When it comes to sports betting, there is a lot of misinformation out there. Most people don’t really understand the game, and those who do have been mislead about how to play it.
Even something as simple as the word “handicapper” is a bundle of confusion. Many people consider themselves to be handicappers. Some even consider themselves to be professional handicappers. A lot of them sell picks. But just what is a handicapper?
First you need to know what a handicap is. For that, I’ll illustrate with golf because it is the only sport with a common built in handicapping system. It works by using the most recent past rounds to come up with a number of strokes a player can take off of their score to be even with other players. The number of strokes is called the handicap. The USGA is the handicapper, as it is who sets the handicap and oversees the system.
In sports betting, the handicap is the giving or taking of a certain number of points in order to create an equal match up between two teams. If one team gives up three points, the other team gets the points. Thus, the handicap is 3 on that game. In golf it would be the equivalent of the 3 handicapper playing a scratch golfer.
I can hear those who call themselves handicappers, and those who think they handicap games, saying “duh, Sam, thanks for stating the obvious.” And they will still think of themselves as handicappers.
The fact is, the only place you will find a handicapper working is at a sports book. It could be William Hill in Vegas, or Big Louie the Bookie operating down in the hood. The one who offers the bet is the one who sets the handicap. They are the handicappers.
Those who consider themselves to be handicappers and think they are handicapping games are really try to determine if the books handicap provides them with an advantage on one side or the other. And I can assure you if the line to take the bet is -110, there is no advantage to be found. Sports betting has nothing to do with handicapping the games, as that has already been set before the bet is offered.
The reality is that the books invest a lot of time, money, and effort to create coin flip situations that will allow them to collect 10% of the profits for flipping the coin. Or in the case of sports betting, for handicapping the game. They succeed admirably, and people line up to be fleeced even when the rigging of the game is put right in front of them completely out in the open.
I didn’t write this article to insult those who call themselves handicappers. I don’t care what you call yourself. What I want to get across is that the thought of handicapping a game shifts the focus away from the real game between you and the books and keeps it on the teams.
The books are more concerned with playing you than they are with the teams or outcome of the game. If you are focused on the teams and/or their handicap, you can not focus on the terrible lines they offer that all but guarantee your losses over the long term. The handicap is a trap set by the books, and most people fall for it.
Your job is not to “handicap” the teams to see if the best handicappers in the world have made a mistake. It is to watch what the books are doing with their lines, and locate the good bets because they have a good payout with no penalty just for making the bet. You will not find that value in a bet where the handicap is set in points.
I don’t know about you, but I bet to make a little money. The truth is, if you use all of the money you could potentially win, plus 10%, buying up points on teams that you don’t think can win without them, the books are going to end up with your money.
You can “handicap” til your hearts content. The books are not concerned with your handicapping skills. They are more concerned with the monetary handicap they can put you under. Your job is to create a situation that not only prevents that outcome, but puts the book under the handicap instead.
Never lose focus of what the game really is….