Handicapping Strategies


When using the term strategy connected to wagering we never refer to methods or formulas that can magically turn a bad handicapper into a successful one. The term “strategy” simply refers to the act of aligning knowledge in a timely manner in order to pre-plan your actions when you have the time and mental surplus to be efficient. So in its core we are referring to something that is quite simple in its nature when debating the art of strategic wagering.


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The way we think strategy at sportsbook.ag can be condensed into three core areas:


Analysis and execution

Money management


No human being can successfully handicap all sporting events on the planet. A successful handicapper gains his value from thorough in depth analysis of a few sports and this is a process that takes time and effort on a daily basis. But not all sports are being played at the same time and not all sports are equally profitable. As a handicapper you have to plan ahead to determine what sports you will be focusing on during the different seasons of the year. At sportbook.ag we form part of a network of seasoned handicappers on staff and we continuously look ahead to make sure that our assets are being utilized in as optimal a manner as possible.

Analysis and execution

The analysis part of handicapping is of course of extreme importance. This is where the handicapper applies his skill and experience to correctly asses the outcome of a certain sporting event. If the assessment of the handicapper differs from the lines presented by the bookmakers profitable investment scenarios arise. The actual analysis itself does not fall under “strategy” but the meticulous method that is applied by the handicapper when moving forward in his analysis does. The methodology for analyzing sports always start with the numbers. All available statistics are studied for a longer period of time. Then the handicapper moves into the analysis of the teams. Are there any changes to the rosters, are there hot/cold streaks that needs to be vectored in etc.. He also analyze the playing conditions (stadium, weather, fan influences etc.). All this is done through a step by step strategic platform that is designed to make sure that the handicapper doesn’t by accident forget or discard any information that might be vital.

The execution strategy is very often connected to the type of wager that you are venturing into. Some wagers, especially those that often attract the recreational gamblers, might peak in price at a different time than other types of wagers.

Arbitrage and hedge wagering

It also falls under the execution part of the strategy to decide whether or not you want to pursue the small opportunities that the daily line changes opens up to. Recreational gamblers have a tendency to see line movements as a bad thing but what the bookmakers don’t necessarily want you to know is that it is a real challenge for them to deal with these movements. The reason for this is that a line movement opens the door up to possible hedge/arbitrage wagers being placed.

Imagine having placed a standard +5 pointspread wager at -110 for $110.00 on a football game only to see the line move to +3 because of a late development. At this point you can chose to be satisfied with having what looks to be a very solid wager in play but you can also decide to hedge the wager by purchasing the opposing team with the -3 pointspread at -110 for an additional $110.00. This move dramatically changes the mathematics of the wager you have just placed. Instead of having $110.00 at risk you are now risking way less because there is no way that you can lose both wagers at the same time. When you lose one wager and win the other you only lose the vig that the bookmaker is charging you. But every time you win both wagers or win one and push the other you are punishing the bookmaker severally.

The above described scenario unfolds due to a situation where you originally wanted to place a +5 pointspread wager that you simply felt had a positive expected value. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if you could actually continuously make money by placing wagers you didn’t necessarily feel was profitable? That is the reality that some of today’s top handicappers work under. Besides handicapping actual match ups in sporting events they also handicap the line movements. You might even stretch it a bit and claim that they handicap the book. What these sharp individuals look for are situations where the line is set to move decisively in a certain direction. The reasons for this expected line movement can be many but one has to remember that what moves the line is money – or the expected change in flow of money. If a lot of wagers come in on one side of the matchup the bookmaker will try to “balance the book” by moving the line hence encouraging action on the opposing side of the matchup. Sometimes the bookmaker will also change the line preemptively because of an event that shifts the dynamic of the game to come. So in reality what these wiseguys are analyzing are the action of the masses and the bookmakers. Imagine what effect it had on the masses when Joe Namath three days before the 1969 Super Bowl stepped up and guaranteed a win? A lot of bookmakers at that time didn’t have a fun day at the office trying to balance the books between the people that were inspired by Namath’s guarantee and the people dismissing it.

The professional handicapper really thrive in environments where sudden weather changes, injury reports or even inspired athletes in interviews can change the masses perception of a certain game.

When the handicapper has decided on a wager solely for the purpose of hedging it after a line movement he scouts the market. He won’t walk into the first bookmaker he passes and put down his money. No, he will use his resources to find out who has the absolute best offer for him and in today’s modern gaming environment the possibilities are endless. If he doesn’t like what he sees on the boards of the land based bookmakers he can optimize his odds by searching the vast number of online bookmakers. When the time comes to close his arbitrage wager he does the exact same thing and often this maneuver alone can earn him a couple of extra points.

The aim is to extract the maximum amount of value every day and arbitrage wagering is most certainly a part of our arsenal. We don’t recommend applying this delicate handicapping technique unless you are

a seasoned professional but no matter who you are it is vital to decide whether or not your overall strategy should include arbitrational wagering or not.

Money management

This part of the strategy is often completely disregarded by recreational gamblers but it is one of the most essential elements of your strategy. To put the importance of money management in perspective we can promise you that if you wager 25% of your bankroll every time you think you have the best of it you will always end up broke. No matter how good you are you will at some point endure four loses in a row and lose your entire bankroll. Solid money management dictates that you decide on elements such as:

Unit size

You need to break you bankroll down into units. How many units you need to have available depends on your situation and willingness to take risk. A person who doesn’t mind taking a big risk might work with very few units in his bankroll whereas a professional handicapper might require one thousand units in his bankroll or more. When you place wagers you attach a number of units to the wager depending on the odds you are taking and the profitability of the wager. Usually a handicapper will have a large bankroll to work with and are therefore working with a unit count of $1.000 / €1.000 per unit. So if we recommend a wager of four units on a certain sporting event then we ourselves have invested $4.000 / €4.000 in that same wager.

Money management systems and formulas

You also need to decide if you want to apply any form of money management systems into your wagering strategy. A lot of these tools can be researched under Systems and Formulas here in the Handicapping section.

A sound and solid strategy is essential to long term success in sports wagering. Without it you will miss out on solid opportunities and you will have problems controlling your bankroll and the sizes of your

wagers. It is one of the important keys to creating a scenario in which you can stay on top and make a healthy profit year after year.

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