On Sunday, Nov. 27, the Chicago Bears PR team tweeted less than an hour before kickoff against the New York Jets that backup quarterback Nathan Peterman was set to start due to Trevor Siemian getting injured in warmups, with regular starter Justin Fields already sidelined.
Bettors salivated at the thought of not just leftover turkey but a Peterman turnover fest, with some quickly wagering on the favored Jets to cover the 7.5-point spread.
QB Nathan Peterman will get the start today. Trevor Siemian (oblique) will serve as the backup.
— Bears Communications (@BearsPR) November 27, 2022
As it turned out, Siemian was healthy enough to start. He played, while Peterman stayed on the bench. The Jets still won and covered, but bettors felt misled by the information, which provided an explicit reminder of the potential impact of social media on sports betting.
New information is valuable to bettors looking for any edge, and people often move as quickly as possible when sports news breaks that could impact betting lines. On Nov. 27, there was miscommunication regarding Siemian’s health, and some bettors placed wagers with what turned out to be inaccurate information.
“We’re not CNN. We’re not ABC. We’re not gonna verify two sources,” professional bettor Captain Jack Andrews said. “We’re just gonna throw money. So yeah, sometimes it goes poorly for you. Sometimes you get duped a little.”
Official information often solid
The Peterman news didn’t change anyone’s outcome, as the Jets put together a fantastic second half to defeat the Bears 31-10. Considering the event from a broader perspective, information from official team sources or connected reporters is usually going to be well-sourced and accurate.
There isn’t a major lesson to be learned from the particular miscommunication regarding Siemian’s health. Bettors can’t predict when a PR team might be wrong, and it’s also hard to know if a “Woj bomb” before the NBA Draft turns out to be based on bad intel.
— kingtisemedia (@kingtisemedia) June 24, 2022
It is worth noting, however, that not all information is created equal.
For bettors looking to gain an informational edge, following beat reporters on social media can provide an advantage. They’re often providing the most accurate and up-to-date information on injury news.
Twitter is the place to be
Twitter is far and away the place to keep track of information in real time, Captain Jack says. SuperBook Sports’ Jeff Sherman confirms his team also uses the platform to help monitor real-time sports news that could impact betting lines.
“It’s all Twitter,” said Sherman, SuperBook Sports’ vice president of risk management. “It’s the most instantaneous medium.”
Sherman says if someone on the SuperBook team notices key injury news shared on Twitter, they change lines accordingly.
“As soon as we get the information, we’ll go ahead and make a line adjustment,” Sherman said.
Of course, they’re also monitoring wagers coming in, which impacts line movement.
With the ever-changing Twitter experience under Elon Musk, it’s more important than ever for bettors to verify sources on the platform. Users can spend $8 a month for Twitter Blue, which places a checkmark next to their name that was once reserved for users verified by Twitter staff.
“With the current state of Twitter, it could be much easier for someone to create a parody account and just throw news out there that’s completely false and have people believe on it and act on it,” Captain Jack said. “That seems to be more likely now than it was three, four months ago.”
Use information intelligently
So let’s say you’re a Twitter expert. You use the platform every day, follow well-sourced media members, and know how to spot a parody account. How can you act on information to become a smarter bettor?
The Bears-Jets game lends a few lessons.
Why did bettors race to place bets on the Jets with the Bears possibly down both Fields and Siemian? It’s not just that Peterman is a turnover-prone quarterback, it’s that if Peterman went down with injury, the Bears might’ve been forced to use running back David Montgomery behind center with three quarterbacks unavailable.
Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said this week that Chicago's emergency quarterback lately has been RB David Montgomery. Getsy said that it has changed 'every week' but Montgomery is 'kind of that extra green dot that we have in our back pocket.'
— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) November 27, 2022
“When you’re playing your third quarterback, you have no safety net,” said Captain Jack, who helps sports bettors build smarter habits at Unabated.
Quarterback is also the most important position in the NFL, and one of the few that requires significant handicapping adjustments should a starter go down.
“The quarterback is the only position that matters in the NFL,” Captain Jack said. “If somebody announces that their wide receiver has pulled a hamstring in warmups and you flood to bet the other side, you’re probably not making a good bet, because a wide receiver is not really worth more than one point to the spread.”
As far as other sports, NBA lines can shift dramatically due to a single player’s availability. This is in large part due to only five players being on the court at the same time. One player’s influence can be worth multiple points.
“Back in the day, five, six years ago, LeBron James pulling something in warmups could move a line 10 points,” Captain Jack said. “These days not so much, but you still see 3-, 5-point swings on fairly prominent players in the NBA.”
An NHL winger being out is less important than a goalie, Jack says. The goaltender plays the entire game, while a forward plays less than half that due to line shifts. Each player in each sport holds different values, and one player being out shouldn’t necessarily change your betting strategy.
It’s one thing to be one of the first to see news. It’s another to interpret that news and act on it intelligently. As far as the occasionally incorrect news story shared by a usually credible source, well, sometimes bettors have to live with that uncertainty.
“Anyone who has gambled and done it seriously understands variance involved, and there’s never a sure thing,” Captain Jack said.