I write about sports betting pretty much every day, and I think about sports most of the time I'm not writing about them. It can be easy when so immersed in something to forget that many people don't care about betting on sports, or even sports in general, more than one day a year. The Super Bowl draws in many novice and inexperienced fans who watch because of the spectacle or because everyone else is watching. And a lot of those novice watchers also want to make a bet or two on the game to make it more exciting. Even the most experienced of bettors know it is easy to make a bet that is lousy - you don't have a good enough chance at winning to risk the money you have risked. So, how are novice bettors supposed to survive? Well, that's where I come in. Here, for your reference, is a guide to Super Bowl betting for dummies and novice bettors:
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What do you expect to happen?: This is the best place to start. Who do you think is going to win the game? Have you come to that conclusion because you like the nickname or the color of their uniforms, or are you basing it on something more concrete? Is your opinion one that experts, or friends who know the sport better than you, share? There is no right answer here - it's okay to think that either team will win. You just need to make sure you have a reason for it and that the reason is at least somewhat reasonable.
What bet are you making?: We host a Super Bowl party every year and invite a bunch of friends. Most of them watch one game a year. Since they know what I do, we always have some friendly betting action. Inevitably every single year someone picks a team against the spread, doesn't actually understand what the spread means, and either celebrates when they have actually lost their bet or complains when their bet was actually a winner. Don't be one of those people. If you are betting a favorite against the spread then understand that it isn't good enough to win - you have to win by more than the point spread. If you bet an underdog, though, you can win your bet even if your team loses the game as long as they lose by less than the spread. The same thing goes for prop bets - make sure you understand what actually has to happen to produce a winner before you make any bet.
Stay legal: There are lots of different ways to make sports bets. Some are legal and some aren't. It's not worth the risk of betting illegally if you are a casual bettor, so make sure you understand what you can and can't do depending upon where you live. If nothing better is available, no one is going to care if you bet against a friend, and you won't have to pay juice, either, unless your friend is a real dick.
Don't be dumb: There are lots of bettors out there that think they are going to win some kind of medal for the bets they make. They think that others actually care about their action. They make crazy, splashy bets chasing a big profit and bet money they can't really afford to lose. Don't be one of those people. It's hard enough to make a big profit when you know what you are doing and you have spent hours handicapping the game, so don't try to be a hero and go outside your comfort zone when you don't have the expertise to back it up.
Shop around: If you are betting at sportsbooks, know that it is usually a bad idea to take the first price offered. Different sportsbooks can offer a spread that can differ by a half point or more. The difference between a spread of 6.5 and 7 is massive if you are betting the favorite, so it's worth looking around for the best number. The juice that books will charge - the cost of the bet - will also vary widely, and that variety can really be an issue on prop bets. Finding the best price can make the difference between a winning and losing day.
Quality over quantity: Some people think that diversifying is a good idea. They want to make a whole bunch of bets, with the thought that even if some lose others will win and they will be further ahead in the end. Personally, though, I would choose one strong, value-packed bet over a dozen less-attractive bets every single time. The fewer bets you make, the more you can be sure that each bet makes good sense and is actually attractive.
Get help if you want, or need, it: There is no shortage of good advice out there surrounding this game, and if you don't know what you are doing then that advice can help point you in a direction that will ultimately help you enjoy the game more. You just have to look for it - and lucky for you, if you are reading this then you don't need to look too far .
Don't bet the coin flip: Do this one just for me. I absolutely hate the coin flip prop bet . It drives me insane. You can bet on whether the coin is going to come up heads or tails, and other varieties of the same bet. It's a 50/50 proposition - it's either going to be heads or tails, and neither side has an advantage. Yet, to make the bet with a sportsbook, you pay a premium. Typically, you have to bet $110 or $115 to win $100 on these bets. That means that over the long term you can't possibly make a profit, and the books can't do anything but cash in. It's an impossibly stupid bet, yet each year countless morons put their money on one side. Don't be one of those morons. And relentlessly mock anyone who does make the bet.
Have fun: Sports bettors have a bad habit of taking themselves too seriously. Have some perspective. Grown men are playing a game, and we are pretending that we can know how that game is going to turn out. If you aren't having fun doing that then there is absolutely no reason to do it.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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