There is a saying in the sports betting world that “history always repeats itself.” The same can be said about betting lines. Recently, popular books on sports betting have predicted an unprecedented shift to longer odds. In the past, when the favorite won, the public would wait until the line moved in their direction before placing a wager. But today’s sports betting public is different. More often than not, they will jump on a winner as soon as the lines are published, regardless of whether the favorite is ahead by 6 or 12 points.
In an effort to understand this recent trend, let’s examine the meaning of sports betting numbers.
Odds vs. Lines
In case you’re curious, odds and betting lines are two different things. They are both measuring preferences, but they serve two different functions. Odds are utilized to determine the chance that an event will occur, and betting lines are used to determine the actual outcome of an event. For example, consider two-team series where the teams are undefeated. In this case, the line would be more relevant than the odds as the series will most likely end in a tie.
On the other hand, if one team is 6 points ahead in the series, the odds would be more relevant as there is a greater chance that they will win the series. In the long run, this will determine your profit more accurately than looking at the betting line.
The Upset Machine
It’s always exciting when a long-time favorite suddenly comes back and shocks the world. But while there is tremendous joy in an underdog victory, it also presents a risk for the winner. For the sake of convenience and understanding, let’s examine what happens when a team you didn’t think would win in the first place topples an established favorite. In these situations, people often ask me if they should get out of the winning position or keep holding onto their wager. It’s an easy question to answer: get out!
The longer the series, the greater the risk for the underdog. Take the 2014 Major League Baseball season, for example. During the first half of the season, the Baltimore Orioles were 33-20 against the spread. At the time, they were also 12-5 against the over/under, meaning they had won more than they lost in both head-to-head and overall competitions. Despite their great start, the O’s had a tough second half and finished the year 50-44 against the spread. And what was most frustrating about the second half for the Orioles was the number of games they had to win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. In fact, as the season drew to a close, their chances of making the playoffs were 25-1. In this case, it’s better to take the under.
Why Play The Under?
An important thing to remember about sports betting is that, although you are playing the “over” or the “under”, you are really betting on the outcome of the game. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even hedge your bets by placing a “spread” bet, which means you are predicting the winner will be either the over or the under depending on the game’s outcome. For example, if you think the Seahawks will cover the 3.5 point spread in their upcoming game against the Niners, you may choose to bet the under to get the bet to pay off if the Seahawks win.
Longer Odds = Shorter Win Streaks
The most profound way to look at betting lines is that longer odds mean shorter win streaks. It’s a simple equation really- shorter win streaks equal lower winning percentages, which in turn, mean lower profits. If you bet the over on a football game and its score is 22-14, you would expect the winning team to cover the spread. However, if the score is 35-28, you may not get your money back. Simply put, the fewer wins a team has, the more you will lose as a sports bettor. Consider the 2004-05 NBA season, during which the Golden State Warriors went 60-22 in their winning streak. Because of the unprecedented winning streak, they became one of the most popular teams to bet on. And while they were fantastic during that stretch, it didn’t last. The Warriors finished with a 50-56 record and failed to make the playoffs for the first time in five years. Similarly, the 1997-98 NHL season saw the Colorado Avalanche win their first 12 games of the season, which at the time was the longest win streak in league history. However, the Avs finished with a 22-29 record in their final 30 games and missed the playoffs as well. Just like those teams, any win streak that is more than 10 games long is likely to end in disappointment for the bettor.
Betting On Upsets
What if we told you there was a way to make money off of teams you didn’t think would win? With the right strategy and understanding, you can make large amounts of cash if you bet on the unexpected, especially if said surprise winner is in an emerging sport like football or basketball. For example, did you know that you can make money by betting on the Denver Broncos to beat the New England Patriots? As a matter of fact, you can get paid even if the Patriots win, as long as you had the proper strategy. In this particular case, you would have won 100%-2=98.8% of your bet. Not bad at all!
It’s important to remember that, in these types of situations, your best chance of winning is by using a strategy. For instance, if you want to bet on the underdog against the favorite, you must do so in a way that is suited to the both of them. The key is to pick the right games and use a bit of common sense. If you follow these guidelines, you will increase your chances of winning and decrease the amount of money you will lose as a result of gambling.
Every sport and every game has had ups and downs throughout its history. But with the right knowledge and planning, you can take advantage of those situations and make money when things go your way.