How to handicap Regular-Season Win props in college football and NFL

 

Are you interested in betting Regular-Season Win props? Be sure you’re thinking about these the right way as you make your final choices. 

 

Too many casual bettors focus on these two questions:

 

— “What do I need to win my bet?”

 

— “Can I visualize this team winning (or losing) that many games?”

 

The problems with those priorities are:

 

— It’s easy to forget that pushes aren’t your enemy. The question isn’t how many wins (or losses) you need to cash, it’s what percentage of the time will you win vs. what percentage of the time you’ll lose.

 

Imagine you’re looking at a team with a Regular-Season Win total of 8. If you’re thinking, “I don’t know if this team is going to get to nine wins more than half the time,” that’s the wrong way to think about it. 

 

What if the likely percentages are like this?

 

— Nine wins or more will happen 40% of the time.

— Eight wins for a push will happen 30% of the time.

— Seven wins or fewer for a loss will happen 30% of the time.

 

Even though “Over 8” cashes only 40% of the time, it’s a smart bet because you win a lot more than you lose. Over 100 samples, you get refunded 30 times, then go 40-30 on the other 70 bets. 

 

You may find it a helpful exercise to try to map out the probabilities for win, tie or lose rather than just thinking about what it takes to clear the hurdle for any prop that’s on a full number, such as 7, 8, 9 or 10.

 

Second issue: Too many timid bettors decide to leave a proposition alone if the line has already moved. While it’s true that some value is gone after a line move, it may not be true that all the value is gone. It’s you vs. the numbers on the board at that time. Can you find a winner?

 

Here’s an example. Before the 2018 season, the South Point put the Patriots up at 11 wins with the Over priced at -120. Sharps hit that hard, and the line moved to 11.5. Was the value gone? No. Sharps kept hitting the Pats to drive the game up to a full dozen. 

 

Was the value gone then? No. Respected money plus some public money kept right on betting New England Over 12 wins. The tide wasn’t stemmed until the South Point went to 12.5 wins, where the Under was then a -120 favorite. 

 

If you made a number in an NFL or college team prop nine wins, and the summer line moved from 7.5 to 8.5, betting Over 8.5 still makes sense for value even if the 7.5 and 8 are long gone. The percentages are still in your favor to profit, just not as much as they would have been if you had acted sooner. 

 

Bottom line: Make your own numbers, and visualize how often each team is likely to skew Over or Under that range given your read of that team and its schedule. 

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