Sports betting is full of traps for the casual bettor. Sportsbooks are in the business of making money, so they have to find as many ways as they can to siphon the money out of unprotected wallets. Smart bettors – or those who aspire to be – can recognize some of those traps and work hard to avoid them. Here are six of the most common traps bettors fall into:
Betting parlays or exotics – Sportsbooks love parlays, teasers and every other type of exotic bets that offer big potential payouts. That’s why they promote them so heavily at every opportunity. Their love comes from two places. First, bettors love the bets thanks to the promise of big payouts, so the bets produce a lot of revenue. More significantly, the odds for these bets are stacked strongly in favor of the books. The potential payouts for most exotic bets are less – and often far less – than the risk involved in the bets, so over the long term the books can’t lose. In fact, over the long term they are all but guaranteed to make a killing on these bets. Smart bettors hate making bets in which they don’t have a solid edge – an expectation over the long term of making a profit – so they are very cautious about these bets, and only bet them in the very rare cases where they make good sense.
Taking the first number he sees – A lot of casual bettors focus their efforts on deciding who is going to win the game or cover the spread. That’s important, of course, but just as important is making sure that you are getting the best line you can possibly get in every circumstance. There are some books out there that through out unattractive lines in hopes of luring unsuspecting bettors in. Most books have better lines in some sports or some circumstances than others. Even a have point on a spread, or a few points of juice, can make a huge difference to your bottom line over the course of the season. Smart bettors know this and seek out the best line they can – and don’t bet when they don’t find the line they like. Casual bettors just bet the games they want to bet at almost any price.
Buying into hype – Smart bettors know that the only thing that matters is the handicapping – what their analysis says about a game and how it should turn out. Casual bettors will often look beyond that handicapping and buy into the hype that the media is spreading – a player who is hot, a team that seems great on paper, a flashy trade, an injury, and so on. Oddsmakers are far from stupid, so if they know that the public is going to be overly excited about a team for some reason then chances are they will adjust the line in their favor. That doesn’t mean that you can’t bet on a heavily hyped team – sometimes hype is justified. It just means that as a sports handicapper you need to be aware of the situation, and comfortable with the fact that the line could be worse than it would otherwise be in this situation.
Accepting what he reads without evaluation – There is a virtually endless supply of insight and analysis online, in print, and on radio and TV. You would have to be blind and deaf to avoid it. There’s nothing wrong at all with reading and listening and watching as much as you want to watch – knowledge is a good thing. Where people get in trouble, though, is when they accept what they hear without question. A lot of what you read and here is pretty good, but a fair bit of it isn’t particularly accurate. Smart bettors don’t act on anything until they have confirmed that it is true for themselves.
Favoring some teams – It’s no secret that some teams are just more attractive and interesting than others. It’s way easier to get excited about the Colts than the Bills, for example. Casual bettors get seduced by the interesting games and bet on them more often than the rest of the teams. Smart bettors know that the less interest there is in a game the more chance there is that there can be good value in that game. They know that at the end of the day your results aren’t based on how interesting a game is, but how many bets you win and lose. Smart bettors, then, look for the games they can win, not the the ones that they care about.
Betting the better team – Casual bettors think that the point of handicapping a game is to figure out which team is better. That’s far from the truth. Smart bettors know that the point is actually to figure out how the chances of the teams relate to the odds that are available, and where the value is as a result. Smart bettors don’t care at all about betting on the better team – they care about betting on the team that gives them the better chance of making a profit. This is what expert sports picks are about, being a smart handicapper who goes below the surface of a point spread.