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Wagering Basics: Think!

   by Bryan Leonard - 06/30/2008

With the baseball season reaching its midpoint and the football season just around the corner, this is a great time to recall wagering basics. There are so many different sporting events to wager as well as different types of wagers, that it can get confusing at times as to which game or betting strategy you should take.

Run line? Money line? Play more dogs? Totals? Halftime lines? Parlays? Choices are good, but don’t let it mess up what you’re best at. Some handicappers have a feel for totals, for example, while other bettors prefer sides or have a knack for finding weak lines on prop bets. You need to find out what works for you, but remember: Don’t ignore some of the basics. Here are a few basic wagering strategies that can help keep you focused in a winning direction.

* Just Say “No.â€쳌 Oddsmakers have to put out a betting line on just about every game, but that doesn’t mean you have to bet every one. It’s important to focus on games that, in your opinion, have a bad line or a match-up that you have located an edge. Edges can be a lefty/righty situation in baseball, a key injury, a home field advantage, a gridiron squad that can’t stop the run, or one of a thousand other angles.

A mistake many novice sports bettors make is to want to bet on a whole bunch of games, or have action on the TV games so they can watch the team they wagered on. This is one of the biggest mistakes a sports bettor can make. Don’t bet on a game just because it’s on TV or there are no other games that day. If you don’t like anything, just say “Noâ€쳌 and pass. The idea should be to increase your bankroll, not bet on games you happening to be watching.

* Heart versus The Head: Professional handicappers put in hours of time researching a particular game looking for an edge. The smart bettor needs to keep an open mind when handicapping and it’s a good idea to make a case for both teams to win the game or cover the number. Don’t begin your research thinking, “The Braves should win this game of the Steelers should be able to cover this number, so let me find stats that support this,â€쳌 and then ignore the other team. And don’t bet on your favorite team because you want them to win. Bet with your head, not your heart.

* Be Cautious of Trends: Betting trends are dangerous territory and it’s not wise to get suckered into them. If the Los Angeles Lakers have covered the spread in twelve straight games, there’s no guarantee they’ll get the money in that thirteenth game. Conversely, the law of averages says they probably should fail to cover the number over the next thirteen games, so bet against them, but it’s just as possible the Lakers could go 9-4 ATS or 12-1 ATS. You just can’t tell based strictly on trends or the law of averages.

A good example of how unpredictable trends are can be seen in this trend: Bet against any defending Super Bowl champion the first month of the new season. Last year the Colts were the defending champs, but flattened the Saints in the opener, 41-10! In fact, they won all 4 games in September.

So how will the defending champion Super Bowl Giants do this September? You’re better off examining the statistics and measuring such factors as home and away, coaching and statistical team strengths and weaknesses than to just bet against the NY Giants. Trends are unpredictable, unless there are solid reasons behind the trend, like college basketball teams often playing better at home than on the road, for example. But overall, betting sports trends are a fool’s paradise.

So get out the boxscores and analyze those statistical mismatches. Do your homework and you’ll be able to increase your sports betting winning percentage. Because there’s an old saying: “There are those who watch things happening, there are those who wait for things to happen, and there are those who have no idea what the hell is happening.â€쳌 Don’t be any one of those. Do the work, keep a clear even keel, and you’ll be a better bettor each week.

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