Sports Betting Strategies

Play Against Squares – This is easily your highest profit percentage play.  Whether it’s your office March Madness pool, your buddies’ rotisserie baseball league, or,  in some cases, Daily Fantasy Sites, any time you can replace a bookmaker with a group of other bettors, you are probably coming out ahead on a per dollar wagered basis.  The difficulty with this strategy, of course, is that it’s ceiling is set by the number of people you know that want to participate. 

Line Arbitrage –  This strategy allows you to profit with no risk by finding differences in how two sportsbooks price the same outcome.  For instance, if you Dallas is playing Houston, and one book offers Dallas at +110 and another offers Houston at +110, then you can take both sides of the bet and be guaranteed to make 5% of whatever volume you bet.  The issue is that overlaps are rarely that large and take a lot of work to find. 

Parlaying Dependent Events –  The payouts for parlays are set with the notion that the outcome of each leg of the parlay is independent of the outcomes of any other leg.  However, sometimes legs’ outcomes show strong correlation. If the vast majority of scenarios where a big underdog upsets a favorite occur in the bottom third of the spectrum of potential point totals, then you may be able to beat the juice by parlaying the dog with the under.  In many cases, however, the books will recognize this and not allow the parlay.

Basic Teaser Strategy – Developed by the famous Stanford Wong, this strategy takes advantage of the existence of “key numbers” in NFL scoring (3 and 7).  Teasing games that sit at +1.5 to +2.5 or -7.5 to -8.5 across both key numbers of 3 and 7 gives the bettor positive expected value on 6 point teasers under a traditional teaser payout schedule.  Some books have decreased teaser payouts to combat it, while others have refused to move lines and have instead just increased/decreased juice to avoid allowing bettors to complete a “Wong Teaser.”

Side note: Wong’s “Sharp Sports Betting” is a seminal work in sports gambling literature and a must read for the would-be sharp.

Find Square Lines – It is possible but difficult to find lines offered by books that allow for positive expected value bets without using any of the strategies above but by simply betting on the right side of the line.  This is the traditional “sharp money” strategy used thoroughly by professional sports gamblers when bookmakers used to be less sophisticated. Finding a “square line,” has become more difficult as books have invested in analytical resources to make them sharper.

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