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Handicap Like the Pros
The biggest myth in sports handicapping is…the house always wins. Sure, if you don’t know what you are doing and make bets indiscriminately you will lose money. Even if you manage to win 50 percent of the time, the vig will make you a loser. That’s wise guy speak for the bookie’s commission, it’s called the vigorish, the 10 percent you pay for the privilege of betting whichever side or total you want.
In order to overcome the vig and make money, a bettor has to win at least 52.5 percent of their plays to see a profit, assuming the vig remains constant at the standard 10 percent. Therefore, if you want to bet like the pros, you need to know the tools of the trade. You will need to know how to use a betting calculator, whether to let a bet ride or hedge, and make sure the online sportsbooks you are using are reliable, trustworthy, and most importantly, pay in a timely fashion when you request your money.
Let’s take a look at a few of the basics so that you don’t have to experience some of the costly growing pains that often derail bettors who are brand new to sports betting. Without further ado – let’s go!
Establish a Bankroll
Choose the sport or sports, you like best and those you are most apt to follow. Let’s assume the NFL is your game of choice, make certain to establish an amount of money that you can afford to lose over the course of the season without losing sleep. Before the first regular-season game kicks, have that money set aside and promise yourself that if you flame out early, you won’t go back to the well and get more ammunition.
That leads to another golden rule in sports betting – never chase your losses! If you have a bad day then pack it in and wait for another day. There will be winning weeks and losing weeks so don’t get too high or too low. Remember, keeping an even disposition will go a long way towards making your season a winning one.
Do Your Homework
The amount of information available at your fingertips is astonishing so make sure to do your homework and scour injury reports, betting trends, and hone in on matchups that favor one team or the other. And before you decide to make a bet, make a line – a sports betting line. Pretend you are the oddsmaker and assign a point spread to each game before you look at the actual lines the oddsmakers are dealing.
Remember, the point spread you make should be the line you would use if you were a bookie to attract an equal amount of money on either side. For example, on November 15th of 2020, the high-powered Green Bay Packers welcomed the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars to the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Essentially, it was one of the best teams in the NFC versus the worst team in the AFC and it is up to you to set a line.
Had you decided to make the Packers 12-point favorites, for example, then subsequently you would have found out the Packers were actually 14-point home favorites at all of the major betting sites. That would mean the Jaguars had inherent value because, based on your research, you were getting an extra two points which could be critical.
Well, if you watched that game you would know that the Jags didn’t need nearly that many points as they lost to Green Bay, 24-20, but easily covered the spread. Your underdog Jags lost by only four points but you were getting a whopping 14! Easy cover, congratulations.
Choose Your Books Wisely
There’s an old saying in sports betting, “Sweat the game but never the payout’. If you think all online bookmakers are created equal then I urge you to think again. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of books ready, willing, and able to take your money but many of them have no intention of paying out if you happen to win and demand your money.
That’s why you need to research the online sportsbooks through independent sites that investigate the operators by surveying customers, conducting opinion polls, and assigning a letter grade based on the sportsbooks’ customer service, dashboard, betting options, ease of navigability, and the bettor’s holy grail – do they pay in a timely fashion?!
Once you have decided on your top three books, fund accounts at all of them. That’s right, getting the best line available can only be had if you have more than one “out” (place to bet). Why bet the Chiefs -7 if you can get them at -6 somewhere else? Don’t ever take a bad number. It’s better to pass on the game than bet it at a line that has risen too far or fallen too low.
Those are just a few handicapping tools to get you started. There are more to be sure but if you’re a newbie, this is a great place to start. Good luck and make sure to bet with your head and not over it!
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