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Freakonomics in the Times Magazine: Dissecting the Line

The February 5, 2006, Freakonomics column in the New York Times Magazine isn’t really a Freakonomics column, and it’s not really in the New York Times Magazine, either.

To clarify: Dubner and Levitt have written an article about football betting for Play, a new sports magazine being published under the aegis of the Times Magazine, and distributed in the Sunday newspaper. The inaugural issue is dated Feb. 5, 2006, the day of Super Bowl XL.

The Dubner/Levitt article is called “Dissecting the Line,” and deals primarily with the intricacies of a bookmaker’s job as he sets the point spread for football games, and how his standard operating procedure must change as he approaches the Super Bowl. Click here to read the article.

To research the article, Dubner and Levitt visited Chuck Esposito, the chief bookmaker for Caesars Palace. (For a brief note on their excursion, see this earlier post.) The article also depends on one of Levitt’s academic papers, “How Do Markets Function? An Empirical Analysis of Gambling on the National Football League.” For a little basic background on sports betting, you might want to read this list of FAQ’s; or click here for a list of point spreads for all previous Super Bowls.