Saturday, April 15, 2006

My Heart Wants Detroit In The Playoffs

And my head wants Dallas.

I'm sick of watching our beloved Oilers get rolled by the Stars in the playoffs. But really, there aren't that many familiar faces on either team from the days when they really owned the Oilers. And in the spring of 2003 the Oilers outchanced, outshot, outplayed and outscored the Stars at 5on5 ... an anemic powerplay and a few weak goals let them down. But it wasn't the David vs Goliath show like in years previous, not to my mind anyways.

Anyhow, I've been reading some stuff around the internet, and I've been trying to convince myself that Detroit is the better choice. But I cannot quite do it.

Just ran the numbers, and I have EDM at 4.16, DET at 5.04 and DAL at 4.52. That means that with both teams relatively healthy, and played in a neutral site, DET would be favoured over the Oilers by 0.88 goals (5.04 minus 4.16).

Parlay that through for a best of seven series with EDM as the road team:

A 22% chance of the Oilers beating Detroit in a series.
A 35% chance of the Oilers beating Dallas in a series.

Those are the odds that you'll probably see from your bookie, or damn close to it, assuming that Shawn Horcoff and Chris Pronger don't get hit by a bus this weekend. :-) . And skinny margins to boot (likely practical holds of under 4% for this type of thing ... that's less than a slot machine). My recommendation would be to NOT bet on the Oilers with these lines, they'd have to be squeezed down a few percent in both cases before it's a good wager.

For any Western Conference playoff bound team ... it is obviously best to avoid both of these guys in the first round, but that ship has already sailed for the Oilers. It's down to choosing the lesser of the evils.

My vote goes to Dallas. And I doubt that I can convince any other Oiler fans to agree with me, but that's okay :-)

Step 1: Go Canucks!


Anonymous lowetide said...

Dallas? Geez that's a tough sell Vic. I trust your math and you're a rational sort but if Rolson lets in a softie in game one against the Stars....well you know the script.

4/15/2006 4:13 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Yeah, not sure that I'm entirely past the psychological hurdle either. It's a movie that I've seen one too many times. :-)

From a Pat LaForge point of view, DET is probably preferred. I mean even as big underdogs they've got a good chance to win at least a couple of games, and if Detroit goes on to the conference final (more likely than anyone else to accomplish that methinks) then I think the ticket buyers could be persuaded that there is merit in the "Next Year, Baby! (tm)" pitch.

OTOH, if they lose to Dallas the feeling of "nothing has changed, dammit. :( " ... that's going to be hard to get out of the minds of Oiler fans and customers.

4/15/2006 5:23 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

I believe it Vic. Mostly, I just don't like Dallas' goaltending very much. I can't believe that Armstrong figured it was such a great idea to sink that much money into an extension for average goaltending from Turco.

If the Oilers were to play Dallas, Roloson would outplay Turco. I'm convinced of that based on both the hard numbers and the ambiguous "bad goal" metric. Turco has as much potential for one softie per game as Roloson. Meanwhile, I'm less convinced that Roloson would outplay Legace.

What scares me though is that the Oilers have to worry about both Modano and Arnott and Dallas' bottom six isn't a pushover. The matchups don't look very good to my eye. Sure Horcoff's line would have an outside shot at outscoring Modano at ES, but there's no way Peca's line would do any better than say -2 against Arnott in a 5+ game series because they just won't score. The Euro-style +/- would read 0/2.

Perhaps the better approach would be to send Peca after Modano and then Horcoff on Arnott? The theory being that Peca would still have a decent shot at -2 or -3 against Modano at ES (again possibly no GF, but the GA will be down), while Horcoff's chances of outscoing Arnott are significantly better than against Modano. Does that make any sense?

Basically, it's a tough call. MacT would struggle to get decent matchups against Dallas, while the Oilers would win between the pipes. Vs. Detroit, they might matchup better at ES, but the special teams battle will be very tough to win and they probably don't get the edge in goal either. Detroit sounds worse to me.

4/15/2006 5:40 pm  
Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

I'd prefer Dallas to Detroit as well. I think Vic's odds might be a little low though-I'm still holding out some vague hope that the team is better offensively that it's seemed since Roloson has arrived.

4/15/2006 6:00 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


I dunno, all I've done here is use goal differential, corrected for opposition ... then use those corrected numbers and run the correction for opposition ad infinitum. Standard stuff.

I didn't make any adjustments for injuries here because the Oilers GF and GA were largely compiled with a roster in average health, as they are now. Same with Detroit.

Alternatively, you can look at the lines for the last two DET-EDM tilts. DET favoured -150 (58%) in EDM and -205 (65%) in DET. Bear in mind that the Wings were sitting Lang, Datsyuk and Schneider in that one. But we'll ignore that for now and just parlay those numbers through.

The result: EDM with a 25% chance of winning the series. As I say, this seems a little high because one would have expected DET to be a -230 or -235 favourite at home if two of Datsyuk/Lang/Schneider had played.

Any way you slice it, it's not good. If you really believe that Roloson + Samsonov - Reasoner makes the Oilers half a goal per game better, then obviously the gap narrows a lot. And I'd like to hope that's the case, but I'm not convinced that it is, not at all.

4/15/2006 7:13 pm  
Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

Any way you slice it, it's not good. If you really believe that Roloson + Samsonov - Reasoner makes the Oilers half a goal per game better, then obviously the gap narrows a lot. And I'd like to hope that's the case, but I'm not convinced that it is, not at all.

I think we both agree that Roloson makes them better. Through 60 this year, they're essentially a 0 team, a slight plus. Roloson hacks a big chunk off the GA. Even if you think Samsonov/Reasoner is a wash, you're still talking about a significantly better team.

The offence drying up is troubling but the other way to look at it is that they were paying the price for that streak in December when they were winning games 7-6. Not really, but you know what I mean-this is better than a 2.5 GPG offence, which is what it's been since they acquired Rolo.

A question for the lines-they can't be that bang on in terms of predicting who will win can they? That would basically depend on the market (bettors) valuing things correctly and I'm not at all convinced that they do that. If they don't set their lines to account for the biases within the market, they're leaving money on the table or opening themselves up to get drilled.

Case in point: the odds on the Yankees to win the World Series this year range between 3/1 and 4/1 according to oddschecker. The Cards are between 6/1 and 7/1. The A's float between 8.2/1 and 14/1. I don't know what mathematical contortions you'd have to go through to come up with those but they just aren't right-the vast majority of serious baseball watchers would tell you that the A's are roughly the equal of the Yanks (at worst) and that the Cards are the best team in a bad league. Joe Q. Bettor knows that Babe Ruth played for the Yankees and that Billy Beane's shit doesn't work in the playoffs.

A hockey example: right after the deadline, the Leafs and Oilers still had similar odds-you could get a higher payout betting on the Oilers at some places than the Leafs. The Leafs were essentially eliminated from the playoffs at that point already-my odds had the Oilers at a 70% shot and the Leafs at 15% as of March 7th. What would explain them having similar odds? The only thing that can explain it to me is altering the lines to account for the market.

4/15/2006 7:40 pm  
Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

The point of my post is that I'd look at the betting lines with a chary eye. I never gamble outside of the odd poker game but if I was and I could bet on the Oilers as if they were a 35% shot to beat Dallas, I'd probably make that bet.

4/15/2006 7:42 pm  
Anonymous lowetide said...

It's Motown.

4/15/2006 10:30 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

You are comparing apples and oranges, mudcrutch.

On the futures bets you are speaking of the margins are huge. These are aimed at casual bettors (punters, tourists, whatever you want to call them) and it is impossible for the betting house to lose. I checked EZ offshore for the 2006 world series. The theoretical profit margin here is 50.8%, in other words if you wanted to guarantee yourself a $100 payday (profit + stake) by wagering a different amount on each team, then you would have to wager $150.85. i.e. it's a fools bet. A good betting house that understands the psychology of the punters will probably do quite a bit better than 50% most of the time. The key is to generate volume here, it's a can't miss.

BTW: Betting houses prefer to talk in terms of hold instead of margin. Because it makes their theoretical profit appear smaller. So, like a slot machine, they talk in terms of how much of the wagered money that they "held", i.e. didn't return, as a percentage of the total wagered. 50.85/150.85 here, for a theoretical hold rate of 33.7%.

Makes sense, no?

Now we'll look at the game lines for MLB tomorrow:

Padres +128
Braves -138
Theoretical hold rate: 1.8%

Nationals +102
Marlins -112
Theoretical hold rate: 2.3%

Brewers +105
Mets -115
Theoretical hold rate: 2.2%


Completely different beasts.

Baseball game lines run at the tightest margins in sport. And obviously every bookie out there will either win or lose money with every game. Maybe one or two games on any given night where they win a wee bit no matter who wins, but that's rare.

Vegas is about as relevant to sports betting as Barbara Streisand is to pop culture. But the nice thing is that they are obligated to keep records for the IRS. So we know that on sports wagering in a typical year in Nevada the overall theoretical hold of 4.5%. So if a monkey randomly placed bets on every betting line available in a year, arbitrarily wagering enough to represent 0.1% of the total action on each line. Then the Vegas sports books would take a 4.5% hold on the monkey's total amount wagered over the course of the year.

The actual hold rates are generally much higher of course, around 6.5% ... they know the tendencies and the mistakes people will make. Or more likely they are wise enough to copy the guys that write the lines offshore.

The baseball holds are low because:
a.) They can calculate the probabilities accurately.
b.) They can predict the actions of the betting public accurately.

If you go to a hardcore baseball forum, and get the top 10 posters there to make pretend $100 wagers using the MLB game lines from an offshore house ... over the period of a month or so, betting on a few games a night using their analysis. My guess is that 9 or 10 will lose money, about 8 will lose more than the hold rate. And the average margin of loss will be around 5%. Seriously, give it a go.

I've heard stories, unsubstantiated, that the sports books have been routinely taking double digit profits off the Patriot and Piston playoff games over the past few years. This by setting the line just high enough to drive most of the action onto the opponent.

Of course any bookie worth his salt will claim to be losing money on whatever sport it is that you bet on. :-)


I don't know if there is much interest, but I thought I'd scratch the surface here anyways. And while there are a whack of people that know a helluva lot more than me, especially on specific sports ... one day I'll go into detail on the subject.

4/15/2006 10:33 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

lowetide said...

It's Motown.

Damn. Well this thread was a waste of time. :( Guess I should have waited for the outcome of the HNIC game.

4/15/2006 10:37 pm  
Anonymous MikeP said...

Nah, it's still cool seeing the reasons for and against. What else do we have to do til the playoffs satart anyway?

Personally I wanted Detroit, just because it'll be nice seeing some team other than Colorado or Dallas, and we've had nothing but since what, 1992 or 3? Besides, I can't stand Marty Turco ever since Staios got penalized because Turco came flying out and slid into him above the faceoff circle a few years ago. Even if the rest of the Stars go to New York and Turco stays, I'll never want to see Dallas in the playoffs again. Irrational, I know, but there it is.

4/16/2006 7:56 am  
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