Each year it seems like sportsbooks offer more and more opportunities for bettors to bet on year-end awards in different sports before the seasons start. It used to be that you could just bet on the high profile ones like the NFL MVP, the Cy Young, and the Heisman. Now the books are far more creative and adventurous, so if there is an award that will be given at the end of a season chances are very good that you can bet on it before the season starts. As with a lot of prop bets and futures bets there are advantages and disadvantages for bettors to betting on season ending awards before the season. Here’s a look at both:
Potential for big payouts – Because of the difficulty of figuring out who might win these awards so far in advance, and the number of players who you have to choose from, there is a chance to enjoy a nice fat payout when you are correct. The obvious favorites often go off at a low price, but if you like a player who is a bit less popular then you’ll enjoy cashing your winning ticket.
Public is predictable and not very sophisticated – When it comes to awards like this the public doesn’t put a lot of sophisticated analysis into their decisions. If there is an obvious choice then the public will be all over it – even if a little analysis would should that the bet doesn’t make nearly as much sense as it might seem. Because the public isn’t too profound there is a good opportunity to find value on less popular choices.
Prices can differ widely between books – In the most popular sports like the NFL, the odds at different books don’t move in unison, but they typically come pretty close – especially on higher profile games. On season ending award bets, though, the prices can vary widely between books – especially on less popular players. Shopping around for the best price is always important, but it can be particularly fruitful in these bets.
You can get a sense of voter feelings before betting – You always want to have as much information as you can before making any bet. With these bets you can often have the advantage of knowing what people who will actually be betting on the awards are thinking. Most awards are voted on by journalists, and those journalists will often make predictions before the season starts. They are just making a guess, of course, but it can give you valuable insights into their preferences and biases heading into the season.
Money tied up all season – This is the biggest disadvantage to these bets, and it is a huge one. If you make a bet before the season it won’t pay off until after the season ends. Depending on the sport that could be as long as six months. For all that time your money is tied up. That means you can’t be using it on other games, and growing it slowly with successful bets. By making these bets, then you are effectively shrinking your bankroll heading into the season. That doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, but it does mean that you have to be sure you have tremendous value in a bet – far more than you would need to make a bet on a single game – before you consider making such a bet.
Often not enough value – This is particularly a problem when you are dealing with one of the favorites, though it can be an issue with any player. The odds need to accurately represent the chances of the player to win the award in order for their to be value. Given all of the factors that go into winning – the individual performance, the team performance, the performance of other players, and so on – it is quite rare that the odds actually do accurately reflect those chances. To further complicate things, because there are so many factors involved it can be extremely hard to determine what a value price actually should be, and to accurately handicap one of these bets. The longer the time frame is in a bet the more variables there are, and the more challenging the bet is.
Eventual winner might not even be available – When you bet on a typical game you know that one of the choices available – one team or the other – is going to be correct. When you bet on these awards, though, it’s quite possible that the player who ends up winning the award wasn’t even listed by the sportsbooks as a possibility before the season started. Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum when he won the first time are both examples of guys who didn’t start the season on the radar of most people when they won. In those cases it wouldn’t even have been that you didn’t make the right pick if you had bet on someone else – it’s that you couldn’t have made the right bet because it wasn’t available.