Editor’s Note: This recurring series is written by Billy Costigan.
Premier Lacrosse League fans, the 2022 season is in the books and the Waterdogs Lacrosse Club are your 2022 Champion!
I hope you all enjoyed watching Waterdogs’ thrilling 11-9 win in the title game as much as I did. Not only was it exciting as a fan, but if you read my Week 14 preview, you might have cashed Waterdogs ML and the under (I even took a little slice of Waterdogs -1.5 myself on top of all that).
Those bets plus a little +650 championship future were not the worst way to end our 2022 PLL betting season!
Now, let’s look at how championship odds moved throughout the season and the different teams and types of bets did.
In March, BetMGM opened Waterdogs as the favorite to win the title at +350 (which turned out to be the right call). At the same time, DraftKings opened with Chaos as the favorite at +400 and had Waterdogs 4th on the list at +550 odds.
When these odds opened, I posted a Twitter thread about converting those lines into true no-vig odds. Which was the actual percentage chance that the sportsbook said a team had of winning the 2022 PLL Championship at the time of posting.
So back in March, BetMGM thought Waterdogs had an 18.53% chance, while DraftKings thought they had a 13.22% chance of taking home the crown.
Fast forward to mid-season during the All-Star break, and Waterdogs were sitting with a 2-3 record. At that time, Bet MGM had moved Waterdogs to +700, which had true no-vig odds of 10.72%, while DraftKings moved the eventual champions to +650 or true no-vig odds of 11.19%.
You could have even grabbed Waterdogs at reasonable plus-money prices throughout almost the entire season. Here are some of their odds of winning it all from various points in the season that I managed to keep track of:
What can we learn from how Waterdogs’ odds moved this year? Well, the answer is the “buy low, sell high” principle I’ve mentioned many times before. Here is a bit more on that subject from my championship futures betting guide:
Timing Your 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.
Especially in a league with so much parody from having only eight teams (seven of who make the playoffs) combined with having to win only 2-3 playoff games, with the PLL you may have a better shot than ever at buying low at the right time.
At many points throughout the year, Waterdogs were missing players to injury. However, if you can be confident that valuable players will be back in time, that can often be a good sign of a team’s potential to come.
Especially this year, as Waterdogs started to stack up wins (or close losses), often involving missing key players (who would be back later in the season), that helped spark my interest in their futures odds.
As you can see, when Waterdogs had their worst record of the season at 0-3, you could have got them at +950 to win it all. Some of their best odds (+800) were available after the regular season ended, before playoffs started.
I got them at +650 at the midpoint of the season. Sure I could have grabbed a better number at other points, but at least I did not get their lowest odds of the year. Of course, I also had to keep my own bankroll management in mind.
Plus, at that point, I was using Waterdogs to hedge somewhat out of my other preseason futures bets, and that +650 was enough to do that. So although I wish I had hit Waterdogs again at any other odds to make it a bit sweeter, I’ll take what I can get.
Remember to look for timing that could give you better odds.
If you like a preseason favorite, try waiting till they lose a few games and their odds move to a higher plus price. Think a team will be fine come playoffs once players return from injury, even though they are presently struggling? That could be an excellent time to hit them for a bet.
Predicting where the odds will go can be as important as knowing where they’ve been.
There are times when your feelings toward a side become so strong it still makes sense to take them even though better odds were available earlier. But, in general, you do want to buy low and catch your target team at the start of their comeback, or at least before everyone else (including the oddsmakers) realizes they have a solid chance, and the lines move.
Spreads, Totals, and Moneylines
Let’s take a look at how some different types of bets did this season.
Against the spread, underdogs led the way going 29-17 (63.04%)—another example of the parity in this league. However, if you then look at underdogs’ 16 moneyline wins, that shows you that of their 29 spread wins, they did not even need the points, as those 16 times underdog won outright.
It’s no surprise that the champion Waterdogs have the best against-the-spread record at 8-5. Other strong teams that many considered title contenders (Archers 7-5 & Chrome 6-5) were close behind.
Redwoods were also 6-5, which could be a good or bad sign for the future. The bright side would be to say they covered many spreads as dogs, showing that even in losses (or at least later on ones in their case), Redwoods managed to keep it close. On the other hand, the potential negative sign (from their 4-7 moneyline record) is to look at it like they could rarely win close games and have real issues which might continue.
Totals almost split evenly this season. People may love betting overs more, but unders led the way going 24-22 (52.17%).
With their deep, resilient, and high-powered offense, Waterdogs went over the most at 8-5 to the over. In contrast, Chrome stayed under the most at 3-8 to the under. That was most likely due to their solid goaltending and defense.
Then one of the strongest angles of the season was on the moneyline. Favorites went 30-16 (65.21%) on the moneyline this season. While I would not recommend blindly betting one thing all season, many bettors out there would jump at a 65-plus percent angle.
Whipsnakes 9-2 and Waterdogs 8-5 had the best moneyline records. Whipsnakes’ only two losses were at the hands of Waterdogs and by a score of 11-10 both times. Again showing how close teams can be, as in both those games Whipsnakes covered the spread, but Waterdogs won outright on the moneyline.
So it may seem obvious and cliche but this season would say that in the PLL, if you like a favorite, the moneyline is the way to go and if you like an underdog, take them plus the points against the spread.
Like everything in betting, though, more than one angle is usually needed to make your picks. It helps to look back at historical numbers, but many factors come into play. You’ve still got to look at things like injuries, situations, plus individual and coaching matchups.
Another PLL season is in the books! The league has not had a title game without either the Whipsnakes or Chaos. But finally, in the fourth season, we got a new champion.
I hope you enjoyed watching all season long and got to cash some bets! You may have also picked up some helpful betting strategies from my articles that you can apply to future lacrosse seasons or other sports.
The National Lacrosse League is right around the corner. I’ll be around all season long, covering all the box lacrosse action for you.
Do you have any closing thoughts or questions from the PLL season? Opinions on the PLL free agency window or the upcoming PLL Championship Series? What things to look for in the forthcoming NLL season?
Feel free to shoot me a DM on Twitter anytime. I always love to hear from readers and talk lacrosse with anyone who will listen!
And as always, best of luck, and let’s cash some bets!