Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Friday, June 22, 2018 at 4:00 PM
I’ve mentioned this periodically through my time posting articles here at this website. But, I don’t think I’ve ever devoted a full article to it. This is very important to remember if you’re a day-to-day baseball handicapper, or just devoting the summer to getting ready for football.
Sharps bet PRICES, not teams. You’ll often hear the mainstream media talking about “the so-called sharps” who keep betting on certain bad teams and losing. This was true with the Cleveland Browns last season. Somebody was saying about the Cincinnati Reds a few days ago (then the Reds started winning).
It can also happen on the other end of the spectrum. Many sharps WEREN’T betting on Justified during Triple Crown races because the payoffs were too low to “justify” the investment. Sure, he ended up winning the races. If you’re only seeking the thrill of winning a bet, take the big favorites and pocket your miniscule profits. If you’re trying to make MONEY over the long haul, focus on value and price.
Why were sharps betting the Cleveland Browns last season? Not because they “loved” the Browns or had some special feeling about any given week. The models they were using were suggesting the Browns offered value. If the line was +10, their models might have had the game +9. So, they bet the Browns on the key number. It’s true that Cleveland kept finding ways to lose and not cover. But, the laws of math suggested to many of the quants that luck would flip the other way eventually. Remember though…this wasn’t about “the team.” Sharps knew Cleveland stunk. They had made the Browns a 9-point underdog anyway. They know that, over the course of a thousand bets, taking a team at +10 that’s supposed to be +9 will grind out a profit.
Squares (the general public) don’t do it that way. They start the day thinking “I want to win a bet today.” Then, they figure the best way to do that is to bet on a very good team, or bet against a very bad team. It would NEVER occur to them to bet on a bad team because of line value. And, they’ll often make horrible bets on good teams at bad prices just because it feels safer to root for a Super Bowl contender at a bad price then a cellar dweller at a good price.
*You will lose money taking the worst of it with good teams because “taking the worst of it” eventually sends all of your money to sports book coffers.
*You will win money taking the best of it with bad teams because “taking the best of it” helps you grind out a profit.
Now, I’m not suggesting sharps only bet bad teams. They bet value wherever they find it. That could be with a league power if that power has been underrated (like the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL playoffs last season, or the Boston Celtics in the second half of the regular season and at home during the NBA Playoffs).
As you handicap daily baseball, force yourself to spend more time looking at prices, and less time trying to find shortcuts to take the Cubs, Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers. Admit it, you missed out entirely on the hot runs of Atlanta and Seattle because those aren’t the types of teams you like to bet on. They were getting very cheap prices for weeks compared to their on-field performance.
If you’re thinking about football, it’s almost best to not even listen to TV pundits because they’re all going to talk about teams rather than the market. I’m seeing some of that already. In the NFL, Jacksonville is going to fall back to earth. Houston is going to be great if its quarterback stays healthy. All that may be true. But, if the market PRICES the Jaguars to fall backward, you won’t make much money. If Houston is treated like the Pittsburgh Steelers by oddsmakers out of the gate, they could win games but not cover spreads.
In the colleges, everybody knows the Final Four already! At least they act that way. How many good bets could there be on those teams when the whole world already expects them to dominate whenever they take the field? Are they all going to win their games by 30-40 points every week? Focus your efforts on how teams are going to be underpriced or overpriced.
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It’s really been hot here in Las Vegas. Hope the weather is nicer where you are…perhaps near the new sports books taking bets in New Jersey and Delaware…or in Mississippi where you’ll be able to bet some time around July 21…or Rhode Island who looks to be set for the fall. Welcome to all of you who are finding this article after just gaining access to legal sports betting. I’ll continue to do my very best to help readers think like a sharp and bet like a sharp. The essence of that will always be thinking about prices and point spreads rather than locking in on teams regardless of the line.