TSI 008: Jason Logan from Covers.com unveils sports betting strategies (NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA)
Today I’ve got a special episode for you, as this is the first time that I’m having a guest on the show, and this is going to happen more and more often in the future. I’ll be talking to people involved in the sports betting industry, like sportsbooks’ line mangers or smart professional gamblers, so that we pick their brains in order to gain some great tips that will contribute to the growth of your bankroll.
Episode #8 of “The Sports Investor Podcast” features Jason Logan, who is senior managing editor at Covers.com. He provides us with lots of great pieces of information that you should keep in mind, including:
- How to bet NHL totals in the first few weeks of the regular season;
- The impact of home plate umpires on baseball totals;
- How to bet NFL totals in windy or snowy conditions;
- A system on NBA playoff games that has yielded amazing results over the past several years.
Make sure you stay tuned until the end because it looks like he saved his best secret for last.
Without further ado, here is the interview I did with Jason Logan from Covers.com, enjoy it guys!
Full transcript of the interview (a big THANK YOU to one of my faithful followers, Thomas Potrebny from Norway, for doing this!):
MJ: Hi guys. Today I'm super stoked to have my very first guest on The Sports Investor podcast and I'm even more excited considering it's a guy who has a top job at a major website that provides tons of value to sports bettors around the globe: covers.com. My guest is Jason Logan, managing editor at covers.com. Hi Jason and how are you doing today?
JL: I'm doing well I'm honoured to be your first guest. Thank you for that big introduction.
MJ: You're very welcome. Jason is constantly publishing informative article full of great tips related to sports betting. And today I'll do my best to pick his brain so that you guys who are listening to this session will gain some great advice in order to become more savvy sports investors which is the main objective on this broadcast really. I want to pick up the interview by thanking personally Jason not only for accepting to chat with me today but also for publishing some of my articles on covers.com a few months ago. So, thanks a lot Jason I really appreciate what you did.
JL: Thank you for the great content.
MJ: You're welcome. So first of all, tell us about your career path and what led you to become the senior managing editor at Covers.com?
JL: Well I started out at covers about a year out of university, was contemplating going back, and a friend of mine worked on the development side, he was on the tech side of things and he mentioned that they were looking to build an editorial team. I went and interviewed for, at the time what was their position called content editor and essentially, we worked shift work so we worked 12 hour shifts we'd work 9:00 in the morning till 9:00 at night and then there would be a crew that would come in for 9:00 at night. We had a 24-hour news crew in there. So, you would work like two 12-hour days and then you would work two or three 12 hour night and then you'd have four and five days off. As a young man out of university this being my first real job. It was great. You were immersed in sports and then you also had these little brief vacations things along the way. It was a great starting job. And from there I got promoted into a fulltime writing job covering college basketball and baseball two seasons. They just kind of duck tail into each other which is great. So, I did that for a while and then from there I moved on and became an associate editor which was still writing but not as much, more coordinating content and doing more administrative stuff. Eventually, I was offered the job to head up our editorial team as the senior managing editor and now I don't get to do any of the fun stuff now I don't get to write too much anymore. I get one NFL call in the week so that's my zen right there, getting it all out of me then, as a writer. It has been a fun ride and that's how I really got into it.
MJ: What university did you go to?
JL: I was at Dalhousie and Kings College in Halifax. Halifax is where the covers head office is but right now Im actually in Ontario.
MJ: OK. So, you were telling me that you went to Las Vegas for a week number one in the NFL, so what did you do over there and what did you see that may be of interest to my listeners?
JL: We have great partnerships with just about every single sportsbook operator in Las Vegas and one of our strongest partnerships is with MGM Resorts International. They have like 12 different properties up and down the Las Vegas Strip. The Mirage is their mother ship-, their home base as far as sports and race, and so we have a partnership with them. We go to the Mirage every big event of the sports betting season: the NFL week 1, March Madness, Super Bowl, Cinco de Mayo, Bowl season and we hold the big events. We kind of do everything. We have an event where we showcase the website to people in the sportsbook, it’s a great opportunity to meet with sports bettors’ face on and get some feedback. So, there’s a lot of people out there that love our site and use our site. I love to pick their brain and find out how we can make our website better and our products better we did some live streaming while we were there so we had our Covers experts’ guys in Vegas who are professional handicappers picking their brain about the NFL betting strategy college football betting strategy. We talked to the heads of Race and Sports for MGM Resorts which is great and it's an honour to get those guys time and picking their brains into what went into the lines and then myself and Patrick even did a pre-game show before that week one kick-off, touching on everything from action reports line moves injury reports where the sharp money was coming, just basically everything that people need to make an educated wager and then hopefully they win some money.
MJ: So, let’s start with more general tips or advice related to sports betting: On September 10. You tweeted about something called "reverse line moves" which can give insight into sharp action. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about; a reverse the line move is when the vast majority of the public is betting on a certain team. And yet the line moves in the other direction. So, Jason what's your personal opinion about this betting strategy how much do you believe in it?
JL: I believe in it because the sportsbooks believe in it - it's not fictional thing it's in their numbers. We have “consensus” on covers so if you come to covers and you look at our scoreboard, or you go to our consensus pages, you can see the percentage of bets on particular teams.
MJ: That's taken from bets on a specific sportsbook?
JL: They actually all come through our content site and we also have numbers coming through sports books as well. From that you can see the consensus number and then we also have live odds that update every minute you can find out when lines are moving so basically you want to weigh those consensus numbers against the line moves, just like you said. And those are those are the actual numbers so if the sportsbooks are moving in on it, you'd better believe it, because that's what you have to go off of, that's the odds that you have to bet. There are certain groups and certain bettors out there that sportsbooks will respect, their particular opinion on a game, more than they would just the general public. If you look, for example this week, Jacksonville at the New York Jets, this game opened with the Jaguars -4.5 coming off a big win in London. According to our covers consensus 69 % of the bets are on the Jaguars right now. However, this line has gone from Jaguar's -4.5 to -3. So while there might not be as many bets on the Jets, those bets might be bigger bets.
MJ: That's good because I just published my weekly article and I picked the jets.
JL: There you go! It's a great insight knowing where the sharp money is going. It's more of an alert system too because if you're looking to play that game and you can say OK well what am I missing? Am I missing something? If you if you have an opinion on the Jaguars and you like them in that game, then why are the "more informed" betters taking the jets? And you can do a deeper dive beyond that: Maybe it's a travel issue, maybe it's an injury, maybe it's cluster injuries, some things that wouldn't normally grab your eye. Not a star player but maybe there's two linemen down or maybe they are sitting out in the secondary.
MJ: OK. let's talk about the NFL. So, I heard the podcast episode where you mention that that might be a good idea under certain conditions to bet the over when there was quite a bit of snow on the field, whereas wind should make one consider taking the under, especially with good passing attacks. Can you elaborate on that, please?
JL: Sure. Well as we know you don't see it too much right now, we're seeing a lot of heat and humidity this time of year. But as we get into the season and as we hit December we're going to see snow fall have an impact on the games. Especially when it's a significant amount in a short amount of time. The field now, you know, they plow them, they're heated, so for the most part the snow doesn't play a huge factor. But when you have a big dump (of snow) like a few years back, in 2013 or 2014, think it was Lions and Eagles, there was a huge dump of snow that came very quickly. It was kept up throughout the game as well. And we saw some big plays we saw some offense in that game. The "knee jerk reaction" is that bad weather will permit bad offense.
MJ: Most people probably bet the under.
JL: Exactly, like I said - it's a bit of a knee jerk reaction, but if you look at those games in which the field conditions are very slick, the ball carrier has the advantage. If I'm running towards you and you're a tackler I know where I'm going, I know which way I'm going to cut - you have no idea. So, you know you've got to adjust to my movement and adjusting that on a frozen field full of snow is not that easy, so you'll see especially some shorter passing attacks from solid running games. They may have an advantage in the snowy weather just because they have that advantage with footing, they know where they're going it's pretty much that simple.
JL: As it pertains to wind, wind is the worst thing for any outdoor sport. If you look at baseball, wind there is a huge factor, especially when betting totals. In football too, wind can be pretty destructive, cross winds, downward winds, if the teams going into the wind. But again, like you had mentioned, teams that rely on deep passing - teams like the saints - if they run into a wind blowing into their face or blowing everything off kilter, then they have to change their main plan of attack. So, it really depends on the team. If it's a high-powered passing attack: then maybe you want to look to the under, because they have to shorten up their playbook and they're not used to that. If you see wind at like 12-15 mph and up, that's when you want to start looking at: what is the makeup of this team and how can the wind ruin it.
MJ: Do you have any more NFL betting strategies to share with us? Or maybe some factors that may be underestimated by most gamblers?
JL: Well one thing, I kind of alluded to it, is cluster of injuries. Cluster injuries are really big like losing two or more players at a particular spot or position. You always want to put a value on players, so that when Odell Beckham was out in week one versus the Cowboys, you know we asked oddsmakers "how much is he worth?". He could be worth two points or two and a half points. But those numbers were really dictated by where the betting market takes it afterwards. They could adjust two points but then the betting market may say “well Odell's out than we’re betting against the Giants” and they may run that line move all the way up to three and a half, or four. But it's those big name, especially with the popularity of fantasy football, those big names draw a lot of attention. The guys that (aren’t “big names”) are the guys that are in the trenches: the offensive linemen, the defensive linemen, even guys in the secondary. You saw the Dallas Cowboys in week two: They had some injuries in the secondary, they got very very thin. They had some players playing out of position and they were playing in the thin air in Denver - so that has an impact on their conditioning and their durability. And we saw them gas just because they had some cluster injuries there and it was kind of a perfect storm against their secondary. So yeah, I would take into account those cluster injuries look and see: does the defence have some missing pieces up front? How does that match up against this team’s offensive line or is their secondary very thin and it's left them small, and now they're playing against a big receiving corps that's quite good.
MJ: It may not be the big names that are out?
JL: Exactly, that's where you're going to find the value - digging deep into those non-fantasy players that’s probably the best way to explain it. They're on your fantasy team the public is watching that, if they're not there's probably value there to be had.
MJ: Let's move on to Major League Baseball. We had a discussion a few months ago where you were telling me about how the public underestimated the impact of the home plate umpire when betting totals. Tell us a bit more about that topic please.
JL: Sure. Well covers are one of the few sites out there that keep betting statistics on specific umpires. You can find out home and away, how teams fare with them. The more important stat in that is the over/under for umps, because it is a very subjective sport. Strike zones vary from home plate umpire to home plate umpire. One may have a wider strike zone that benefits the pitcher, if you have a pitcher that likes to paint the corners of the strike zone and get batters chasing all over the place, and you know an umpire that has a bigger strike zone is beneficial to that pitcher. However, on the flipside of that if you have a pitcher that has a tighter strike zone and likes to squeeze the pitcher makes it harder for them to paint those corners than what you're going to find with one that's throwing a lot of balls which serves to equate into runners which start to equate into runs. But then also, two; they start to get frustrated and start leaving some pitches over the plate and then those turn into hits pretty quick, so you definitely want to look at who's umping the game and then match that up against the pitcher.
MJ: And you can see those on Covers.com?
JL: Yeah, you can find this right on our MLB page. There's umpire stats and you can see if they were behind home plate this season we'll have batting numbers for them. It's really an untapped gem: if you talk to any professional official gamblers they'll tell you they'll look at match ups, look at pitching, and then they go right to umpires. It just makes sense, I mean, this is the guy that dictates every single play of the game.
MJ: Well, nice and do you have more strategies when it comes down to betting on baseball?
JL: Yeah. We have a great forum section a very engaged community and they love to share their systems and they love to share their strategies. We try to feature these every few weeks, especially when we find a really good one. One strategy that we did find, it was great, and actually a couple of our guys at the office were betting it and they were making a ton of money off of it, but it is a specific situational spot bet for baseball: You bet on MLB teams in the second half of the season who are at least 10 games over 500 and beginning a home stand of at least six games. So, if you have a winning team in the second half of the season (this is over now but remember for next year), the second half of the season at least 10 games over 500 and they're beginning the home stand of at least six games so they're going to have at least the next two series at home. Basically, you play this for whatever your unit size is whether it's 100 bucks or a dime or whatever, you play this for one unit win and then you get out. You're betting on them to get at least one win and then get out. So, it doesn't matter what their money line side is, if it's the Dodgers at home and their minus 250 are still betting on them minus 250 to get a win. Essentially if they lose the first game then you chase your losses every time so you double up your wager. If you if you lose 100 bucks in the first bet then you're betting 200 to win that back and get your unit profit. You chase this until you get your win. Now with these teams it usually doesn't take too long to get that win at home. However, there is a worst-case scenario where they don't win at all during those six games and you're completely depleted. However, like I said the guys at our office were playing this and cleaning up on it. They didn't see too many winning home teams in the second half of the season playing a series of these six games at home going two or three games, without a win. They usually picking that win up at least in the first game or the second game.
MJ: Will you be more worried if the baseball team had already clinched their division, for instance?
JL: Yes, you do see this and you'll notice too that some lines will be delayed because they don't know the team. Once a team clinches there is a bit of relief, there's a bit of a let down. And then also to the manager start saying, OK well, we have half a week left, how can I rest? I want to make sure my bullpen is good and rested for the playoffs. I want to make sure my top outfielders are rested for the playoffs if I have guys that are banged up. We don't need to press anymore, we've got the wildcard locked we've got our division pennant locked up, where can I rest up so that we're at top form come the postseason? You'll see teams, after clinching a division, have a bit of a stumble because the pressure is off them right now and they're not necessarily thinking about playing those final games of the regular season. They're thinking about their first round or wildcard position, so that's one thing to look for is as these teams’ clinch spots is going against them in the next few games.
MJ: Great, and for all Hockey fans listening to this podcast do you have any tips on how to approach any kind of betting. Again, with some specific winning strategies?
JL: Sure. I'm not a huge hockey fan but when I was growing up, I was a big Mario Lemieux fan, and when he retired I kind of stopped watching hockey. However, I am a penguin fan so I was engaged during the playoff last year and good to see them do as well as they did. Like I said, not a huge hockey better but one thing that has caught my eye over the last few years is: Unders early into the season. We did a little stats digging there and the under is actually 318-259 in September-October, that's a 55 percent under winner, going back to the 2013-14 season. You know you can you can look at: maybe players aren't in full game shape yet, maybe goaltenders are a bit sharper than the offense at this time of year, you also have a lot of player movement going on in hockey right now. And so those teams need to create some chemistry and that may delay the offensive efficiency through those opening months of the season really. It makes sense.
MJ: So you said betting the under in September?
JL: Betting the under in the first month or so. So it's one of those trends you know you're going to want to pay attention to early on.
MJ: OK. And then let's conclude with the NBA: One phenomenon that we see happening more and more often every year is the resting of star players. For example: we've seen the Cavaliers resting it's the big three: Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love at the Clippers on March 18, and one week earlier it was the Golden State Warriors, resting three top guys. So obviously that led to a huge line move - it went from -2 to -13.5 on the Cavs-Clippers game. Now do you have any advice on how to approach NBA gambling having this new phenomenon in mind?
JL: Sure, well one of the rare advantage we have over the oddsmakers is that we can choose which games we want to bet and which ones we don't. They have to put odds up on every single game, and we can choose which ones you want to bet. Now if there's rumblings, covers.com is a great resource for that, we try to stay on top of that when players are going to be out and get that get that news out as soon as possible so you can get your bet in before that big line move. But also, if there are rumblings that LeBron might sit, then you don't have to bet that game. You don't have to take it. However, I think we're going to see less of this this season, more so in the Western Conference because it's going to be so competitive in the West. The Golden State Warriors are still very much the front runners in that conference but Houston improved, we've seen what Oklahoma City has done, the San Antonio Spurs are still no pushover, even teams like Minnesota - they added Jimmy Butler boasted their backcourt a bit. They have some really great young talent on that team, Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns that are coming into form and becoming some of the elite players in the NBA, that I don't think you're going to see it as much in the West because it is going to be a tighter race. In the east we essentially have Cleveland and Boston, the Raptors might be a third team in the east but still there are still steps behind those two teams. So, I think you're maybe going to see that more in the east as those teams separate from the pack.
MJ: Cleveland did not seem to care that much to finish first or second.
JL: No and you saw that Boston actually finished first in the East last year and had home court advantage for that Eastern Conference final, but it didn't matter. I always like to be contrarian in those instances and say "OK well you know if LeBron's not playing then these other guys know that they've got to pick it up tonight". We always see this with the San Antonio Spurs. The San Antonio Spurs would, at least when Tim Duncan was still there, and Ginobili and Parker they would have some nights where they would just completely rest their whole big three and the line would shift dramatically, and their bench players would come out and play their butts off and not only win but cover that spread.
MJ: Do you have any more tips pertaining to NBA betting?
JL: Sure, one that was just fantastic for the playoffs, so you're going to have to wait a little bit to use this one: Basically, teams that fall behind 0-2 in a series, you play their first half line in game three. So, if they're behind 0-2 and they're going home or they've lost two at home and they're going away, you play their first half spread.
MJ: They'll be desperate.
JL: And the whole kind of science behind it is that they're down 0-2 - they're going to come out with a bunch of pap there, their backs against the wall so at least for that first half they're going to give a really good effort. This has been a very profitable system, or spotbet, to go off of. Last year it went 9-3 ATS in the NBA playoffs. It petered off a bit at the end of the conference finals, in the NBA finals we actually saw an opportunity for it, and there, it was 9-0 to start and then in the conference finals and the NBA finals it was 0-3. So, we jumped on that one late, but last two years prior 2016-2015, it was 19-0!
MJ: What, 19-0?
JL: Yes, 19- 0 against the first half spread. That was game threes and it was a 10-0 during the 2016 playoffs. If you go back to 2007 it was 64-31-1, which is 67 percent for the first half Game three spread, after losing the opening two games of a series.
MJ: I suppose you could also bet the first quarter?
JL: Yeah, most places will offer those lines but it depends on your sportsbook if they want offer the first quarter line or the or the half time line, but we just went off half time line. That was a bit of a golden goose right there as far as NBA it's a great trend. In my 13-14 years of diving into these sports betting stats it's one of the more impressive trends that i've seen.
MJ: Those are amazing numbers!
JL: Yeah, as far as return and then also it makes sense, it's not like one of these weird trends where the Saints are great on Monday night. OK, well why are the saints great on Monday nights? There's no real reason behind it. But this one particular trend, you said it right away the second you heard it, you knew why this was a good trend.
MJ: Yeah. I picked the Skins last week and some guy was telling me that on primetime television games they had a really bad record over the past 10 years. I mean the players changed so much over that ten years…
JL: Yeah, I think that was funny. We did our live stream Sunday morning and that was the one where I said, "this is a fade the public game" as it seemed everyone really liked the Raiders in this game but any informed better really likes Washington. Washington kind of gets a bum rap but look at their ATS numbers (I'll have to pull them up now) they've actually had a quite impressive record over the last few games simply because they are a team that is constantly undervalued. They're 10-2 ATS and their last 12 road games and they're going to Kansas City this week, this is the Washington Redskins, and 12-5 ATS in their last 17 games overall.
MJ: Do you know why they would be undervalued?
JL: Well I think, one: they play in a division that does have some kind of public darlings to it, I mean, you have the Dallas Cowboys and you have the giants, who are very popular teams. And then two: this is a division two that's been very hard to read over the last few years, just two years ago the Redskins won this division and then you had a team like Dallas finished at the very bottom, and then the very next year they flip flopped. It's a very tight division it's tough to get a handle on these teams when you just look at those win-loss standings. You have to look beyond that, look at their losses look at their wins, how close were they- and that's where you find the value. I think Washington is just one of those franchises that may kind of have a stigma about it, you've got to look beyond win loss record, when loss record is the first thing that everyone's eyes go to. You've got to go deeper than that, you've got to look at "OK well how did they lose these games?”. If a quarterback threw a bunch of interceptions in his last game, OK we'll take a look at those interceptions: Were they just bad throws? Or were they throws that hit a receiver and the hand popped up in the air and got picked off, or were they just a chuck at the end of the game? Look at Sean Watson last week, he had two interceptions against the pats he played a great game, but one of those interceptions came at the very end of the game on a Hail Mary, you know, just a prayer trying to steal a win so you wouldn't kind of ding him for that one.
MJ: Sometimes you lose because of a fumble which is pretty much unpredictable.
JL: Yeah, so you've got to do a little more digging beyond that the win-loss records and even beyond the ATS record.
MJ: Thanks. I've been a user of covers.com for a very long time so you don't need to convince me about how great this website it but can you tell my listeners about everything the site has to offer to sports investors? Why should the check out that site and how will it and then grow their bankroll?
JL: Yeah sure, the number one reason to go visit covers.com is that it's all free - 99.9% of the data and information that we're going to provide you is free. You can come to the website it's all there: editorial content, it's not behind a paywall, there's no subscriptions or anything like that. Our contest site is free too and you can win up to $100000 playing free sports betting contests, which is great. There is an e-commerce side of the site who covers experts, there's some really sharp handicappers there and if you need help with making your picks then those guys are there and you can buy their information. But for the most part it's all free. We have the biggest sports betting databases in the industry, we've been around for 20 plus years, our NFL databases go back to 1985. I head up the editorial team so not only do we have great insight from our writers we get exclusive information from sportsbooks in Las Vegas and online, we have great relationships there. We'll tell you where the lines are going to move before they move, where they say they're going to move, where the action is the percentage of bets the percentage of money. And then we do some great video content as well: We have Patrick Everson in Las Vegas, we do shoots from inside the biggest sportsbooks in Las Vegas or at MGM properties or at the Cosmopolitan sportsbook we're at the Wynn Las Vegas. We're at the West gate superbook, and we're pretty much up and down the Strip all week getting insight from that other side of the counter to so giving you some exclusive insight into the odds making process and where the action is coming there.
MJ: I also like your forum section, I often post there and, like you said, some people will present potential strategy.
JL: Yeah, we have a great Covers community a very savvy and well-informed sports bettors that love to share their picks and to share their opinion. You can jump in there and find some great conversations and find some great info as well too. And then we're doing a live stream on Sunday mornings pre-game show as well to where we really gather all the best information from covers, from the website, and presented in you 20-30 minutes show to get all that information out so that you can make those last-minute wagers on NFL Sunday. We are really a one stop shop for anything sports betting, really.
MJ: Yeah, I totally agree, you've been very generous with your time and also by sharing some great pieces of advice. Thanks a lot Jason was really nice talking to you.
JL: You're very welcome I appreciate it. And great being on the podcast.
MJ: Thanks, keep up your good work and we'll be reading Covers.com for sure!
JL: Thanks again we'll stay in touch.