March 9, 2008

Breaking Down the American Idol Odds

One aspect of American Idol that often gets overlooked in the wall-to-wall coverage of the show is the gambling angle. Bodog has the odds up for the final 12, and ECB has a full analysis.

David Archuleta
Michael Johns
Carly Smithson
Ramiele Malubay
Brooke White
Jason Castro
Kristy Lee Cook
David Hernandez
David Cook
Syesha Mercado
Amanda Overmyer
Chikezie Eze
Odds current at time of posting.

The first thing that jumps out from the odds is the favorite. It shouldn't surprise anyone that David Archuleta is favored to win, but I was shocked to see that he's worse than even money (bet $11 to win $8). Even if you think he's going to win, you're better off holding on to your money than putting it on him at those odds.

People should also keep in mind that there have been several years when the early favorite didn't end up winning. In season 1, Tamyra Gray was a favorite to win, and she didn't even make the top three. Kelly Clarkson came out of nowhere to win. Even last year, Jordin Sparks was not considered a favorite until very late in the competition.

So now that we've decided not to bet chalk, let's walk through the others who would be a waste of money. Chikezie doesn't have a prayer of winning, and the 100-1 odds are probably about right. David Hernandez isn't going to win no matter how well he sings, even though he may get a sizable percentage of the gay vote. I'm surprised his odds are as low as 28-1. Amanda Overmyer is tempting at 70-1, but that's a lottery ticket bet. She's not going to win. By the same token, David Cook isn't going to win either. The "rockers" can make it to about the top 5, but at that point the "traditional" vote isn't splintered anymore and they get voted out.

At this point we've eliminated 5 of the top 12, and it's time to go looking for value. Carly Smithson has a good chance to win, but 5/1 is far too low for her. There's probably a good portion of Idol voters who are xenophobic and tattoo-hating which will hurt her chances. The next-lowest odds are for Jason Castro at 8-1. He was good last week, and he's attractive enough to pull a few votes, but he's not going to win. Those odds are way too low for him. His total lack of charm in the interviews isn't going to help him much either.

We're left with 5 competitors with odds between 10-1 and 40-1: Michael Johns, Ramiele, Brook, Kristy Lee Cook, and Syesha. Ramiele was saved by the Filipino vote last week and Syesha falls into the "forgettable attractive black girl who can sing pretty well" category of contestant that never seems to make it to the top three or four. Let's look at the others one by one.

10-1 Michael Johns
I think there's great value here, even though he hasn't blown away the judges lately. He has a lot of appeal to older women, who make up a large portion of Idol voters. He's also not threatening to other men (like, say, David Hernandez would be), which can count for a lot. He'll also probably kill Beatles week, which will vault him into the Carly Smithson range. So this is your last chance to get him at these odds.

18-1 Brook White
Brook is very unique, which in American Idol isn't often a good thing. Even so, there's something about her that makes people like her. She also seems to be relatively religious (doesn't watch rated R movies) but doesn't make a big show of it. That's a tough balance to strike, and I think it will help her a lot.

40-1 Kristy Lee Cook
Kristy hasn't done all that great lately, and was in danger of being voted off last week. However, she has a country-ish voice that started to come out last week and could be a big advantage for her. If she stops talking about horses so much and starts mentioning her MMA training a bit more, she might win over some voters. That's a lot of "ifs" but you get some huge odds at that number. And like with Brook White, you should never underestimate the popularity of an attractive white girl.

I'd recommend betting on the three competitors above. If any of them win, you'll see quite a big payout. If David Archuleta wins, you can comfort yourself by knowing that you wouldn't have made much money betting on him anyway.

Bonus Bet
I've never seen this before, but Bodog has a "Will David Archuleta win American Idol?" bet available. You actually get even money betting on "No" (Yes is -130). That's a phenomenal bet. No matter how much of a favorite he is, given the opportunity to take the field at even money is well worth it.

3 Responses:

J-Red said...

Given those odds I'd take Ramiele Malubay, on the basis that she's still very nervous on stage. If she gets that under control I could see her making a run after the Syesha, Kristy Lee Cook and Amanda drop out ahead of her on the girls side. Plus, there's enough male dead weight to let her grow into it.

big tuna said...

Nice picture of Kristy Lee Cook. I think you guys are starting to come around on her. Even when she gets kicked off a country record producer will pick her up and she will sell some records a la Josh Gracin and Kelly Pickler.

J-Red said...

Kristy must die.