Sportsbooks these days offer a very wide range of wagering opportunities on every game. From basic point spreads and over/unders to prop bets on teams and players plus spreads for individual quarters. Betting on everything available is crazy. In fact, betting on every game is crazy. Being able to identify key opportunities to make a profit is critical.

Know Yourself

bill-walsch-blackboardBoth Bill Walsh and Dick Vermeil are Super Bowl winning coaches. Walsh scripted plays, designed the West Coast Offense, and in a sense pioneered a thinking mans approach to the game. Vermeil was beloved by his players, frequently coached by feel, and was named Coach of the Year at four different levels. Walsh and Vermeil were successful but acted in different ways. This applies to you. If you gain knowledge by crunching numbers, don’t overreact to what you heard or saw on TV. If you learn by watching games and making observations, don’t worry about some obscure stat that someone points out. If you experience success betting on home teams, or favorites, or overs, rely on your strengths but don’t force those picks if they don’t look good, and don’t jump to the other side of the wager because you need action. Knowing yourself, your tendencies, and what works for you is vital.


No two games are the same and your situation is never exactly as it was before your previous bet. Generally gambling more than five percent of your bankroll on a given game is a bad idea. Also, some games you are going to have a much stronger feel for than others. Why would you wager five percent on a game you love and five percent on a game that you like? If you are passionate about one game, like a second, and kind of have a third game that you feel good about, why not bet five percent, two-and-a-half percent, and one percent? You do not want to be right about your best bet and still lose money on the day, right? Scale your wagers to the games you feel best about. Also, it is a major mistake to bet erratically. If you decide you are going to bet in increments of five percent, two and a half percent, and one percent, do not waver. Don’t suddenly splurge on one game or hedge on another. To make money in the long-term you must be disciplined. If you win, your wagers will go up in value because five percent of $1,000 is more than five percent of $500.

Getting Information

There is so much information available that you can find an argument to support whatever side you are leaning towards. Don’t seek out biased info, and be consistent in the sources you trust. If you trust a certain journalist, read his or her stories, or watch their show, or listen to their podcast regularly. A team that runs the ball early in games so to breakdown a defense for the fourth quarter does not suddenly become a first quarter passing team one week. Know what you are looking for, and where to get it, believe in the process and stick to your method.

Where to Bet

Many online sportsbooks offer safety and reliability when it comes to placing your wagers. However, just like it is important to know what sources to listen to, and how much to bet on which games, choosing a book that caters to your individual characteristics is important.  To learn about all of the sportsbooks, and find out which one caters to your style, has reviews and analysis of all of the books you’ll want to get details on.

Who to Bet/Who Not to Bet

Here are some general things to consider before deciding to wager on a team:

•    There is more to the game than who is playing quarterback.
•    There is more to the game than just fantasy football positions (namely defense and line play).
•    Team stats are more valuable than individual stats.
•    Coaching matters.
•    Home field advantage is important but it is already factored into the spread (Las Vegas knows how much this matters, usually around three points, better than you do and they act accordingly).
•    Not all home fields are equal.
•    Injuries are important but are frequently over-emphasized by the public and again they are already factored into the point spread.
•    The public overreacts to the most recent game played particularly if it was on national television.
•    Public teams like the Cowboys, Packers, Patriots, Giants, and Steelers are preferred by average betters, the sportsbooks know it, and therefore you generally have to swallow an extra point to take those teams if they are favored, get one fewer point if they are underdogs, and there is sometimes value in betting against them.
•    The public likes to bet on favorites and overs. Therefore there can be value with underdogs and unders.
•    Teams change during the course of the season. Do not change your opinion dramatically after one game and do not stick to your preseason analysis six weeks into the year.
•    The schedule matters. Who did they play the last couple of weeks and who do they play next week?
•    Teams coming off of bye weeks have an opportunity to get healthy, put in new schemes, and more detailed game plans (especially good coaches).
•    Teams coming off of a Monday night game have a short week of preparation (particularly if they have to play on the road).
•    Teams playing Thursday night games on the road have a very short week of preparation.
•    Teams playing following a Thursday night game have extra time to prepare.
•    Teams flying from the west coast to the east coast playing early games are at a disadvantage.
•    Be aware of what the weather is going to be during the game particularly heavy wind.
•    Consider how well dome teams and warm weather teams will acclimate to cold conditions.
•    Special teams matter but can be difficult to predict. Look at field position and return yardage not likelihood for scores.