All posts by Steven Kerstein

Hey Guys, I'm Steven Kerstein, or Stavi depending on your level of familiarity with me. Here at DRaT, I like to call myself the "crazy uncle" of the team. You know like that crazy uncle everybody has in their family who cracks stupid jokes and is generally annoying but everybody loves him. Let me be your adopted crazy uncle and read my slant on the game of basketball.

A Gambling Guide to Game Four

Hey Guys,

After my picks for Games 2 and 3, I wouldn’t blame you if you stopped reading and went on with your busy, interesting lives.

Guys, this is why it is nearly impossible to consistently make money picking individual games.

Let me put this nicely.  On a day to day basis, how can I responsibly put money on the shoulders of athletes who show up drunk to games, assault their girlfriends and have mysterious packages shipped to them?  I can’t.  They are too many variables for me.  In the market, I’m not counting on a company’s (team’s) performance.  I’m counting on my peers’ perceptions of these performances.

Just wait until the start of next season when DRAT gives you our O/U NBA team wins.  We’ll go at least 60%; I can guarantee it.  (Did I use that semi-colon correctly?)

Needless to say, I wasn’t banking on San Antonio knocking down 16 treys and setting a new NBA Finals record. Danny Green and Gary Neal probably saw my prediction and said to hell with Stavi and his stupid prophecies.   Even with the 16 treys, the two teams only combined for 190 and just barely covered the spread of 188.

Nevertheless, the narrow spread in Game 3 proved to hold true.  Narrow spreads mean STAY AWAY and unless you truly are the Long Island Medium (Happy Birthday Hannah), you couldn’t have told me that the Spurs would have put on a whooping like that.  When the “price” is that off from the actual outcome, Vegas either makes a fortune or gets killed.  If you want to make money, stay away from close spreads. Vegas is telling you: WE DON’T WHO WILL WIN: STAY AWAY BUT WE WILL GLADLY TAKE YOUR MONEY.

But now for tonight’s matchup, Game 4 in San Antonio.   Here’s my common courtesy to you:

Miami -1.5

Miami -125 San Antonio +105

O/U 186.5

We just talked about the narrow spread, so you know by now Vegas doesn’t have a clue about tonight’s victor. You would think Lebron would prove all the naysayers wrong and come out to play tonight.  But that would be too predictable.  I can’t pick against the Heat, but last game’s performance doesn’t necessarily instill confidence.  But, nobody’s got a gun to my head. I’ll hold.

In terms of the O/U, I’ll double down because YOU ALWAYS DOUBLE DOWN ON ELEVEN.  But seriously, no way the Spurs shoot the rock like Game 3.  While Miami will score more points, I’m following the smart money.  The line opened at 188 and has tumbled to its current mark of 186.5. That’s a bearish engulfing pattern if you ask me.  Under and load up the truck.

Of course, you guys should disregard everything I just said if you want to make money.

Game 2: Believe in the Heat, but Beat the Herd

Good Afternoon folks,

The market doesn’t open for roughly another 18 hours and I’m struggling like an alcoholic going to a function not intoxicated.  So finally, after very little restraint, I checked out the day’s festivities on sportsbook.com.  While I’m particularly interested in the Ghana-Nigeria soccer matchup at 4:00 AM Central time tomorrow, I decide to check out the line for Game 2 of NBA finals for shits.    For the convenience of my fellow gambling fiends, I’ll happily post the main wagers for tonight’s affair between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat:

Miami -6

Miami -310, San Antonio +255

O/U 188.5

I guess you can call me an enabler of some sorts.  Nevertheless, you probably want to hear my thoughts regarding these stock prices, or lines, depending on your prospective.

Contrary to my trading philosophy, I don’t bet on sports to make money.  The odds are stacked against me at the onset.  So why do I bet at all? Unfortunately, sporting events by themselves don’t jack me up as much as they use to.  Naturally, adding an element of uncertainty contingent to some type of financial outcome does the trick.

Because I’m perfectly fine going close to .500 betting, I rely on the eye test and common sense to make my wagers.

While I’m sure advanced metrics and splits could increase my winning percentage, my betting objective is not to make money, but rather stay engaged.

Anyways, I’ll quit my jabbering and give you my eye test for Game 2. It’s going to be pretty simple.

Miami needs to win tonight, therefore I think they’ll win.  But San Antonio didn’t really play that well in Game 1. But they played better than Miami.  Therefore, Miami has more room for improvement than San Antonio.  By this thought process, I would be inclined to take Miami moneyline and San Antonio getting 6. If Miami does wins, they will have either created more turnovers or attempted more free throws.  More likely the free throws part, David Stern. Therefore, I like the over.

You might be thinking that was a rather elementary approach to sports betting.  Coincidentally enough (or not), the O/U line has gravitated towards my hypothesis. The O/U went from 187 to 188.5, meaning that an influx of money was coming in on the over.  For Vegas to maximize gains, they want as even action as possible.

In terms of the spread, my thought process was not in check with the Vegas action.  Starting off at Miami -5, gamblers were pounding Miami pushing the line up.  In essence, the action foreshadows a Miami blow out if you assume that the market knows best.

Thus, if I were truly trying to make money gambling consistently, I would pursue lines as soon as they are released if I thought that more people would have similar inclinations.  Similar to the stock market in this sense, you want to beat the herd.

I believe that it will be a narrow Miami victory, thus shorting the popular, market consensus.

Because the market should know best, I would be inclined to stay away from the spread bet and just bet on the O/U.

So, enjoy the game, and for my sake, pray for lots of free throws and trey balls.

2013 NBA FINALS PREVIEW: THE SPURS AND THE POPOWITCH OF THE WEST

In 1999, Michael Jordan announced his retirement for the second time in his basketball career. Who would have predicted that this moment in history would be just the start for the San Antonio Spurs? Since the 1999 NBA season, the Spurs have reached the finals five times, recording a 4-0 mark in the first four. Since that very same 1999 season, Michael Jordan has joined the Washington Wizards’ front office, unretired, joined the Washington Wizards’ roster, retired, bought the Charlotte Bobcats, and ruined two franchises in the process by drafting the likes of Kwame Brown and Adam Morrison. Meanwhile, the San Antonio Spurs’ foundation of Tim Duncan and Head Coach Gregg Popovich has pretty much been the most sure thing since Dot Com stocks. While Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili joining the scene certainly didn’t hurt, the Spurs’ success is attributed to Pop and Duncan. Can this seemingly timeless duo lead the Spurs to the promised land in this year’s Finals vs. the Miami Heat? Let’s take a look.

Just for shits, can somebody tell me what the hell people do in San Antonio other than go to Spurs’ games? How many times can you go to the Alamo? It’s not like the story changes.

Keys for the Spurs:

Not Committing Fouls:

There are two ways Miami scores points: They either run up and down the court and shoot well from 3 or get bailed out at the free throw line. It took 16 free throw attempts from LeBron James to salvage the decisive seventh game against Indiana in the Eastern Conference Finals. Considering that Miami’s shooting comes and goes, it is imperative that San Antonio play solid defense without fouling. Luckily for them, the Spurs were 3rd in the league in opponent free throw attempts per game. This statistic will need to hold true in the small, unfortunately biased sample size that is called the NBA Finals. Hopefully, Stern and the boys will let the likes of Duncan and Splitter defend the interior and let Cowhi Leonard pester LBJ. Let’s face it, the only people who want to watch a series riddled with free throws are Heat fans. And God hates Miami fans. That’s why he made Jeff Loria own the Marlins.

Utilizing their Depth:

Year in and year out, Pop gets the most out of nearly member of his roster. While I don’t think Tracy McGrady will leave the pine (even if half of China wears his jersey on a daily basis), the Spurs have a collection of interchangeable parts that can ultimately wear down Miami. Kawhi (for you Bick) Leonard will need to dedicate most of his energy towards the defensive end of the floor on LBJ, forcing Danny Green and Manu Ginobili to pick up the scoring slack. Ginobili should be able to have his way with Miami’s second unit. If he’s truly 100%, this might be the Spurs’ biggest advantage. Boris Diaw might actually have to move his fat ass down the court because he is surprisingly good in space. I think they closed the McDonald’s that used to be located at half-court though so it’s anyone’s guess if the French men will move with no French fries in sight.

Boarding:

My dear friend and fellow Lifetime patron Geo pointed out that rebounding is essential to the outcome of this series. For the Spurs to have success, Splitter and Duncan need to assert their will on the boards. There’s nothing more to it. Miami was able to stave off Indiana by dominating the offensive glass in Game 7. If Dwyane Wade leaves his mark on the series, it will be on the offensive glass. Lance Stephenson did a very poor job of boxing Wade out when it mattered most. Effective rebounding can negate a bad shooting performance while poor boarding can do the opposite. With their backs against the walls, Miami exerted the extra effort to crash the glass and won the series. San Antonio needs to set the tone from the get-go and make sure no birds, dinosaurs or creatures named Udonis eat up rebounds.

Defending the White Man’s Shot, also known as, the Three-Pointer:

While Miami’s best canners, with exception to Mike Miller, are of the African-American variety, you get the gist. Where as LBJ, Wade and the Velociraptor rely on athleticism and strength to impact the game, Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Norris Cole and Miller will be counted on to knock down open treys. If there is one truly glaring Achilles’ heel of this Spurs’ defense, it’s locking down on the perimeter. Whereas Memphis, aside from my player profile Quincy Pondexter, couldn’t hit a shot to save their lives, Golden State destroyed the Spurs from downtown. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes convinced many that they were the future of the Western Conference from their play last month. While Miami’s three point barrage is not as deadly, they still have the capacity to hit some wide-open, white boy equalizers. And they have that Ray Allen fellow.

Many other keys that are more like lifetime keys and not shiny, golden keys like everybody is thinking of:

Craig Sager’s suit color, Ginobili’s bald spot and Duncan’s sex life now that he’s divorced. Actually might be a big deal for Timmy. He might have been stupid enough to believe his ex wasn’t sleeping with her physical therapist. At least it wasn’t the scuba instructor.

Matchups to Watch:

LeBron James vs. Kawhi Leonard:

How can you shut down the best player on earth, you can’t. LeBron James is the only one who can shut LeBron James down as stupid as that sounds. The Spurs are not looking for Leonard to keep James to 15 points on 5-23 shooting. They are just looking for him to be LeBron and not be crazy-focused, aggressive LeBron. Keep him on earth and the Spurs have got a good chance. That’s why I wish Kawhi had a little Metta in him, a little bit of Meshuggenah a day keeps a title away.

Tony Parker vs. Miami point guards:

Parker should have a field day with Chalmers. Cole’s a bit better of a defender, but the point guard position should be a big win for San Antonio. Maybe Miami will sign Brent Barry’s wife to even the playing field.

Prediction: San Antonio in 6

PART 1: HEAT PREVIEW

Game 7 from the Gambler

I’m Steven Kerstein and I’m the worst person to watch sports with.  Just ask these three other bozos.

When a pivotal game seven matchup between two, suddenly well-matched teams is on the horizon, most normal human beings would be pretty satisfied.

You see, I’m a gambler.  I play stocks by day and hedge soccer games by night (or day depending on your time-zone.)  There’s something about the notion of uncertainty that gets my heart rate going.  Kind of like most of you clowns who like jumping from airplanes. For degenerates like me, I need some type of financial contingency to truly captivate my interest.

Any savvy finance student would tell you that arbitrage opportunities can exist in the places you’d never expect.  While Vegas definitely has kids writing algorithms surely more sophisticated than me, it’s my duty as a degenerate to explore any potential profitable trade or wager.

Rather than give you my opinions and pull biased statistics that back up my claims, I’m just going to lay out the facts for you to make your analysis. Lies.

Let’s take a look at the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals Game 7 in Miami, Fl aka just another day for sports books around the world.

At 11 AM CST, the current moneyline for the contest are set at Miami -330 and Indiana +270.  For all you rookies to the world of sports betting, Vegas pays you as if Miami has a 73% chance of winning, compared to Indiana’s 24%.  So you’re probably thinking, shouldn’t those two figures add up to 100%.  This is why sports gambling is not a great long-term investment. From the get-go, the house has the advantage forcing its patrons to accept a negative expected value.  The second you stroll into the casino or log into your Bovada account, you’re a loser from Vegas’ point of view.

Why is this different from the stock market? In the stock market, you make money by playing off psychology and not solely off binary events.  Sports gambling is options trading without the trading part. This nuance limits your profit-making strategies.

When it comes to using historical data, I find that there is an abundance of biased information that can support nearly every hypothesis.

If your personal algorithm spits out figures greatly discrepant that outperform the consistency Vegas lines, maybe you’re the next Rain Man.  Otherwise, maybe you’re just another Stavi or Dave.

From the eye-ball test, I think that Indiana has about a 35% chance of winning if the NBA wasn’t rigged.  Even with the juice, I’d be inclined to pursue the Pacers money-line if sports weren’t fixed.  Even though I think the Pacers bet is undervalued, do I really think it’s undervalued in the sense I can only win if the Pacers win?  Decisions, decisions..

In terms of the spread, Miami’s -6.5 the favorite.  This number is relatively interesting.  I see two different ways Miami wins this game. 1) It’s close for 45 minutes, the Heat cover with the assistance of late free throws.  2) Blowout- Mike Miller does his stupid dance and I drink a fifth of vodka.  Obviously, the chance remains that Miami could win on a buzzer-beater or Indiana could slaughter them.  But miracles don’t come true.  This isn’t Disney World, well I guess it kinda is.  The Disney Corporation does control the world. Anyways, by this logic, I like my chances taking Miami and giving the points.

Let’s move on to the over/under total points scored in the game.  Right now, the line is set at 181.5.  In an elimination game, one critical factor you need to take into considerations is FT attempts.  While I might be a little bit radical when it comes to NBA conspiracies, there’s no denying the fact that if Miami’s cold they’re gonna get freebies from the charity stripe.  I don’t think David Stern is rooting for the mighty San Antonio-Indiana matchup.  So while Wade and Bosh are struggling, I actually think the over is a pretty solid wager tonight.  Both the Pacers and Heat have hit at least 90 in every game but one this series.  Throw in some home-cooking 3’s from Chalmers, Allen and Cole and that one’s a wrap.  About that opinion thing I said earlier…

While I’d love to come up with some crazy props, I’ve got to get back to work.  So enjoy the game and most importantly, don’t lose your shirt.