Football season for degenerates like me is a busy, busy time.
It’s also the best time to start betting on sports. It’s not an everyday grind like NBA, NHL, and MLB. There are typically two or three days to analysis the next game, which is very helpful when it comes to betting on sports.
Who would have thought? Doing more research will actually help you become a more profitable sports bettor.
Even I get tired of the day-to-day grind during the MLB season. With the schedule of the NFL, I can take my time, watch film (shoutout to NFL GamePass…literally the best thing ever), look at different trends, form my own opinions, and check out other sports bettors’ opinions.
There is a notion in the sports betting space that a model is needed to be a profitable bettor. While a model does help greatly, especially for those who are more about numbers and projections, it’s not necessary to become an above-average sports bettor.
Projections are a different story, more on that later.
Without the help of a model, I was able to become a profitable sports bettor throughout college. The money I made helped me make it through school. I know, I know, sick brag. In hindsight, I should have skipped more classes and never gotten that job as an intramural official supervisor. It would have given me more time to #grind.
Being a profitable sports bettor is about putting in the time and picking your spots. Every year there is that one hardo betting on every single game on a slate. Newsflash, that person isn’t making a profit.
This year at The Chalk, there is going to be NFL coverage related to sports betting and fantasy sports that is for the average person. Not someone entering in 2,000 lineups or someone who has an advanced model.
Cough, cough, nerd.
Of course, there are limitations for those that don’t have a model, high bankroll, or research tools, but there are plenty of free and cost-effective ways to become a profitable sports bettor -and so I’ve listed a few ways I’ve been able to become a profitable sports bettor without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Form Your Own Opinions+Predictions & Write Them Down
Remember, when you were in grade school and had to write homework assignments in a daily planner or write out words 5x each to memorize their spelling? Besides teachers being total assholes for making us do that, there’s a reason behind it.
1. Helps with memorization, no duh
2. Helps organize thoughts and think clearly
At the start of each NFL week, take a look at the games and write down what you think will happen in each. You don’t have to do it for every single game, just do it for the ones you’re betting on or plan to bet on.
This, A- helps you formulate your own opinions without the influence of others, say Matthew Berry for example and B- Forces you to have your thoughts organized in a place you can go back to it and take a look at it.
The great Jonathan Bales taught me this trick.
So many people in the sports betting and DFS industry formulate their opinions based on what others believe or think will happen. Formulating an opinion first allows people to think for themselves, which could help differentiate from the crowd, which is almost always a good thing in the sports betting and DFS world.
Let’s say I believe the Bears will beat the Raiders because of X, Y, and Z. I write it down and see what other people are thinking. I notice that many other experts are picking the Raiders to beat the Bears because of X, Y, and Z.
If those experts or people I trust in the industry have information or predictions that differ from my own, then there are two things that can happen.
- I agree with the experts and reevaluate my own original thoughts/predictions.
- I disagree with the experts and now have an edge against the rest of the field.
It’s not a perfect system, but it helps formulate original thoughts/opinions, in a “groupthink” world. Write the opinions, predictions anywhere – word doc, iPhone notes, the old pen, and paper, wherever.
The goal is to have them written down in a spot where it’s easy to go back to them. Also, remember to do this before doing any research anywhere else. Orginal thoughts and predictions are valuable, especially when they differ from the crowd.
Example – The Patriots are going to beat the Jets in week 12. The Jets have three big injuries and the Patriots are damn near unbeatable at home.
After writing down what you think will happen. Do some research, check out the Vegas lines, etc, etc. Christopher Liss of RotoWire has a great process when it comes to betting on NFL games. The process is so good it can be used for any sport.
It starts with opening-up an Excel spreadsheet, Numbers document, or Google Doc – again, whatever works best for you. In order to efficiently compare what you think will happen to what the oddsmakers think will happen, create a chart where it’s all in one place.
It’s going to look something like this (Packers-Bears week 1).
|GAME||MY LINE||GUESSED LINE||ACTUAL LINE||ML-AL||GUESSED O/U||ACTUAL O/U||MO-AO|
|Packers @ Bears||Bears -2||-2.5||-3||-1||44.5||45.5||-1|
Having a chart like this makes it easy to compare what you’re thinking, what Vegas is thinking and where there might be an edge. Using the above graph as an example, betting the Bears -3 may not be in my best interests considering “my line” was a whole point different than Vegas.
Now, if that line gets down to Bears -2 it’s something I should consider. The hope with the graph is that there are a few games each week that I and Vegas disagree on and I’m able to take advantage of it.
Let’s say I have the Steelers -5 and Vegas has them -2. Clearly, I have conviction that the Steelers will win by more than two points, but Vegas doesn’t feel the same way. If I’m confident in my research and prediction, there is an opportunity for me to make some money. If I’m not as confident, maybe I go back to the drawing board and reevaluate my initial prediction and line.
The point is we are comparing our thoughts and then Vegas’s thoughts. The two most important pieces of information to consider. If you’re an average person looking to bet on football, don’t have a model and are looking to make some cash, use the Christopher Liss method to keep your thoughts organized and find an edge.
Find Out What the Public is Doing
One popular strategy people use when betting on sports is fading the public. Why? The public often gets fooled by Vegas and the oddsmakers. More often times than not, the public falls into traps like recency bias and believing their favorite team will cover the spread. Fading the public during the NFL season can be a profitable strategy. According to BetLabs, there is still value in fading the public when it comes to betting on the NFL.
When a line is set, sports gamblers can begin to bet on it. Not rocket science right? When there is a one-sided amount of bets towards a particular team the oddsmakers move the line, hoping to cover themselves.
Here’s a great example from Betting Brain:
For instance, if the Pittsburgh Steelers are -8 point favorites versus the Cleveland Browns and are receiving all of the wager’s action, the oddsmakers will raise the number to entice gamblers to bet on the Browns. So, the point spread would change to -8.5, -9, or even -10, depending on how much money was coming in on the Steelers. This will keep the money on both sides of the bet even allowing the sportsbook to cover themselves. In theory, the house makes their money on the -10 or the -110 odds. This is what is referred to as the juice or vig.
Line movement can help a sports bettor figure out where the sharp money is going. This is important to keep in mind when shopping lines to bet on. The most EV+ thing to do would be to get your bets in early in the week, right as the line comes out to ensure you are not a victim of the oddsmakers moving lines.
Keep in mind there also may be value in waiting until there is line movement and doing the opposite of the public.
Track Your Bets
It’s comical to see all the “professional bettors” out there posting their “record” on social media. News flash, it’s 2019, and your bets can be tracked and saved on many different websites. I prefer the Action Network’s app. It’s clean and easy to use. It also shows your entire betting history, the amount of units/money won, and overall record in each sport.
Here’s what mine looks like for this year.
Not bad, eh? The NFL season will be the real test.
Nick is the editor-in-chief at TheLoopSports.com. He is also a Chicago Sports fanatic, avid sports bettor, fantasy sports nut, and totally didn’t try to sell his soul on eBay (which he’s still waiting to get back by the way). For more fun, follow him on Twitter @PetroTLS.