It won’t be long before the preseason games commence and football reclaims its position as America’s king of sports. Let’s discuss some of the strategies that give you the best chance to cash in your NFL picks this season.
Don't chase your losses. If you heed this advice you will save yourself beaucoup bucks over not only this season but seasons to come. Understand this, you will lose during the course of the season but that doesn't mean you will be a loser at the end of the season. The key is to stay the course and don't double, triple or quadruple up to get even for the bad calls or the bad beats that have unfairly thinned your bankroll. How many times have you been relegated to the sidelines after Week 5 because you blew through the dough that was supposed to last for 17 weeks?
Each unit should be one percent of your bankroll but how many units to be played on each one of your NFL picks depends strictly on your school of thought. There are some who maintain that no bet is worth more than any other while others insist that there are sharp sides on some games and the proverbial “can't-miss” sides on others. If you are prone to the latter and bet different denominations then stick to this rule: No more than 5 percent (or five units) should be wagered on any given game. Therefore, a 1-5 unit betting system is now in place and do not wager above it. But beware, if you go this route watch out for the five unit play suddenly morphing into the only denomination you play. It's an easy trap to fall into and pretty soon your money management discipline has gone the way of your low carb diet, but instead of getting fat your wallet will get increasingly thin.
To Buy or Not Buy the Hook
There are critical numbers in football, namely 3, 4, 6 and 7 that often represent the disparity between the victors from the vanquished. When reviewing the NFL odds don't get accustomed to betting favorites that have a hook (half-point) at the end of any of these numbers. If the Vikings are laying 3 ½ against the Bears and you opt to bet the favorite then don't cry when the final score reads something along the lines of Vikings 20 – Bears 17 and you begin to tear your hair out over losing that wager because of a lousy half-point.
In order to buy off of a three, many sportsbooks will charge you triple the vig or -130 whereas all other ½ point buys will cost you double or -120. The reason being, the number three equals a field goal and most close games are decided by just that, three points. If you buy it and the chalk (favorite) wins by three then you bought yourself a push (tie) which means no money changes hands. But if you didn't buy the half-point then your bet would be check marked in the loser's column. Of course, if your team wins by less than three or loses outright then instead of losing $110 (on a $100 wager) you lose $130. My advice is to either buy the hook on the aforementioned critical numbers or pass the game entirely. Losing an extra 20 percent is easier to stomach than getting nipped by the dreaded hook.
Money Lines, Parlays, and Teasers
How many times have you seen a game decided by the point spread? When that happens there will be a chorus of squares chanting the same tired song, “The bookies know what they're doing.” If the sportsbooks knew the outcome they would be bettors and not bookies. The fact of the matter is that most games do not land on the number but when they do, the casual bettor declares it's all a fix, it's rigged and the bookies got rich. No, the bookies didn't get rich because theoretically, no money changed hands.
But this leads me to my point. Most bettors are inclined to bet the favorite. If you happen to be one of them I would suggest you delve into the wonderful world of parlays and money lines. Yes, you have heard exotics are for squares but listen up and allow me to explain how parlays and teasers can lead to what we call “middles” or hedges.
Example: I picked an arbitrary week (Week 8) of the 2015 NFL season. We are going to bet a three-team parlay using two 1:00 PM ET games with the final leg of the parlay being a 4:00 PM ET game. The critical part of this is to make certain there is one leg of the three-team parlay open after the end of the two early games.
Our selections will be all money lines with the point spread in parentheses.
1. 1:00 PM ET Saints -165 (-3) over the Giants
2. 1:00 PM ET Ravens -210 (-4) over the Chargers
3. 4:25 PM ET Seahawks -215 (-4) over the Cowboys
Courtesy of our handy-dandy parlay calculator we know that a three-team parlay using the above money lines of -165, -210 and -215 will yield a profit of $247 plus our original $100 wager for a total of $347. The pair of 1:00 PM games are now over and the results are as follows:
Saints 52 Giants 49. Had we bet the point spread (-3) this would have been a push but we bet the Saints on the money line of -165 so this is a winner.
Ravens 29 Chargers 26. Had we bet the point spread (-4) this would be a loser but because we bet the Ravens on the money line of -210 we have a winner.
We have now connected on the first two legs of our parlay with only the Seahawks left to simply win the game outright as we bet them on the money line of -215 in this parlay.
As we enter the third and final leg of our parlay we can insure that we escape with barely a scratch to our bankroll by hedging this bet for a potential middle. All we need is for the Seahawks to win the game outright but there is an opportunity to win that as well as a flat bet on the underdog Cowboys getting +4 at home.
So here we will put a flat bet on the Cowboys +4 for $100 which guarantees the worst we can do is lose only the vig on the flat bet as there is no vigorish on parlays. Time to watch the game and hope the Seahawks win by three or less which will have us cash the parlay as well as the underdog Cowboys.
Seahawks 13 Cowboys 12
There's nothing better than when a plan comes together as it did in this real life scenario from Week 8 of last year. Out three-team parlay clicked for a profit of $247 and the Cowboys cashed for $100 as we bring home a tidy profit of $347 without breaking much of a sweat. After the first two legs connected our only risk was the original $100 we wagered on the parlay itself. We watched a full afternoon of football and got paid to do it.
You can incorporate this strategy into two or three team teasers as well. Just always make sure to keep one leg open late and go for that middle. Regardless of how you bet this football season, make sure you do your homework, shop for the best lines and above all, manage your money accordingly because the NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint.