To those of you who bet solely with bookmakers you'd probably be saying 'yeah so what? They still lost'. The answer to that question is 4 words. 'Betting Exchanges' and 'Lay Betting'. The combination of Betting Exchanges, Lay betting, heavy favourites and near upsets offers the perfect environment to make a profit regardless of the outcome. By placing a few well-timed wagers you can guarantee yourself a profit in the match. This is known as 'Greening Up'.
Let's look at how to do this. In simple terms there are two main ways to Green Up in the NBA, when there is a clear favourite and a big priced outsider.
Backing the Outsider: You've done your research and think the underdog might give a bit of cheek, so you place $100 on them at $5.00 before tip-off. They start well and are level at 3 quarter time. Their price has now come in and you can 'Lay Them' at $4.40 for $105. Now, if they go on to win, you'll pocket $500 but payout $462 for a $38 profit. If they lose, you'll be down the original $100, but you'll pick up the $105 stake from the Lay bet, profiting you $5. Guaranteed profit regardless of the next 3 quarters. If the scores were level at the start of the 4th quarter you might have been able to lay them at $3 to increase your profit.
Laying the short favourite: Odds of $1.01 before the match, you can lay them for $10 meaning that if they win, you'll lose $10, but if they lose you'll pocket $1000. Whilst this in itself can produce some nice results, a nice even start to the match can open up the betting opportunities for you. If the scores are level at half time for example, the odds on the favourite might blow out to $1.10 to win the match. You can back them for $950. So here your total outlay is $960 and you will either collect $1000 or $1045 giving you a profit of either $40 or $85.
How to Identify suitable matchesThis is not always clear cut, but because your initial lay bet is so small at least your risk is going to be minimal. Some things to look out for are short favourites on the road, or coming off a physical match the night before. Or perhaps they have an important match the following night with a fellow title contender and might be focussed on that too early. Similarly, look for outsiders that need to prove a point. Perhaps they are fresher and returning home after a road trip, or have copped some flak in the media for recent performances. Perhaps their starting 5 are ok but they lack depth in the squad meaning they'll be competitive for the first quarter before starting to suffer in the second when they give the bench players their time.
But for those of you familiar with basketball you'll know that teams go on scoring runs at various stages of the match and this will affect prices after each point. Going on a 6-0 scoring run will swing the price one way and then going on an 0-6 run will swing the prices the other way again. The price movements in an NBA game are so frequent that pretty much EVERY NBA game will have opportunities to Green Up if you time your bets suitably.
Greening up can only be done with any degree of success through Betting Exchanges because unlike bookies, they allow you to both Back and Lay selections.
There are a few betting exchanges around like Betfair, Matchbook, Betdaq and Smarkets with each having their strong points. Betfair has a high amount of liquidity but their commission structure means they are not the best option for the average punter, and can actually charge premium commission to winning punters. Competitor Smarkets welcomes winning punters and offers a loyalty program which can actually reduce the amount of commission paid, which is already lower than Betfair and most competitors. Matchbook advertise the lowest commission but it's also applicable to losing bets as well as winning bets, so in the end you are no better off. Smarkets can struggle for market liquidity which doesn't help its cause.
After comparison it's hard to go past Smarkets for sheer value. Low commission, good market liquidity, loyalty points, welcome winning punters not closing their accounts like sportsbooks, and a user friendly interface makes betting easier.
Best of Luck throughout the 2014/2015 season.