Betting on the Olympics can be a highly enjoyable and nice profitable affair. When you are hanndicapping the Olympics, track and field is one event that is worth focusing on. For a number of reasons – it’s true to form, the high profile attracts a lot of clueless public money, oddsmakers aren’t typically used to setting lines on the sport, and so on – it is an attractive betting opportunity. If you are looking to cash in on those who can run fastest, jump highest, and throw furthest during the Olympics then here are five key tips to keep in mind:
Don’t rely on reputations – For all but the most serious of track and field fans the sport is only relevant for three weeks every four years – the week of Olympic trials and two week of the Olympics. The rest of the time people might notice if something really impressive happens, but the sport mostly fades back into obscurity. Because of this we quite often see athletes with reputations that are built on accomplishments that are far from current. We’ll remember their heroics at the previous Olympics and expect them to do the same again this time around. They are four years older now, and their competitors are four years better. It’s still possible that the old stars will be the new stars as well, but quite often there is a shift in generations between Olympics in many sports. Before you bet on any track and field athlete based on their name you need to make sure that you are betting on what they can do now, not what they could do back in their prime. By looking at their performance over the last year, informed media expectations, and the strength of the rest of the field you can be sure that you are making sound current decisions.
Get to know the sport – Because track and field is such a high profile sport during the Olympics it can be easy to think that you understand the sport well – even if you only really watch it once every four years. There are a lot of very casual Olympic bettors, so even spending just a little bit of time getting to understand the intricacies of the sport can give you a surprising edge. What types of athletes do best in certain events? What has changed in training or technique in the last few years that could have a big impact on the outcome? Has there been important rule changes? One example of a rule change impact that could be very significant is false starts in running events. They seem to change those rules every games, and they can have a very big impact on how races turn out depending upon how they are enforced. Getting to know what the new rules are and how they affect different athletes could be very significant – especially if the rules don’t favor a runner that will be a favorite.
Consider athlete workload – There are many athletes during the Games – especially track athletes – who will have qualified to compete in several different events during the Olympics. While they may compete in all those events chances are good that they won’t necessarily choose to give their full effort in all events. If the timing isn’t ideal then they could choose to save their best for their best event while hoping to qualify or make a good showing in other events just based on talent. When an athlete is in multiple events it is important to know what their schedule is, what their priorities are, and how they have done with busy schedules in the past. If an athlete is tired or unfocused then he won’t run at his or her best. If that athlete is only a slight favorite in an event that could be enough to cause him to lose, and to cause you to enjoy a nice payoff betting on another athlete.
Evaluate the favorites first – There are some sports that see a whole lot of upsets. Track and field typically isn’t one of those sports. In the large majority of events during the Olympics the winner will be one of the small handful of favored athletes heading into the event. When you are handicapping track and field, it only makes sense to look at the favorites before anyone else. If you can find a reason to doubt them – lack of form or focus, too much hype driving down value, too many events and so on – then you can look beyond the elite. Doing so sooner is typically a waste of time.
Who does the public like? – Public opinion is easier to understand and track in the Olympics than at other times. Bettors are going to like two groups of athletes – the stars from their own country, and the ones who get a lot of attention from TV and online media because of their storylines and accomplishments. Those athletes are also going to draw a disproportionate amount of the betting action. Often, but not always, they will deserve that attention. If they don’t, though, then the added attention could create some very nice value on other athletes. By paying attention to what the public is being told you can be well positioned to spot that value and capitalize on it.