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Staying Flexible

College Football Betting: Staying Flexible

By Loot, College Football Handicapper,

Becoming a successful college football bettor requires the ability to adapt. If you stay the same, you will lose. Because one constant in this business is that things change constantly. Players get better. They get worse. Teams become hot. Then they grow cold. It requires becoming flexible to stay ahead of the game. Yesterday's winning strategy could be losing tactics next week.

A common mistake is to latch onto an opinion of a team or a player without leaving room to amend that appraisal on the fly. As humans, we tend to etch our opinions in concrete. We see a team or a player early in the season a time or two and form an opinion that might be too rigid. In college football, the shape of things constantly change. The progress chart has many peaks and valleys. If we adopt a flatline opinion, we will be one step behind reality.

You might see a running back a few times and he can't be stopped. You figure he will continue his progress, but then he falls flat. You see a team covering the spread by a mile, but when you jump onboard, they struggle. Locking onto a perception and leaving no room for flexibility runs contrary to what college football is about. No running back gains 200 yards in every game. No team covers the spread every week by 2 touchdowns. And by the time you even notice what's going on, things are usually due to change.

A lot of bettors have little mantras they sometimes use. Like "Always bet against a team traveling across the country for the 2nd week in a row" or "Never lay more than 20 points on a road favorite." Without even analyzing whether those are good guidelines, they are simply too rigid. It would be like a Home Owners Association trying to set up shop in the Wild West. You have all these rules and guidelines you're trying to impose in a land of complete lawlessness. It's not going to work. Everybody's situation is different and trying to isolate them all under one banner is going to be an exercise in futility.

Bettors might have their little "tricks" up their sleeves. They might never lay more than certain number of points on a team known for defense. Or they never give up more than 10 points on a road team in a conference game. Whatever it is. The reason they locked onto these themes is because they had some success. But that might have been a coincidence--a result of mere happenstance as opposed to your scary-good handicapping.

But the urge to employ the same strategy after having success with it is very great. It's very human. When something works, we go back to it time and again. It's like a guy who goes to a bar and has a great time the first ten times he goes there. But then something changes. The bar goes from Cheers to the Roadhouse with Patrick Swayze. But that doesn't stop you from returning time and again expecting to run into Norm and the guys. But they're not there anymore and now you're getting your butt whipped by some guy in the parking lot.


No one is saying not to bet successful patterns. If it's working, by all means continue. Winning is winning. If there is something you figured out that is resulting in winning most of your wagers, keep doing it. But also be aware of when the well runs dry. Don't put yourself in a position where you need to be emphatically shown that something doesn't work anymore.

Again--be flexible. Allow room in your thoughts and analysis to account for the wide swings that are prevalent in college football. Never rigidly fix yourself to some formula or opinion. It usually just serves as a lazy substitute for actually handicapping the games. Or you might just go through the motions when handicapping a game because you essentially already made up your mind. People go with what works in all aspects of life, so why not when betting college football? But adaptability in life is important and when betting college football--it's an absolute necessity.

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