“We are seeing bigger bets on the Eagles being matched by a larger number of smaller bets on the Patriots, which is an interesting indicator of who the ‘sharps’ and ‘squares’ are betting on, respectively,” he wrote in an e-mail.
O’Malia said he, too, sees more and more people from the stock market moving into online sports betting.
“They are literally the futures traders of old,” he said. “ … It’s the same mentality and the probabilities change the same way. A guy who knows how to trade stocks knows how to trade sports.”
While the systematic approach of economics and arbitrage theory may be helpful, other gamblers say they rely on instincts developed over years of careful observation.
Mark Royal, 31, an examiner with the Missouri Department of Insurance, said he made $40,000 last year “shopping around different online companies and spotting bad numbers.”
“Some books don’t do a good job of staying on top of the product,” said Royal, who spoke with MSNBC.com on the condition he be identified by a pseudonym. “They don’t notice injuries and don’t notice teams that are hot. At the beginning of the NBA season I got the (Phoenix) Suns at 15-1 to win the Pacific Division and I got the Sonics at 20-1 to win their division.
Royal, who funnels much of his action through the BetWWTS.com site in Antigua, said he will probably have $10,000 riding on the Super Bowl, much of it on proposition bets. He particularly likes several propositions revolving around the performance of Eagles receiver Terrell Owens, who is planning to play in the game just seven weeks after suffering a broken fibula and damaging an ankle ligament.
Taking a stand against Owens
Royal is wagering Owens won’t score a touchdown or gain 100 yards or more in the game.
“He’s not going to be a factor at all,” he said confidently, several days before Owens boasted he’ll “very effective” in a press conference. “Those numbers are way out of whack.”
Royal said he also may wager during the Qq Poker Online game, but only if he sees a situation where he believes an online bookmaker is off target on the odds.
“I’ll keep the computer on and if I think I see a bad number I’ll play, but I want to enjoy the game to. I grew up a sports fan and I don’t want to tarnish that.”
Enjoying the game also is important to Seth. S., a 24-year-old banking industry worker from Hebron, Ky. At least some of that enjoyment will derive from the fact that he now has a computer in the same room as his television, and can make bets without racing from room to room.
“I used to wear a path in the carpet,” said Seth, who spoke on condition he not be fully identified. “It was down a hallway and two 90 degree turns, first a right and then a left.”
He said he will probably have between $1,000 and $2,000 riding on the game through the Costa Rica-based BoDog.com.
“I like the Eagles plus the 7,” he said. “I’ll also probably find some sort of play on the total and play about 10 or so of the proposition bets.”
Seth also offers a cautionary tale about the risks of wagering that is available 24/7.