Changing Bets for Regular Season vs Special Events

Successful sports betting is all about handling transitions well when handicapping. You regularly have to make transitions between different sports, types of bets, or phases of the season. The preseason is different than the early part of the regular season, and the stretch drive of the season is different than the playoffs. The better the sports handicapper is able to make those transitions, the more likely they will be a profitable long term bettor.

One of the biggest transitions a bettor has to make is the difference between betting on a sport during its regular season and betting on it during a major event. The Final Four, for example, is a lot like the regular season – the same teams with the same players playing the same game – but if you handicap it in just the same way you handicap the regular season you aren’t nearly as likely to succeed as you would be if you recognized the differences and embraced them. Here are six ways in which ‘event’ betting is different than regular season betting for the sports handicapper:

Emotion is a much bigger factor – teams are certain to be far more emotionally invested in an event game that they absolutely need to win than in a regular season game that is like dozens of other regular season games they will play. The impact of emotion isn’t always an easy thing for sports bettors to assess, but it is a very important one. Some teams handle that emotion very well – it drives their focus, improves their intensity, and just makes them better. Other teams just aren’t built to handle the pressure that extra emotion brings – they crumble when they should thrive. When handicapping an event you absolutely have to consider what effect emotion is going to have on teams.

Teams can leave it all on the court/field/rink – Teams always say that they are playing their regular season one game at a time, but that’s just not true. They are always looking ahead at the schedule to see what demands they are going to face, and they have to make sure that they have what they need to give themselves a decent chance every game they play. Depending on the sport that could mean giving starters a day off, easing up on the gas when they have a lead, playing young players more to give them experience they will need if they have to play more, and so on. In events like the Final Four, though, tomorrow really doesn’t matter. If a team doesn’t win today then they won’t get to play again, so they can’t worry about saving themselves or strategizing about how to balance effort and energy optimally. That means that teams, at least theoretically, play these games at full strength and full effort. Thankfully, that means sports bettors should spend less time worrying about just how they might approach the game, who might start or play a lot, and so on.

Opponents often far less familiar – In the regular season, depending on the sport, teams can play each other many times. Even if they don’t play opponents more than once or twice they likely play the majority of them almost every year. Familiarity can make it easier to prepare for a team in the season that you know what to expect, but it can also be harder because the opponent has first hand knowledge of your tendencies as well. In events chances are that the opponents are either new ones that are unfamiliar, or aren’t necessarily well known ones. That lack of familiarity favors things like better coaching because of the preparation they can do, more experience, more athleticism, and more creative and unique offenses or defenses that are hard for teams to play against if they haven’t seen them before.

High reward situations lead to high risk decisions – Coaches are typically very risk averse. They won’t make bold decisions if a conservative one will work most times, and they hate big risks. That largely goes out the window in big events. Teams absolutely need to win, and that can force them to take big risks that can get them that win. When coaches are encouraged to be their most creative and aggressive then better coaches have an even bigger edge than normal. Sports handicappers need to keep this in mind.

Betting attention typically much higher – The general betting public will pay much more attention to a big event than they will the regular season – especially early in the regular season. The more public action there is, the more you need to be aware of the impact the public has on betting lines. For example, the public has a well known and remarkably consistent love for the favorites and the over, so books will often adjust their lines accordingly to compensate for that affection. That means that lines on the favorite can often be higher than they normally should be, and value can often be harder to find than normal there and on the totals. The public also often reacts strongly and quickly to big news – like the injury of a star player – without pausing to consider what it actually means. Those reactions can lead to massive value for sports handicappers if the line moves in the right direction.

Media attention much more significant – The bigger the event the more media outlets will cover. With more media coverage there will be more people out there suggesting that they are experts that know just what is going on. The truth is, though, that many of them aren’t – and a lot of them only cover the sport seriously whenever a big event rolls around. They are more interesting in getting attention than in being accurate or insightful. The bigger the event, then, the more a sports bettor needs to be sure that they confirm anything they read or hear before forming their betting decisions.

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