If you’ve been betting on sports for very long, you know that beating the sportsbooks is hard. It seems like you find a good bet, only to have the game go the other way. You work harder to handicap games better, and yet it’s still hard to win on a consistent basis.
Once you start taking handicapping serious, it’s easy to spend an hour or longer on every game to try to find lines that offer value. Of course, if you improve your handicapping skills enough to turn a profit, it’s worth investing an hour or more into a game.
But what if you could find a system that you can use to beat the vig that only requires five minutes to handicap every game? Is that something you might be interested in?
Over the years I’ve developed several different systems for handicapping games. Some of them are long and complicated, and some of them are short and sweet. On average, the more work I put into handicapping a game, the better my results turn out.
But this doesn’t mean that some of the faster ways to handicap aren’t good. I’ve collected everything I know about making fast handicapping decisions and am getting ready to share them with you. Make sure to read the next section before you dig into the tactics below. You need to be aware of the dangers of taking too many shortcuts when it comes to betting on sports.
If you want to be able to beat the vig and spend no more than five minutes handicapping a contest, you have to do one of two things.
The first option is to invest a great deal of time into creating statistical models that are good enough to beat the vig. You start building models and test them over and over again until you can simply plug in the required statistics and the models spit out profitable betting opportunities.
This is the best way to use a five-minute handicapping system, but it requires a great deal of time and effort up front. If this was what I was teaching you in this page the title of the page would be closer to a bait and switch title than an accurate one. I bet that you’re more interested in the second option, and it’s what most of this page is about.
I just want to make sure that you understand that the first option gives you the best chance at long term success as a sports bettor. But that doesn’t mean you can’t work on both options at the same time. As a matter of fact, you should work on both options.
The second option is using a combination of quick tips and tactics that help you find games and lines that might be profitable. You’re going to learn all of the fast ways I know of to handicap sporting events.
When you use the second option, you have to give up many advantages, because you’re working with a strict time limit. But there are still quick strategies that you can use.
The goal is to make bets that beat the vig. This means that when you make bets with the industry standard vig, which is based on betting $110 to win $100, you have to win 52.38% of the time on bets against the spread to break even.
In other words, on against the spread bets you need to win at least 52.39% of the time to beat the vig. When you bet on a few games, it’s difficult to convert this percentage into easy to understand wins and losses.
The exact number of against the spread bets you need to win over the long term to beat the vig is 5,239 out of 10,000. Many sports bettors don’t make a total of 10,000 bets in their life. So what if you look at the numbers on a smaller scale?
The reason this is important is because you have to consider the long term, and not focus too much on the next few results. It’s realistic to learn how to win 53% of your against the spread bets, but a 60% rate over the long term is almost impossible.
Now consider what needs to happen to get to 53 wins and 47 losses on your next 100 bets. If you flip a coin or throw darts to make your sports betting picks, you’re eventually going to win 50% of your bets.
When you improve your win rate by one game out of 100, you win 51 and lose 49. To reach the 53% mark, you have to turn three losses into wins over the course of 100 wagers. If you’re smart and willing to shop lines better than anyone else, you have a chance to do this with no handicapping skill whatsoever.
Another thing to consider is that there are other types of bets than against the spread bets.
The math gets more complicated when you start making wagers that don’t follow the simple against the spread model. The other common type of available betting line is the moneyline. The moneyline is a bet on which team is going to win, without one team receiving points and one team giving them.
You have to bet an amount over $100 for the chance to win $100 if you bet the favorite, and you can win an amount higher than $100 when you bet $100 on the underdog. Even though it’s hard to see the vig on a moneyline wager, it’s built into the lines. If the bet didn’t have vig the pay outs would balance on both sides of the game, and they don’t.
It’s possible to determine the exact number of moneyline bets you need to win to beat the vig, but there are many more calculations because instead of working with a single option of $110 to win $100, you deal with hundreds of possible return lines.
Instead of trying to figure out how to do calculus level mathematics, which most people aren’t willing to do; you simply need to start tracking your results on moneyline bets to learn if you’re making money in the long run.
This doesn’t mean that you should avoid moneyline wagers. The opposite is actually true. I cover this more in the next section, but one of the best strategies for five minute handicapping is making more moneyline bets.
The main reason I covered the numbers in this section is so you can understand exactly what beating the vig is, and to show you that you only need to improve over average a little bit to beat the vig.
Now it’s time to start learning the system. You can use all of the things in this section to make quick handicapping decisions, but you don’t have to use all of them together. None of these strategies depend on any of the other ones in this section, but if you can use many of them on the same game it helps you make better bets.
Sometimes two of these strategies might work against each other. You might be looking at a home underdog on one side of a game with a team that has a big public bias on the other side. When this happens, I usually just decide to not bet the game and move on to the next game.
The goal of the five minute handicapping system isn’t to pick a winner for every game. The goal is to quickly find the games that offer the best value. Using this system you can handicap 12 games an hour, but you might only find one or two that you should bet on.
If you want to bet on every game in the NFL season, I can’t help you with a five minute system. In fact, I don’t know anyone who bets on every game and makes much of a profit, if any at all. The lines are just too tight on average to show a profit betting on every game.
You need to focus on finding the one or two games every day that offer the best chance to win. As soon as you see a game you’re handicapping doesn’t offer value, stop looking at it and look at the next game.
A trend is how a team or player has performed in the past. If a team has won three or four games in a row, they’re on a winning trend. If a starting pitcher has pitched well in his last two or three starts, he’s on a positive trend. The same is true for losing trends.
The most important thing to understand about trends is that you can’t go back too far when looking at them. I don’t usually look back past the last two or three results. The things that happened the prior season are almost useless when you’re handicapping games in the current season.
I bet on baseball as much or more than all of the other sports combined. The season is long and there are several games every day. This offers plenty of betting opportunities and you can look for all kinds of trends.
One of the first things I look at when handicapping every baseball game is how the starting pitchers for both teams have done in their last three starts. I also look at just their last start. The next thing I look at is how the best hitters on each team have performed in the last three games.
I also consider the recent performances for each team as a whole; looking at the last 10 games. Though I look at the last 10 games, I focus more on the last three games than the other seven.
In football, whether it’s the NFL or NCAA, I look at the last three games for each team and try to see if they’re getting better or worse each game. You have to make adjustments for how each team performed on a week by week basis by looking at who they played each week.
You’re looking at an NFL game and are looking at the trends for the offense of one team. The last three weeks they have produced the following statistics.
By just looking at the numbers it’s difficult to see a trend. You might even start to see a trend that they’re better every other week. But you don’t have all of the information if you just look at the numbers.
The fact is that two weeks back they played the team with the best defense in the NFL. They won the game, though it was a battle, and they still put up more points and yards than other teams have been able to do against the strong defense.
Trends are valuable, but you need to make sure you have all the information you need to use the trends correctly.
One danger with using trends is that you have to understand that extreme trends don’t last a long time. A mathematical concept called regression to the norm or mean comes into play, and you need to make sure you understand how it works.
Regression to the norm means that every team and player has a normal or expected line of performance. A team that starts the season with a long winning streak is likely to lose a few games eventually because an undefeated season is impossible in some sports, and highly unlikely in others.
How many undefeated NFL teams have there been? In modern day MLB, the NBA, and the NHL, there’s never been an undefeated team.
The danger is when you see a trend and start believing that it can continue forever. While you need to use trends to make quick betting decisions, you also need to be aware that the odds are good that things are going to start correcting and moving back to the norm at some point.
Here’s how I use recent trends to make fast handicapping decisions. I like to have at least one of the other tactics below agree with what the trend is showing me, but I don’t always have to have that to make a bet.
If one team is on a winning trend and the other is on a losing trend, I look at the moneyline on the team on a winning trend. The same is true in baseball when one starting pitcher has been pitching well and the other hasn’t.
You should always take at least a few minutes to shop for lines. You don’t have to spend a few minutes for every game though. I check lines at four or five places and either print them out or quickly write them down for every game on the schedule for the day.
I look for lines that are different, or in other words ones that have a gap, from one sportsbook to another and remember you can check our best betting sites here. This helps me make faster handicapping decisions in two ways.
This one has been around so long that it’s almost overused. I never just bet on a team because it’s a home underdog, but these are the games that I handicap first every day. Home teams have an advantage on every sport, and everyone knows this. Every sports bettor knows this and every sportsbook knows this.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t still find value on some teams playing at home that are underdogs.
Here’s what I look for:
I look at every team on the schedule playing at home as an underdog. Then I see if there’s any indication of a recent trend that suggests the home team has a decent chance to win. The next step is to see if the road team has a public betting bias. I cover public bias in a later section.
Then I see if the game is a good candidate for a bet string as a home team. This works best in baseball, but it can also work in other sports.
The final step is looking at the against the spread lines and the moneyline to see if one of them looks like it offers better value than the other. When two or more of these things point in the same direction I usually make a bet and start looking at the next game.
This is a strategy I use in MLB often. If you track the results of baseball over a long period of time, you learn that home teams rarely get swept in a series. Some seasons you can simply bet on the home team in the first game of every series and start a bet string.
If you win the first game of the series you don’t bet on the second game. If you lose the first game of the series, you bet on the home team again on the second game of the series, but you bet more to cover your losses on the first game. If you win the second game you stop, but if not, you bet more on the third game.
This is a dangerous strategy, because the few times a home team gets swept in a series it’s costly, but this doesn’t happen often. You can use this to lock in a profit most of the time. The big key to making this work is being able to get bigger bets down on the end of strings. If you can get bets down that are big enough at the end of strings, you can guarantee a long term profit as long as you don’t run out of money.
You can also look for opportunities to use bet strings in other sports, but they aren’t set up the same way as MLB so it can be more challenging.
Popular teams have what I call a public bias. More people bet on popular teams simply because they’re popular. The sportsbooks know this and take advantage of it by shifting the opening lines slightly against the popular team.
When I handicap a game with one of the most popular teams, I always look at the line for the other team. Often I find lines that offer good value when this happens. It’s not 100% of the time, but when one or more other things point the same way I usually place a bet.
The moneyline is my favorite bet. Instead of trying to figure out how much a team will win by, you simply need to figure out which team is going to win. If you can make a good estimate of how likely one team is to win, you can compare it to the offered moneyline to see if it offers value.
You’re handicapping a game and you determine that one team will win the game 9 out of 10 times if they played it over and over. The moneyline is -700 on the team you think will win most of the time. This means that you have to bet $700 to win $100. To determine if this is a good line, assuming your prediction is correct, you need to see if making the bet 10 times results in a profit.
To make the bet 10 times you have to bet $7,000 in total. When you win, you get back your $700 bet and a profit of $100, for a total of $800. If you win nine times, you get back $7,200. This is a profit of $200 over 10 games.
Notice that if you’re wrong and the team only wins eight out of 10 times instead of nine, it’s a losing bet.
A moneyline bet doesn’t make it easier to show a long term profit, but it’s a useful tool when you’re trying to make fast handicapping predications.
Is this a perfect sports betting system? If you think you can find a perfect system that works in less than five minutes per game, you might be setting your sights too high. But this system gives you a realistic chance to learn how to beat the vig by spending five minutes per game.
Just remember that you’re looking for the one or two best opportunities every day; not how to bet on every game. You’re going to have a better chance to beat the vig picking the best opportunities and quickly moving on from all other wagers.