The point spread’s sole purpose is to even the betting so that the amount bet on the underdog is equal to the amount bet on the favorite. The book makes its money on the vigorish or juice. So, if the amount bet on the underdog is the same as the amount bet on the underdog, the book is guaranteed a 10% profit on half the bets made, no matter which team covers.
The best linesmakers are those who have a feel for what the betting public believes. The betting line they set reflects the betting public’s perception of the strength of the two teams. It does not necessarily reflect the true relative strengths of the two teams. And the sportsbook betting public’s perception is often wrong.
Once you understand that concept, everything else will begin to fall into place. You will have an edge over most bettors.
Be objective. Listen to you head not your heart. Don’t bet against the Cowboys just because you want to see them lose. And, don’t bet on a team just because you like the team. And don’t bet on your favorite team if you are an avid fan. It’s almost impossible to be objective. Fans tend to be overly optimistic about their favorite team or overly pessimistic if things are not going well.
Be consistent. Bet the same amount on each game. Some players bet $200 on games they think are locks and $100 on ones they’re not so sure of. It’s those not so sure of bets that rack up the losses. If you’re uncertain about a game, don’t bet it.
Should you bet on the home team? Generally no. However, if you can be objective, you have an edge. You probably know more about your home team than those in other parts of the country because the local media gives extensive coverage to the home team, coverage that is not shared with the rest of the country.
Look for Trends. If you spot a trend, factor that into your decision. Some teams have other teams’ number. In the last four years the 49ers have covered against the Rams 7 of 8 times and the one time they didn’t, Young was hurt and they had to play Druckmiller, a rookie. In the last five years, Green Bay has lost 4 out the 5 games played in Detroit.
Trends are not guarantees. The trend might not hold and you lose your bet. But, remember the purpose is to increase your chances of winning. Based on past performance, if you bet on the 49ers to cover against the Rams, you’re more likely to win your bet than to lose.
Place your bets late in the week. By waiting until the end of the week, you’ll know about any injuries to key players that might affect how you bet. Sometimes, players are injured or aggravate an injury in practice. Or what seemed like a minor injury on Tuesday may turn out to be one that will keep the player out of the game. Also, weather conditions might affect your bet. Inclement weather often keeps the scoring down.
Limit the Number of Games You Bet. More is not better. The optimum number seems to be 3 to 6 games. Any more and the winning percentages tend to decline because the law of averages comes into play. (The more games you play the more likely you are to have 50% winners and 50% losers. And that’s a losing season, because of the juice.) Also, it’s easier to concentrate on a limited number of games.
Losing Streaks Happen. No matter what, you can count on a losing streak. It happens to handicappers, professional gamblers, casual bettors, and even books. Be prepared to ride it out. If you’re using Pro Predictor or a handicapping service, you must stick with it throughout the season in order to come out a winner. Leaving at the first sign of a losing streak will guarantee you lose for the season. Suppose you drop out only to have the handicapper go 5 for 5 the next week. Those are 5 wins you’ll never have and will affect your overall winning percentage.
Never Bet Against a Streak. This is a key to increasing your winning and decreasing your losses. Consider this a betting mantra. Say it over and over until it is firmly embedded in your mind. Never bet against a streak. And, if you’re going to bet on streaks, bet the streak will continue. And it doesn’t matter whether the streak is a winning streak or a losing streak. Ironically, logic will tell you that the odds of a streak continuing double with each additional week and you should bet against it. But there’s a hidden trap.
Consider the following scenario: In week 10, you notice that Green Bay has covered for 4 weeks in a row. Should you bet that the streak will end? Remember, each week the odds against the streak continuing double.
Betting Against the Streak: You bet $100 against Green Bay covering in week 11. Sure enough, they fail to cover. You’re $100 ahead. But what happens if they do cover and the streak continues. You’re $110 in the hole. What do you do? Do you bet another $100 against the streak in week 12 because the odds against the streak continuing are even greater? If you do, and the streak ends, you win $100 and now are only $10 loser and that’s the end of that. But, if the streak continues, you’re now $220 in the hole. What do you do now? Do you bite the bullet and take your losses or do you fall into the trap of chasing your loses? Do you continue and try to get back some of your losses? Do you double up in an attempt to cover your loses? Don’t do it. Doubling up is never a good idea. It is another trap that can cause you to have huge losses and it isn’t worth the gamble.
Betting with the Streak: You bet $100 that Green Bay will cover again in week 11. If they fail to cover, you’ve lost $110 and that’s that, much like a regular straight bet. But what happens if they do cover and the streak continues. You’re $100 to the good and if you continue to bet on the streak, the most you can lose is $10. If you bet another $100 with the streak in week 12 and the streak ends, your net losses are $10. But, if the streak continues, you’re guaranteed to come out at least $90 ahead and with each addition week the streak continues, you add another $100 to your winnings.
So, if you bet against a streak, the most you can win is $100 but you the amount you can lose is limited only by the length of the streak. If you bet with the streak, the most you can lose is $110, but the amount you can win is limited only by the length of the streak