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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, February 15, 2019 at 12:00 PM

As legalized sports betting continues to grow across the country, it’s becoming more and more clear that bettors will have options well beyond the classic full-game team sides and totals. The industry is convinced that “in-game” wagering is going to be huge (because European companies have profited so much with soccer in this regard). Also, young creative brains are coming up with “fantasy-style” props that sports fans seem to be enjoying. Bettors who visited New Jersey in recent weeks are raving about all the options available.

Honestly, most of my experience is with full-game wagering. No comparison. I’ve been as professional bettor for decades. Some of these new options are just a few years old, others just a few weeks old. I will strive to create coursework that reflects on these new realities of sports betting…applying our classic fundamentals to this brave new world.

If you’re planning on betting some of these types of propositions in college basketball this weekend, assuming most of you reading this live near a jurisdiction that offers them, here are some preliminary tips on what NOT to do.

*Don’t assume you’re a natural and it’s going to be easy! It takes a level of “overconfidence” just to pursue a life in sports betting anyway. That can be overcome with hard work and perseverance. Right out of the gate, you’re going to be making mistakes. Just assume that’s going to happen and bet conservatively, or just skip betting and monitor how your bets “would” have gone if you made them. This might save you hundreds until you get your bearings. History has made it clear that new betting propositions are harder to beat than they seem. Respect history.

*Don’t assume every team that falls way behind is going to mount a big rally. This is the most common mistake new bettors make with half-time lines or in-game betting. They see an extreme line on the board, and just assume that the trailing team is going to make adjustments and get things going. That works just often enough to be dangerous! If you’re right 45% of the time…you’ll pat yourself on the back for your insights while still getting your butt kicked. I would limit these types of plays to only top-level programs who have a clear pathway to rally against a vulnerable defense. Even then, you’ll be surprised how often a comeback falls short because the trailing team exhausted itself with the rally.

*Don’t assume that Over/Under tendencies will hold true through a whole game. It can be tempting to watch a low scoring first half…think “these offenses are TERRIBLE!”…then bet the Under in the second half. College kids blow hot and cold, especially now that three-point shooting is such an important part of the game. On the other side of the coin, high scoring first halves won’t necessarily be followed by more of the same. It’s tough to run-and-gun” for 40 full minutes. And, if treys were falling in the first half, they might not in the second half. You’re better off assuming “reversals” on Over/Unders. Though, again, be sure you can justify it with something that’s happening on the floor. Look at “live” boxscores (ESPN.com has them) to see if teams are shooting way over or way under their heads from long range. College basketball is a sport where “the eye test” can trick you in very small sample sizes.

*If you’re the type of handicapper that likes to use emotional “intangibles” like revenge, look-aheads, bounce backs, rivalry underdogs, and so on…remember that these are likely to be most powerful EARLY in a game. No revenge-minded team goofs around for the first half and THEN decides to go for revenge. They come out breathing fire. Flat teams are usually a step slow right out of the gate, rather than looking fine for 30 minutes before fading. I believe you’ll find that “first half” betting is right up your alley if you emphasize these elements. (Plus, these have the advantage of turning your money over faster, which allows you to pyramid your profits on the busiest schedule days.)

Most of our coursework moving forward will still focus on full games. That’s what most of you will be betting on the road to March Madness. But, if I’m getting reports that special propositions are becoming a sensation during the tournaments…I’ll devote additional coverage if needed. It’s great that sports betting is evolving before our eyes…after being largely frozen in time here in Las Vegas for so many years.

If you’d like some help finding edges throughout this huge college basketball weekend, KELSO STURGEON’S top plays can always be purchased at this website by credit card. Questions about extended service and combination packages can be answered in the Vegas Sports Masters office by calling my office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. I have great packages that take you through the rest of March Madness or the NBA Playoffs.

The Dean of Sports Handicapping greatly appreciates your time and attendance. Best of luck to you this weekend if you’re taking some shots at the AAF football league. I talked about that earlier this week. Please check the archives if you weren’t able to attend class that day. I’m interested to see if the teams that played well can keep it going, or if last week’s one-sided results were just due to extremes in turnover differential.

See you again Monday at the usual time.

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