Of all the sports that an online sportsbook or local bookie will take a wager on, football by far is the best when it comes to action and excitement. If you are capable of keeping your mind and heart separate when it comes to analyzing games, you are already on your way to a winning season. Below are a few important things to remember for any serious handicapper.
1. Some guy pawning a 1-900-number does not have inside information or secret spies hidden in the locker room. If you believe that, you deserve to fork over the $25 or more for a call to a guy who is lucky to hit 50% for the year.
2. Watch as much football as you possibly can. Nothing beats actually seeing the games. Watching ESPN or reading in the sports page about a 42-17 blowout does not always tell the entire story. A team may get blown out in terms of scoring, but drove up and down the field and turned it over in the redzone or took stupid penalties. The following week the team that was humiliated is a huge dog and the team that blew them out a big favorite. Maybe the team that scored 42 is playing a team that won’t fumble every time in the red zone.
3. Understand garbage yards and the backdoor cover. Sure a team may have had 400 yards passing, but that was after being down 28-0 and playing against guys who didn’t even start in high school. Having a team minus 24 and being up 28-0, but allowing Badball University to score a late garbage TD will haunt a gambler’s dreams for weeks.
4. Avoid doubling up at all costs. Trying to double bets to break even has backfired more than it has worked. I have seen people go from being down a few hundred to a few thousand in a single gameday.
5. Passing is fun to watch, but running is the key. One of my all-time favorite stats is from 1998 when out of 276 games that had a line with an actual spread winner, the team that had more rushing yards covered 202 times. Look it up, 202 times!
6. Watch out for trends and tread lightly. Most preview magazines post these almost unbelievable trends. So-and-So State is 8-0 vs. John Doe U the last 8 years! That is incredible you say; well, go back another 8 years and you see the series goes the other way and now you have an 8-8 trend. A good matchup analysis or power rating beats a trend almost every time.
7. If you are going to load up on something, load up in the early season. A few years back Tulane was God’s gift to the sharp handicapper until Vegas started adjusting their line. Tulane returned a defense that was incredible the year before, but they had no ESPN highlights or ink in the sports page. Look for the Tulane story of 2003-04 and ride that “unknown pony” until you have to get off.
8. If you have a favorite team or player, stay away from their games unless you are betting against them. No matter what you try and believe, you cannot reasonably handicap a team you love to watch and root for. You will make yourself believe they can win regardless if there are 100 angles pointing against it.
9. Dips/Teasers are sucker bets. There is no theory or statistics you can give me to think otherwise. When I would get a call and have someone place a dip, I knew I had at least one winner in the books for the day. Sure, people may have these stories how they hit 10 dips in a row, or how you can’t lose by dropping the point down and with the over, or boost NFL dogs up and mix them into combos. SUCKER!
The do’s and don’ts are endless. Bottom line is to keep your money and heart separate and understand the fact of life that there is a reason your bookie has a much nicer car and house than you. Good luck this season!