The folks at Barstool Sportsbook are a polarizing lot. People either think they’re hilarious with their humor or deplorable for their content. They poke their fingers at authority figures and offend a wide swath of society.
I came to neither bury nor praise Portnoy and Co. today. I’d rather take the time to examine their most pertinent impact on our sites: CAN THEY PICK GAMES?
It’s not easy to track how successful sites do with promoted pick specials and odds boosts or parlays. We’ll try to track these from Barstool Sportsbook and other major anonymous betting apps over the course of a busy week in October, covering as much as possible.
Fade the Pirate Ship?
Barstool sticks out in the very competitive market in New Jersey. Most books are run by gaming companies, who started as DFS or casino operators. Barstool drew national attention when Penn National bought equity in the website to serve as the “brand” for their national sportsbook.
The site started in 2020 in Pennsylvania and expanded quickly. While the company drew attention for challenging against more established names without offering hundreds in free money, they have fallen behind in market share.
One of the biggest challenges has been the site to transition from a humor site to a trustworthy betting site has been the personalities’ picking abilities – or lack thereof. There’s a whole multi-month promotion based on “fading” Brandon Walker, who covers college football. Now Dave Portnoy has started selecting users’ parlays and promoting them on social media.
It’s one thing to use major names to promote odds boosts or parlays. It’s another to do so with questionable gravitas, combined with the controversies Barstool courted over Rough ‘n’ Rowdy and if fights were fixed.
Yes, the site has done tremendous charity work, highlighted by the Barstool Fund investing millions into small businesses during the pandemic (in full disclosure, I donated to it last year). Currently, they’re offering hoodies to players who play promotions with proceeds benefiting breast cancer research. The offers of apparel resemble the old DK “Crowns” comps from the DFS days.
And no, we cannot run the piece without letting ANYONE forget that Portnoy made two bad national picks against Philly teams in the months leading to the Supreme Court’s decision that opened NJ and other states to sports betting: taking his Patriots against the Eagles in Super Bowl LII and then taking Michigan to win the NCAA Championship against Villanova.
Quick Pick-Six Problems
Earlier this month, I wrote about how I don’t play multi-leg parlays. I tried it for my birthday to check prices, and let’s just say I’m not quitting this gig to sell picks online anytime soon.
Barstool has a Quick Pick Six option where players can select from over a dozen competitions and the site will throw out six props for a parlay. I tried this today (Tuesday 10/19), selecting UEFA Champions League, the NHL, and college football as categories and here’s what I got:
- NHL – Seattle at New Jersey: Under 5 goals Total (+155) – Loss
- NHL – Colorado at Washington: Colorado ML 2nd period in 3-way (+155) – Loss
- CL – Lille v. Sevilla: Total goals 2nd half – Over 1.5 (+155) – Loss
- CL – Chelsea v. Malmo: Total cards – Over 3.5 (-118) Loss
- CL – Benfica v. Bayern Munich: Card Spread – Benfica -0.5 (-105) Loss
- NCAAF – Tulane at SMU: SMU -14.5 (-104) (got one)
- Total Odds: +11744
- Results: 1-5
Those are some big numbers on some unusual wagers. It would be pretty hard to find some of these legs on competitors’ sites.
Ok, those were some unusual bets in different leagues. Let’s see what they offer if we just focus on the NFL and college football for the weekend:
- Northern Illinois at Central Michigan – Northern Illinois +6: -121 (won outright)
- Buffalo at Akron: Total Points Over 57.5: -107 (juuuuust missed – 55 total)
- Rice at UAB – Rice +22.5: -105 (W, won outright)
- Boston College at Louisville – Total Points Under 57.5: -115 (w, 42 total)
- West Virginia at TCU – TCU -9.5: +150 (lost by 12)
- Bears at Buccaneers: Total Points Over 49: +118 (Loss by 8)
- Total Odds: +6991
- Results: 3-3
Odds Boost Comparisons
Let’s try keeping score with the major sportsbooks in NJ on the promoted bets. Most will post odds boosts, linked to personalities or otherwise. We’ll try to see what’s getting attention and see who does the best for players this week, in terms of total wins and overall performance in the payout.
We’ll keep it simple: One bet (per site). Everyone knows the rules. Try to keep the bets around similar prices to better gauge risk and see how the sites value options.
(Other than Barstool, we will keep all the other books anonymous as to not play any favorites.)
- Barstool Exclusive – Bucks and Lakers both to win in NBA: +230 (L)
- Sportsbook 1 – Lakers and Nets both to win: +220 (L)
- Sportsbook 2 – Bucks and Warriors both to win: +400 (W)
- Sportsbook 3 – Russell Westbrook to record a triple-double: +280 (L)
- Sportsbook 4 – Steph Curry to Make 5+ Three-Pointers and the Warriors to win: +230 (L)
- Sportsbook 5 – Kevin Durant and James Harden to combine for Over 65.5 Points: +275 (L)
- Sportsbook 6 – LeBron James to Score 25+ Points and the Lakers to win: +220 (L)
- Barstool Exclusive – Kemba Walker to score 15+ points and the Knicks to win: +200 (½ right)
- Sportsbook 1 – Julius Randle to score 25+ points: +140 (W)
- Sportsbook 2 – Grizzlies, Jazz, 76ers, and Trail Blazers all to win: +250 (Portland fails us)
- Sportsbook 3 – Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier to score 40+ points: +400 (Fournier carries)
- Sportsbook 4 – Julius Randle to record a double-double and Knicks to win: +320 (so close)
- Sportsbook 5 – Julius Randle to record a double-double and Knicks to win: +275 (L)
- Sportsbook 6 – Devin Booker to score 25+ points and the Suns to win: +130 (nope)
- Barstool – Denver to win and 35+ points scored: +200 (L)
- Sportsbook 1 – Odell Beckham Jr to score 1+ TDs and Browns to win: +260 (L)
- Sportsbook 2 – Teddy Bridgewater over 229.5 Passing Yards and Over 1.5 Passing TDs: +275 (TDs, not yards)
- Sportsbook 3 – Myles Garrett to register 2+ sacks: +275 (close, only got 1.5)
- Sportsbook 4 – Melvin Gordon to score 1+ TDs: +230 (W)
- Sportsbook 5 – Case Keenum to record more passing yards than Teddy Bridgewater and Browns to win: +225 (W)
- Sportsbook 6: Courtland Sutton 50+ receiving yards and 1+ TD: +265 (yards, no TD)
- Barstool – Auston Matthews, Brad Marchand, And Miro Heiskanen All To Record A Point: +300 (Matthews misses)
- Sportsbook 1 – Maple Leafs, Bruins, and Kings all to win: +360 (L)
- Sportsbook 2 – Oilers win by exactly one goal vs Golden Knights: +350 (5-3, L)
- Sportsbook 3 – David Pastarnak and Brad Marchand each to score a goal: +500 (no March)
- Sportsbook 4 – Leafs and Bruins both to win: +130 (½ right)
- Sportsbook 5 – Golden Knights to score a goal in all three periods: +170 (W)
- Sportsbook 6 – Yuri Gurriel to record a hit and the Astros to win: +165 (W)
- Barstool – Wake Forest and Texas Tech both to win: +230 (TTU lost)
- Sportsbook 1 – Texas Tech, Wake Forest, and Virginia Tech all to win: +400 (1-2)
- Sportsbook 2 – Wake Forest, NC State, and Pittsburgh all to win: +350 (NC State lost)
- Sportsbook 3 – Alabama to lead by 21+ points at halftime: +210 (only 7)
- Sportsbook 4 – Ole Miss and Clemson both to win: +250 (ole miss won, not Clemson)
- Sportsbook 5 – Alabama and Ohio State both to score Over 45.5 Points: +300 (54 and 52)
- Sportsbook 6 – Notre Dame to score 30+ points and Win: -115 (ND got 31)
- Barstool – Matthew Stafford to throw for 290+ yards and Rams to score Over 33.5 Points: +230 (yards, not points)
- Sportsbook 1 – Daniel Jones to throw for 225+ yards and Giants to win: +260 (only 203)
- Sportsbook 2 – Derek Carr Over 299.5 Passing yards and Raiders to win: +250 (that was too easy tbh)
- Sportsbook 3 – Devonta Smith and Henry Ruggs to combine for 150+ receiving yards: +260 (68 total)
- Sportsbook 4 – Patrick Mahomes to throw for 350+ passing yards and the Chiefs to win: +400 (nope)
- Sportsbook 5 – Jimmy Garoppolo to record Over 207.5 passing yards and Over 1.5 Passing TDs: +260 (neither hit)
- Sportsbook 6 – Jimmy Garoppolo to record Over 200 passing yards and 49ers to win: +145 (0-2)
- Barstool – Saints to win and 40+ Total Points: +170 (L)
- Sportsbook 1 – Saints to win by 4+ points and 41+ Total Points: +270 (Neither)
- Sportsbook 2 – Alvin Kamara Over 149.5 Rushing and Receiving Yards: +170 (W, 179 total)
- Sportsbook 3 – Tyler Lockett to score a touchdown: +220 (L)
- Sportsbook 4 – Saints to Win and Over 43.5 Total Points: +250 (L)
- Sportsbook 5 – Alvin Kamara Over 140.5 Rushing and Receiving Yards: +105 (W)
- Sportsbook 6 – Alvin Kamara 100+ Rushing Yards and 1+ Total TD: +180 (only 51 rush yards)
Here are the results of this survey, with winnings based on $100 bets per prop:
- Barstool – 0-7, -$700
- Sportsbook 1 – 1-6, -$460
- Sportsbook 2 – 3-4, +$420
- Sportsbook 3 – 1-6, -$300
- Sportsbook 4 – 1-6, -$370
- Sportsbook 5 – 4-3, +500
- Sportsbook 6 – 2-5, -$248.05
So while most of the books lost money on the props, all but Barstool got at least one right.
What conclusions can we draw? Well, this is just a small sample size and not exactly the most scientific method.
For all Barstool’s content and homages to their roots as a betting newsletter, some would suspect they would do better on these promoted odds boosts. Yes, books aren’t supposed to help players make money. However, the loss in market share following early adoption by customers in states like Michigan suggests a more pressing issue.
How Barstool reacts and adapts will do a lot to foreshadow their future. I don’t consider myself a “stoolie” but I do wish them well.