Back in May, the transfer of Everett Golson from Notre Dame to Florida State got college football fans and media talking about new Heisman betting odds.
Golson is 14/1, which much of college football Twitter felt was a poor bet. Auburn's Jeremy Johnson and Clemson's Deshaun Watson have friendlier odds at 20/1 each. A winning bet on Golson would not make the bettor as much money as one on other players would, even if those players appear more likely to win the Heisman.
But that alone fails to consider the entirety of the market. In truth, none of these is a good bet. Thirty-four players are listed, and unless the casino happens to accidentally throw in an extra digit, making 6/1 into 66/1, you're unlikely to find a good Heisman wager.
The reason? The size of the cut taken by the house.
Using a house advantage calculator, we find these odds are designed to have the house net a profit of 37.4 percent of all monies wagered. A price like that means the oddsmakers are hoping people don't know how to identify a ripoff.
Let's put 37.4 percent in perspective. Blackjack is 0.5 percent. A typical sports betting rake on a football game is 4.5 percent. Roulette is higher, at 5.3 percent. Progressive slot machines are anywhere from 5 to 17 percent. Keno is closer to 30 percent. Heck, some lotteries do not have that big of a rake.
Know any professional slots, Keno or lottery players? No, you do not, because those are games of chance, not skill. Games of chance punish bettors. Betting on the Heisman is worse than betting on a game of chance.
There is another reason it's a bad idea. Unless you have a credit account, your money is tied up for months. You can't use it to make money on other wagers in the meantime. And if you're a good enough bettor to pick the Heisman winner, you're good enough to make money on some other wagers.
What about late in the season, when your money might be tied up for only a couple of weeks? Well, at that point, the Heisman winner will often be so obvious that you'll barely be making any money with a winning bet. Last October, Marcus Mariota's odds were down to even money.
Hypothetically, let's say you find a book that offers you both fair odds (as in, nowhere near 37.4 percent house edge) and a credit account. What then?
Then all you have to do is figure out which quarterback or maybe running back will stay healthy, put up a huge performance in a marquee game, have great stats and be on a team in position for the College Football Playoff. Oh, and make sure somebody like Johnny Manziel, who wasn't even on the board in August, doesn't win.