On the morning of September 9, Arizona took its first legal sports bet. Just three months later, it passed the billion-dollar mark, faster than any other state had. It’s a record that didn’t last long. Last November, New Jersey saw $1.3 billion in sports bets in that month alone. In New York, mobile sports betting became legal on Jan. 9, and the Empire State took in $2.4 billion in its first five weeks, including a quarter of the nation’s legal Super Bowl mobile bets.
It’s a whole new world for legalized sports betting, which has been spreading across the United States like wildfire since 2018, when the United States Supreme Court legalized the practice for any state that wants it. Morgan Stanley recently predicted that $216 billion could be legally wagered annually in the United States within three years. By comparison, box office sales for North American films in 2019 were $11 billion.
Thirty states, plus Washington DC, offer sports betting, and three others have legalized the practice but have not yet made it operational. California voters will head to the polls in November to consider opening up this potentially lucrative market. It is estimated that within three years, at least 45 states will offer sports betting to their citizens.
Are you interested in sports betting? Do not walk without being informed. The strategies I share here have helped me win over the past 20 years.
The Perils of Parlays
No matter the sport, never bet on bets, which are a group of bets that require you to win multiple games for a single payout. These are sucker bets and account for a third of a bookmaker’s profits. (That’s why you’ll see offers to try to lure you into Parlay betting.) They don’t come close to paying true odds.
Consider the dogs
At least 85% of NFL punters bet on favorites every week, and only one of the 1,000 punters makes money betting on the NFL, which tells me that favorites are inflated by bookmakers to attract bets equal on both teams. The best value by far is six points or less for road underdogs. These teams finished a highly profitable 51-28 ATS last year, 64.5 percent.
Not so great teams
The first month of the season, bet against the two teams that have played in the Super Bowl, as both teams will be overvalued. Tampa Bay and loser Kansas City were both 1-3 ATS in their first four games. Always bet against the Super Bowl winner in his first game, a Thursday night marquee occasion that kicks off the new season and inspires the media-ignored opponent to play hard and not be embarrassed. Tampa Bay never came close to breaking a nine-point lead against Dallas in that opener last season, winning 31-29.
With divisional rivalries in professional football, bet against the team that beats the spread the first time they meet. Double your bet if it’s a road split underdog.
Bet less, win more
Limit your weekly picks to one or two NFL games. (For college, my limit is three to five.) The more weekly games you bet on, the less likely you are to win in a football season.
Know the A, B, C
Most bettors consider comparative scores in matches, which is a costly mistake. Team A beats Team B, who beat Team C earlier in the season, so people think Team C will lose to Team A. This gives Team C a line of swollen underdog. Ohio State (Team A) defeated Michigan State (Team B) 56-7. Michigan State defeated Michigan (Team C). But Michigan, getting 5, upset Ohio State 42-27. Bet on Team C. This system works well, especially in the talented SEC.
Sandwich games occur when a non-FBS/FCS school plays one of the Power 5 schools after and before big games. These games are commonly referred to as “body bag games” because small schools need money from these games to survive. Alabama beat Miami 44-13 in its season opener last September. Next, Mercer was at home, a week before a big game against rival Florida. Alabama was a 54-point favorite against Mercer and went through the motions winning 48-14, and failing to cover the spread. FSU had Jacksonville State (+28) sandwiched between Notre Dame and Wake Forest, and lost to a last-second Hail Mary 20-17. Look for “sandwich games” in early September.
The losers are the bowl winners
If the teams meeting in a bowling match played earlier in the year, always bet on the team that lost the first game as they are 9-1 ATS in the rematch in the 10 last times (2004-2022). In eight of those 10 games, they won the rematch. Revenge and motivation are sweet and worth the wait.
Consider the underdog of the road
The conference foes play each other twice in the regular season. When a Power 5 conference team loses at home, bet on that team when they are a road underdog in the rematch. Duke beat North Carolina by 20 points at Chapel Hill on February 5, and in the rematch, North Carolina (an 11-point underdog) upset Duke 94-81 in the coach’s final home game K. Nebraska (10-22 this year) lost to ranked Wisconsin at home and as a 13-point road underdog upset Wisconsin 74-73.
Breaks can cause problems
Bet against all underdog teams (especially those with new head coaches) and against all teams favored by 10 or less who haven’t played for 10 days or more as they are out of sync and usually fail to cover the gap.
Focus on the playoffs
With every NBA team playing 82 regular season games, it’s impossible for players to play every game to their mental and physical ability, so don’t bet on those games. In a seven-game playoff series, use the “zig-zag theory,” which involves betting on which team loses the spread in their first game. If that team loses two straight games by a point spread, double your bet on the winless team in Game 3, as it’s rare for a team to sweep 3-0 ATS in the playoffs.
First Sequence Theory
If a baseball team wins three games in a row, bet on that team until they lose. Conversely, if a team loses three games in a row, bet against them until they win. Only use this system for April and May, as bettors refine their lines after the first two months of the season. Streak Theory narrows your games and takes advantage of early streaks of unexpected wins and losses.
Disadvantage of home ground
Famous Las Vegas bettor Kenny White points out that local baseball teams (which are generally favored) only win in April at a rate of 50%. From May to August, according to White, home teams win 54% of the time, and that rises to 55% in September. If you like everyday baseball action, bet against local teams, especially early in the season.
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