Week two was what we call in the gambling world call a disaster. Columbus Crew, Portland Timbers, LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders AND Orlando City all failed to secure the W, and thus failed to help pay my bills this month.
If you were lucky/wise enough to bet against those stalwarts (and your Lions), you cleaned up like a bandit while I screamed at my TV.
But, I digress. It's a long season, and those of us that are seasoned bettors know to expect valleys like this to supplement the peaks throughout the year. The important thing is coming out on top by the end, ensuring you make money while enjoying some high-level competition.
Now, for the usual intro.
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For the uninitiated, odds are generally presented in three forms -- a "spread," a "moneyline," and a "total."
The spread is the goal difference expected. For example, if the spread for Orlando City is +1.5, you'll want them to win, draw, or lose by one goal to win the wager. Losing by two or more goals would result in losing the wager.
The moneyline is my personal favorite, and the only odds we'll use for soccer. I'm not a fan of spreads with this sport, as the margin for error is very small. A moneyline is simple -- odds are presented, and you select the outcome you expect -- Team A win, Team B win, or Draw.
The total is the total number of goals scored this game. This can be tough to predict in soccer, and is generally something I recommend staying away from -- though it can be a useful moneymaker for both hockey and basketball.
Odds are presented with a number preceded by either a + or a -. When the number is presented after a +, this means that selection is an underdog. The number following the + is the amount of money the odds pay out for every $100 risked. When the number is presented as a -, this means that selection is a favorite. The number following the - is the amount of money you will need to risk for odds to pay out $100.
To improve your odds, you can always play what's called a "parlay." A favorite of mine, with this option you can select winners across multiple games, and watch your payouts soar. The risk, however, is if you miss any one contest on your parlay, you've lost the entire bet.
(Note: These odds were pulled from BetDSI, and may not reflect lines posted by your sportsbook of choice.)
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Sheesh, was that sub-headline a lie last week or what? This week we'll turn our focus first to the Portland Timbers (-135) as they welcome Real Salt Lake (+397) to the City of Roses for what should be a compelling match.
I know you're questioning the wisdom of betting against Real, following its 2-1 win over Seattle and 2-2 draw with Orlando City. It's true, they're a much better team than last year. Let's not forget that our boys put two goals on 'em in 65 seconds, or the fact that the win over Seattle came at home where the fans were all too eager to welcome difference-maker Yura Movsisyan back to the fold.
Portland, on the other hand, is coming off a tough loss on the road against the Earthquakes, as Caleb Porter's March woes continued against a team Portland should not be dropping points to.
That +397 for Real feels like an oddsmaker's trap. I'm not falling for it. Feel free to take the sizable underdog that's shown signs of life -- I, however, will take the proven club with the proven talent. The Pick: Portland Timbers
In other action, the LA Galaxy (-203) bring in the San Jose Earthquakes (+600) in the biggest mismatch we have according to oddsmakers. The Quakes are an interesting underdog here, having pulled six points from their first two matches, including a hard-fought win over defending champion Portland Timbers in week 2. It's easy to want to plop $10 down on 'em to win $60, and I wouldn't blame you if you did.
However, the Quakes won both those matches at home, and are on the road for this one. The Galaxy opened the season with a dominant home win over D.C. United before dropping points to the Rapids on the road. The Quakes look improved, but improved enough to start with nine points, earned over the Galaxy on the road? I don't think so. The Pick: LA Galaxy
You could always take that San Jose bet if you're feeling especially lucky, but I think there are some less risky plays that still provide large payouts this week. Have a look at the Houston Dynamo (+425) travelling to Jersey to take on New York Red Bulls (-150). The fake Yanks have looked out of sorts to start the year, falling 0-2 against Toronto before dropping points on the road against the Impact last week.
Houston is rolling, earning its first win last week with a 5-0 shellacking over FC Dallas. The laws of momentum are strong with this one, and while it's hard to see NYRB start the year off 0-3-0, it's easy to picture yourself counting the money you'll win when they do. The Pick: Houston Dynamo
Speaking of Dallas (-110), they'll have the pleasure of welcoming a red hot, Drogba-less Montreal Impact (+307) as they look to rebound from the embarrassment Houston put them through. I did not think Montreal would be any good at all this year, but they've shown an ability to play well without their star.
Oh, how envious I am.
It will be tough for them to start the year with three wins, especially as Dallas does have the talent that comes with defending a conference championship. If you're looking for a calculated risk, keep an eye on the Impact as they look to kick Dallas while they're down. The Pick: Montreal Impact
I can't give up on Seattle (+109). Not yet. Not when they're playing Vancouver (+264) at home. I know they no longer have Obafemi Martins or Lamar Neagle, and I know they are not the same club as they were last year. But, they're better than what we've seen so far, right?
They'd better hope so.
Sporting Kansas City (-108) has looked great early, and welcome a Toronto (+302) team that is also opening the year strong. Altidore is likely to miss another match here, and I'm expecting Kansas City to take the three points.
Lastly, the Chicago Fire (+142) are hosting Columbus Crew (+190) in a matchup I'm eager to take Columbus in. They've started winless, dropping results to Portland and the lowly Philadelphia Union to start the year. This club is entirely too talented to be winless. If you can stomach betting for 'em, do it. You can always buy Pepto-Bismol with your winnings.
Easy Money -- 2-3
Feeling Lucky -- 1-3
My Play -- 3-6