Betting Against 'Squares' A Great Handicapping Strategy
by Richard Anthony - 2/22/2010
Many Web sites will tell you what the general consensus is betting. I'm a big believer of going against the public, often referred to as 'squares' in this industry, whenever possible. You are not going to win all the time, but in the long run you will win. Sometimes gambling can be easy: find the team the public is loading up on and simply bet the other team. If I had to guess I would say more than 90 percent of gamblers do not come out on top in the long run. The best sport to do this with is baseball; in order to win in baseball you cannot bet the Yankees every game and expect to end up on top. The underdog is normally the smart wager.
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Baseball is not the only sport this strategy works with, and a perfect example of this was this past Friday night when the powerhouse San Antonio Spurs traveled to play the lowly Philadelphia 76ers. The line had the Spurs favored by only 3.5 and more than 80 percent of the public was on the Spurs. The game was close until the Sixers pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Everyone can say they study the games, they do the math, they know the sport and they handicap, but in reality the individuals with most of the knowledge are the oddsmakers. That is their job and they make profits every season. In theory their goal is to get 50 percent of the action on each side of the game and to profit off the juice, but that is a pipe dream. The bookies have a vested interest in almost every game every night and they need the public to get slammed in order to ensure a healthy profit.
One thing to look for is when 90 percent of the general public is on team A, yet the line hasn’t moved. Well, the bookies obviously know something or else the sharp money came in and equaled out the action on Team B. We would not recommend blindly betting on Team B, but situations like these definitely warrant a second look.
The public is out there betting on top teams like the Cavs and the Lakers every night, and who should beat who based on the last 10 meetings and these are horrible strategies. You can bet against the Cavs and Lakers and get undervalued teams and oddsmakers often shade the line since they anticipate the lion’s share of action on the favorite. However, this can be a slippery slope since top teams are top teams for a reason and they can beat their opponent on any given night so be sure to pick your spots.
Also watch the line movements. The general public will usually see an ‘over/under’ move from 132 to 128 and bet the ‘over’ because they feel they are getting it at a discount when, in reality, they should be looking at the ‘under’ because that is where all the 'smart' money is going. This back in the day was called a 'wise guy' bet.
Another reason the general public is normally on the losing end of the wager is that they are constantly betting favorites. Bettors usually bet the favorites early in the week and this causes the line to rise, but sharp underdog bettors normally wait until the last minute and get a good line. The public will also bet 'sucker lines' that lure the public into betting them. When its seems to good to be true, it probably is.
People who handicap NBA games will watch for teams playing on consecutive nights or teams that have played a large number of games in one week. The public figures their tired and worn down, which they probably are. What the public doesn't realize is that Las Vegas knows the same thing and will adjust the spread accordingly. The public also swears they can find a weak lines. Oddsmakers will make a bad line here and there but you have a better shot at hitting the lottery then finding a bad or weak line unless you have been betting sports for years and know what to look for. Yet another problem with public betting is that the public looks at all those crummy trends. For example the Chicago Bulls are 27-5-1 against the spread in their last 33 games following an ATS win, after Derrick Rose goes on a date in Chicago to the same restaurant. Who Cares?! This meaning nothing! Sharp bettors can differentiate the trends that matter from the ones that are just clutter.
Good handicappers are very hard to find and gambling is very difficult. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it and the bookies would be out of business. Therefore, just because the public studies the games doesn't make them educated. An astute handicapper does have to have a pretty good knowledge of sports but I have developed a simple strategy,
1. Find out what everyone likes
2. Bet against that particular game
3. Don't even watch the game (avoid stress)
4. Collect from the bookie when the weeks over
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