Sports Handicapping tricks to look out for.
Now that football season is in full swing, there are no shortages of handicappers out there vying for your attention. Some are decent hard-working handicappers who can help you during the course of the season, although they are definitely the minority, especially once you enter the realm of paid handicappers and sports services. Analyzing a handicapper’s worth can be a daunting task, as many of the rules that govern everyday life can be thrown out the window in the world of sports handicappers.
The adage of “you get what you pay for” is one that can be safely discarded in the handicapping business. If you’re looking at two televisions and one cost $1,000 and the other costs $300, it’s a pretty safe assumption that the more expensive one is going to be better. With paid handicappers, more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better and many times it’s just the opposite. Those who charge hefty amounts for selections pretty much derive their income from selling picks, while those who charge lower amounts are more likely to derive some of their income from betting their picks, which is a big difference.
Because handicappers aren’t regulated in any manner, they are free to make claims that they wish. Some are outright fabrications, but even those who are truthful about their records can be quite a bit misleading if they choose. A handicapper can boast a winning percentage of 63% and be entirely honest in that regard, but without knowing what those wagers were, the winning percentage is pretty meaningless. If that 63% was obtained by betting huge money line favorites, it’s quite possible that the 63% handicapper cost his followers plenty of money even though they won games far more often than they lost them.
Handicappers who select only underdogs in baseball and hockey may win less than 50% of the time, but could be showing a nice profit with a winning percentage in the mid-40s. It’s all a question of what the odds were on the games that were played.
If you’re thinking that units won are a better indicator, you’re absolutely correct, but that can be manipulated almost as easily. One of the better-known handicappers around rates his plays between 10 dimes and 150 dimes. No self-respecting bettor is going to wager 15 times the amount on one game as another, but from the handicapper’s perspective, it’s a great thing, as he can lose three or four 10 or 20 dime plays in a row and turn around and release a 100 dime play. If it wins, he can honestly claim to be up 50 dimes. If it loses, simply release a 150 dime play next and look to get even with a 1-5 record.
Betting more on one game than another is perfectly reasonable, as you simply like some games more than others, but there needs to be some proximity in bet sizes and even your best plays should never exceed 5% of your bankroll. Those occasions should be rare, with the majority of your wagers in the 2% to 3% range.
Another common tactic is to create a low monetary unit, but specify a 10-unit wager on all games. This is the sports handicappers equivalent of the “penny slots” that require a 400-unit bet to win the jackpot. A handicapper claiming “a $100 bettor is up over $3,000 this year” could be telling the truth, but if the $100 bettor is required to wager 10 units, or $1,000 per game, they aren’t really $100 bettors.
When a season is close to the end is when you will see many handicappers increase their ratings. A handicapper who has been releasing primarily 1* and 2* plays all season and is down for the year, may start to release 5* and 10* plays all in attempt to get a little run going and be able to claim a winning season.
Closely related are those handicappers who release games with a wide variety of ratings and then selectively choose one rating to base advertising on. A handicapper can claim to be “shooting for my fifth 30* winner a row” which may be truthful and sounds impressive, but could easily have gone 1-6 in other rated plays since the release of the last 30* play.
Be wary of those who try to sell you anything resembling a Lock of the Month, a Game of the Year, or any other such nonsense. One game is no way of judging a handicapper’s worth. If the game wins, it doesn’t mean that the handicapper is any good, just as if it losses it doesn’t mean the handicapper is necessarily bad, although they should never have been releasing such a play in the first place.
Handicappers definitely have a large arsenal of smoke and mirrors to camouflage their true ability if they so choose, which makes it a difficult task for bettors to determine their true worth. Don’t be afraid to dig a little bit deeper and ask questions. An honest handicapper has nothing to hide and should be more than happy to explain their approach to sports betting and answer any questions that you may have regarding their record.
If you want to check out my past results, I post all of my picks to the VIP Results page ever couple of days.
10/14/2014 11:51:42 am
I recommend betting the same amount on every single bet - it is easy to let your emotions make you think betting 4x the normal amount is reasonable when the line seems too good to be true, but the chance of an upset (think NE @ KC a few weeks back - they got blown to pieces. Even if their line had been +10.5 betting 4x on that would have killed you) is too great to risk it. If you lose a 4x bet, you have to win more than 4 normal bets to cover.
It's a great point, bankroll management is at the key of all of my sports investing strategies, I have tried strategies of 1 or 2 units, but have found that I get the best results with a 2 unit base and a 4 unit max (twice me normal bet). But I fully agree with keeping a tight range you never overexpose on any one bet.
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Author: Rob Holiday
My background is in business, consulting, finance and entrepreneurship