Some sports bettors I know like to watch every game that they bet on – or at least as many as they possibly can. Not me. I make a point of not watching any game on which I bet, and by extension I don’t bet on games that I plan to watch. That’s what works for me, but I understand the other side and why it works for others, too. Here’s a look at why I won’t watch games I have action on, and why others won’t miss them:
Not watching your games
You can get tilted – This is the single biggest reason for me. Once I have made a bet all that really matters ultimately is if I win or lose the game. How I win or lose is ultimately meaningless. How it happens can be wildly frustrating, though. There is nothing more frustrating than watching a game that seems to be in hand only to have it slip away from you near the end. It could be a bone-headed coaching call or a stunning fumble in football, or a bullpen collapse in baseball. Whatever it is, I know that watching games slip away like that is bad for my blood pressure. I also know that when I watch a game crumble before my eyes I can become frustrated, and when I am frustrated I don’t make my best betting decisions. I like to avoid as many opportunities for frustration in my betting as I possibly can, so I avoid watching the games on which I bet.
Pay too much attention to some teams – There are going to be some teams that are on TV in your area more than others, and there are going to be some teams that you enjoy watching more than others. The job of a sports handicapper is to find the best possible handicapping situations on a given day, not the best handicapping situations that happen to be available on TV. Whether it’s intentional or not, when you make a habit of betting games you can watch you can start to favor some teams and ignore others.
Ignoring your analysis – When you watch games there are inevitably things that are going to stand out – whether it’s the particularly strong or weak play of a certain player, or a scheme that is particularly noteworthy. When you see something like that it can lead you to have a particularly positive or negative opinion of the team in question, and that opinion can have an impact on your handicapping. When I handicap a game I like to rely on my analysis because I trust it. If that analysis is fighting for attention in my mind with opinions formed watching a game then I could start making less than optimal decisions.
Watching your games
The more games you watch, the more you learn – Knowledge is power when handicapping a sport, and the more games you watch, the more knowledge about the sport you are inevitably going to have. When you have bet on a game you are inevitably going to be paying closer attention to the game because you have a personal stake in it. The closer you are watching a game, the better the chance that you will notice something interesting that you hadn’t noticed before.
Assess the accuracy of your assumptions – When you choose to bet on a game you do it because you have made some assumptions about what is going to happen. If you are any good at all then you are basing those assumptions on your analysis and any insights you may draw from it. by watching the games you have bet on you can see first hand and immediately which assumptions are proving to be accurate, and which ones were misguided. If you notice that you are consistently missing the mark on a type of assumption then you can make the adjustment needed to plug that leak.
Can potentially make adjustments with in-game bets – Sometimes even the best thought out, most logical sports bets are going to lose. In fact, even the best bettors lose more than 40 percent of their bets against the spread over the long term. If you are watching a game you can often tell early on when a game just isn’t going to go your way. In those cases you may be able to use in-game bets to hedge your original bet and limit the size of your losses. You won’t often be able to turn a money-losing bet into a winning one this way, but you’ll often be able to decrease the size of your loss, and that’s going to have a long term positive impact on your bottom line. This approach exposes the sports bettor to more risk, though, so before a bettor tries to save their bankroll this way they need to be sure they understand know what they are doing so they don’t go broke instead.