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Them and Us
Oh, so that's how it works
by Andrew Kiraly | posted January 28, 2014
You may read this breezy New York Times story on sports betting as, oh, a decently wrought, workmanlike -- almost perfunctory -- entry in the annual glut of pieces about the wild, zany world of sports betting. But -- and here is a confession of what I sometimes feel is an innate, chromosomal, almost spiritual shortcoming of mine -- for someone (a Las Vegas native, no less! I know! The irony: mordant!) whose understanding of sports, let alone sports betting, is positively paleolithic, for some reason this New York Times article arrived as a bracing revelation of sorts in its very sunny, workmanlike, Wikipedia-ish approach. So thaaaaat's how sports books make their money. I'd been hearing sports bettors toss around terms like "vig" for years, but I never had the nerve to ask:
And a point spread refers to a range of outcomes on which you could wager. You don't say.
I guess "point spread" has a more occult ring than "range of outcomes." Oh, and apparently, sometimes complex things can happen to those point spreads as bets come in, almost in some kind of Heisenberg-principle-kind of meta-shift:
Often, the parachute-press treatments of Vegas are either aggressively simplistic or just rife with baldly inaccurate howlers. But in this case, the mainstream media paint-up of a Vegas gambling institution has proved to me to be surprisingly eye-opening. If you're a Las Vegan who has often secretly shrugged amid arcana-laced convos about over/unders, prop bets and point spreads -- and part of me suspects there are quite a few of you (show yourselves, brothers and sisters!) -- this piece might offer a few sturdy guideposts.
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