Matthew Kiewiet

Matthew Kiewiet

HELENA – The next time you’re combing through betting lines, do yourself a favor. Think of the betting market as, well, a marketplace. Think of placing a bet as shopping on a budget.

One of your main objectives should be getting the best price for what you want to buy. Or, in this case, get the best line for what you want to bet.

With the extra juice on most lines at, points and half-points become even more valuable.

For professional bettors in places like Las Vegas and New Jersey, shopping around at various casinos until they find the ideal price is part of the game. Some pros have as many as 20-30 places to get down.

However, for Montanans, Sports Bet Montana is the only legal option we have. But that doesn’t mean we have to settle for the worst numbers.

Before submitting a wager, ask yourself, “Is this line going to move? And if so, which way is it going to move?”

If you can conclude that the line is going to move in your favor, it’s probably best to wait before placing the bet.

For example, football Team X is -3 hosting Team Y. You like Team X, but you’ve done your research and you’ve noted that tons of money is being bet on Team Y. If enough money comes in on Team Y, Team X might become a 2.5-point favorite. That’s when you want to get your bet in. Not only is 2.5 smaller than 3, but your line has also moved off of a key number.

Key numbers are common final score differentials for a game in a given sport. In the NFL, key numbers are 3, 7, 10, 14, etc. The most common final score differential is 3, as about 10% of games end with one team ahead by a field goal. So betting a favorite inside of -3 and conversely, betting a dog at +3 or higher is critical in a close game.

Consistently predicting line moves requires a bit of nuance and a lot of experience, but there are tools and mechanics that even beginners can utilize.

A one-stop shop for me is In addition to selling picks – something I’m not really into – Pregame is also the official odds provider for the Associated Press. They also have a feature called the Game Center – something I am very much into.

The Game Center on posts updated odds from many casinos in Las Vegas (when the casinos are open) in additional to a few offshore books. This is useful information to have because if Sports Bet Montana lists a team as a short favorite and every Vegas book has that same team as a larger favorite, it’s likely Sports Bet Montana will eventually follow suit.

For example, last week’s column gave out the Broncos -1.5 over the Titans during Week 1. On Pregame, pretty much all of the books have Broncos -2 or -2.5. So if I had to make a prediction, I’d say Sports Bet Montana will have that line out to -2.5 or -3 before kickoff.

Pregame also has a feature that tracks the amount of cash and tickets bet on certain games. “Tickets” refers to the amount of bets being made and “cash” refers to how much money is actually being bet. If a majority of the cash and tickets are on one side, that’s another indicator which way a line will move.

Going back to the Denver-Tennessee game, you’ll notice on Pregame that 67% of the tickets are on the Broncos -2 and 76% of the cash is on the same side. Not only are a majority of the bets on the Broncos, but there are large bets being made on the Broncos – bets placed by pros.

Obviously, these are not bets place with Sports Bet Montana, but in my opinion it’s a fair assessment of what the public and pros are thinking, and betting.

Pick: Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson to win The Match, +175 (1 unit to win 1.75)

When my editor asked if I was going to give out a bet on The Match, my knee-jerk reaction was, “no.” I know nothing about golf, and I don’t really even understand the rules that this match is going to follow.

However, when I looked at the odds I felt like I had to give out this pick purely out of principle. It seems like the only reason Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning are -233 favorites is because one of the players is named Tiger Woods. The public loves Tiger so we are going to fade the public’s perception.

This line should be pick ‘em (even), or Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson should be favored. Tiger Woods has had four knee and four back surgeries that have accelerated his aging process within the sport of golf. After Woods won the 2019 Masters, the narrative was, “Tiger is back.” After the tournaments that followed, it actually appears to be more likely that The Masters will be the last one he ever wins.

Peyton Manning has endured two neck surgeries and at one point had to relearn how to throw a football during his recovery. Although he was successful in that regard, his mobility was never the same.

Other than surgeries to repair a sports hernia in 2016, Lefty has a clean bill of health. He also beat Woods in The Match last year. And now he is teamed up with Tom Brady, who literally wears t-shirts that read, “Pliability,” as he prepares to be the starting QB for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at age 42.

After a wonky competitive layoff due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my money is on the team that has fewer screws holding their joints together.

Pick: NFL Week 1 – Chiefs vs. Texans UNDER 55.5, -125 (1.25 units to win 1)

I could only find data dating back to 1989, and this is the highest Week 1 total ever posted. This total is inflated because the last time these teams played during the divisional round of the playoffs, there were 82 points scored.

This time around, both defenses with be rested and healthy. The Chiefs probably won’t be coming back from a 24-point deficit. Finally, it’s likely that due to the limited offseason, one or both offenses will be slightly out of sync to start the game.

Matthew Kiewiet covers high school and community sports for the Independent Record and Email him at or follow him on Twitter @IRmattkiewiet.

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