Sportsbooks Get Into The Holiday Spirit
by Jeremy Martin
The holidays have always been a time of giving. And sportsbooks in Las Vegas and overseas also tend to get into the spirit during this time of year.
Their gifts to bettors are points via weak lines. And these presents are anything but intentional. The sportsbooks are in business to make money, but they are so overwhelmed in November and December with the high volume of sports and games in the rotation, that it takes a Herculean effort by their staffs just to stay one step ahead of the bettors.
Most of the energy for sportsbooks during the holiday season is directed towards NFL football, which is universally considered the big money maker for betting shops and the hardest for gamblers to win at. College football is also a big draw for bettors, and with the season winding down the sportsbooks have a pretty good handle on their numbers heading into the Bowl season.
But from that point, the waters get murky for the books.
You have the NHL and NBA seasons getting underway in October. There are so many games on the board and so many new players on the teams that the numbers tend to be weak, especially at the beginning of the season. Then college basketball starts in November and that just adds to the laundry list of games the oddsmakers must tend to each day. Plus, when you throw in sports like golf, tennis and auto racing that take place year around, the sportsbooks have their hands full.
So how can bettors take advantage of the overworked oddsmakers? The key is to create a niche and develop a strategy - and stick with it.
Sportsbook managers have told me that the NHL and college basketball are some of the hardest sports for them to make money at. Those are two good places to start. Developing a specialty is important because you can do what the sportsbooks only wish they could do. You can focus certain sports, and limit your research to a small percentage of what they have to oversee every day.
It doesn't take much time to keep track of a small group of teams in the NHL or a particular conference in college basketball. One to two hours a day of Internet research can translate into great profits at the betting window (or your online account, if you bet offshore). There is a wealth of information out there on any team on the betting board at your favorite sportsbook, and all you need to do is find that information and stay on top of it.
Many bettors who consistently make a profit wagering on sports take their niche even further. Some may limit themselves to betting just NHL or NBA totals. Savvy bettors who stay with their niche can often spot a weak line immediately. There are soft lines out there every day, and it's your job to find them. If all of the lines were solid, there wouldn't be so many individuals who make their living by betting on sports.
For most people, however, sports wagering is not a way of life, it is more of a hobby and a way to make a little extra cash. Professional sports bettors have a hard life and often the toughest part of their job is simply finding a sportsbook to place a bet with. Books have nothing to gain by taking business from people who make a living by beating them and they often limit their action or ban them altogether. Most of the pros bet the limit on every game and spend the majority of their days monitoring line movements.
But the low to mid-range bettors can make a nice profit without raising any red flags from the sportsbooks. When a shop has thousands of dollars riding on a small conference college basketball game, a nickel or dime loss isn't going to send them to the poorhouse. Flying under the radar is the best way to go when dealing with betting establishments, as any professional gambler would tell you.
The best strategy for betting, especially at this uncertain time of year for the sportsbooks, is to bet early in the morning, preferably soon after the lines come out. This is when the numbers are at their most vulnerable state. The bookmakers know that their lines aren't solid on some of the lesser-bet sports, and they also know that the majority of action is coming from knowledgeable bettors. The lines will move quickly, and - for the most part - in the wrong direction.
There are also ample opportunities to 'middle' the books during this time of year. You will find situations where you like one team in the morning because you think the oddsmakers have issued a weak number, but by the time the game goes off the number has swung several points in the other direction due to heavy action from the pros. If you bet the other side with the inflated number, you have the chance of the actual outcome of the game landing somewhere in the middle of your two bets, causing you to win both, while risking only your vigorish. Fluctuations of three or four points in the NBA or college basketball are not entirely uncommon during this time of year from the time the numbers are released until game time. This is one of the most low-risk investments in sports betting.
So take the gift that the bookmakers are offering this holiday season and win like the pros. It takes some time and effort, but so does anything else that makes you a profit.