Searching for Sports Betting Profits Can Be Annoying

Sep 19, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; General view of fireworks during the NFL game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL games are played with the expected turnovers and missed field goals to win or lose your bet. A little luck helps but stupidity from professionals is intolerable and very annoying.

The recent MNF game between Kansas City and Washington was a “bad beat” for the dog and under bettors. The last play by Washington was a school yard play that was a poor call and not believable as a defensive scoring play shifted all winners to losers and vice versa. A deep pass play was anticipated instead of a little dump pass and laterals that were useless. KC scores a cheap defensive touchdown for an improbable final of 29 to 20 to cover the spread. Searching for sports betting profits is frustrating and annoying but is part of the game.

Sports betting appeals to the smart bettor because it is not a game with a fixed house edge where the casinos are raking off fixed percentage. Sports betting requires more skill than luck similar to live poker. The skilled handicapper has a huge advantage over the recreational bettor. The casino Sports books make their money on sports bets by collecting a commission on losing bets. This is called the vigorish or juice. The most common odds are 11 to 10. This means that if you want to win $100 you are risking $110. For example, you place a bet on the Giants at the casino sports book and pay $110. If the Giants win you collect $210 when you cash your winning ticket. If you lose your bet you lose the $110.

Ideally, the Sports book would like to have the same amount of money wagered on the two teams playing. If the Giants are playing the Colts and they have one player betting on the Giants and one player betting on the Colts they would pay the winner $100 but collect $110 for the loser. This gives them a $10 profit so they really don’t care who wins as long as they have an equal amount bet on each team. To accomplish this they assign a line or spread to make the contest equally attractive for both sides.

Many people believe that the point spread is the predicted margin of victory by which one team will beat another team. This is not true. The line is the handicapper’s prediction of what number will be required to split the wagering evenly on both teams. For this reason, the line may change from the opening line to the line at game time. Searching for profitable lines is the goal of smart bettors and pays off in the long run. Losing the right bet is annoying but the odds were in your favor and your decision was the right one.

The Sports books goal is to have the betting as evenly as possible.

If the public is swayed by sentiment to bet on a certain team then the odds makers need to adjust the line to get some more bets on the other team. Otherwise, the betting would be heavily lopsided. The general betting public reacts from the opinions of others.

For the sports books, the line is flawed if it does not attract the same amount of action on both sides. However, from a smart handicapper’s point of view, the line is flawed when it does not compute to his predicted outcome of the game. A weaker team can actually become the favorite if public sentiment is with that team. When this happens the underdog presents a huge overlay for the seasoned handicapper meaning that the odds are in his favor.

This is the contrarian principle and why many smart handicappers go against the general betting public.

A winning handicapper formulates his own opinions about the game and ignores most of the public sentiment. A handicapper takes information for numerous sources, assigns weights and values to it. 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 available via the internet and other sources means that the handicapper has more information to sift through to find the gems. The use of computer programs can help when searching through the data.

Sports betting requires 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. Betting the dog at +110 to break even is 47.6 percent.

Searching for profits is finding numbers with an edge to reach your goal. Annoying coaching decisions are beyond your handicapping skills.

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