Sources of good bets

Sources of good bets

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 be familiar with the information contained herein. You shouldn’t be betting online or in land-based casinos without this fundamental knowledge.


One fertile source of good bets, especially in the NFL, is player motivation. Linesmakers have reams of data on past performances, and for the most part they predict outcomes of future games by projecting past performances. If you can figure out the motivations of the players, you can zero in on games in which past performances are not good indicators of what is going to happen. Here are some examples.

Teams That Have Clinched

Here is an example that seems obvious, but has led to many good bets in the past and probably will find many good bets in years to come: Once a team has won enough games to clinch everything worth having (such as home-field advantage in playoff games), it no longer has as much incentive to win as it did when wins meant more. Thus betting against it might have positive expectation.

Must Win

Look for situations where a team has extra motivation to win. Other bettors also will spot the extra motivation and will bet it enough to change the spread, but you still will have a good bet going with the motivation because there will be bettors who go strictly by the numbers and think they have found a fabulous bet going against the motivation.

Intensity Versus Talent

In NBA games, intensity overwhelms talent. If one can predict which team will be playing with more intensity, one can get an edge on bets on selected NBA games. This is particularly true during NBA playoff games.

Home Teams

Teams playing at home seem to play harder than visiting teams . If you can identify situations where the home team’s natural advantage is greater or smaller than normal, you can find some positive-expectation bets. You might, for example, look at home underdogs playing against teams that have already clinched everything worth clinching.

Big Dogs

Strong teams involved in mismatches often do not play up to their potential. If the players see no reason to give an extra effort, they often won’t. They might say they are going to play their hardest, but they generally won’t.

If you are constructing your own power ratings, your ratings almost always will tell you that the double-digit underdog will lose far worse than predicted by the line. Your power ratings will tell you that huge favorites are great bets. Do not blindly follow your power ratings by backing huge favorites.

Some huge favorites do win by huge margins. Many huge favorites win by such small margins that the dog covers the spread. Sometimes big dogs beat big favorites outright. If you can discern which big favorites will play up to their potential and win big, and which will play just hard enough to win but not cover the spread, you can find a great bet every once in a while, whether you’re betting in Las Vegas or elsewhere.

Keep Records

My advice for you if you want to make bets based on motivation is the same as my advice if you want to make bets based on analysis of existing data: Keep a separate record of those bets so that at any time you can review your past performance to be sure you really are picking winners based on motivation.

This is part of an occasional series of articles.

Excerpted with permission from Sharp Sports Betting by Stanford Wong, edited for this format.


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