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Sucker Bets

How to Spot Sucker Bets

By Loot, Sports Handicapper,

This is a big problem for beginning and even intermediate and advanced players. The sucker bet is a wager where you are literally suckered-in, thinking you have made a wager that is too good to be true. And we all know what they say about things that are too good to be true. It’s difficult because we are always on the lookout for wagers that have good value. We just need to recognize the fine line that exists between good value and a sucker bet.

A sucker-bet, on a basic level, is a wager where a side has odds or a point-spread that is far better than what you would have expected. But what first looks to be good value is actually a carrot the bookie is dangling in order to hoodwink you. With added betting experience, you will begin to see these sucker bets from a mile away.

The examples come in many forms. Usually when you look at odds, the numbers will be in the ballpark of what everyone expected. Then you will come across a game or match where it seems out-of-whack. The examples are numerous and exist in all sports. The idea is to be able to determine the difference between good value (finding a soft line) and a sucker bet (when something is too good to be true).

Say you are looking at an NFL game. The Broncos are at Pittsburgh. You expect to see a line like Pittsburgh at -2 or -3. But then you see they’re -6.5. You might be inclined to take the Broncos. It seems like the obvious pick. Why is Pittsburgh getting so much credit? But you should be asking yourself why the bookie is seemingly tempting you to take the Broncos. Why would they do that? It’s definitely not because they’re trying to make it easy on you.

The same can happen in prop bets. You see a prop bet where you have to pick which two running backs will have the most yardage. One back is among the league leaders, while the other is a second-tier guy, but the odds are pretty even. They are basically begging you to take the better-known guy. He has twice as many yards as the other guy. The temptation might be for you to unload on the bigger-name back. Well, you just may have been suckered.

Bookies and oddsmakers mess up from time to time. This isn’t to imply they never release a bad line. But they’re not stupid. They’re the ones who are in business year after year while the average betting man is not. We need to develop a sense of healthy respect for these guys--who are really the best in the business.

That means not thinking we have such scary-great analysis that we can potshot easy targets at will. When a bet looks too good, it usually is. And there’s a definite reason for it--they have a good feeling that the less-attractive-looking side will win. So they dangle the carrot out there knowing droves of bettors will buy into it.

Let’s say you are betting on a boxing or MMA match. You like the favorite, but when you look at the odds, he’s a much smaller favorite than you had forecasted. You thought he was going to be in the -400 to -500 range, but he’s a relatively modest -240 favorite. On one hand, we’re getting the favorite at far-better odds that we had anticipated. That’s a good thing, right? Maybe. It could also be a case of the bookie wanting to make that side more attractive to bet to get a lot of people to take it. The wise guys probably like the underdog.

There is no magic formula to determine the difference between good value and a sucker bet. It’s one of those things you will develop with added experience. Your gut will tell you when you’re about to be suckered. It’s more of a feeling. And with seasoning, you will have a sixth sense for it. You will start to see how the bookie wants you to bet. And naturally, we don’t want to do anything that the bookie wants. We want to do the opposite. That might mean going against our picks and analysis from time to time. But there are times when our opinions will take a backseat in light of the bookie trying to get cute.

Another sucker bet that most bettors fall into is laying -110 odds on their foots/hoops bets. You don't have to! Wise sports bettors lay only -105 on games at 5Dimes!

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