Power ranking methods that will get you thinking like oddsmakers

Power ranking methods that will get you thinking like oddsmakers

LAS VEGAS — An annual meeting scheduled for Chris Andrews’ office March 15 was called off. Selection Sunday never happened this year, so Andrews had no need to huddle with his inner circle of oddsmakers to post opening lines for the NCAA Tournament.

Andrews, the South Point sportsbook director, holds a similar meeting before opening college football lines in the summer — another tradition that is postponed.

But a meeting of the minds will happen again someday, and Andrews’ guest list always includes Richie Baccellieri and Vinny Magliulo, each with about 30 years of oddsmaking experience.

The drill goes something like this: Andrews presents a game, and each oddsmaker puts forth his number on the matchup. Magliulo might say 6.5, Baccellieri 6 and Andrews 7.5. The three hash it out and decide on the opening line.

“Vinny has his methodology, and I’m sure Richie has a totally different methodology, and that’s good,” Andrews said. “We don’t want to all agree on the number.”

That’s a simple example of how a point spread originates. But how each oddsmaker arrives at his number is a much more complex process that involves his set of power ratings.

No handicapper or oddsmaker uses the same formula. Envision the nuances of body language and facial expressions or the uniqueness in fingerprints and snowflakes. Everyone takes at least a slightly different path.

Every sports bettor should make his or her own power ratings, which are especially valuable when wagering on college basketball and college football and dealing with the hundreds of teams necessary to handicap.

“It’s time-consuming, and you have got to be committed,” Baccellieri said. “It’s not difficult. It’s supposed to be fun, and people are supposed to do their own work.”

The first step in making your own numbers on games is to develop ratings as a guide to gauge the comparative strength of teams.

“It’s a numerical value applied to each team,” Magliulo said. “How do you come to the numerical value? Not every sport is the same.”

Baccellieri, a respected professional bettor and former sportsbook director, has been making college football ratings for almost 30 years. In the beginning, he studied Jeff Sagarin’s ratings (Sagarin.com) published in USA Today and used those numbers to help build his own system.

“Find a set that works, make a set that works for you and make your adjustments,” Baccellieri said. “Eventually over the course of time, whether it’s one season or two seasons, you have your own ratings. I don’t think there are any secrets.”

LSU finished last football season with a rating of 80, the highest number on Baccellieri’s chart. LSU’s rating to start the season was 69, but what factors went into that number?

“I would look at about 10 categories, and I would give each of the 10 a rating,” he said.

Each position group — such as offensive line, defensive line, linebackers and wide receivers — gets evaluated and assigned a rating on a 1-to-10 scale. The best position groups rate about 7, Baccellieri said, and “the best teams are somewhere in the 70 range.”

Alabama and Clemson started the season above 70. The worst teams started with ratings in the high 30s to mid-40s.

“I have such a strong set of ratings for these teams for the past 20 years, and they don’t change that much, believe it or not,” Baccellieri said. “I don’t have to do a lot of adjusting. A few teams over-perform and a few underperform, and you make those adjustments as the season goes on. But teams go back to their norms.”

Similar to most handicappers and oddsmakers, Baccellieri uses his ratings from the previous season as a base for the next season. Beginners making them from scratch need to first determine a ratings scale and then prioritize categories that go into building the rating.

Magliulo starts by rating the top teams and works his way down. He examines factors including last year’s finish, the coaching staff, quarterbacks, experience, the quality of the depth chart and more.

Andrews and Magliulo are old-school in their approaches. The new school is analytics. Math-based handicappers typically develop algorithms to calculate the strength of teams. But few bettors are qualified to work for NASA.

Magliulo advises beginning bettors to start by developing ratings on the NFL, which is easier with only 32 teams, or by focusing on making ratings on one college conference and expand from there.

“As a bettor,” Magliulo said, “you look to see what the oddsmaker posts and how it compares to your number.”

That’s the reason to make power ratings, which are the starting point to everything.

Source : VSiN Link

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