How a Winning Handicapper Bets on NFL, MLB and NBA Betting Trends

How to look for profitable betting trends

A handicapper gets information from numerous sources and assigns weights and values to the wagering data. They will make their own power ranking and predict what the point spread should be without looking at the official line. They compare their predictions to the line to look for discrepancies. A large amount of data is available via the internet and other sources that the handicapper will read through to find the value bet. The use of computer programs can help when searching through the data to find a recent betting trend to support an NFL or NBA selection. NFL and NBA betting involve point spreads which can show some numerical patterns that reveal a weakness in betting lines.

Why don’t more people win at sports betting. Like any other endeavor, it takes time, patience and practice to become successful. A person of average intelligence can become a winning handicapper if they have the desire. Based on the odds of -110 for a straight football or basketball bet a handicapper only need to be right 52.38 percent of the time to break even. However, many sports bettors cannot achieve that percentage of winning over the long run. Perhaps they have too many NFL picks or betting NFL favorites all the time.

The chart below shows the break-even points for the various odds you will encounter when you make a money line bet. With higher odds, you have to have a higher winning percentage to break even. If you bet the underdogs you can have a lower win percentage and still make money. Betting trends with underdogs is the best way to test a trend without much risk. Winning handicappers will find a solid underdog to ride a trend risking less to win more.


Favorite Winning % Underdog Winning %
-110 52.38 +110 47.62
-115 53.49 +115 46.51
-120 54.55 +120 45.45
-125 55.56 +125 44.44
-130 56.52 +130 43.48
-135 57.45 +135 42.55
-140 58.33 +140 41.67
-145 59.18 +145 40.82
-150 60.00 +150 40.00
Betting favorites vs underdog

As you can see, underdog betting trends are most rewarding when you can win more than lose. However, you do not always have to bet the moneyline dog to get the favorable money odds. Most bettors have a pre-conceived notion that betting favorites is the safe play. The best way to get the favorable plus money odds with no vig and still bet the favorite is the run line in MLB. Any of your MLB picks should focus on the runline first. Most MLB favorites are usually in the -140 to -180 moneyline. Their posted runline at -1.5 runs is usually in the +120 to +150 range. About 70% of MLB games are decided by two or more runs.

Potential to make money

The best part about sports betting is that you always have the potential to make some money. You always have the ability to win by finding betting trends which can hit 3 or 4 times in a row or more. This money making does not have to stop with just making a few extra bucks here and there. A lot of people have trained themselves to become professional sports bettors. They have learned how to sift through stats with a keen eye for making correct picks. Handicappers see betting trends as timing the market and studying the schedule.

Lack of knowledge

Most sports bettors know just enough to make them dangerous. There is a great difference between being knowledgeable in the NFL and NFL betting. Being able to name the starting offensive line for the Cowboys is not likely to help a person win a bet. What many sports bettors do not realize is they are competing against other bettors who spend countless hours on handicapping, studying trends, injuries, and betting angles. If you fail to study the games, find somebody who does it for a living. A reputable sports data service is a necessary support tool to use for information by skilled sports betting professionals.

The sports betting industry is a major investment market for a limited number of successful traders. Alternative investment markets are a popular destination for investors with excess cash waiting for a decent return on investment. Most stocks are tied into the economic news with no parameters and direction. It is becoming more difficult for even savvy investors to time the bottom. They have to become much more selective. The sports betting market has been around a long time with some controversy in the earlier years. However, there is a vibrant market in today’s highly competitive sports arena. The regulated Nevada sports books have the monopoly on legalized NFL, NBA, MLB sports betting plus the NCAA football and basketball college ranks.

Can the amateur recreational bettors make money at these books — sometimes, but not in the long run.

The professionals know how to look for the edge and only need to hit a minimum of 54% to make a modest return on investment. Making a 15% to 25% return for the year is very possible. The good ones are few but the results are quick and opportunities exist everyday when soft betting lines are found and exploited. The betting lines are made to divide the betting public. They ideally want even betting on both sides. Their number does come close about 70% of the time.

This happens a lot in all sports. They do provide a good service but their stats and computer models can only go so far. Investments in this area have a limited scale and cannot handle the millions or billions that pour into those other markets. But investors with up to one million can see a very nice return with the right professional.

Winning handicappers look for a trend that coincides with their sports betting strategies. NFL and NBA betting trends involve certain team characteristics but also public betting trends that are proven betting patterns of the amateur bettor.

Betting against the public is one of the most popular and simplest methods used by bettors to maximize value in the sports betting marketplace. Also known as contrarian betting, it shows where most of the public bettors are risking their money on those games that have more hype and a larger betting handle. When a sportsbook reports percentage amounts of 70% or 80% betting on one team, public perception is following the herd mentality. A big overlay on a team starts to bring in smart money to bet against (contrary) the public perception and for the underdog getting extra points for more value.

  • Reverse-Line Movement

Shows how analyzing betting trend data and line movement can help you identify which games the sharp money (wagers placed by sharps, wiseguys or betting syndicates) is taking. Reverse line movement refers to a betting line movement that is the “reverse” of betting public percentages. When a larger percentage is on one team, the underdog line goes down a point or two. This happens when a public betting team is getting 70% or more of the action and very big smart money grabs the dog to cause a quick shift down and indicates part of the contrarian betting method.

  • Major Line Moves

Major line move analysis explains how to interpret line moves across the sports betting marketplace in order to find value. This strategy show a hot game on the board that is getting heavy action for no apparent reason. However, there is a consensus of opinion that the line is weak and ready to exploit. The team and its spread starts moving up a point or two and bettors jump on the bandwagon. A major move can jump to  -3 from a pickem opening line very quickly or stay at a -1 right up to game time, when it moves to a -3 or -4. The major line move is usually a tip off that some big wagers are moving the line more than the usual half point which has its reasons — somebody knows something and you should follow along this betting trail.

  • Shopping for the Best Line

Shopping for the best possible number is an effective way to improve your winning percentage over the course of an entire season. Those one-half point losses add up over the season. The method of shopping the best lines is easier for online bettors than running around to sportsbooks looking for better numbers unless you have contacts in place to call.

Winning handicappers have a lot of experience

Sports handicapping is a unique and engaging subject. With many variables involved, it is a skill that usually takes a long time to fully master. You can not master it quickly but understanding the basics is a lesson in simple mathematics and value. How to master the sports betting essential skills for profits is an ongoing education in the pursuit of a balanced investment scheme. Finding betting trends for your NFL picks or NBA betting is a plan most handicappers follow for success.

Handicapping the market is about trying to identify betting opportunities that have a positive expected value. Wagers with positive expected value are said to be “+EV” and profitable over time. Although successful sports handicapping is not easy and not always profitable, it is a process of elimination and comparing value.

There is no definitively way to handicap sports betting markets. It is not an exact science by any means with several different approaches that can be used. Sports handicapping is difficult to teach. Learning through experience to master the essential skills with some degree of trial and error is the best way to comprehend the differences between winning and losing.