GAMBLING GUIDE

How to profit off the Rockets in the playoffs

James Harden and the Rockets are just under 4-1 to win the title. But there is a better way to play. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Although football is behind us, some would consider this as the prime time in sports. With the conclusion of March Madness, the push for the postseason in the NBA, and Opening day approaching, the action is plenty for gamblers.

I had a friend ask me the other day about putting money on the Rockets to win the NBA Championship this year, and I hesitated to answer once I looked at the futures odds market.

Odds to according to Vegas Insider

Golden State Warriors    6/5
Houston Rockets    3.8/2
Cleveland Cavaliers    10/1
Toronto Raptors    12/1
Boston Celtics    30/1
Oklahoma City Thunder    40/1
Philadelphia 76ers    60/1
Portland Blazers    60/1
San Antonio Spurs    60/1
Washington Wizards    100/1
Utah Jazz    200/1
Indiana Pacers    400/1
Milwaukee Bucks    400/1
Minnesota Timberwolves    450/1
Miami Heat    500/1
New Orleans Pelicans    500/1
Denver Nuggets    1000/1
Los Angeles Clippers    1000/1

The Rockets currently sit as the second favorites to win the NBA title. According to Vegas Insider, they only trail the Golden State Warriors, and betting on Houston to be this year's champion will pocket you about $150-190 for every $100 you wager depending on the spot you wager at. Although some might think as this as a decent payout, I tend to think a different approach might be the best idea. Especially if you play through a local that adds the extra premium when players bet the home team.

At +150-+190 on the future wager, if you were to bet the Rockets series by series you might come out with a better payout.

For example: let's suppose the Rockets and Warriors are on a collision course that leads to the Western Conference Finals. When they do meet, will the Rockets even be favored although they hold home court?  Since the 2014 season, The Rockets have fallen to the Warriors 11 times while only winning on three occasions. They did manage to win the heads-up series this year, maybe giving Houston some added confidence.  Let's presume the defending champions are fully healed, the Super Team of the modern era Golden State Warriors should be slightly favored in the Western Conference finals, let's guess leaving Houston at the +125-140 range (projected). Let's suppose the Rockets pull off the upset and advance to the Finals against either Boston Cleveland or Toronto, how much would Houston be favored vs. either Eastern Conference opponent? Let's guess around the -130 to -170 range. These are all estimated figures, but using these numbers betting the series individually would ultimately net you more profit, rather than making a future bet. This can be classified as a mechanical parlay.

Using the Mechanical Parlay Method; you wagered $100 on the Warriors series in the conference finals at let's say +125, Rockets win giving you a bankroll of $225 (100+125) going into the finals. Now when you wager that $225 at anywhere between -130-170, let's suppose worse case scenario -170, your payout would be 225+ 132.35= $357.35
If you were to have bet the Rockets on the future bet at +190, or even up to +225, you wouldn't profit as much as breaking it down individually (+290/+325).

When gambling, every part of the juice matters and can ultimately make you a winning or losing gambler. Stay sharp and look for any angles you can take advantage of, or in this case, not get taken advantage of.

For any questions or comments reach me at @JerryBoKnowz on twitter.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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