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How To Back Big Winners In US Sports - What's The Key To Making Money?

February 14, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 135

Winning big on US sports... it's all about patience.

No matter what the sport you care to mention, it's amazing how often a new season starts with one particular team blazing a trail at the head of the standings.

New signings, a new coach, a run of good form.

They quickly become 'the team' to beat.

Bookmakers similarly latch on. Reducing any liability, they react by slashing the odds. They over-react, you could say.

But, then again, so do punters.

How many times have you seen traders falling over themselves to get a piece of the action... when the market has barely formed. When the season has such a long time to run.

A case of 'bet now, think later'.

Often the best thing is to do... nothing!

That's right. Strange as it may seem, the best policy can be to watch... and wait.

This is certainly the case when it comes to the US Sports... be it American Football (NFL), baseball, basketball, ice hockey and even major league soccer (MLS).

And the main reason for this is the format used by these various sports in the US.

What could best be called a 'regular season, post-season' model.

This characteristic isn't unique to the States but it tends to be the exception rather than the norm when it comes to the majority of global sporting competitions. They tend to be one, or the other... not a mixture of both.

In simple terms, there's an initial phase (regular league format) followed by a concluding phase (knock-out competition).

And as we know. In league situations, it's usually a case of the best team which ends up the winners. The cream rises to the top as everybody competes on a level playing field.

However, in cup competitions, anything can happen. It's all on the day. It's not always the best team which wins... more the luckiest!

How does this explain your betting strategy?

Well, it's quite simple really.

What you have is a situation where during the first part of the campaign, whether it's in baseball's MLB standings, basketball's NBA tables or the NFL rankings, a team starts really well.

They record win after win, generate a good win/loss record and head the rankings...and are put straight in by the bookmakers as favourites for the Super Bowl, World Series or Stanley Cup.

And that's to be expected. If the best regular season team isn't deserving of outright favouritism... then who is?

All perfectly logical it has to be said. But only logical if there was a proven record of these early season trailblazers going on to win the outright competition.

Because if the stats show that they don't... why make them the favourites?

And I can tell you... they don't. Not nearly enough to be backing early season pacesetters at ludicrously short prices.

Just recently we've seen the Green Bay Packers start the regular NFL Season by winning their first 13 matches. Prices were slashed for 'the Pack' to follow up their Super Bowl win of 2011 with another success in 2012.

Made favourites to win the Super Bowl XLVI the Packers were the No.1 ranked team from the NFC... but lost their first play-off game at home to the New York Giants (who then went on to beat the No.1 ranked team in the AFC, New England, in the Super Bowl).

So 2012 was another blank year for the top rated teams in the NFL.

Too many teams fail to 'see out the trip'

And of even more interest to this study is that fact that the best record in the regular season doesn't just mean you're 'the best' team but it also means you get the best route through the play-offs. Taking on the weakest opponents, with that all-important homefield advantage.

So if teams still aren't sealing the deal with all this in their favour, just why do we continue to fall for these market leaders.

Why rush in early and take falsely short prices about a team who could easily slip up in the play-offs?

Looking at the available data... since 2000, across the five major sports in the USA (that's the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS) there have been 59 annual championships - as strike action scuppered the 2005 ice hockey season.

Of those 59 titles only 20 were won by No.1 seeded teams. That's a rather measly 34%. The best team in the tournament barely winning 1 in 3 times.

You've got teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers (2006) winning the Super Bowl as No.6 seeds and No.4 ranked New Jersey Devils winning the Stanley Cup (2000).

The St. Louis Cardinals were No.4 in the National League standings prior to baseball's World Series in 2011 and Real Salt Lake were the No.4 team in the MLS before they won the play-offs in 2009.

Time and again we see so-called favourites losing in the post-season.

Great.. I get it now. But how can I win money?

Depending upon your knowledge there are a couple of ways in which this type of situation can be addressed.

The most obvious one is to lay the top seeds (and, we presume market leader) on an exchange like Betfair.

The price is a crucial consideration... but the example of the Packers shows just how over-bet these teams have become.

On the stats, they were a solid lay.

However, a more appealing option is to go hunting for teams at bigger prices.

Those with (i) good late season form and a bit of momentum going into the play-offs (ii) not too many injuries/suspensions (iii) past play-off experience always helps a team (iv) managerial expertise is similarly a plus when the competition intensifies (v)... a good price.

These factors all come into play once the post-season kicks in and can make the difference between winners and losers.

Yes, you might need your team to win 'on the road'. For sure, they might need a bit of luck along the way.

But when you're opposing a short-priced team with one, or possibly two others (hedge your bets with one team in each conference / side of the draw), then you can easily locate bets at double-figure prices.

So the over-riding advice...

Bet smart. Don't follow the crowd in trying to lump on a team which has impressive early season form.

The format of US Sports makes it a real lottery once the play-offs begin... and it's asking a lot for a team to hold their form right through the 'league programme' and match-by-match in the 'knock-out phase'.

The strategy, whilst keeping an eye on the odds, must be to oppose these short-priced market leaders in the US.

Matthew Walton. Author, journalist and broadcaster, Matthew has worked in the betting industry for the past 20 years. His articles can be read online at and you can follow his daily updates on Twitter by following @MattWalton_uk.

Source: EzineArticles
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