Prop betting in the NCAA Tournament can be both fun and profitable. As the options expand each year and books get more creative in order to stand out there are more and more opportunities out there to consider. Some prop bets make great sense, and others really don’t. In order to make money over the long term betting on NCAA Tournament props you need to avoid costly mistakes. Here are five that college basketball handicappers should be on the lookout for:
Betting the sucker bets – There are some March Madness prop bets that can offer attractive value to smart bettors willing to put the time into handicapping them properly. Then there are the prop bets that are the equivalent of putting your money in a pile and lighting it on fire. Needless to say, you need to avoid making the latter type in pursuit of the former type. The most classic example of an incredibly stupid prop bet that sports bettors bet huge amounts of money on each year is the coin toss at the Super Bowl. You can choose heads or tails as you would expect, and the price for both sides is typically around -115. The odds for each potential outcome are pretty easy to figure out, so it shouldn’t be hard to figure out that the sportsbooks have a massive edge in these bets. Despite that people insist on throwing their money away on these bets – even when they win they lose. There are many prop bets offered in the NCAA Tournament that are just as ridiculous, so before making any bet you need to ask yourself what is actually being asked, and whether the posted odds actually reflect the likelihood of the event happening. If they don’t then you absolutely should not make the bet – even if you have a hunch about heads.
Accepting too much risk – There are some prop bets that can offer very big, attractive potential payouts. There is nothing wrong with a big payday, but sometimes the risk involved in pursuing it don’t make it attractive. This is particularly important in the NCAA Tournament. The event is so complex – so many variables, so many potential pairings, and so much intensity and emotion – that even the best handicappers struggle to get a clear sense of what is going to happen. If it was easy then the best gamblers would win their brackets every year, and we know that that isn’t true. When you are betting on prop bets that involve the whole tournament or a whole region then you need to be very aware of all the uncertainty that is involved. There are a million things that could happen that would derail your hopes. If you aren’t thinking about this risk then you may not adequately compensate for it when you are assessing whether there is value to be had in a bet. In many – perhaps most – situations in the Tournament the risk involved is more than it would seem. As a result, in some cases college basketball handicappers will be better off accepting a much lower potential payoff on a prop bet if the risk is significantly lower as well.
Betting on emotion – Emotion is a big part of what makes the Tournament so fun. You cheer for the teams you love, root against the ones you hate, and embrace the underdogs. Emotion has no place in prop betting, though. Emotional attachment towards or away from a team can force you to make bets that don’t make sense in a long term value sense. This is a problem in any style of betting, but especially an issue in prop betting when there are so many bad bets out there to be made.
Betting too much on props – Prop bets often don’t offer as much value as other types of bets. They can be harder to handicap properly, and when oddsmakers have a choice they will tend to set the odds in their favor more than they are able to in other cases. While there is nothing wrong with betting on props – especially when there is value to be had – in almost all cases you will be well served to limit your betting on the props and focus more of your time and attention on the more traditional types of bets – the ones you bet all the time and are more familiar with as a result.
Locking up your money – One of the big challenges of betting props and futures is that in some cases your money can be tied up for a long time. If you are betting before the tournament on what will happen in the championship game – who will win, who will be MVP, and so on – then that money will be tied up and will be inaccessible for the rest of the tournament. If you bet too much of your money on prop bets like this then you won’t have enough of a bankroll left to logically and effectively bet on the tournament itself, and you can get yourself in trouble as a result. When your money is tied up for that long you also have to consider the opportunity cost of the bet. If you win a bet after your money has been tied up for three weeks then you will have made a profit. With that same money over the course of the tournament, though, you may have been able to make several bets – both with it, and with the money you win from betting it. If you are a winning long term bettor then there would be an expectation that you would come out ahead by betting that money. When you are considering whether there is value in a long term prop bet, then, you not only need to think about the basic value of the bet, but also about the opportunity cost of making the bet. If that’s not adequately reflected in the potential payout then making the bet would be a mistake that a savvy college basketball handicapper would never make.