With the college football bowl slate kicking off Friday, recreational bettors are in danger of digging early holes by betting games that are best left alone.
Hey, if you’ve been following some of these teams and you trust your read against the market, go for it! That’s not forcing action, that’s betting smart.
But if you don’t know much about Buffalo or Charlotte (Bahamas Bowl, 2 p.m. Friday, ESPN) or Utah State or Kent State (Frisco Bowl, 7:30 p.m. Friday, ESPN2), don’t invent reasons to place bets just because you want action or because you’re dreaming of winning every game on the way to fame and riches.
Your leans (or, admit it — blind guesses) will probably split out over time, forcing you to eat the vigorish. For newcomers, that’s the 10% surcharge on lost bets. Wagerers must risk $110 to win $100, or anything in that ratio.
Worse, you may have a cold run with teams you don’t know much about that limits stronger bets you could have made when major conferences take the field after Christmas. Sportsbooks don’t accept coal from a stocking.
Here are common early-bowl mistakes made by casual bettors:
— Assuming all the favorites will be flat in minor matchups. This used to be a great trend when not many bowls existed. Now many underdogs aren’t really bowl-caliber to begin with. Why bet on a horrible dog with your fingers crossed?
— Assuming late-season form will carry over to the bowl. That does happen sometimes. But it’s not uncommon to see a team that looked great in its regular-season finale or minor conference championship game have nothing left in the emotional tank — or to see a late slumper rise to the occasion after some time off.
— Assuming bad defenses will benefit from a few weeks off. Bad defenses usually struggle because of poor skill sets, not fatigue. Don’t ask bad defenses to win bets for you.
— Assuming a mediocre (or worse) offense will install trick plays that will hit pay dirt. Why would a struggling offense cleanly execute a trick play if it can’t even move the ball with its normal offense?