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Why Betting Systems Don't Work

NFL Betting: Why Systems Don’t Work

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

In NFL betting, you hear a lot of people bragging about various systems they employ. There might actually be some people who have had certain systems work for a while. But by in large, they do not work. When your pops told you that there is no substitute for hard work, he wasn’t just whistling Dixie.

Systems are betting strategies based on past events. Someone pouring over stats discovered an anomaly--a particular circumstance where teams in certain situations are more likely to cover the spread. It can be something as simple as road favorites winning a low percentage of games between a certain point-range. Or something as convoluted as a west coast team not covering the spread in Thursday games on the road following a home win of 15 or more points against a team that is out of playoff contention. There is no limit to the wild conclusions people will make.

At root, systems take handicapping out of the equation and that can’t be a good thing. If there is a Monday Night Football game with Denver playing to the Jets, you want to handicap that game. Obvious, right? But being a proponent of a system will take the analysis out of it. Instead, you will just be plugging variables into a formula. You hear that road underdogs under 5 points on MNF are 58% against the spread. So you feel more inclined to take the Broncos.

First of all, what does that have to do with the game? Not to mention that those numbers could just be the result of happenstance, rather than some magical loophole that you found in NFL betting. And those are based on past events. This is now--not the past. So what does a MNF game in 2007 between Carolina and the Saints have to do with the Denver-N.Y. Jets game now? Nothing. Absolutely nothing at all.

Systems cause our handicapping to be pointed in the wrong area. It causes us to consider non-essential information, rather than analyzing a particular game. When handicapping the NFL, we are concerned with the past to a point. There are certain elements of recent past performances that offer insight. But at least it is pertaining to the team. Thinking the Niners will not cover the spread because California teams are 39% against the spread in the last ten years in their second consecutive road game is preposterous. Those were all games with completely different conditions and circumstances. It is bringing in information that has no bearing whatsoever.

You may have heard of the double-up system--commonly used in blackjack. You lose a bet and keep doubling up until you win. When you win, you will cancel out the losses and even earn a small profit proportional to the size of bets you are making. It’s a little more problematic in NFL betting than blackjack because of the juice, but people occasionally use it.

Say you are starting off making $110 bets to win $100. If you win, no problem. You pocket the profit and then bet the same amount on the next game. But if you lose, you double your next bet and keep on doubling until you win. So you lose the first $110 bet and you bet $220. If you lose that, you bet $440. If you lose that, you bet $880. Let’s say you win that bet for $800. It cancels out the preceding 3 straight losses, which totaled $770, earning you a small profit. You then return the $110 bet level.

It sounds good on paper, but it really is a dangerous proposition. First of all, you are trying to outsmart the “house.” While you might be able to outwit the handicappers from time to time, you will never be able to buck the very structure of a particular form of gambling. Casinos love system players. They comp them suites. Because the house knows that eventually, everyone runs cold. And when you run cold using the double-up principle, things can get ugly quickly.

If you start off betting $110 and start losing, the numbers can make your legs weak. Not a lot of players can bet deep enough to keep up using this system. Betting $110, ten straight losses will have you betting over $50,000! Now you’re getting into scary territory. Normally, a player would be able to endure a cold streak because he kept his cool and never bet over his head. But by employing the double-up strategy, you are flying close to the sun and it’s only a matter of time before you get burnt.

For those of you who really enjoy the thought of football betting systems, another interesting read can be found on this topic here: Opposite System.

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