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The Zen of MMA Wagering

MMA Betting: The Zen of MMA Wagering

By Loot, Mixed Martial Arts Handicapper,

Go to a sportsbook on a big fight night in Vegas and look around. There might not be a lot of zen going on. Guys are betting for thrills. For some, putting money on a fighter is a show of loyalty--a sign that they're true fans. And you see a lot of people are guided by entertainment. But if you want to be a successful MMA bettor, there are some things we need to incorporate into our game.

We need to approach betting on MMA with a thoughtful and level head. To make a profit over the long run, we need to handicap fights like a doctor in a clinic. And after the results come in, that's where the zen comes in. We need to both be able to handle our wins and losses with equal professionalism.

When picking a winner, we are not led by personal feelings. There are fighters we like and those we might not care for so much. But when handicapping a fight, you're not trying to figure out who to invite to your wedding. We're trying to pick winners so a clean emotional slate is required. Sure, we are MMA fans, but we are able to separate our fan loyalties from our ability to emotionlessly handicap a fight.

Another aspect of zen is patience. You picture a Buddhist monk and one of the first images you'll have is of him sitting somewhere--motionless for hours. And sometimes, inaction is the key. We want to be MMA bettors. So what do MMA bettors do? They bet on MMA. Simple enough, but a lot of players make a mistake by betting too many fights. The book posts odds and they feel they have to engage the bookie in every battle. That's a sure way to lose the war.

Betting on MMA is not like blackjack and craps, where you sit down and have to play all the hands that are dealt. A list of odds comes out on MMA fights. And that's when you should look at MMA betting like you're a field general. You get to pick which battles to fight--the spots where you might have an advantage over the adversary. And if you consistently isolate the fights where you have an edge--you're well on your way to being successful at MMA betting.

You know what the good spots are. You look at a list of 20 fights and 1 or 2 might stand out. You just have a really good read on the fight or you feel the odds are so out of whack that you can't pass up the good value. Then what happens? A lot of bettors start trying to make a case for betting on other fights where the edge was not so clear. When betting MMA, that can be deadly. Have high standards for what you bet on and don't deviate from that standard. Ever.

Again, picture the Buddhist monk just sitting there endlessly. Be like him. If you want action, go bungee-jumping. Because if the quest for action and thrills is what governs your MMA betting--you're as good as beat. We should never use that standard to decide whether or not we bet on fights. It's not easy to resist. You're going to be spending you Saturday night at home watching a big MMA card on TV. Having a little action on the fight would be fun. But this type of action-oriented betting is part of what keeps the casino industry afloat.


The idea of zen comes into play after the results are decided too. If you win, how do you handle it? Do you stoically pocket the profit or are you now looking at it like it's time to play with the house's money? The real winners in this business do not allow winning to be used as a license to deviate from the strategy that allowed you to profit in the first place.

When you lose is where your level of zen will be most tested. Do you get steamed and start betting a bunch of other stuff to get your money back? Or do you calmly accept the losses--knowing that this is a marathon and not a sprint? A little zen in your game can help you realize that patience is what is called for in these situations.

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