There’s a time-honored debate between Little League parents that really shouldn’t be a debate at all. Is it important for young athletes to try hard to win, or just to have fun playing the game?
That’s what’s known in Logic 101 as a “false dilemma.” Youngsters should have fun playing – but it’s no fun to lose 15-0 every day. Little League teams must be coached with an eye toward success but counseled with compassion when they lose.
Oddly enough (‘scuse the pun) there’s a similar conundrum for grown-up gamblers at sports betting sites.
We know that most of the systems for success in sports betting can be repetitive and boring. For instance, the old-school English system of “laying” road favorites in soccer can turn a steady inch-by-inch profit at the exchanges, but does anyone really want to watch a 2nd-tier Italian football match when the Reds of Liverpool – let alone the Boston Red Sox – are playing at the same time?
“So just gamble your system and watch something else anyway,” a few readers might say.
But heck, that would take all the fun out of it.
Watching the event, you’re betting on and cheering for your winning outcome is what Las Vegas should be all about. That guy who’s “laying” Italian soccer matches and not even watching them play out? He’s just a clerk recording numbers and dollar figures. The people who gamble and watch their wins occur (hopefully with heart-stopping finishes) are those who are really winning.
Of course, those who are watching and losing bets…well, they’re losing.
Balance, Daniel-San. Even if you’re a 60% handicapper, it’s not a good idea to quit having fun – you might lose interest and become a less-successful speculator. And even if you’ve been losing at the sportsbook, there are ways to make sure your next win is more pleasurable than the last.
Here are 7 ways to keep the sports-gambling experience fun and low-stress…while carefully managing that bankroll.
#1 – Bet Against Your Favorite Team
Do you ever feel like gambling on a team curses them? I’ve been jilted by such “curses” more often than I care to admit.
For instance, in Week 1 of the 2019 college football season, Oklahoma State traveled to play Oregon State. Mike Gundy’s Cowboys have built an entire program around scoring 75+ points against weak out-of-conference patsies (last year it was Southwest Missouri State), and I figured it was “in the bag” that OSU would wallop Oregon State by a similar margin.
Nope…for maybe the 1st time ever, Oklahoma State beat an also-ran from a weaker league by a more-or-less ordinary margin of 16 points, losing my wager against a substantial point spread. Curses!
Of course it’s not really a curse. We see “ironclad” trends in sports because we don’t always pay attention to the weekly results. If OSU failed to blow-out a weak team in another Week 1 in which I did not have a point spread bet on the line, I would probably shrug and forget about it.
But the “gambling curse” happens often enough – or feels like it happens often enough – that people are understandably fearful of betting on their favorite teams.
To compensate, many “pleasure” speculators take out bets on the rival – the enemy – the opponent of their beloved hometown heroes.
The popular gambit creates a win-win scenario in some ways. The gambler cheers for her favorite club or school to prevail in the game, knowing that if they win, she’s losing money to the bookmaker. So long as it’s not a high-roller bet, she’s still glad when they win – even $100 is a small price to pay to see those clowns from Rival State go down in flames.
But if the outcome goes the other way, there’s a “consolation” prize in the winning moneyline bet – a little piece o’ that Vegas fortune.
#2 – Gamble on a Tournament From Beginning to End
Among my favorite “futures” bets is to pick out 1 or 2 (or more) teams at reasonably long odds at the beginning of a short tournament, and live-out the cycle of the event from beginning to (hopefully) the very end while cheering for “my” guys or girls.
Suppose the United States fails to qualify for the World Cup again in 2022. If there are no other FIFA nations you like to watch more than the others, a futures wager will have you “adopting” a rival soccer team in no time.
Careful, though – it’s not such a quick scratch-itch to make a futures pick on a “tournament” that is really a whole season. The UEFA Champions League is a good example, being designed like a round-robin + medal round event but remaining a “league” with a long, long campaign every year.
Most tourneys with short time-spans happen in other sports, and often don’t even happen once a year – like the quadrennial FIBA World Cup in basketball.
But there’s plenty of annual sprints to a championship finish that you can enjoy from beginning to end in 7 to 21 days. March Madness, the IIHF World Championships, and the 8 major tournaments in professional golf and tennis are great places to start.
#3 – Hunt for Favorable Line-Movement
I’ll get to this a little later, but the top ingredient in any successful online gambler’s bag of tricks is very simple – she looks at the odds every day.
Even if it’s the same markets from yesterday still being offered by the betting site.
Sports betting markets don’t tend to stay the same. Bookmakers must react to the action and balance both sides of a line – that’s why point spreads and moneylines change.
Perhaps you see a Run Line for a Major League Baseball game that you wouldn’t mind gambling on at (+125), but the bookie doesn’t seem to want to go above (+100). If you happen to think (for whatever reason) that a majority of gamblers at the site will wind up picking the other side of the Run Line market, then all you have to do to get the odds you want is wait – often as little as a few hours.
Line-movement is known to trend in certain directions. Casual Joe (TM) typically bets on the Over more often than the Under, and typically picks the moneyline favorite with disregard for the payoff price, so that he can tell friends about having “taken the winner” in various big games.
It’s just another good reason to wait until late in the week to place bets for the weekend, or even wait for the live-betting odds to appear before taking advantage of the gambling public’s foibles.
#4 – Simulate the Casino Experience With In-Plays
Sports bettors have some advantages over casino sharks, since slot machines and roulette wheels are much more predictable over the long haul than athletic competitions involving people…or Thoroughbreds.
But there’s 1 thing that the casino gambler can claim as her advantage – the fact that a casino is a physical place in which you can choose to spend a given amount of time wagering. Once that’s over, and she goes home, there are (hopefully) no 1-eyed bandits waiting in the kitchen.
No such quit-and-leave solution exists for the online sportsbook client who wishes to budget his time, bankroll, and resources in a finite way. If you were a billionaire you could just go on betting on sports around the world forever – win or lose – until the site crashed or (fat chance) there were no events taking place anywhere.
Sometimes a live-betting hobby can be the ticket to better time-and-bankroll management.
For instance, NCAA and NBA basketball games are fast-paced, usually punctual (unless there’s a bunch of overtimes) and pleasurable to live-gamble on when winter schedules are in full bloom. It allows clients the opportunity to log-in at 7 PM, place bets between 7:30 and 9:30 PM, and reach every outcome by 10 o’ clock…a kind of “virtual casino experience” that lasts a predictable amount of time.
The best part of live-betting on hardwood, though, is there’s no need to be an expert on dozens of NBA rosters or 300+ Division 1 squads. You can observe the match-up playing out in the 1st half and base successful in-play decisions on real-time analysis of the action (the basketball action as well as the changing odds due to betting action).
Not that it doesn’t help to learn all of the players! But whatever your personally convenient time for live-betting, it’s likely you’ll see some of the same faces again and again if it’s consistent, because NBA clubs and colleges like to tip-off their home games at a standard hour. Sports gambling always becomes sports education with enough time and effort.
#5 – Seek Out “Jackpot” Moneylines and Futures
Suppose you don’t gamble on sports because you don’t have enough money to make a worthwhile deposit/investment that means anything. In a culture consumed with even-payoff markets like point spreads or Over/Under totals, even a 55% handicapping success rate won’t turn $100 into $1000…more like $125 or so after a while.
You can wager on a “jackpot” moneyline or futures market at long odds. The payoff can be enormous. Even simple 10-to-1 lines offer the chance to turn $75 into $750 with a winning bet slip.
Big moneyline upsets do happen, but they’re hard to predict. Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing markets come with “trifecta” and “superfecta” options for gamblers looking to turn $5 into a fortune…but the racebook doesn’t have to pay those winners out too often.
Many recreational bettors have laid a few bucks on a long-shot futures pick on a professional club instead and suddenly found themselves reeling-in a serious profit.
Domestic soccer and hockey leagues have produced some fantastic futures pay-offs over the past few years. Leicester City’s dash to the Premier League title in 2015-16 paid off at 5000-to-1 at various London books, causing 1 oddsmaker to say that Foxes’ underdog title “changed the face” of English football betting forever.
The Vegas Golden Knights nearly won the Stanley Cup as an expansion NHL club 2 seasons ago, after bettors took-out “ceremonial” futures bets on the new team and nearly struck it rich in the process. The Washington Capitals turned out to be a little better at pond shinny in the end…but plenty of small-time bookmakers were sweating bullets as the Stanley Cup Finals commenced.
Fun with “jackpot” ice hockey wagers didn’t stop there as the St. Louis Blues were 250-to-1 to win the league title after laying an egg in autumn and early winter.
Craig Berube’s squad soon turned things around and wound-up paying off “bigly” for the few gamblers who had dared the investment.
#6 – Discover New Genres of Sports
The Olympic Games are perfectly-timed every 4 years. If there were a collection of eccentric and little-known sports broadcast on worldwide television every year, the public might get sick of it. But by the time the Summer or Winter Games roll around 1450 days or so, we’re more than ready to enjoy some unfamiliar (and neato) competitions.
I won’t lie to you, dear reader, and say that I’m a fan of how the Olympics are broadcast – using the term loosely – in the United States. Fans would get a lot more out of it if the Games were televised like a typical sporting event, and gamblers (who are hopefully also fans) would get more out of it too.
For instance, betting on the ski slopes or ski jumping becomes a clock-and-yardstick exercise. You’re staring at lines, numbers, and decimal points because NBC chooses to show only the top 5 ski jumpers, who all make about the same jump. Just think of it was shown like an ordinary game or match from 1st to last and beginning to end as all of the “Eddie the Eagle”-level jumpers took turns clumsily wobbling down the mountain. Then your odds-on favorite gold-medal pick and his or her competitors would look so much more spell-binding when taking off. Look at that baby go!
The same would happen if they showed the Ukraine Gymnastics Team carefully plodding around the mat before the Americans and Chinese took-off soaring.
Betting sites are helping the cause by encouraging fans to spend time online, seeking out alternative media to consume during the Olympics and other unique global events. Bettors who like to stay up late enjoy the curling competitions of the Winter Olympics, for instance. The Roaring Game might not produce such a “roar” as even the crowd tends to be subdued – but it can be a low-stress and almost hypnotic gambling-and-cheering experience at 3 AM.
Curling is just 1 of 9 genres profiled in LegitGamblingSites.com’s feature on weird and eccentric gambling sports, which also includes rundowns on jai’alai, professional wrestling, rock-paper-scissors, and even the Harry Potter-based fiasco “Muggle Quidditch.”
#7 – Just Look Around…Often
The best soccer handicapper I know is not my favorite soccer handicapper, because I have no idea how or when to tune in to 3rd-tier professional club matches in Israel.
How on God’s green Earth does he end up making picks on 3rd-tier matches in Israel? He’s not from the Middle East but lives in America like me, so those leagues aren’t – ahem – too wildly popular among most of his readers and betting clients.
But those picks happen – and they’re successful 60% of the time – because my eagle-eyed buddy is looking at all of the odds he can possibly find every day.
There is no harm in looking at all of the odds all the time, especially when you only pick out a small number of the markets to even consider wagering on.
In fact, in some ways, looking at scores of odds is the best thing a sports bettor can do with her time. The greater the ratio of observed-odds to chosen-gambles, the more likely those bets (picked like needles in a haystack after all) are good ideas, and the more-often the lines she’s chosen will be mispriced in Las Vegas and London.
Increase your advantages on the bookie by turning-over as many “rocks” or “leaves” as possible looking for those badly-priced lines or favorable line-adjustments at the sportsbook.
After all, the most difficult scenario of all would be to have someone hand you a sporting event, and make you pick that specific game or match at a given time with no alternative.
Sounds kind of like someone’s career I can think of.