Heading into football season, I wanted to briefly cover a topic that has always fascinated me. For whatever reason, the betting public at large has an infatuation with playing favorites. While this fact is very well documented, it still perplexes me. After all, common sense tells this gambler taking points before a game starts is a worthwhile strategy.
So why is it that most amateurs have such a strong propensity to lay it? Maybe the old saying we used to hear at Christmas, “it is better to give than receive”is irreparably implanted in the public's collective subconscious? While society undoubtedly roots for the underdog in our favorite Movies, TV Shows and Novels, it is a different story when it comes to laying down hard earned cash on a sporting event. As a matter of fact, most folks will convince themselves of anything in order to bet on the better team.
Given my fascination with this subject, I thought it a prudent idea to conduct a few informal and admittedly rudimentary studies pertaining to the subject. As expected, the results proved my hypothesis correct. As a whole, amateur support for favorites far outweighs amateur support for dogs. In fact, the study concluded between 65% and 75% of all “amateur action”is wagered on the favorite.
While the findings were not surprising, they still seem ludicrous. For the sake of simplicity, let me make three excruciatingly uncomplicated points to illustrate why one should first look to take points as opposed to giving them. First Simple Point: Lines remain in check by an equal amount of action failing on both sides of any particular game. With this in mind and given that 65% to 75% of public money is on the favorites, who do you think is supporting the dogs to keep the line in check? That's right, the professionals. Ask any “sharp”where the value lies as a whole and see what he tells you. He will say, “Play the dogs.”
Have you ever wondered why when you call your local man on any given weekend his favorites are usually shaded higher than those of the Off Shore Books? Quite simply, your local man is not fielding the sharp money. As such, he is able to inflate the line to offset Joe Public's propensity to lay wood.
Second Simple Point: When betting on a favorite, how many ways can you win a bet? When betting on an underdog, how many ways can you win a bet? To cash a ticket with the favorite, your team has to win by more points than you are giving. To cash with the dog, your team can win outright or your team can lose by less than you are receiving. Let's see, back of the napkin math indicates betting dogs may possess better odds. As a matter of fact, there are exactly sixty six and two thirds percent (or a two to one ratio) in favor of ways dogs can win vs. ways favorites can win.
Third Simple Point: What most amateurs fail to consider when breaking down a particular game is the motivation factor. When one team is clearly better than the other, the point spread is reflective of the disparity. So the question is not whether Team A can beat Team B by the allotted amount, but rather will Team A bother to beat Team B by the allotted amount?
Having watched thousands upon thousands of sporting events, two distinct scenarios inevitably occur. Scenario one is the underdog gets out to an early lead. This usually occurs because the favorite lacks focus to start against the inferior opponent. Most of the time, the favorite will receive a wake up call of sorts and exercise their projected dominance. The result is a come back and eventual win. Unfortunately for those backing the favorite, the slow start often prohibits a win by more than the spread.
Scenario two has the favorite coming out focused, exuding their dominance and annihilating the dog early on. Unfortunately for those backing the favorite, their early lead often times will breed a let down later in the game. In turn, the underdog often is able to climb back just far enough to cover the spread. Is there any worse feeling than the proverbial and hated backdoor cover? Let's recap. Amateurs primarily bet favorites and Professionals primarily bet dogs. Which side do you want to assimilate? There is exactly a 2 to 1 ratio in favor of ways to win betting dogs vs. ways to win betting favorites. Which side of the ratio do you want to be on? For the most part, Athletes do not care about the point spread and will only do enough to win a game outright. It seems until the rules change to incorporate the spread on the real scoreboard, it is a wise decision to look at dogs first. Of course, that is just one gamblers opinion on the subject.
Before I leave you, let me interject a disclaimer. There are no simple answers when it comes to winning long term. No single strategy in and of it self will make you a winner. Successful handicapping requires detailed examination of all variables pertaining to each particular game combined with a long-term disciplined approach pertaining to all facets of wagering in general. In other words, do not think that betting every dog on the board on every weekend from here on out will make you a winner, because it won't. The premise of this article is about the inherent value of dogs as a whole and why one should first look to take the points.
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