Sports betting is a billion dollar industry. Name any professional sport and gambling takes place on its outcome. Major college athletics is a source of betting action in many countries. The exploits of national teams and Olympic level athletes draw people to bookmakers. With so much activity, betting on sports developed its own mythology over the years. People discuss common wisdom and truisms about their sports gambling. Superstitions pervade gamblers’ thoughts. Experts make proclamations. Over time, a body of knowledge accumulated on the art of sports betting.
Notice we use the word “art” and not science. While people use statistics to arrive at conclusions, the gaming hobby has way too many factors. The results are determined by flawed human beings, animals, and machines. In the end, you’re making an educated guess. You won’t find many sure things. In fact, gamble long enough and you’ll start to realize the consensus is often dead wrong. We tackle that idea in this article, discussing the common myths of gambling at online and land-based bookmakers.
It’s a commonly held belief in the United States that the best bets are on NFL football. It’s where the most money is spent on a per-game basis. Many people consider it the most exciting, because of a well-balanced combination of finesse, brutality, potential scoring moments, and competition. These bets only comprise (at most) 16 games over a 17 week period, though. The oddsmakers aren’t likely to make many mistakes setting lines on these games.
If you want to delve into the American sports market, we suggest you gamble on NCAA football or basketball. These sports have three to five times the games. Bookies have to set lines, meaning they’re more likely to make a mistake. If you want to find better lines, try the NCAA games.
Many people believe placing bets closer to the start time of the contest gives them the most information, thus the best chance to win. It’s just the opposite. When the odds or the line are first set, that’s when mistakes can be exploited. Wager as early as possible to get the best deals.
No, you didn’t. The bookmakers are just that good. Nobody has more information about the teams than the bookies. They know more about injuries. They hear gossip from the locker rooms. The bookmakers not only have an insider’s knowledge, but they have complicated formulas to account for most contingencies in the games. As close as one can have a game to a science, they do. The odds are meant to be close to the final results. So when you think you have a big advantage and the game’s closer than you think, you didn’t get unlucky. The bookie is just that good.
Despite the recent allegations of match fixing by Australian football players or rugby players, the practice would be much harder to do than people think. For one, it would be too expensive to pay off the top athletes who would be required to fix games. These people make big salaries and risk being banned for life from their one great money making opportunity. The risk/reward would have to be huge to actually fix results.
Also, it’s not as easy for successful gamblers to find a book who’ll take their money. To make the investment in bribing players pay off, it would take huge winning wagers to make it worth the cost of bribery. Casino sports books and local bookmakers alike ban players who win on a consistent basis. They also limit first-time punters, in case they happen to be winners. That means someone would have to find a place to bet offshore, which has its own problems. Beyond that, data of betting is kept, so a paper trail would lead right back to a game fixer.
We’re not saying games aren’t tanked from time to time, but that doesn’t mean they’re fixed for gambling purposes. Tanking a game involves losing on purpose to secure an advantage, usually for draft picks. Even then, the team does it in a subtle fashion, allowing key injured players to rest longer than they normally would, or playing young players to evaluate them for the next season, but that’s for a different discussion.
One of the wildest concepts is the fact game knowledge doesn’t help. Bookmakers are so good at setting lines that (studies show) people with no knowledge of a sport do just as well as those with a lot of understanding. Researchers from Tel Aviv University collected a group of veteran sports gamblers, a group of soccer fans with detailed knowledge of the sport (but no previous experience betting), and a group of people who knew nothing about gambling or athletics.
After a long study, they found no difference in the results between these groups when it came to gambling on the games. That’s why a man can get his 3 year old to select winners and have success. That’s why Paul the Octopus gets on a hot streak picking World Cup winners. It doesn’t matter how you select the team you back; the odds are about the same of winning or losing.
That should be good news to the gaming burnouts out there. You really shouldn’t sweat trying to figure out the minute details of the upcoming game. Make a decision and live with it. Gamble for the fun and thrills, but don’t get wrapped up in beating the bookmakers at their own game. It’s not likely to happen, but putting no time into the decision is just as good as obsessing over it. Put money on the game, enjoy the thrill winning gives, and enjoy the hobby of gambling on sports.