Joe Duffy (www.OffshoreInsiders.com)
Handicapping techniques can be loosely grouped into
evaluating teams in three categories: class, motivation, and form.
Class meaning the quality of the respective teams, form is
recent play and I hope motivation is apparent.
One may immediately ask about injuries. That is covered under the “class” umbrella as
the sharp player makes adjustments to roster changes, be it trade, injury, star
minor leaguer, surprising and disappointing performers, etc.
Motivation includes mental state. So letdowns, sandwich
games, revenge, playoff ramifications are among the issues in said subset.
Form should be weighed in direct proportion to how often
the sports play. In other words, baseball,
which plays every day, is the sport where recent form is slanted the heaviest,
while football is where we adjust it to the smallest value.
There is no perfect interval to rate form, but as we’ve
said it should be number of days, not games in the apples-to-apples comparison.
For example, in comparing recent form of the Lakers to the Spurs, most use last
five games. We prefer the last 10
Nothing can, for good or bad, alter recent form as much as
time off. This explains why momentum is most important in baseball and least in
The old adage of cream rising to the top…or dung sinking
to the bottom does have a great deal of truth to the handicapper. So across the board, quality is far and away
the primary derivative in sports gambling.
The public tends to overreact to aberrational recent
performance, especially in high profile game. The oddsmakers are aware of this.
Hence the ability to see the big picture is one of the great qualities a
gambler can have.
Famed British writer Daniel Finkelstein of The Times in
concerning English soccer, “form is temporary, class is permanent.” We find
this quite accurate in North American sports as well.