Attitude While Handicapping

Sharp Sports Betting is a tool for those interested in winning money at sports betting. The book explains the most common sports bets, what all the numbers mean, and the mathematics behind the numbers.

Let’s discuss some principles of sports betting. All sports bettors should know the information herein. All advantage players, including blackjack players of all skill sets, which includes card counters, should also have a good working knowledge of Expected Value. You should not be betting online or in land-based casinos without this fundamental knowledge.

Attitude While Handicapping

My advice is do not try to pick the winner of the game. Instead, try to think in terms of either team’s having a chance if it plays hard enough. Then try to figure out the probability each team has of winning the game.

You will find good bets on only some of the games. Most games have lines that are solid, meaning both teams are negative-expectation bets at the lines offered.

You are looking for situations where a team’s probability of winning is higher than suggested by the odds.

You have a good bet only if your estimate of the probability of a team winning is different enough from the betting line, and if your estimate is correct.

Sometimes your bet will lose. Making a smart bet is no guarantee of winning the bet.

Here is a quote from BJ21.com, posted by one of the more esteemed members of the website’s community, who shall remain anonymous, after I had posted that the Team A +6 was a strong pick in the NBA finals:

I have no doubt whatsoever that Team B will close out the series tonight. I keep hearing all over the place that Team A is really much better than all of this, but it’s all nonsense. They didn’t even have to bother showing up.

When I read that I cringed, not because he disagreed with my pick, but because he was picking a winner rather than thinking in terms of probabilities. I agreed with him that Team B had more talent than Team A, but he liked Team B no matter what. He ignored motivation. I picked Team A because they were down 1-3 in the best-of-seven series, and had to win to stay alive. Team B had no reason to play hard because they needed to win only one game out of three, but Team A could be counted on to be fighting for every loose ball. The result: Team A won the game outright. Remember: the object is to pick probabilities. If you do a good job of picking probabilities, the winners will come.

Another Book to Check Out

King Yao is a sports handicapper as well as a poker player. Part of his income comes from betting sports. His Weighing the Odds in Sports Betting is full of good information on football, basketball, and baseball. His chapter on baseball first halves broke new ground.

Last Word

There are lots of ways to handicap sports. You might find you are better at some handicapping methods than at others. You might find that you are better at some sports than at others. The best way to identify your own personal strengths is to keep careful records of your picks and how they do.

This is part of an occasional series of articles. Excerpted with permission from Sharp Sports Betting by Stanford Wong, edited for this format.