If you have spent any time at all in the sports betting world then you have inevitably heard about locks – expert sports picks that absolutely can’t lose. We’ll go into more detail, but if there is one thing every sports handicappers needs to take from this article it’s this:
There is no such thing as a lock. Period.
People will try hard to convince you that that’s not true, but it unquestionably and absolutely is. Here’s something a smart sports bettor might notice – the more insistent someoneoffering sports picks is that they have a lock, the shadier they are, and the less likely they are to have any real handicapping talent. You can also be very confident that someone who believes in locks isn’t a profitable bettor.
So, why am I so insistent that there are no locks? Why don’t I believe in them? There are endless reasons, but here are four good ones that savvy sports handicappers understand:
Any team can win any game – If you don’t know this then you just haven’t watched enough sports. There are great teams and much less impressive teams, but if you as a sports handicapper believe that a bad team can’t beat a good team then you’re just an idiot. Just look at the NFL for proof. Since they started playing 16 regular season games only one team has gone undefeated in the regular season, and they lost in the playoffs. That means there have been a whole lot of great teams, including every Super Bowl winner, that have lost at least once. Over that same stretch only one team has lost every single game. With the exception of the Lions, every terrible team has managed to find a way to win at least one game. In the NBA the most successful team in history still lost more than 10 percent of their games. Great hockey teams lose even more. In college football number one teams fall so often that we hardly even notice anymore. Great teams will win most of their games, but they won’t win all of them. If they could then you could get rich just by betting on them every time. Every game in every sport involves many players making many, many plays. Just one of those plays in any game can potentially impact the outcome of any game. To assume that a lock is possible is to assume that all of these plays will turn out just as you need them to. Ridiculous. Really, this is the only argument sports bettors need to understand that anyone who suggests they have a lock is an idiot, but we’ll keep going.
Strange stuff happens – Part of what makes sports so great, and so memorable, is that bizarre things happen on a regular basis. Balls take odd bounces. Players make incomprehensible decisions. Referees make bad calls. People trip. Guys get hurt in bizarre and horrific ways. Any one of those things can have a significant impact on the outcome of a game, and can turn a lock into a loser for the sports bettor.
Oddsmakers aren’t idiots – In fact, oddsmakers are really smart. They have incredible amounts of information at their disposal when they are making lines, and they are very good at using that information effectively in point spreads, moneylines and over/unders. They obviously know when a team is extremely likely to win a game, and they set the line or the odds accordingly. If you are betting the spread then they will set the spread in such a way to approximately balance the risk – the likelihood of either team covering the spread. If you are betting the moneyline then they will set the price so that it is extremely expensive to bet on the good team – expensive enough that just one loss by the strong team will erase the profits made from several wins. Oddsmakers and sportsbooks are in the business of making money, so they aren’t going to set lines that allow for a guaranteed win for any sports handicapper. Obviously.
Good bettors don’t need locks – This is the big one – good sports bettors don’t need to worry about locks because – beyond the fact that they are smart enough to know they don’t exist – they don’t need them. Smart bettors know that they aren’t going to win every bet, and they know that they don’t need to win every bet. They know that what is important ultimately is not whether they win or lose any particular bet, but whether the amount they bet on the game is less than the risk associated with the bet. If your investment is less than the risk involved then you have value, and if you consistently bet value then you will make a long term profit – even without locks. Smart bettors don’t worry about any particular loss because they know they are making good decisions, and they have the bankroll in place to survive the losses and enjoy the long term profits.