Looking at the Oscar odds, can Will Smith be wheeled as a betting favorite?
Are the sharps lining up behind Nicole Kidman?
Does The Power of the Dog have meaning both in the movies and the Super Bowl?
These are some of the intriguing and amusing considerations about Oscar nominations in the legal sportsbook age.
DraftKings Sportsbook first posted Oscar odds in major categories last month, creating betting opportunities before finalists are announced on Feb. 8.
Once that happens, odds could skyrocket for some frontrunners.
That’s why this could be a prime betting week for gamblers who want to stake a position on the March 27 outcome.
Smith, who starred in King Richard, is the heavy chalk at -280 to win Best Actor. New Jersey online sports bettors know he can’t be played at that price. Those odds went to -330 Thursday morning.
Unless…you spread him around.
How to parlay the Oscar odds and NBA futures
Smith, at -280, and the Philadelphia 76ers under 210.5 points on Feb. 2 brought the two bets to +159. That’s nice leveraging of Smith and a boost of -115 to +159 for Sixers bettors, who sweated out the total in the team’s 106-103 loss to the Washington Wizards.
The same luxury affords Sixers bettors backing them for the NBA Atlantic Division crown. Rather than take the -115, they can boost that with Smith for +143.
Bizarre as that may sound, consider the plight of someone making a $500 bet on the Sixers to win the Atlantic.
That bet at -115 returns a $434.78 profit.
Look what happens when it’s combined with Smith, who can’t be played otherwise at -330.
Put them together and the $500 bet at +143 returns a profit of just over $718.
It’s likely an NJ sports bettor would split this bet, putting some on the parlay and some on the Sixers, because the Oscar selection concerns several thousand Hollywood insiders voting on themselves. There is nothing tangible to their decision, no wins, losses or stats.
Nonetheless, if Smith’s odds are true, he could strongly enhance the return on a wager.
Some bets may seem tongue-in-cheek. Some may simply be funny. But all of them, approached from a serious parlay perspective, could be profitable.
Several other bets to leverage Smith may come up for gamblers in the next few days.
Pairing Oscar odds and power of the Super Bowl underdog
The Power of the Dog is the leading Oscar pick at +120. It’s also what the Cincinnati Bengals would love to show at +4.5 against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI.
The +120 and the -115 for the Bengals, put into one bet, become +311 for a sweep.
What about the power of the underdog and the favorite? That’s the Bengals and Smith. It’s +143.
So far, parlays action has not been accepted within the Academy Awards. Bets linking actors and actresses, directors and pictures, etc., have not taken. But keep trying varied options with the movies and other events.
A new age: ‘The big screen’ meets ‘the big board’
Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, has been a movie aficionado for several decades. After producing this betting line for high-roller parties at Wynn Las Vegas for several years, he was allowed to post Oscar odds legally in 2019.
New Jersey was the first state to let him do it, establishing a $1,000 bet limit.
Avello must predict how roughly 9,000 Hollywood voters choosing between 1,000 pictures from 2021 will determine their award winners.
Avello told PlayNJ that his early forecasts are usually accurate.
“I would say four out of every five I put up there make it into nominations for the major categories,” he said “If there is a real surprise and somebody we have up there does not get in, that’s one way the odds can change a bit.
“The other way is that all of a sudden a lot of people start to like somebody.
“I can see Campion (Jane, director of The Power of the Dog) possibly going to 1-9 or 1-10 for best director after nominations come out.”
The category with the most volatility has been Best Actress. Lines move briskly, with bettors taking positions.
Nicole Kidman and Lady Gaga made big steps up in the last two weeks. Kidman and Kristen Stewart traded places at the top, Lady Gaga surged into the Top 5 and Rachel Zegler was knocked back to sixth.
Here were the updated lines on Feb. 2, with changes from early January noted:
- The Power of the Dog + 150 (up from + 170)
- West Side Story +200
- Belfast +225
- Licorice Pizza +140
- King Richard +1600
- Will Smith, King Richard -280
- Andrew Garfield, tick, tick BOOM! +400
- Benedict Cumberbatch, Power of the Dog. +450 (from +500)
- Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth +1400 (from +1600)
Javier Bardem also cracked the top five. The Being the Ricardos star checked in at +2000, knocking Peter Dinklage from Cyrano out of the fifth spot.
Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog. is starting to pull away. The odds went from -400 to -500. But ss the train leaving the station?
Here is a look at some of the other contenders:
- Kenneth Branagh, Belfast+650 (up to second from +500)
- Steven Spielberg, West Side Story. Down from + 500 to +700
- Denis Villeneuve, Dune +900
- Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza +1400
Nicole Kidman, the Being the Ricardos star is up to +125, from + 350. Here is a look at some of the other actresses currently in the Oscar odds running:
- Kristen Stewart, Spencer, +175 (down from -190)
- Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter +400 (from +800)
- Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye +600 (up from + 800)
- Lady Gaga, House of Gucci, +1000 (welcome to the top five)
Even the chalk stumble when it comes to Oscars odds
Like prohibitive favorites at the race track or at the Super Bowl, big chalk occasionally stumbles.
And the memory is fresh.
Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020, had the Oscars in the bag according to proverbial logic. He shot from 1-t to 1-20 after the nominations were finalized and looked like the ultimate shoo-in.
Until he was shooed away.
Anthony Hopkins notched a surprise victory for his role in The Father.
In the end, bettors are gambling on how Hollywood sees itself.
Right now, the board indicates Hollywood will go all-in on Campion and Smith.
We shall see.