Sports Betting 101: Weather, Wind and Referees Impact on Sports Betting

April 20, 2020 12:20 AM

Public bettors have several innate tendencies. Chief among them: Gravitating toward favorites, home teams and overs. After all, it's human nature to want to back the "better" team, especially if they enjoy home-field advantage. And when it comes to totals, rooting for an entertaining, high-scoring game is much more fun than sweating a low scoring snoozefest.

Another public tendency is to overlook, undervalue or completely ignore the weather and referees. 

Many new or casual bettors never think to check the weather before placing their bet. Weather isn't considered important. It's not a sexy topic. And it may take a few extra minutes to look up. But that doesn't mean you should ignore it. It can have a major impact on the outcome of the game. If you take the time to check weather forecasts, it can provide a major edge. The key is looking for extreme situations. 

The most important aspect to consider when it come to weather is the wind. In football, both pro and college, strong winds can greatly impact the total, specifically when it comes to unders. When the wind is howling, it makes it harder to throw the ball, leading to more incompletions and fewer first downs. And when you can't throw the ball, you run it more often which chews up the clock. Strong winds can also result in missed kicks. This all leads to fewer points being scored, which greatly benefits the under. When the wind is swirling 10 MPH or more, the under is 56% in NFL games since 2003 according to Bet Labs Sports. Kevin Roth is a meteorologist who works for RotoGrinders Sports betting, went 39-22 betting NFL unders in bad weather games, specifically targeting those games with a 15-MPH wind or more.

Wind can also have a huge impact on totals in baseball. If the wind is blowing out, it can push warning track fly balls into first row homers, leading to more runs being scored. If the wind is blowing in, it can knock down first row homers into warning track outs, benefiting unders. When the wind blows in at 5 MPH or more the under is 55% in MLB games since 2005. The most common example is Wrigley Field, where the wind can almost singlehandedly cash an over or under bet depending on the direction. 

Temperature is also a key factor to consider. For example, when it's super hot in college football the over is 54.5% since 2005. This is due to the fact that the defenses are gassed and the offenses can take advantage of the huffing-and-puffing defenders. 

Temperature doesn't always operate the way you would think, though. For example, conventional wisdom says when it's freezing cold out it leads to a lot of lower scoring NFL games because the players have frozen hands and just want to get off the field. But actually the opposite is true. Since 2003, the over is 57.1% when the temperature is 30 degrees or less. 

Heat and humidity can also lead to more overs in baseball. Why? Because the pitchers and fields are baking in the sun while the offensive players get to sit in the shaded dugout until their turn at bat. An easy place to look for weather, specifically wind direction, wind speed and temperature is weather.com or accuweather.com. 

In the same vein, bettors should be aware of games being played indoors. The absence of weather can also impact a total. In baseball, domes or closed roof stadiums benefit unders because of the ideal pitching conditions and the fact tht the ball doesn't travel well. The under is 52.3% in MLB indoor games since 2005. In outdoor games, the under is 49.6%. 

In the NFL, domes and closed roof stadiums benefit the over because the slick, fast track provides an advantage for the offense over the defense. The over is 51% indoors compared to 49.6% outdoors. 

After weather, another overlooked factor that should be taken into account is referees. While they may not have a huge impact on the game, they can still have an effect and should be considered a cherry on top to consider. Officials are human. They make mistakes and have tendencies. Some enjoy the adulation of the crowd and lean toward home teams or favorites. Others want to appear impartial, so they lean toward road teams and underdogs. 

In football, some head officials call lots of flags while others "let them play." For example, the under is 57.3% in NFL games when Tony Corrente is the lead ref. When Jerome Boger is the head ump, the over is 57.7%. The NFL will announce the referee crew days in advance before each game. 

In baseball, umpires can have large or small strike zones, leading to either more strikeouts and more outs or more walks, base runners and runs scored. When Joe West is the home plate umpire, dogs have won 47% of their games since 2005. In all other games, they only win 42.5%. 

Home plate umpires will be listed at MLB.com for every game. You can also check the box score for any game. Whoever the first base umpire was for tonight's game will be the home plate ump for tomorrow's game.

In basketball, road teams cover at a 54% clip when Scott Foster has a whistle in his mouth. NBA.com will post the day's referees assignments each morning on their web site. 

Being a successful sports bettor means putting in the time, doing your homework and leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of trying to make the smartest bet possible. This includes researching under-the-radar variables like the weather and referees. It may seem unimportant, but it's not. It could very well end up being the difference between a win, a loss and push. 

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