Some of the best career advice I’ve seen is to determine what you’re best at and then focus on doing that as much as possible.
The same goes for sports betting. If you’re serious about winning the war against the bookies, you need to identify the areas in which you’re strongest and avoid the bets in which you aren’t as successful.
For example, some excel at picking which team will win a game, others are strongest at betting totals. There are also people whose bread and butter is live betting, and some who find their most consistent edges come betting props and futures.
The types of bets you make aren’t the only things you should be focusing on, however. Certain sports are easier than others to beat, and they’re the sports you should invest your time and bankroll the most in. If you do that, the results will soon follow, and you’ll only get better.
So what are the easiest sports to bet on? Well, that’s obviously a subjective exercise, as different types of bettors gravitate towards different types of sports. Here’s my personal opinion of the three easiest sports to bet on, along with an explanation of why.
Many people feel that hockey is one of the most difficult sports to bet on, and I understand why. After all, it’s played on ice by a bunch of guys with knives on their feet who are skating around at 100 miles per hour trying to swat a tiny rubberized disc into a 6-by-4-foot net. What could be more difficult to predict than that, right?
But if you actually take some time to learn the sport, the league (in this case, I’m talking the National Hockey League) and all of their intricacies, you stand a pretty good chance of making some cash. Here are two reasons why.
First, it’s a bit of a niche sport to bet on, at least when it comes to the professional leagues in North America. That matters because, as any statistics major would tell you, the larger the sample size of betting opinions being drawn upon, the more predictive the betting market will be. In other words, the more money that is wagered on a sport (especially if it attracts a lot of sharp bettors), the sharper the oddsmaker’s line will be. You can draw a lot of stronger conclusions from a poll of 1 million people than you can from a poll of 100. Even though NHL betting is growing in popularity — especially after the instant success of the Golden Knights in Vegas — you’re still betting into a market that doesn’t draw as much sharp action as the NFL or NBA.
Second, and I think this is actually more important, situational handicapping can be used to expose a lot of edges. Other than the NBA and MLB, no other major pro sport in the world crams as many games into as small a window of time as the NHL. Unlike the NBA, healthy NHL players don’t sit out games to “rest”, and unlike MLB, these athletes are going full-out every game they play. Whenever teams are playing their fourth game in six days or their sixth straight road game (both common occurrences in the NHL), they’re at a huge disadvantage, especially if they’re facing a rested opponent. Motivation is another situational angle you can use to find an edge betting NHL hockey, since trying harder actually does make a difference in hockey (unlike baseball, where swinging the bat harder doesn’t accomplish a thing), and so is correctly anticipating when a team might be using its backup goalie.
Simply put, by paying attention to each team’s schedule, recent results and goaltender usage, you’ve got a good chance at exposing some edges in a market that isn’t as sharp as the bigger sports. That, in my opinion, makes hockey the easiest sport to bet on.
Wait a minute. If a big reason I think hockey is the easiest sport to bet on is because it attracts less betting attention, then how on earth can football be the second-easiest? Of the $5 billion that was wagered on all sports in the state of Nevada in 2018, more than one-third of it was on the NFL and college football combined.
But while there are plenty of sharps in the NFL betting market, there’s also a ton of squares. In case you’re not familiar with that latter term, I’m talking about people who just love to bet recreationally every week, even if they aren’t successful. There’s so much uninformed money in football betting that it can offset some of the sharper opinions, meaning that bookies sometimes need to inflate their lines on popular favorites that Joe Public can’t get enough of.
In addition to the usual line value fading public favorites (although when the public is all over a popular underdog, that is sometimes an even stronger fade), there are other things I feel you can capitalize on as a football bettor. Overreaction to injuries is a huge one as most novice bettors don’t seem to remember that the backups to a star player are professional athletes too, meaning that the drop-off in production often isn’t as dramatic as expected. That’s especially true when it comes to star running backs, since his replacement will be running through the exact same holes created by the offensive line.
And like hockey, there’s always situational handicaps you can exploit.
When I say tennis is one of the easiest sports to bet on, you need to take that with a grain of salt. You still need to do your homework to find an edge. But the reason I consider tennis one of the easiest sports to bet on is because the edges are easier to find.
When you’re betting on team sports, you’re having to consider the potential performance of an entire team — 10 or so players in basketball, 20 in hockey, 25 in baseball and as many as 40 players in football. But in tennis, unless you’re betting on doubles, you can concentrate specifically on two individual players. How a player and his or her opponent performs in today’s match will essentially determine the result. That’s a lot easier to predict than how the Patriots’ team performance may or may not be affected by Julian Edelman’s tight hamstring.
There are so many metrics we can use. The recent play of each player is obviously something to look at, as is any previous meetings between the two. But we can also look at splits of how they perform on various surfaces (clay, grass or hard courts), in various temperatures and at various times of day, or at analytics measuring their serve (first serve winner percentage, second serve points won percentage, service games won percentage, average aces per match, percentage of break points converted, etc.). Granted, there’s a lot to look at, but once you’ve done it a few times, you start to identify areas that the betting market may overlook. And that’s how you find your edge.
Don’t forget about live betting, which can be a huge weapon to use when gambling on tennis. The live odds in a tennis match swing dramatically from game to game or even point to point, and if you patiently wait for the right opportunity, you’ll often be able to bet a big pre-match favorite at a much cheaper price.
Knowing your strengths as a bettor and focusing on those areas as much as possible should make you more successful gambling on sports. For me, the sports I find easiest to bet on are hockey, NFL football, and tennis, whether it’s due to the betting market those sports attract, the opportunity to take advantage of situational spots or the chance to bet on individuals instead of teams.
No matter what sport you find easiest to bet on, however, just remember that there are no shortcuts to making money betting sports. You’ll still need to put in the work analyzing statistics, identifying trends and watching games in order to stand a chance of beating the books. But that’s one more reason to focus on what you’re good at — it allows you to spend even more time handicapping those sports and cuts down the time you waste on sports you aren’t successful betting on.