Picking Winners Against the Spread
It’s almost that time again! With the NFL season right around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to start posting a few thoughts. In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting a couple of times a week with some handicapping strategies, things to look out for, and goals for the season. I plan on correcting some misconceptions and defining terms so we’ll all be on the same page. I think it’s safe to say people will be learning a few things they didn’t know.
I’ve often been told by people that they have no trouble picking the winners of NFL games, but that they don’t do well against the spread (ATS). They have a hard time believing me when I tell them that if they can pick the winner of the games, then they should be crushing the bookies by betting against the spread.
Here’s the proof:
The NFL sees 256 games a year. In the 2014 season, there was 1 game that ended in a tie and 3 games that saw the teams push ATS. Of the 252 games remaining, the winner of the game covered the spread 209 times! The winner covered the spread 82.9% of the time.
If someone can truly pick the winner of the games, they’d be a huge winner ATS. So maybe they aren’t as good as they think they are. The real lesson here is how very important it is to keep records of wins and losses when gambling. Whether your game is blackjack, horse racing or football betting, it’s easy to fool yourself that you’re not doing too badly or that you’re winning for the season. The truth is, without records people just don’t know and so they err on the side of breaking even or winning.
The first step in being a better gambler or handicapper is honesty, and nothing helps with honesty like numbers to back up how you’re doing.