Don’t Let the Coronavirus Keep You From Becoming a Better Sports Bettor
I think we can all agree, the coronavirus sucks. And its unlikely to stop sucking anytime soon. For full-time sports bettors, there aren’t many times throughout the calendar year where there isn’t something to bet on and/or prepare to bet on in the coming weeks. Football season cranks up in August, overlaps with basketball, and just as basketball winds down, baseball begins its marathon season until it melds into another football season. That’s been my life for over a decade. As we speak, I should be handicapping the first round of the NCAA Tournament while ramming in some preseason MLB work. Instead, I’m sitting here wondering what I’m going to do to not only stay busy but more importantly put myself in a position to succeed when life (and sports) returns to normal. Unfortunately, I can’t reference a database or my notes to help guide me through what is shaping up to be a life-altering event. None of us can. But as a part of coping with all that is going on, I’ve put together a list of things we as sports bettors can do during the hiatus.
1. Create those power ratings you’ve always wanted to but never had the time. One of the most frequent questions we get at BettorIQ is, how do I create power ratings or “make numbers?” A good starting point is the podcast Eric Waz and I did last summer. One of the main talking points was where to start. And don’t forget power ratings don’t always have to be created with a point spread or moneyline in mind. Over the years I’ve devised a fairly simple formula that incorporates efficiency, pace, and a few other factors that allow me to “make numbers” for college basketball totals.
2. Evaluate your results. Another topic that was covered on the BettorIQ Podcast. If you want to become a successful sports bettor, identifying strengths and weaknesses is paramount. All of the handicappers at BettorIQ have Excel sheets that show every play we release to clients, the number (side or total), the closing line, and obviously the result. This helps in keeping my eyes on the big picture. If I’m going through a losing streak but consistently beating the closing line, I know that it’s probably not a good idea to rush to retool my approach. We’re all guilty of making bets and focusing solely on the end result. But you’d be surprised how much you’ll notice by keeping even the most rudimentary of records. Years back, I remember working with a partner on college basketball — this was before I really kept track of every bet I made. He pointed out that my unders were crushing and my overs were 50/50 and yet I was making more over bets. So I became aggressive both in volume and bet size with unders and backed off some with overs. It turned out to be one of my best seasons, and I got lucky by having someone else point out a trend that had I kept records, I probably would have noticed even sooner. Lesson learned.
3. Prep for a season like you’ve never prepped before. As mentioned, there’s never a sport that doesn’t overlap with another, making preseason prep tricky at times. Football is manageable because of the plethora of content and the fact that I’m not looking to be overly aggressive with MLB during the dog days of July and August. Having four March Madness games on at once while trying to bet halftimes and surf for information on MLB bullpens is taxing. Thanks to the coronavirus, I can’t use that as an excuse. It sounds as if the upcoming MLB season won’t start until at least Memorial Day. That’s plenty of time to know every team in and out. The MLB market will probably be a little tighter sooner — in a typical year, you can usually find three or four teams and/or starting pitchers to carry you through April before the market catches up. But being fully prepared despite there being a stronger market is still chalk over limping into the season after emerging from the haze of March Madness.
4. Find a trend that has some legs and don’t tell anyone about it. Whether it is manually or using a public database, now is your time to find a trend that you can actually feel confident enough to bet rather that one that is nothing more than gibberish. How do PAC-12 basketball teams fare in the second of back-to-back road games against Colorado and Utah? Is there a pattern with NFL Thursday night divisional games? Do NBA MLK Day unders still work? Most trends don’t make sense. Others have a shelf life. And a lot of the ones that do work are either baked into the lines or widely known. But all you need is one or two to make your search effort worth it.
5. Read and listen. Shameless plug? Perhaps, but since joining BettorIQ I couldn’t be more proud of the content we’ve produced. Obviously much of it is geared towards current events but there’s also an ever-growing archive of sports betting related articles and podcasts geared specifically towards making you a more informed bettor. Here’s just a few to get you started.
7. It’s probably not a good idea to bet. Call me crazy but betting on something I know nothing about doesn’t sound all that enjoyable, even if I luck into a win or two. The last bet I made was the morning of March 12th. I’m pretty confident the next one I make won’t be for at least a month and probably longer. UFC? Don’t follow it. South American soccer? Never been on my radar. Yes, I’m missing out on potential profits from everything being shut down and that stings, but firing out action bets isn’t going to remedy the situation. That said, if you have the time to put in the work, then by all means, there’s no time like the present to become proficient at handicapping Russian Premier League soccer.
8. Shore up all the extras in your life. Our own Eddie Walls is a big believer that having a sound mind and body goes a long ways in becoming a winning sports bettor. And that’s hard to do during the grind of a season when much of your time is spent trying to find the next winner. My stress level during college basketball isn’t ideal. I’ve managed to keep it reasonable over the last few years, but that hasn’t stopped me from losing sleep or being chippy towards my family during a losing streak. Now that I have a little more free time on my hands, my goal is to create more balance. I’ve got a few household projects than need to be knocked out. My kid’s hands are going to bleed from all of the extra batting practice he’ll get. I’ll probably spend more time on the lake fishing. The preseason MLB work that was always a chore should come much easier. I wish it was all under different circumstances but I’m viewing the time off as a positive and a way to recharge and hit the ground running when sports and sports betting returns.