September 3, 2011
Every season I stress to my clients the importance of patience over the first few weeks of the season. Sports betting offers us a unique advantage over the house only because we are able to consider a wide variety of variables before making a decision. Since we enter the season with nothing but speculation we are actually getting our money in at the same disadvantage as any bettor in the casino. Considering the nature of this offseason we can only hope to be placing a week 1 bet with the same confidence as a decent video poker player.
So this year I am going to make the same plea with everybody, and just like every season I will hear stories of my clients going in with guns blazing. Being aware of this, I should at least offer you some advice that could help even the playing field. So this will be part 1 of a group of articles that will hopefully accomplish just that.
In my opinion, the most important aspect of early season wagering is to bundle similar games together. Since we are knowingly placing wagers at a disadvantage, we have to establish a way to spread that risk around. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is by selecting one or two groups of picks that fit certain criteria.
For example, if you were to select every Week 1 underdog of 7 or more points from 1997 to 2009 you would have won nearly 66% of your games with 25 wins and 13 losses.
That is a good statistical example that I am sure you are familiar with, but it isn't as useful when the Week 1 board doesn't feature enough big point-spread underdogs. If we take a look at the opposite side of the spectrum we find a similar pattern which doesn't get nearly as much recognition.
With about a month to go until kickoff, we have four games that are currently listed at 2 ½-points or less, and a few others that are right on the border. I went back to take a look at what happens when there are four or more games listed under 2 ½-points in Week 1. Since 1997 this has occurred five times, and the favorite has covered 60% of those games (12-8). If you were to have bet every favorite in each one of those five weeks then you would have had three winning weeks, one losing week, and broken even once.
Since this statistic is only made up of 20 games I wanted to expand the search. If we look at only those first weeks where there have been at least 2 such point spreads on the board, then we end up with 36 results. By betting the favorite in each of those 36 games you would have ended up with the same exact win rate of 60% (21-14-1.)
Underdogs getting seven or more in Week 1
Carolina (+7) at Arizona
Minnesota (+9) at San Diego
Miami (+7) vs. New England
Games with point-spreads of 2 ½-points or less
Baltimore (-2.5) vs. Pittsburgh
Tampa Bay (-2) vs. Detroit
Atlanta (-2.5) at Chicago