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. Yes, stuff did go viral back then. However, previous to high tech overtaking the world, going viral meant a 15thgeneration photocopied note changing hands.
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 distressed 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.”
Even though I haven’t done an academic inquisition, the ensuing soliloquy generally reveals a very small sample size. Further conversations uncovers a customary paradigm is that the weeper bets on foregoing team to repeat the performance of the last time they wagered for or against them. That is, if the team they bet on got annihilated, they will bet against that team, anticipating to again put up a fiasco effort.
“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 of betting for or against a certain squad 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.
Perchance there is a discernable cause and effect why someone has a bad read on a team, objectively assess and determine why. Make alterations accordingly. But if you are invoking your next bet based on how a certain team executed the last time you place a bet on them—the only bad read you have is on how prosperous handicapping functions.
The author Joe Duffy is CEO of OffshoreInsiders.com. 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.