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What to Do When Losing

Football Betting Advice: What To Do When Losing

By Loot, Football Handicapper,

We already know about some of the pitfalls that await bettors on a losing streak. People chase, lose their cool, and unravel. The books bank on it. But let’s say you’re actually managing to maintain your composure in the face of a losing streak. The corrections you are thinking of making have nothing to do with how you mentally handle defeat, but your actual handicapping. Week after week, the results aren’t there. Just like with anything that isn’t yielding, the urge is going to be to change.

Before doing so, we should always make sure that the sample size is big enough to really indicate that there is something wrong with our handicapping. To make any real determinations, hundreds of results are needed. You might not make that many bets in an entire season. We don’t want to take an otherwise solid set of handicapping skills and overhaul them based on what amounts to happenstance over a handful of poor results.

If at one time you were making a profit and have fallen on hard times, when is the right time to consider a different approach? Well, it’s never too early to tweak it. We should always adapt to keep up with the Joneses. At the same time, you may very well just be in a bad funk where the best course of action is to ride it out.

In the case where there is something wrong with your handicapping, it can be difficult to change. This is especially true for the betting man who had certain tendencies--patterns that he commonly played. A lot of us have little plays we look to make. It might be to bet against a road team at the end of a long road-trip or to pick against teams coming off blowout wins on Monday Night Football. (Tip: Check out our MNF Picks! They're good!) For a while they might work.

One of two things can happen to make those types of wagers grow stale. It could be that you were winning those wagers because you got on a good roll, like how a guy might call 18 out of 25 heads/tails correctly. If it were a bonafide good play, the bookmaker also could have noticed and starting moving the line against that move, thus removing its value.

One possible problem is that you’re late getting on the train. It’s already leaving town. In other words, you noticed something and began betting it. But by the time you noticed it, it was already too late. The mojo either ran out or the bookie started acting against it. You might wager on teams after noticing shifts occurring over the past several weeks. To make those observations profitable, they need to be made before the fact or at the first onset of change, rather than after it has already been firmly established.

During the season, we constantly make value judgments on teams and players. They change constantly and unless we change with it, our wagers will be left in the dust. So we stay flexible. We don’t assume a quarterback on a good/bad run will stay that way. We don’t assume that because we saw a running back run roughshod over a team that he will do the same next week, even if that team is ranked toward the bottom in run “D.” The thing about patterns in betting football is that by the time something becomes a pattern, it’s due to stop being a pattern.

When we lose, we need to determine why. That can be a painful undertaking. After grinding through a 3-hour game where we lost, who wants to sit there and pontificate on it? We need to do that and in doing so, be honest with ourselves. You’d be surprised how often when you fail to cover a spread, it’s easy to identify a singular theme for why you lost. There was something you either did or didn’t do that will be glaring.

Funny thing about losing. It’s the only time you really have to learn. When wagering on college football and NFL games and winning, we don’t question it. But when sitting there getting pounded against the spread in a series of losses, things will pop into our heads during the game--items we should have thought more about or things we over-considered. Sometimes, losing will give you the ability to see things about yourself with a clarity you normally don’t possess. We need to keep track of those thoughts and get rid of the bad tendencies that are popping up all the time.

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