General Approach to Successful Sports Betting

Sharp Approach

If you’ve read my 5 x 2 Commandments of Successful Sports Betting, a feature piece on my website, you will get the picture – focus on long term value and ignore/do the opposite of most bettors, ‘squares’, media, friends, and the general public.  By betting against most people you get the ‘sharp’ side and good value. Sportsbooks try to balance their ‘total handle’ and to create an incentive for you to bet the other side, will provide you with good value.

This usually means betting the unpopular side of the game, the less exciting one, the more ridiculed one, etc.  Bookies and online sites strive to balance their action and make money on juice or commission.  If everyone wants to bet one way, the value is on the other side.

For example, the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Lakers, led by Kobe Bryant went a very strong 41-25 (strike shortened season) for a winning percentage above 62%.   Yet they were UNDER 500, meaning they won less than 50% of all their road games.  The much hyped and popular Lakeshow went a mere 15-18 on the road, losing nine times to non-playoff teams (Sacramento x2, Phoenix x2, Portland, Houston, Milwaukee, Detroit, and Washington).  When you bet Sacramento against Kobe Bryant’s Lakers and lose, your friends laugh at you – its OBVIOUS Kobe will find a way to win – except he doesn’t always find a way to win.  Furthermore, because everyone is betting on Kobe, you get great odds and value the other way.  Even if the Lakers win 60% of the time, if you get +160 on the Sacramento kings, you earn/book a small profit (+160 translate into 2.6 back for every dollar bet x 40% = 2.6 x .4 = 1.04>1 = positive edge bet).  (Note: the math is challenging for some, please review the definitions of ‘expected value’ and ‘convert odds’ under the ‘bet basic’ glossary section for a refresher).

Another example, betting under (the total points scored) in the NFL.  Your friends will usually bet that an NFL game goes over the designated number.  For example, when the Detroit Lions are playing the Chicago Bears and the over/under line is 42.5, most of your friends will want to bet that the total points scored by both teams in the game exceeds that figure, or that 43+ total points are scored.  Your friends like cheering for action and scoring is fun.  They also imagine final scores like 28-24 which seem likely.  In fact, there is so much over betting on the NFL, that betting the under tends to produce value, especially for prominent (Sunday night, Monday night, feature, and playoff) games.  The over under line will usually be inflated by a point, in the case described above to 43.5, to compensate for your friends loving to bet overs.  What’s the difference between 42.5 and 43.5?  It doesn’t seem like a lot, unless the total points scored is exactly 43 and you win instead of lose.  During the 2012 NFL regular season, the total score hit exactly 43 nine times (wk 2 colts v Vikings, wk 3 giants v Panthers and Nyj v Dolphins, wk 4 broncos v raiders, wk 6 falcons v raiders, wk 9 colts v dolphins, wk 11 browns v cowboys, wk 12 titans v jaguars, and wk 13 ravens v steelers).  There are 256 nfl games and hitting this exact figure of 43 9 times is 3.5% (9/256).  This is the difference between a winning and losing sports-bettor.  If you bet $100 per game on every under instead of every over throughout the NFL season, you turned 9 losers (costing you $990, averaging $100 bets and standard 1.1x ‘juice’) into $900 of profit – a difference of $1890 during a single NFL regular season, all by taking the ‘sharp side’ of the line.  $1890 is a lot of wagering dollars on a $100 average bet.

Betting the ugly side of a game may not be popular and may not be pretty, but its more profitable long term and provides you with a Sharp Edge.