Sports betting has always been a diverse topic. There are thousands of wagering strategies on how to make the right bet; hundreds of books, gurus and experts telling you what the right approach to the topic is. The number of volumes written on this topic is virtually endless.
One piece of advice that you'll hear time and again is to bet on the favourite. In theory, this sounds like a solid strategy. Nobody wants to put their money on the underdog. The problem with this, though, is that if it's followed, it renders every other strategy useless.
If betting on the stronger team is the way to go, then you wouldn't need to do any research or read our thoughts on the topic, whether sports betting can make you rich; however, there are some specifics here, as well.
Worse still, you wouldn't need to read this article at all.
While betting on the favourite isn't the worst idea out there, there are numerous factors involved. A lot is going into that decision that seldom any amateur likes to consider.
What Type of Bet Are You Taking?
Before slapping that stack of cash on the table, you need to first consider how that money goes into the game. There are many ways that you can outsmart your bookie and even more ways they can try to outsmart you.
Each type of betting alters the outcome differently and is often the dictating factor of gameplay.
Knowing the in-play mechanic helps you decide which team to put money on. Here are some of the most popular betting methods:
This type of bet comes in a couple of variations. The simpler kind involves no point spreads, otherwise known as a handicap. You only pick a team and cheer them on until the end of the game. No strings attached.
Unfortunately, even the bookmakers with the best players' ratings won't give you this kind of action. Betting this way will only happen between friends or neighbours, and only if their actual favourite teams are playing. In this situation, betting on the stronger team is always a good strategy.
Now, things get a little more complicated when other factors, such as spread and over/under, come into play.
Every single game or race comes with attached point spreads. It's the numbers after the + or - signs you see next to the team. They indicate the points/goals that the favourite is giving to the underdog.
Let's say you want to bet on the Broncos - Raiders game, and Broncos are the favourite by -7. This means that if you're putting money on the Broncos, then you're already losing by one touchdown before the game even starts. The Broncos would have to win by at least 8 points for you to win the bet.
This stimulates contemplation. The Broncos may be the better team, but how much better? You know in your heart that they would win, but can they absolutely destroy the Raiders to cover the difference?
A good strategy, in this case, is to do a lot of research. Examine the consistency in the Broncos' performance against the Raiders. See how often they won, and by how many points, including how well they've been playing in the current season. All of that will help you decide whether or not 7 points is a good deal.
Fixed odds is one of the most common types of betting in the world. It's designed to give the bookie some compensation if you decide to bet on the favourite. Europe has a somewhat different system than America, but it's not game-changing.
The fractional/decimal odds are more prevalent in the United Kingdom, which tells you how much you can expect to win on a game.
For example, you want to bet on Sheffield United against Aston Villa, and the odds are 1/3. This means that if you put 300 pounds on Sheffield, you can only win 100. As they are the favourite to win the game, that 200 pounds difference is the bookie's incentive for taking the bet.
NOT a super sweet deal. The key here is to search for the betting sites with the highest odds and compare them on a regular basis. The Moneyline system works the same way, except with whole numbers. You'd see it more frequently in U.S sportsbooks.
Don't confuse the money line with point spreads. They indicate how much you expect to win and have nothing to do with the starting scores. Let's go back to the Sheffield game, but this time your bookie is an American.
Look for the numbers in the brackets after the + or - signs. Since Sheffield is the favourite, it would have something like PK (-150). The PK indicates that there's no spread, but the number is how much you'd have to bet to win 100 dollars. In this case, the bookie wants you to bet 150 bucks to win 100 if Sheffield wins the game.
What Teams Are Playing?
Once you've decided which type of betting fits your game plan, time to check out the parties involved, usually, a team is the "favourite" for a reason. They have a better track record; they have stronger players; they got a new coach; their cheerleaders are louder, etc.
Taking all of that into account, the bookie comes up with a betting line that would entice his customers. He's done that for a good reason, too. The deciding factor for a bookie often has to do with the team's consistency.
Sometimes, the odds have nothing to do with how well the teams perform in general, but how well they play against each other.
Take the Patriots-Dolphins game, for example. These two teams have an ongoing rivalry and have been going back and forth for years. Overall, the Patriots have retained a higher ground. In 2019, during their first encounter, New England shut out the Dolphins with a 43 - 0 score. This led to the Patriots being the favourite in the second match with a (-17) spread.
Many players made the obvious decision and went with New England. Bookies all over the world still liked those odds very much, though. Miami ended up canning the Patriots by three points.
What the bookmakers did here was to create an attractive line, so players who liked to bet on the favourites would pour in. There's one thing to keep in mind. The team who just won or lost would seldom perform the same way in the next encounter against the same opponent. Well, unless it's the Cavaliers last season.
Other Factors and Internal Changes
Most of the time, a betting line is created based on team powers (quarterbacks, defensive) and consistency. They rarely account for micro-influencers, like starting lineups or minor injuries. If the coach decides to change quarterbacks right before a game, due to an unexpected incident, that could affect the outcome of the game.
Since bookies can't change their lines, you can take advantage of the small happenings and make a winning decision. It's a good idea to stay updated and keep up with sports news. You might stumble across something that could make you a little richer.
Summing it Up
While betting on the favourite is not a bad idea in general, it's not always the best strategy. There are too many things that go into play. Patience and study can go a long way in succeeding at sports betting. Think about it: if the stronger team always comes out on top, then nobody would want to be bookies. There have to be potential benefits for everyone involved.
DISCLAIMER: Cheerleaders have absolutely no influence on a game's outcome. : )