportsbook is saying about each potential winner (which will make it easier to find discrepancies) is to convert the moneyline odds listed for each bet into implied probability and then into true no vig odds. While that may sound like a lot at first, it’s actually going to make reading the futures board a lot simpler.
First you need to convert each moneyline price into an implied probability. This is the percentage chance the moneyline price says a team has to win and can be easily found using an implied probability calculator on many gambling websites. For a single game this can tell you how many times out of a certain amount a moneyline says a team will win.
The problem with just turning the moneyline price into an implied probability, is that you still have to account for the juice / vig, or a sportsbook’s hold on a wager. To do this you take any team’s implied probability and divide it by the total implied probabilities of all the teams for that futures bet.
This gives you what is known as the true no vig odds, which is the actual percent chance the sportsbook is saying a team has of winning that bet. Which can be extremely useful when looking for a futures bet to target.
For example you’ve done all your research, made your rankings, and decided Waterdogs have a 15% chance of winning the championship. But after converting the moneyline prices to true no vig odds, you see the sportsbook is only giving Waterdogs a 10% chance to win. That could become one more factor in deciding to place a wager at those longer odds on Waterdogs to win it all.
PLL Champ Odds Compared & More On True No Vig Odds
Now let’s take a look at PLL Championship futures odds from Bet MGM and Draftkings.
I’ve posted below charts with moneyline prices posted by those sportsbooks, along with their conversions into implied probability as well as true no vig odds.
Remember you really want to be thinking of teams in relation to their true no vig odds and comparing that to what percent chance you think that team actually has of winning. While the sportsbooks are very good at what they do, you don’t want to let them just dictate to you which teams have a shot or not based on their moneyline price and its ranking / position on the futures odds board.
The first chart is from when odds were first posted in March and the second chart is the current odds. Monitoring how odds change throughout the season can also give you useful clues as to how a team is doing.
Opening PLL Championship Odds:
Current PLL Championship Odds:
One thing to remember is there are only 8 teams in the PLL. Now, if we were rolling an 8-sided die, each outcome would actually have an equal 12.5% chance. Unfortunately, since any team can win a sports game anytime, we never really know for sure a team’s actual percent chance of winning. This is where it becomes everyone’s best guess.
Using true no vig odds will give you the clearest understanding of the sportsbook’s best guess at who will actually win. Then it’s up to you by watching games, reading articles, listening to podcasts, ect to decide your best guess about each team’s chances of winning.
Once you have your own rankings of the teams generated or even better your own assigned percent chance to each team that they will win, you can compare that to what the sportsbook is saying and try to find an edge.
Monitoring Line Movement (Odds Changes)
Another way you can try to gain valuable information is by watching the line movement or how the odds change. You can see that, as expected, there has been a good deal of change already since the preseason lines were first posted.
However these odds often change week-to-week and can even vary day to day. Keeping an eye on the odds and trying to figure out why the sportsbook changed them, can also help a bettor gain information to use when picking their own wagers.
So it’s a good habit to be checking the odds board often, to spot mistakes by the sportsbook (advantages for the bettor) as quickly as possible. You never know what day the team you like will have their odds adjusted higher than you think they should be.
You do also want to take into consideration why the lines moved. Were they changed because of how a team actually performed and / or news such as an injury / suspension, or because of liability?
Finding out why lines moved can be just as important and useful as tracking the changes.
Knowing the reasoning behind a move helps you evaluate how heavily to weigh that move or information when deciding on your own wagers. In sports betting you need to know not just that something did happen, but also why it happened.
Identifying Why Lines Move / Odds Change
It’s important to try and identify when a line is moved based on public liability, professional / sharp liability, or when it is moved based on actual play on the field / news regarding the team.
Sportsbooks are a business and must balance their risk / potential losses. Meaning if they take a lot of wagers on a certain bet, then generally they lower the odds on that bet to prevent a potential loss from being too large.
One good example of how the public can rack up liability for a sportsbook, is the Los Angeles Lakers odds at sportsbooks in Las Vegas. Since Vegas is the closest legal place to bet for a lot of Lakers fans in California, the sportsbooks in Vegas tend to take more bets on teams like the Lakers than books in other areas do. Often causing large liability on the Lakers at some Vegas sportsbooks compared to books in other states.
So sportsbooks in Vegas (trying to protect themselves if the Lakers do win) often are forced to move the Lakers’ odds more than other areas. You could end up having the worst price available on the Lakers often found at a Vegas sportsbook. This happens when so many Lakers fans flock to Vegas to blindly place bets on their favorite team, often referred to as “homer” bets.
While you may not want to weigh a line move like that (which is mostly due to the sportsbooks’ geographical location) too heavily when evaluating teams, it can be useful in certain ways.
You may be able to use this angle to find other teams in that area ending up with “too high” odds at a book (to balance out the geographically popular team) in a certain area. This is just one more way you can find an edge to get a wager you like at the best possible price.
Sharp / Professional Bettor Liability
Another way the sportsbooks can build up liability and choose to move lines is taking (even lower volume bets) possibly made up of larger wager amounts or potentially bigger payouts, from professional or “sharp” bettors.
These are bettors who have been successful enough that the sportsbooks recognize them and respect / weigh wagers from these sharp bettors much more heavily. Many of these people gamble full time for a living.
While it could take a very high volume of wagers from the general public to move a line, sometimes it only takes a handful of professional gamblers (or even just one) making wagers to move a line.
This is because the experienced people running the sportsbooks have seen many times, that sharp bettor, be successful at a much higher rate than the public. This causes them to weigh that bet much more heavily when deciding how to adjust the odds.
While it’s tough in a newer and smaller market like lacrosse to identify the sharp bettors, if you can identify whether a line move is based on the public or pros, it can be a very successful strategy.
This method is much easier and more successful in the 4 major sports where you more often have access to dollars vs bets splits. Like anything as well, the larger sample size from the higher volume in leagues like the NFL and NBA make this angle even stronger.
While the opportunity may not be there in lacrosse yet, if you ever get the chance to identify what side the sharps are on for any wager, that’s probably the side you want to be on. Generally that’s also the side the sportsbook is on and we all know they win more than not. Fading the public is usually a profitable endeavor.
Line Moves From On Field Performance & Getting News Earlier
It can also be useful to identify if a line move is based on information more directly related to the team or actual game play.
In the case of an injury or suspension this can be very clear cut why a line is moving. When that happens it often pays to get news sooner than later. Building a gambling community of knowledgeable people or using tools like a Tweetdeck can be very handy in trying to get the scoop before the sportsbooks do and they move the lines.
If you’re lucky and get the information first, then possibly you can time your wager to be most advantageous. Ideally, you want to get the chance to bet a good team that still has long odds before they go down too much or bet a good team with short odds when they are going up and peaking, before the public is all over it and those now appealing odds start to shrink fast.
Lines also often move because of actual play on the field / recent results. You want to monitor these things as well to identify the driving factor in odds changing.
You should already be watching and rewatching as many games as possible if you’re serious about this stuff. That knowledge from staying on top of the league will help you determine how heavily to weigh a line move based on recent play.
Avoiding Recency Bias
What you don’t want to do is fall victim to recency bias. Perhaps the sportsbook or more often the public, is weighing the last few games a bit too much. If a team is going through a rough stretch and public sentiment writes them off, that can bring in bets on their competitors, raising sportsbooks’ liability and thus moving lines.
Often what would happen in this situation is the team being disregarded by the public as having no chance, may see their odds get longer which means a bigger payout on the futures bet if they do end up winning. Especially if the sportsbook is piling up more liability on that team’s competitors due to public recency bias.
However, if you’ve reason to believe that team will turn it around and be okay (perhaps from a player returning) then you may find yourself with a chance to fade the public and get a better price on that team.
This is a way you can end up with value on a team. For example if you get a wager down on a team to win it all at +1000 after an early losing streak but they suddenly get hot and win out, now going into the playoffs their odds may drop dramatically to say +300. That would in theory signal that you got some value with your +1000 wager by timing the league / lines correctly and having a better payout price in pocket.
Timing You Bets & Buy Low, Sell High Mentality
This becomes a bit like timing the stock market. You’ll want to become as knowledgeable and familiar as possible with the sport / league you are betting so that you’ll be able to time your wagers as best you can.
An adage to keep in mind is that you want to try to “buy low and sell high”. Meaning you’ll have to dig for extra information which will help you decide when a team everyone else is writing off is worth a wager or conversely when a team everyone is hyping up is actually overrated and thus not worth a bet at that time.
Perhaps from personal experience you have better knowledge of a specific injury a star player has and you think they will return sooner and stronger than the public expects. Maybe you realize a struggling team has the easiest schedule remaining coming up which will allow them to gain ground just in time and make the playoffs, when that player no one expects to contribute again this year will actually be back. This is an example of a time you could maybe “buy low” and get a team at long odds before the public realizes they’re a good bet.
Sometimes as well it’s just as important to know when to avoid a team on the odds board or “sell high”. It’s very easy for narratives to snowball and the public consensus to become very high on a team, very quickly. Yet you happen to notice: that team hasn’t really played anyone good yet, got a lot of luck from the officials, and / or has the hardest schedule remaining.
Any angle like that or others you can find to prove the public favorite is overrated, can help you avoid making a bet that may have a lot of public support but never really have that much of a chance at winning. If you do end up making a bet like that when a team is at their all time high in the public’s eyes, odds are it won’t be at the best price you could’ve gotten either and thus not have much value.
Importance Of Value / Line Shopping
You don’t want to be the person who’s always placing their wager at the wrong time and getting teams at significantly shorter odds than you could’ve. You’re going to need every edge you can get to end up profitable in the long run. Especially when sportsbooks have millions of dollars, huge staffs, plus plenty of computers and algorithms at their disposal trying to beat you.
So it’s very important to remember the buy low / sell high mentality in order to try and time your bets, especially futures bets, to your greatest advantage. As well as to have as many sportsbooks as you can to shop lines at.
That little difference in payout price might be the make it or break it point of you being profitable for a season. Especially when betting futures (if timed correctly) you can turn a half unit into many multiple units profit, if you can get a wager in the triple or more digits to cash.
Planning Futures Profits Properly
One more factor when betting say the 2022 PLL Championship (or any futures board) is you’ve got to plan out your bets and potential profits before placing them. While here all 8 teams may be plus money, you’re not going to be profitable betting them all. So you’ll need to decide both your number of bets and bet amounts.
Luckily if you time your bets right, futures bets are often at large plus money odds. Getting the bet at a good enough price should allow you to keep your wager size down (maybe even just a half unit) while still having the chance to profit multiple units.
You’ll have to decide your bet size based on your personal confidence in the wager, the odds, and remembering you’ll lose that amount if one of your other bets (or a team you didn’t bet) wins.
Say you pick 2 or 3 teams to place futures wagers on for the championship and that you place 1 unit wagers on each. Even if 1 of the 3 teams you bet wins, to calculate the profit you’d have to subtract the 2 units you lost on the other 2 teams from your winnings on the 1 champion. Since very large futures odds can often yield several or more unit profits, if planned correctly you’ll still be profitable even losing those 2 units.
Basically in a league like the PLL I would recommend finding a strong position on say maybe 2 teams to start. Then later you can hedge your bets with maybe an additional futures wager or two, or even on gameday in the playoffs depending on matchups and moneyline odds for those games.
Choosing Futures Bet Sizes
What’s important is that you’re planning your portfolio of wagers for any given futures bet. You want to make sure that if one of your multiple wagers does win, the profit will be enough to more than cover the losses of your losing wagers and leave you profitable.
Normally I’m a pretty strict 1 unit per play guy for straight bets on single games. Futures can be different though because you want to also take into account how long your money will be tied up. The true, disciplined betting theory would say stick to 1 unit per play even for futures and find opportunities to make it profitable.
However I can understand wanting to get a bit more money back especially if you place the future wager very far out from when it will be decided, sometimes maybe close to even a year. So how long your money is unavailable to you as a pending wager could be a factor in picking your bet size for a futures play.
I still believe here that your unit size should be 1 to 5 percent of your bankroll (ideally, probably 3%). However, depending on your confidence, risk tolerance, desired return on investment, liability from other bets, and the odds; I don’t hate the idea of risking anywhere from a half unit to five units on a futures bet.
A bit of variance on your multiple futures wagers, say from a half unit on your longer odds choice and 1 or 2 units on your shorter odds choice, can help you plan out a profit like I was mentioning earlier in this section.
Hedging & Locking In A Profit
In the PLL Championship single elimination tournament, there can be opportunities to lock in a profit by hedging your futures bet. When 2 teams meet in the playoffs, there has to be a favorite and underdog for that game, as well as an outright winner and loser once it’s complete.
So if you have a large plus money wager on a team to win the PLL Championship, and they become the favorite in the title game, then you can also bet the right amount on their opponent on the plus money underdog moneyline for the game.
At that point, 1 of those 2 teams has to win the Championship. If you’ve managed the amount bet on both (each at plus money odds) and enough to cover the other wager(s), then no matter who wins that title game you can end up profitable. Being able to hedge your bet to lock in a profit like that is a dream scenario for any bettor.
One last option to take your profit guaranteed, comes thanks to a newer feature that is often found more on mobile apps of larger sportsbooks like Draftkings. That option comes in the form of a cash out button.
If you wisely grab a team very far out from when the bet will be determined, they start doing very well, and their odds drop then the sportsbooks might offer you a cashout. The cashout amount can often change at any time and should usually be less than your total potential winnings. However the more likely your bet is looking to cash, the better cashout option you might be offered. So this is definitely a changing factor to keep an eye for.
Some bettors may tell you to never hedge or cash out. However if you find yourself in a position to lock in a significant enough profit, why wouldn’t you? A guaranteed profit sounds like the goal to me.
When a great hedge or cash out is available, enough to cover your losing bets and still turn a good profit, I say take it. A guaranteed smaller profit is better than the potential bigger profit which you never actually win and that turns your whole portfolio for a wager into a losing endeavor.
Lock in a profit when you can.
So while that was a lot of information about how to attack these kinds of bets, try not to let it overwhelm you. You might not use every single strategy I discussed here, every time. It’s about finding the right angle for each particular situation and trying to maximize your edge vs the sportsbook.
Before we go let’s briefly take a look at a few futures I’ve already placed for the 2022 PLL Championship. Back on May 7th I bet 1 unit each on Archers +550 and Chaos +400 for the PLL Championship.
At that point an Archers win would yield me 4.5 units profit, including the loss of my 1 unit on Chaos. The Archers have the offensive weapons again, but serious face off issues have limited their playoff success in the past.
If Chaos won I would be up 3 units off the Championship including my Archers loss. Chaos have often played bad enough for me to want to count them out before. Yet they’ve also proved me and a lot of people wrong in the past by winning the title. So very early in the year getting a Chaos ticket in the portfolio didn’t feel like the worst option.
I do wish that back then earlier in the season I had taken one longer odds shot on Waterdogs or Chrome. Having a big plus money ticket like that in my pocket could have given me more options to work with now or at the end of the season.
So while it’s not the best price I could’ve got them at, on July 5th I added Waterdogs +650 for the PLL Championship. One unit on this additional bet (even after the loss of my first two) if it cashes, would yield me a profit of 4 units. I am hoping here Michael Sowers can stay healthy and work some magic.
Unfortunately though after adding Waterdogs, you would need to subtract an additional unit from the profit of an Archers or Chaos win.
I’m not going to lie, it would have also been nice to get an Atlas, Chrome, or Whipsnakes ticket at some longer odds as well. However you can’t always get every one.
But you can see how a bettor could start staking up multiple teams that could be profitable champions for the bettor.
I will most definitely be keeping my eyes on the odds the rest of the season for any opportunities to improve my futures portfolio. It’s also possible that at some point I’ll get a piece out about each team’s chances to win the championship based more on their lacrosse play than betting theory.
What you can count on is that next Saturday the 16th will most certainly be an amazing show in the PLL All Star Game at Gillette Stadium. I am very excited to attend that game in person and see these amazing athletes work right before my eyes.
Also to help you get ready for the All Star Game, next week I will put out an article that will serve as a part 2 to this futures betting guide, but focus on the PLL Most Valuable Player odds.
This should be a great read to help you get to know some of the players who will be at the All Star Game, as many of them are the same players in discussion for the MVP award. Also much of what we discussed today will also be applicable for betting a future like the MVP. So be sure to be on the lookout for my MVP betting article next week before the All Star Game.
Be sure to check out my Twitter for any more PLL betting updates and as always my DM’s are open with any questions you may have about lacrosse or sports betting @bCostigan84.
I would love to hear from any of you about any angles that are influencing your futures betting decisions.
Best of luck and let’s cash some bets!