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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 8:00 AM

As promised, I’m back with you to discuss some of my Advanced Handicapping principles for beating the oddsmakers in the NBA. The season starts Tuesday Night, and then really gets rolling strong for sports bettors Wednesday and beyond.

Here are some important fundamentals for these first few weeks of action…

BE CAREFUL WITH FAVORITES

You regulars know that many of my biggest plays come on superior teams who have clear advantages in the areas of PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS. This is still true in the NBA. But, I have to be particularly cautious early in the season for the following reasons:

*The best teams aren’t in regular season form yet

*The worst teams have fresh legs and are still trying

*The best teams are focused on pacing themselves for the long haul

*The worst teams will try to rally in garbage time

I will still pick my spots with some strong favorites if I’m confident that they’ll give me 48 good minutes, or if I believe the market doesn’t fully realize how bad some of the cellar-dwellers are. But, the opening weeks of a new season is far from ideal for exploiting talent mismatches. That’s still a few weeks away when the best teams have found their rhythm and the worst teams are getting fed up with each other. Do your work in the areas of PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS, but be conservative unless all of your ducks are truly lined up in a row.

PAY PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO NEW PERSONNEL

Oddsmakers are always a few steps behind figuring how new lineups are going to play together. This creates a window of opportunity that Advanced Handicappers can exploit. Right now…oddsmakers are just guessing with the Lakers…with Oklahoma City after the Harden trade…with Boston after some young legs will pick up the slack for the loss of Ray Allen. The guys behind the line will eventually get up to speed. You need to get there first!

I strongly encourage you to watch the games closely of all teams with new starting lineups (League Pass is particularly valuable in this regard…now YOU can do at home what Vegas handicappers used to do in sportsbooks watching all the games on big screens). Please read the boxscores thoroughly to see which offenses are gelling and which are not. Monitor the smart money moves to get a sense of who Vegas professionals respect the most in the early days of the season. The public doesn’t bet much NBA until playoff time. Any big line moves you see will be sharp moves. It’s common every year for the biggest line moves to involve teams with new lineups. That’s because smart handicappers are better than the oddsmakers!

EMPHASIZE DEFENSE

Generally speaking, defense gets to regular season form before offense does. Look for defensive dogs who should be favorites. Look for small favorites who will be able to shut down opposition scoring and cover easily. Read the boxscores so you know which teams are playing the best defense night in and night out.

The mistakes most people make in October and November NBA typically involve putting too much weight on what they remember from the best offenses last year…and not nearly enough on who’s playing the best DEFENSE right now. Early season offenses are sluggish, and that’s particularly true in crunch time because nobody practices crunch time in the preseason. A lot of pointspreads are won and lost in crunch time! Invest in the best defenses, and you’ll be cashing a lot of tickets.

I already have my eye on at least 15-20 offenses I expect to struggle in fourth quarters during these first few weeks of action. You can bet I’ll be betting against them aggressively with the best defensive teams.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT TOTALS

Over/Under bets can be a gold mine early in the season as head coaches make adjustments in tempo. I’ve been in Las Vegas for a long time now. And, I’ve always known handicappers who believe that early season NBA totals are the easiest thing to beat in ALL OF SPORTS! Sportsbooks have tried to defend themselves against pro bettors by moving around their post times, and by moving number very quickly on first action. That’s reduced the advantage that used to exist for sports bettors, but it hasn’t taken it away entirely.

If you’re truly interested in becoming an Advanced Handicapper, this is a litmus test for you. Make the commitment to study coaching tendencies, tempo, bench scoring influences, and market dynamics. Champions find a weakness and attack it. This has always been an area of weakness for oddsmakers because they don’t do the right research and because they also have to focus on pro football, college football, and college basketball as overlap sports.

If you’d like some help in the opening days of the new season, I’ll have game day releases posted online a few hours before tipoff every afternoon. Seasonal packages are also available…and those include college basketball in addition to the NBA.

I’ll be back with you again Friday as we return to football here in my College of Advanced Handicapping. I understand that many of you consider yourselves “football only” until about January. That’s fine if you’re making good money on the gridiron. I would like to encourage the hardest workers out there with a promise that NBA analysis will pay off for you immediately if you mix the fundamentals of Advanced Handicapping with the early season common sense adjustments I outlined for you today. Give yourself a workload that fits your schedule but maximizes your profit potential!

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