Never Bet With Your Broken Heart

In my handicapping infancy in the late 80s, the Dutchman (recall that bloke scorephone junkies?) was doling out copies of some advice column along the lines of Golden Rules of Handicapping. I can’t even recollect most of the provisions, but do recall they ranged from the obvious like, “Bet with your head, not your heart,” to the total bullshit, “Only wager on an underdog to cover if you think they will win outright.” 

All the other theorems were fairly unmemorable. I can’t “credit” the author, because I’m not sure who it was. But yeah, stuff did go viral back then, but before high tech took over the world, it was a 15th generation photocopied note. 

Lost in the prudent, yet blatantly evident “not betting with your heart” is a more significant reality: don’t gamble with your broken heart. I’m shocked at how often I hear something along the lines of, “I refuse to bet on any game involving the Detroit Lions. Each time I bet on them whether for or against, I get it wrong. 

Though I haven’t done a scientific inquisition, the ensuing soliloquy generally reveals a very small sample size. Further conversations reveals a common pattern is that they bet on them to repeat the performance of the last time they wagered for or against them. 

“They lost outright as a 10-point favorite. Next time, I bet against them as an underdog and they won by 20 points,” is a familiar sounding shrieking of annoyance. The fact that sharps bet on capricious teams to be unpredictable notwithstanding, it’s a knee-jerk reflex to eliminate possibilities based on short-term heartache. 

It’s as preposterous as swearing off unders because a few tormenting setbacks. Most of us have been there, but only squares abandon the ship. 

Perhaps the is a legitimate reason someone has a bad read on a team. If so, assess and determine why. Make alterations accordingly. But if you are basing your next bet on how a certain team performed the last time you place a bet on them—the only bad read you have is on how handicapping works. 

The author Joe Duffy is CEO of He’s been dominating handicapping publicly since the 1980s scorephone days. With all the time off during coronavirus, he both added to his systems arsenal and started the dad jokes YouTube channel Hey Abby D with his daughter. The first video is below. 

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