It is that special time of the year again! There is so much good and so much bad going on right now. Let’s start with the bad….The Summer is over, the clocks will be set back soon, school starts back (which could be a good thing for parents), and we still have to listen to 3 more months of bad political commentary. Now, the good….It’s football season!
I hate wishing away the summer, but the void between the end of basketball till the beginning of football is brutal for sports bettors. The full college season starts next week and the NFL starts the following. It is time for us to start paying attention and not let our excitement have us rush into hurried assessments and rash gambling decisions. For fantasy players, suicide leagues and straight up betting with friends, the first few weeks of the year can be brutal if you haven’t done your homework. Just because one team was solid last year doesn’t mean that they will be this year. There is a ton of turnover in both college and the NFL and if you aren’t keeping up with the changes, it can burn you.
The annual preview magazines are always a good place to start when prepping for the season. They give a basic overview of what to expect. However, things are constantly evolving, with injuries, transfers/trades, arrests and failed drug tests. All these factors can impact a season dramatically. Let’s start with the obvious, whether it is pro or college, a team’s success starts and ends with two things: the QB and the Head Coach (and not necessarily in that order). So, hopefully your team has at least one of these, or you will be in for another long season (like my Philadelphia Eagles). But let’s discuss what really makes us less of a fan of a particular team, but more of a fan of the entire sport – sports betting.
Whether we have a favorite team or not, it all gets evened out by one thing – Vegas. The Vegas bookmakers make everything even. Your team could be the crappiest team in the conference, but they will be getting 10+ points each week. This draws you in and allows you to keep that interest in any game, regardless of how good the team is this year. While I do have my favorite teams, what I have learned is that you never let emotion interfere with wagering. I have learned the hard way to not bet on teams I have a fondness for. This clouds your judgment. You have to take emotion out of the equation. What we all must realize is that regardless of how talented a team is, Vegas levels the playing field. The goal for Vegas is to get 50% of the people on one team and 50% of people on the other (this is true most of the time, but not always). Thus, they don’t care who wins and they continue to build their empire on the easy, guaranteed vig money. Clemson can be a world beater this year and they might not cover a single game.
Most professional sports bettors have a long-term win percentage of around 55%. As amateurs, this does not bode well for most of you. When I was young amateur my problem was that I bet on the good teams all the time and literally tried to bet on every game that was on tv, just so I could have action on the games I was watching. This was a recipe for disaster. What I have learned after losing my ass throughout my 20’s and early 30’s was that you have to pick and choose your battles and be mindful of things like travel schedules (cross country trips or back-to-back road games), injuries/suspensions, and the biggest red flag of them all…. WEIRD LINES. I remember when I was a college sophomore at NC State. UNC was playing Iowa in basketball. The Heels were #1 in the nation and playing an average Iowa team. The line was UNC -2.5. I mustered up all the money I could and dumped it on UNC. I couldn’t believe the line wasn’t 15 points. Iowa won that game outright. I learned more from that game than all my classes in college. If something stinks, there is a reason. Always remember….Vegas knows best.
As a sports bettor, I like to do two things: fade the public when more than 70% of them are on one side and jump all over lines that seem very odd. This occurs once or twice a week (college and pro combined). Fade the public on lopsided interest. Why? Because Vegas wins more than the public wins and, as a whole, the public loses more than they win. That’s why they keep building bigger casinos. When a line looks crooked, all this means is that someone knows something that we don’t. People have argued this point with me through the years, basically saying that if Vegas wants 50% on one side and 50% on the other, that the line that was set is the true line and they aren’t trying to pull the wool over the public’s eyes. For the most part, this is right. Problem is, once or twice a week, they seem to trap the public with a sucker bet (based on inside intel they have). I have seen it time and time again, so you can’t convince me otherwise. That being said, the next time you see a line that is too good to be true, go the other way and thank me later (I’ve hit on these plays 70% of the time, which is much better than 55%)
– Hot Rod @rodkessler