In the world of sports betting, statistics are the cement that holds everything together. Math geniuses specializing in probability, random number theories, and gaming odds make detailed reports and datasheets regarding point spreads and moneylines every day.
Bookies pay these men and women great deals of money to come up with accurate spreads and odds in order to encourage two-sided action on any given event.
But wait, these aren’t the only statistics bookies keep record of. They also keep record of every single bet you make and good bookies pour over those records looking for trends and weak spots they can take advantage of. One of the easiest things to pick out is who is a square.
Squares are sports bettors that always play the favorite (and the over!) or tend to follow and wager only on hometown or regional teams. You might ask: why is it important for the bookie to know who bets like this? Well, if the bookie knows beforehand that eight of every ten bets a given bettor is going to make will be on the favorite he can serve that player a line that has been shaded in favorite of the underdog, knowing that the player will more than likely bet the favorite anyway.
Bookmakers who diligently track betting patterns and appropriately shade the lines can swing the percentages up to 5% (but more often between 1.5-2.5%), greatly reducing the player’s chance of winning. You obviously don’t want the stigma of square on your betting account, unless, that is, you actually are a wiseguy (more on that another week) tricking the book in order to get better underdog spreads, which usually results in getting the boot when the bookie catches you!
Being a square is a trap many novice gamblers fall into. Favorites are tempting because it is so difficult to bet against teams that seem so much better than their opponents. In order to overcome this and use odds and point spreads to your benefit you only need to do one thing: study! First off, making uneducated, random bets is always a recipe for disaster.
Bookies smile big when a player calls in and asks, “Who’s playing tonight?” That bookie knows the player hasn’t even looked at the newspaper, but still wants to bet, regardless of the night’s match-up’s. SQUARE!
Never bet that way. Always research your plays ahead of time. The first place to start should be match-up reports. These are available at many wagering websites for free and they are the basis for how the line on that game was created. In match-up reports you will see the results of previous meetings between the teams, all injuries, recent stats from other match-ups, and even the expected weather.
This information, and your interpretation of it, should be the beginning of the basis of your wager. Next you could read the online sports section of each team’s hometown newspaper. This can often reveal important information you could never have found anywhere else. As well, if the newspaper has sports chat or forums read through them, maybe the coach hosts a weekly chat or rumors from a college campus will be posted. All of this information should be used to help in choosing which side to play, be it the favorite or the underdog.
Lastly, don’t be a square by betting with your heart, as hard as that may be. If you only bet on one team day in and day out you will probably end up disappointed. The bookie will shade the line against your team and, unless your team consistently beats the spread (very different from outright winning), the end results will make you blame your favorite teams for your stupid bets. This may mean avoiding wagers altogether where feeling comes too much into play.