Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 2:00 PM
We’re at a point in the college basketball season where a lot of “streaks” start to develop. The media tends to focus on winning streaks and losing streaks because it gives them something to talk about during the broadcasts. Here in Las Vegas, sports bettors are more focused on looking at streaks against the spread. Teams who have covered or failed to cover at least three in a row.
Because I want to help you learn to handicap the right way. I want to say the following things about “streak” handicapping.
GENERALLY SPEAKING, DON’T USE IT!
You regulars know that I’m much more focused on PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS, as well as THE MOTIVATION FACTOR when handicapping sports. The nuances of motivation make it very difficult for college basketball teams to put together streaks against the spread. Every good team has a flat game eventually. Every bad team has a game that gets their juices flowing every so often. Too many sports bettors, particularly those new to the field, try to treat sports like roulette. They want to bet a “hot” color. Well, nobody beats roulette! And, you won’t beat sports scouting out streaks and hoping they continue.
STREAK HANDICAPPING IS MORE ABOUT ODDSMAKERS THAN TEAMS
This is a point worth remembering. Whenever a team is on a hot or cold run against Las Vegas numbers, it’s because they’re being mispriced! Maybe oddsmakers haven’t noticed a team that made improvement on one end, or a team that’s thrown in the towel on the other. They will eventually notice. And, they will eventually get their lines in the right place. The streak is about a temporary oddsmaker error, and it will be irrelevant once oddsmakers fix that error.
THE ONLY TIME TO PLAY A STREAK IS IF YOU’RE ALREADY RIDING ONE
The best advice I’ve heard in this area is to go ahead and continue riding a team that you’ve already been riding if there’s no evidence yet that the line has properly adjusted. Let’s say you spotted improvement from a team in the Big 10 or the ACC (because they got healthy after a run of injuries, or because their youngsters finally got the hang of the offense), and you’ve already won 2-3 times with that team. There’s nothing wrong with riding that to its conclusion. Maybe you lose the next one and finish 2-1 or 3-1. Maybe the market takes awhile to fully adjust, and you finish 5-1 or 6-1.
The difference here from before is that you’re not just hopping around the sport trying to find streaks to chase. You’ve spotted SOMETHING THAT MATTERS that the market has missed, and you’re exploiting that for as long as you can.
The same can be said for the other side of the spectrum. Maybe you saw a team arguing in the huddle on a night you went against them, and you believe their chemistry is gone. This team is toast because they’ve tuned out the head coach and they don’t get along with each other. I could see going against this team until they play a good game. You have VISUAL evidence that there’s a problem. This will trump the slow moving Power Ratings of Vegas oddsmakers.
Remember this, college basketball is a game of MATCHUPS…and a game of EMOTION. A team that just covered three games in a row might well have had favorable personnel matchups that won’t exist in the fourth game. It’s silly to place a bet on a team that’s at a matchup disadvantage now just because they weren’t in their last few games. Doesn’t make any sense! A team that just got sky high for three rivals and covered spreads is arguably a great go AGAINST team the next time out against a lesser opponent that doesn’t get their juices flowing.
Don’t try to take shortcuts. Don’t turn sports betting into roulette. Focus on the fundamentals you’ve been learning from The Dean of Sports Handicapping here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping through the years.
If you’d like some help picking winners on the nightly basketball card, my game day selections can be purchased here at this very website with your major credit card. Those needing information about seasonal packages that take you through March Madness and the NBA Playoffs can talk to one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters home office at 1-888-777-4155.
I’ll see you again early next week for more guidance in college basketball handicapping. Thanks again for all the hard work you’ve been doing this season. It’s great that so many of you have transitioned fully from football to basketball, and are now focused very intently on the road to the NCAA Tournament. Let’s go make some money!