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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, February 17, 2012 at 2:18 PM

One of the toughest lessons for do-it-yourself handicappers to learn as they gain more experience in this field is that you have to cut down on your volume. Most gamblers start recreationally. And, it’s more fun to bet a lot of games and sweat the action than it is to bet a few. But, ADVANCED handicapping mean focusing on the best opportunities.

I’ve said many times already that Vegas lines have been very tight this year. On a few occasions I’ve posted lists of all the games that were close to the number within the final minutes of action. Even though I’m on one of the hottest runs anyone’s every seen in college basketball in recent days…it’s coming at a time when the lines are arguably tougher than they’ve ever been.

How can that happen? How can a winning percentage get better when lines get tougher?

If you’re being disciplined with your action, and only betting the best opportunities, that’s actually a natural by-product. If a handicapper’s leans are going to hit 53-54%, he should still bet them because that makes money. But, if the lines are so tight that leans drop to virtual coin flips…then you shouldn’t bet them at all. Naturally, the elite games you’re still betting with clearly defined advantages are still going to hit at a high percentage. Trimming down the card erases the bad bets that have been pulling your percentage down.

We’re dealing with very big cards this weekend, as is typically the case in the baskets. There are 11 NBA games Friday Night along with some additional college action. Saturday’s college schedule is an absolute monster with the regular scheduled games and all the Bracket Busters. Sunday’s NBA card has two-thirds of the league back in action.

Here are some tips for trimming down the card during times of sharp lines.

*Really emphasize trying to find the best 4-5 plays rather than checking off leans and hunches all over the card. Pretend your assignment is to find ONLY the best 4-5 options.

*Stay in your comfort zone. I’ve talked a lot this season about finding power teams vs. non-power teams in great situations. I’ve hit so many home runs here that there’s no need to hold back as long as pitches keep coming toward my wheelhouse. Maybe you prefer finding live dogs. That’s fine…focus on the 4-5 underdogs your most comfortable with. Maybe you put a lot of weight on revenge games in mid-February. Can’t argue with that. Try to narrow down the revenge options to the very best choices by looking at team strengths and the level of embarrassment they suffered.

*Have a list handy of teams that Vegas has been having trouble with lately. I know of at least six teams right now who have been consistently overrated for the past few weeks…and probably a dozen who have been consistently underrated. Remember, the lines have generally been very tight this year. Focus on potential areas of market weakness. Recent ATS records will tell you where oddsmakers are having trouble.

*If you’re hot on your big plays and want to use proper money management to press up your winnings…increase your bet size on your best plays rather than increasing your play volume. In other words…a hot streak should have you thinking “I need to bet more on my strongest opinions” rather than “Hey, I should bet more games.” The market is too tight to bet more games! If your strongest options are winning, put more on those until something changes.

It all comes down to discipline. Advanced Handicappers have it. The vast majority of gamblers don’t. Try to embrace a mindset of patience confidence as you focus on winning money. Let your buddies play all the TV games for fun. They love the rollercoaster ride. You’re not a kid any more.

I’ll be back again for another installment from my College of Advanced Handicapping early next week. You can join me for Bracket Buster Weekend right here at this website. Daily selections are available for credit card purchase. Be forewarned that you’re going to get a handful of top notch plays rather than a long list of leans. I practice what I preach.

Thanks again to all of you who visit through the season to read the coursework. See you again soon...

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