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 Astros need to beat up on the lowly Rangers. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Collectively so far this season the Astros would not make for very good garbage men. Meaning they haven't been so good at taking out the trash. Swept in a series at Detroit when the Tigers were terrible, swept at Minute Maid Park by the sorry Orioles, swept in an early season series at the Rangers. Presently the Rangers are an atrocity. A nine game losing streak has them 35-62, buried deeply in last place in the American League West, 23 games behind the Astros. So the Astros need to whip up on them in this weekend's three game set, before the Astros head west for a three city road trip with stops in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

15. The number of home runs Jose Altuve has hit over his last 37 games. Multiply by four and that's a 60 homers in 148 games pace. Over those 37 games, Altuve is batting just .242. But slugging .577.

.029. Carlos Correa's batting average dating back 10 games played. One hit in his last 34 at bats. 14 strikeouts and just one walk over the stretch. That is what you call a funk. Certainly not a way to curry 300 million dollar contract offers.

The Rangers have just two 100 loss seasons in their history, their first two seasons after becoming the Rangers upon moving from Washington D.C. In 1972 the Ted Williams managed squad went 62-100, Ted quit, and the next year the Rangers finished 57-105. If the Astros sweep them this weekend, the Rangers will be on pace to lose 105 games.

It will be a decade ago this October that the Rangers came as close to winning a World Series as any team has ever come without winning the Series. In 2011 the Rangers carried a three games to two lead into game six at St. Louis. The Rangers led game six 7-5 with two on, two out, and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth. The Cardinals' David Freese drilled a ball toward the base of the right field wall. Rangers' right fielder Nelson Cruz didn't make an error but didn't play the ball well, going back awkwardly and reaching out at the last second as if afraid of the wall. It went for a two run triple to tie the game. Two innings later Freese hit a game winning homer to force game seven.

The inning before that the Rangers again came within one strike of winning it all. A Josh Hamilton two run homer had the Rangers up 9-7 going to the bottom of the 10th. The Cards got within 9-8. With the tying run on second and two out, Rangers' Manager Ron Washington opted to intentionally walk Albert Pujols. Albert was still a tremendous player in 2011 (his last with the Redbirds), but he was not better than Lance Berkman that season, definitely not against right-handed pitching. Walking Pujols brought up Berkman to face right-hander Scott Feldman (a matchup of former Astro and future Astro). Berkman lined a two-two pitch to center field tying the game 9-9, ahead of Freese's 11th inning walk-off homer. One of the most incredible games in World Series history.

NCAA

Quite the story hitting that Texas and Oklahoma may be plotting to bolt the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference. That neither UT, OU, nor the SEC denied it has smoke billowing. The Sooners have won the last six Big 12 football championships. The Longhorns last won in 2009. Oklahoma St., Kansas St., Baylor, TCU, all have more recently won at least a share of the conference title. An SEC UT could be looking at being in a division with Oklahoma, Alabama, LSU, and Texas A&M. UT marketing folks should be exploring a huge sponsorship deal with 7-Eleven. You know, Big Gulp. But as usual, follow the money.

The week ahead…

Wednesday: The Texans open training camp! Wait. Delete the exclamation point. Whither Deshaun Watson?

Thursday: The NBA Draft. Unless the Rockets pull off a thunderbolt of a trade to move up to number one and select Cade Cunningham, the winds of opinion are blowing in the direction of the Rockets taking wing Jalen Green second overall pick. That would be fine. Green is generally considered the most potential-laden explosive scorer on the board. The Rockets can use just about everything, a premium wing scorer would be excellent.

Friday: The MLB trade deadline. Does James Click bolster the Astros' shaky bullpen. The Astros have also been linked to Marlins' center fielder Starling Marte. Growing from his wretched start Myles Straw has been plenty acceptable. Free agent-to-be Marte would be a notable upgrade.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. First big beat the deadline win goes to the Rays. 41-year-old designated hitter Nelson Cruz still mashes. Simple frame of reference: he's been notably better than Yordan Alvarez this year.

2. The delayed by a year 2020 Summer Olympics are underway. Any interest at all?

3. Baseball's greatest Cruzes: Bronze-Jose Jr. Silver-Nelson Gold-Jose Sr.

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