The NFL season is long, and for football bettors it can be grueling. By the time the Super Bowl is over most sports bettors are ready for a break. They’ll forget about football for a while and look elsewhere – catching up on all the basketball they have ignored, betting on some hockey, or getting ready for baseball perhaps. While that only makes sense, smart NFL bettors will do one thing before they move on – they’ll take stock of how they performed during the last NFL season, and what they can do better going forward. It doesn’t have to take very long, and it is time very well spent. Here are five simple steps sports handicappers can take to set themselves up for success in the next NFL season:
Step 1. What was your record last season? – This seems very obvious, but you’d be amazed how many people can’t do this effectively. If you don’t know how successfully you bet, and how much money you made or lost as a result, then there is no way that you can know what you need to do to get better. Sports bettors have big egos – it’s what draws us to football betting. That means that if they don’t keep good records then they will almost certainly assume that they are more successful than they are, and that their NFL handicapping is better than it is. Ideally you should be able to look at your record very quickly by looking at a spreadsheet, a notebook, or whatever system you use. If you don’t have that, though, then it is very worthwhile doing whatever you can to get a good picture of your record – looking at your online betting accounts, betting slips, bank withdrawals and deposits, or whatever it takes.
Step 2. Break it down – Once you have your betting record you only have a starting point. The more different ways you can break down those results the better you can understand them. That means you’ll start to see your strengths and weaknesses, the bets you should be making more of, and those you should avoid. What types of bets do you make? How successful was each type of bet? How did you do on road teams? Home teams? AFC teams? NFC? Early in the season or late? Teams coming off bye weeks? Favorites? Underdogs? The more you evaluate your results, and the more creative you can be in doing so, the more insights you’ll gain. The other thing you’ll want to look at here is bet size. Did you maintain your bet size throughout, or change it frequently? Were the changes random, or carefully planned? Were you more successful with your smaller bets or your bigger ones? Did you chase losses? These are important questions that winning sports handicappers answer.
Step 3. Look at teams you bet on, and those you didn’t – One of the most costly habits bettors can have is biases towards some football teams and against others. It happens inevitably because there are some players and some styles of play that really excite you, and others that turn you off. Having those biases is fine – it’s part of being a fan. Letting those biases influence your bets, though, can be very costly. At the end of each season you should break down your bets by the team you bet on in each case, and the team you bet against. It’s okay if some teams have jumped out far more frequently than others, but only if there are good reasons for those teams to have received that attention – like they were statistically logical, and they were consistently profitable.
Step 4. What do you want to learn more about? – Once you have broken down your NFL season from every angle you’ll probably have spotted things you aren’t doing as well as you would like to be. It could be that you aren’t making any money with a type of bet, or that you aren’t making a type of bet at all. Perhaps you notice that your money management approach could use some refinement. Maybe you just want to work on your understanding of the x’s and o’s. Spending some time thinking about what you want to learn, and what will make you a stronger bettor, is great for one big reason – it points out what you should work on. It also should motivate you to start doing the learning before the next season.
Step 5. Make a to-do list before next season – If you are like most people then if you don’t write down what you need to do then you’ll forget about it. It could be anything – the learning we talked about before, improving your record keeping, shopping around for a new sportsbook, getting to know the starting quarterbacks better, doing some statistical analysis, and so on. One football bettor I know sets up these tasks in his calendar on his computer, so every couple of weeks he gets reminded of the next thing he should do. By the time the next NFL season rolls around he’s done a whole lot to get ready, and he has a big edge on those handicappers who have done nothing.