Football Wagering Strategies
by Spencer Patton - 11/20/2008
It's always smart to have a successful strategy or plan for yourself when starting to bet on sports. Before you can formulate your plan, however, you have to decide on what types of betting strategies you want to use. Because football is where a great number of bettors get their start, I will cover some basic yet essential football wagering strategies that have withstood the test of time.
1) KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid - A motto that I try and live by every day. The more complex wagers (parlays, teasers, pleasers, etc.) that I involve in my daily betting patterns, the more I get away from consistent winners. It's hard enough to pick a single winner in a game… and there is nothing worse than actually picking a winner but still losing the bet because you combined it with another play (i.e. in parlays, both teams must be a winner or else the ticket loses). So first and foremost, especially in football, where wagering is at its most difficult, try and use straight wagers (one team/total, one bet) 95-plus percent of the time.
2) Don't be locked into the spread - Many sports bettors get infatuated with the spread and think that it is the only thing worth betting. There is nothing further from the truth. It's critical, as a bettor, to take advantage of the fact that the books must post both spreads and totals. Finding a total that is off the mark pays every bit as much as a spread… so don't overlook totals! Use game changers such as weather, injuries, and historical coaching strategies to your advantage (i.e. one team is historically very effective at running the ball while nursing a very small lead (takes time off the clock).
3) Bet the money line (i.e. that a team will win straight-up, no spread involved) - So many people have the false assumption in betting that there are "good" wins and "bad" wins. Cast that assumption out right now. It doesn't matter how you get there, a win is a win. When I bet the money line in NFL games, people give me looks like "how about you man up and bet the spread?" In my world, sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the line maker at the sports book and tell them they have created a spread that is right on. So rather than take a 50/50 shot at betting the spread, take a look at some money line wagers! You will pay some extra juice with favorites, but especially in college FB where not every team has a chance of winning (in the NFL, it is truly any given Sunday), you can find some excellent value in taking a strong program versus an average one and collect that ticket.
4) Trends - If you are familiar with the stock market, there is a big debate on whether looking at the chart of a stock's historical performance gives any indication towards its future price movements (technical analysis). In sports betting, analyzing trends is going through the same scrutiny. Many sports books provide you with trend information on their own web site, or you can find trend information here at Doc's Sports (Look under handicapping matchup reports on the right side of this page). But I say trends are worth considering. If a team is 0-8 in the last eight games against the spread when playing on a grass surface, that's something to consider. There are speed/spread teams that are noticeably slowed when playing on grass, which can help keep totals down and their opponents in the game. So make sure to do your homework and factor in trends when examining a bet you would like to take.
Hope this helps you take your first steps towards developing a sound strategy for betting a NFL or college football game!