We cannot stress enough that the goal of the spread in each gaming contest is to equalize betting on both sides and it is NOT a prediction of the score differential between two teams. The sportsbook wants to have equal action on both sides so they have no risk regardless of the actual outcome. It is because of this fact that players receive their biggest advantage–their ability to shop. When books begin to receive more money on one side over another they will adjust the line in order to create interest on the other team. If you like that “other” team, it is in your interest to wait until the line moves before placing a bet, thereby receiving the best value. But, if you are backing the team in which most of the money is going to, it is in your interest to wager before the line moves. Because there are so many sportsbooks, some books may not have received as lopsided money as others and thus put a slightly different line on a game. A good shopper will eventually find the best value for his side, and over the long haul a 1/2-point here, and a point there can translate into significantly greater profits.
An infinite variety of activities play into each line. The weather in baseball and football are big factors. Injuries to star or integral players make having the latest information on a team vital. Such considerations as who is the home team and what’s the history behind a match up are very important. Historical results which show tradition and revenge situations are very crucial in determining how a game will play out. Equally essential is the upcoming schedules of the teams, their starting participants and who’s in the coach’s dog house. Many sportsbooks hire experts and consultants to help them with the odds because there are too many of the above factors, along with current power statistics and trends, for a busy casino to follow them all accurately.
Who will win the game? That’s the answer all handicappers are searching for and since the sportsbooks conveniently place numbers on a game in order to equalize betting on both sides, the numbers make your job of selecting the winning team more difficult. With all of the factors available to you as a handicapper and also available to the oddsmakers and bookmakers the difference between winning and losing comes down to the practical application of that information.
Common sense, hunches, TV games and personal loyalties are nice instruments to keep a player interested, but over the long run they are also a nice way to keep you broke! The best and most successful handicappers are money managers looking for ideal situations which are defined as games with only a high percentage of return. In individual situations dumb luck will play into the outcome of games which no amount of handicapping can overcome, but in the long run a disciplined handicapper will win more of those lucky games than they lose, because they aren’t depending on the luck-factor for winners.
Experts will gather as much information that’s available through the latest in available statistics, trends, weather, home field and team histories. One well known example of a historical trend is that NFL teams which play on the road three weeks in a row have been strong go-against plays. This trend has been a winning play for a decade.
Computer programs are also being written daily to review, analyze and predict how each team does against the point spread. These programs reflect the opinions of each individual because some handicappers give more value to some factors over others. For instance one handicapper may determine home field to be the most important issue in each game, while another believes that the coach is the most important component in a game. It is important to note that there is no “right” way to pick a game. The emphasis of a handicapper needs to be on disciplining themselves to a system that has produced winners for them and never varying from it.
The information available to a player can be found in daily publications, news services, computer services or specific detailed programs for this purpose. The goal of a handicapper is to study as much information as you can, for as far back as you can, in order to find the necessary trends which fit your handicapping needs. You will find that the more time and work you put into your task the more you will learn and more successful your handicapping will be.