Thursday, April 07, 2011

Climbing The Sports Betting Learning Curve

While I have dabbled in betting for several years, I only took up the pursuit seriously last December during my first trip to Vegas.

After getting back from my trip, I decided to take on the sports books, especially since there is legal wagering In Niagara Falls.

I have to admit I started out quite poorly, putting together losing months in January & February.

However, as I studied both the betting market & new strategies, I began to show some promise. March was a decent profit, given the circumstances.

I could spend all afternoon writing about this, but here are some quick points that have helped me turn a profit with sports betting:

1) Go with what you know. This may seem obvious, but you'll make the best betting decisions when you have the most information available. I follow baseball, hockey, college sports and auto racing religiously. It's no coincidence I have the most winners in those sports. I pretty much suck at NFL and NBA. (Although I'm a great fantasy football playa!)

2) Your profits will be severly limited unless you can shop lines. If you have access to only one book, you're stuck with whatever lines/juice they offer. There have been a lot of quality plays I wanted to make - and passed on - because I couldn't get a decent line to put money down. My top priority right now is to get more options available.

3) Totals are usually more profitable than sides. For those of you not in on the betting lingo, totals are the "over/under" bet on a game. Sides are the teams (i.e. Dallas or Washington). Totals are easier to project and it's difficult for the books to protect themselves on the totals line. Most of the full-time sharp bettors I've met play totals first, often waiting for the moment a new line comes out just to hit it for the max.

4) When playing the betting market, the name of the game is beating the closing line. If the Yankees close at -200, you want to get your bet on them at something better, like -190. If the point spread on the Suns is +3, you want to get your bet in at +5 or +6. Using the market moves (aka steam) to get better lines is a habit you will pick up over time.

5) If the line moves in your favor, double down. If you were confident enough to place that bet once, why not place it again at better odds? It's just like buying shares of AAPL at $250, then finding out they're available at $200 later in the day. Go get some more.

6) Bet sizing matters. I'm going to write another post just on bet sizing, but you do not want to bet equal units on every wager. Kelly criterion wagering is popular with a lot of bettors, although I do not exactly follow that method anymore.

When deciding on how much to bet, consider this: Once you place a wager, that money is no longer part of your bankroll. So ignore outstanding bets when you consider placing new wagers.

While none of this is earth shattering news, learning to take all of these considerations into your betting process will increase both confidence and winnings.

1 comment: