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Common Handicapping Miscues

Sports Betting: Common Handicapping Miscues

By Loot, Sports Handicapper,

It takes a lot of experience to refine our handicapping. Over the course of years, you will see where your shortcomings are. But those will be expensive lessons. Some bettors will learn these lessons, but by the time they do--they’ll be too broke to do anything about it. Here are some of the more common mistakes that plague the average betting man.

One mistake a lot of bettors make is by giving or docking a team double-credit for something. The oddsmakers are the best in the business and they account for everything when posting the odds. We might see a faulty line from time to time, but the information that we use to determine that lies far underneath.

Where we run into trouble is by assuming one side will win because of elementary observations that you know the bookie has already accounted for. We may bet on a football team because they have a great quarterback who is hot or the team is at home. Those things count, but in order to thrive in sports-betting, we have to look more in between the lines.

The odds were set with the bookie fully aware of a great QB playing. The point-spread already accounts for the home/away dynamic. So when we come along giving teams even more credit for items that were already accounted for, we’re making a mistake. We might sense a point-spread is faulty, but it should be because we saw something specific within the match-ups that gives us an advantage or there is something about the team’s spirit and sense of motivation that we were able to sense. In other words, looking for an edge does not mean looking at very surface things that have already been meted out by the bookie.

We want to avoid relying on obvious information to guide our bets. If you find yourself basing wagering decisions on items that can be seen on a typical sports-page--you are probably missing the boat. If the information you rely upon is printed on the back of a betting sheet at the sportsbook, you can be fairly certain that it will not help you win a lot of wagers.

Some bettors tend to over-emphasize the value of a single player. On a basketball team, that will be the team’s top scorer. On a football team, it will be the quarterback. We need to remember the team concept in these sports and how the results are tied to the quality of a squad on a team-wide basis. We lose sight of that when we look at a game and only judge the top player or the best few players on a team and compare them with the opponent.

Along the same lines, we want to be careful when a top player is either banged-up, injured, or on a cold streak. When we place too much importance on the top player, we can start plundering down the slope of looking at a game only along the lines of the top players. These things certainly matter, but we just want to be careful to not over-analyze only the top guys.

We also run into trouble when we base our opinions on half-baked assumptions regarding the quality of teams. Again, this has already been meted out by the bookie. We see the Patriots are playing the Chiefs and start to build a case based on the elementary observation that the Patriots are a lot better than the Chiefs. We’re always going to come across bets where the disparity in the quality of teams is quite vast. But when dealing with a sport where the betting is governed by a point-spread, building a case based on your opinion of who the better team is isn’t likely to get you anywhere.

When we hear the word “handicapping,” we need to always remind ourselves what that truly means. First of all, it is not based on assumptions--it’s a fact-based game. And when looking for facts, we are forced to dig beneath the earth and not rely on the overly-obvious, like won-loss records, the identities of the top players, or the reputation of a team. That qualifies as lazy handicapping. On the surface, there is nothing but rocks, but if we want to find the gold--we have to do a little mining. Then, we might actually have a chance to find the information we need to consistently win wagers.

Another mistake most sports bettors make is paying too much juice to their bookie. Does your bookie force you to lay -110 odds on football/basketball games? If so, you're paying way too much! Did you know that you only have to lay -105 odds at 5Dimes? Make the switch today and start saving buckets of cash!

Related: Playing Hunches in Sports Betting.

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