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The Mental Aspect

NFL Betting: The Mental Aspect

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper,

There are some mental traits that you will find with all successful bettors. Let's look at some of the finer points of the "head game" that you will need to master if you want to be able to dance with the big boys one day. Some have to do with the actual handicapping of games, while others are just tips on how to keep your head--something that is not easy to do when betting NFL.

It might sound strange to encourage you to not be opinionated, since betting on the NFL is driven by opinion to a large extent. The better way to say it is to reserve judgment. Take a clinical approach. You are given a point-spread and then you do your best to form an educated calculation as to what will happen in relation to that point-spread. But the opinion comes after all the work is done.

Maintain a clinical approach. You might have some thoughts when you see a line--an inkling maybe. But you shouldn't let that voice speak too loudly. It might cause you to handicap the game with a slant toward that team. It's very human to form an opinion, then make a case on the behalf of that opinion. That's sort of the reverse of what we should be trying to do. The opinion (your pick) should be the last part of the equation. Keep it on the right side of the equal-sign.

Staying humble at all times is also critical. We've all probably battled with this. You have a few good weekends betting NFL and you're walking around like Ace Rosenthal. You're thinking you can make this your new gig. But deep down, you probably realize that having a good week, a month, or even a year betting NFL football doesn't really qualify you as a professional NFL bettor. It'd be like a guy bowling a few 200 games down at the local bowling alley thinking he has a shot on the PBA tour.

Succeeding in NFL betting to the point where you are a real pro takes years. And one of the reasons those guys are around so long is that they stay humble. They don't get swept up in ideas of self-grandeur. They'll readily admit they know what they're doing, but they don't let that interfere negatively with the actual handicapping of games. Mentally handling success is not easy. Most people flatten out after a while, unable to maintain the upward trajectory. Because they abandon the mindset that enabled them to have whatever success they had in the first place. Rather than the profits encouraging them to work even harder, they start getting arrogant and sloppy.

In a strange way, it is lack of humbleness that allows bettors on a bad run to start making moves that make it even worse. They lose a heartbreaker, perhaps on a bad call, and they almost take it personally. They feel they should have won, rather than just chalk it up as another loss and part of the territory that comes with NFL betting. They start feeling entitled to better results and push the envelope.


The average betting man sometimes has a heightened sense of immediacy. It all comes down to now. If they're winning, they feel great and when they lose--it's like the wheels start coming off. There is no rule that says you have to win. If anything, the very fact that sportsbooks exist should illustrate that you're expected to lose. So when it happens, don't take it as some personal affront. Even if you think bad calls, player miscues, or coaching errors wrongly trumped your superior handicapping, you must take it in stride.

Another thing is to trust your handicapping over what some might interpret as messages from the "betting gods." It might sound crazy, but when you get into betting on NFL, your mind might start to play tricks on you. You might be at the bar having just handicapped the Colts-Bengals game and here comes the bartender with an Indy jersey. And you live in California. Yeah, believe it or not, that's not God talking to you. There's genocide going on in this world. You think God is sweating your NFL picks? Then again, if you saw 7 or 8 people that night wearing Colts jerseys...

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