Since we are getting close to the start of both the NFL and college football seasons season win totals are widely available at sports books, and they are promoted with increased aggressiveness each year. They are an intriguing bet for people to consider. Occasionally they even make sense to be. As a sports handicapper as you consider whether to make season win totals bets this year, here are some things you’ll want to do, and others you will certainly want to avoid:
Pay close attention to not just the total but the price – We can be so focused on deciding if a football team is going to go over or under a total that we can forget entirely about what it is going to cost us to make the bet. The price of the bet tells sports handicappers just as much as the total about whether a bet is worth making or not. For example, if the price of the over is +100 and you think a team has about a 55 percent chance of going over the total then it’s a good bet to think about. If the probability is the same, though, and the price is -140 then it’s not much of a bet at all because over the long term you’re going to lose money even if you are right about the wining percentage. The prices for win totals can be all over the board, and sports books are at all afraid to put big prices on totals involving public teams, so you really need to be aware.
Be contrary – There are a lot of totals that the betting public is going to be drawn to no matter what – the Pats and Steelers over and the Rams under, for example. Oddsmakers are very smart and very good at anticipating the public’s preferences and biases, and they will set totals and prices with the goal of maximizing their profit. In many cases, though, the public’s enthusiasm and common sense aren’t necessarily aligned. Some of the best opportunities in win totals come from going against the widely held opinion – you get totals that are out of whack and prices that are juicy.
Look at the schedules closely – If you follow football closely then you probably have a sense of how good you think teams are, and what you think would be a winning performance. Relying on those feelings can be dangerous, though, if we haven’t first looked at the schedule to see what they are up against. A good team could be challenged by a long road trip, or a string of tough opponents, or games in venues that don’t traditionally treat them well. Weaker teams could perform better than expected if they get to play weak teams on the road and tougher teams at home, or if they have a particularly soft schedule. For football handicappers no single factor is more significant to season win totals, or so often overlooked, than the schedule.
Get sucked in by what the oddsmakers want – Oddsmakers know that a lot of season win totals bets are made by committed fans and other unsophisticated bettors. That allows them to set a lot of traps with the totals that are easy to fall in. Before you make any season win total bet you need to not only think about the team in question, but also what the public is thinking, what the oddsmakers were likely considering, and what that says about what you should do.
Play a public team without a good reason to do so – If you have a strong feeling about a public team and think that there is good value in the posted total then there is no reason not to consider making the bet. Remember, though, that public teams will very often have inflated totals and prices, so you need to be especially sure that your bet makes sense in these cases – especially if you are drawn towards the over.
Feel like you have to play every total – You need to choose your spots very carefully when you are betting season win totals. For ever potentially attractive season win total bet there are 5, 10 or 20 that just aren’t worth your time and consideration. This is definitely not a case where more is merrier.
Bet unless there is a whole lot of value – When you make a season win total bet your money is tied up for the whole season. That money can’t be used to bet on the season – it’s as good as gone until the bet is settled. If you are a winning sports bettor then you may have been able to bet the money you bet on the total several times over during the season – reinvesting your winnings each time. Because you are missing out on that opportunity, and robbing yourself of flexibility in your bankroll, it is very important that you only make season win totals when the edge you have is massive – significantly bigger than you would consider acceptable on a standard bet.
Forget to have fun – Sports bettors often take themselves too seriously. Season win totals are a potential profit center, but they are also a great way to have some fun, secure a cheering interest for the season, and maybe get some bragging rights if you win with an underdog or two. If you aren’t having some fun as a sports handicapper when you make these bets in particular then you shouldn’t be betting them.