An Instructive Email

I received an email a few days ago that I am going to break down in parts as there are a few different questions.

“Rick,
I have only been following your twitter handle for about a month now, however one of my buddies I handicap with has been following you for quite some time. Recently today I read your website (about me, must read, 2+2 2011 Magazine Article) and found that our group use the same method as you to an extent. The public eye for the most part keeps Vegas alive and running is the way we have always looked at it. They loose the most and that’s what Vegas needs. Like you said, if you notice that many of your picks are always with the public you need to pick a new strategy.

For our line movements we use www.vegasinsider.com. I had heard of Sports Insights, however vegasinsider was always free and we are three college kids who just graduated recently who didn’t want to pay that extra fee. We started noticing line movements the opposite way of public population betting around our sophomore year in college, and have been handicapping like that ever since. Like you, I believe this is the best way to pick the games but when I try to explain this to the majority of my friends they think I’m crazy. Are we crazy for handicapping like this or are they just crazy for not looking more into the statistical side of handicapping?”

Let me start out by saying that there are very successful handicappers that do not take into consideration public and line moves. But these are few and far between! They have extensive knowledge of the teams along with very sophisticated computer models.

For me I have found that the public and line moves in relation to what the public is doing is a very powerful tool to incorporate into your arsenal of handicapping techniques. As far as explaining it to your friends….most people are not open to new ideas and it usually is an exercise in futility to educate them. So save yourself the grief and keep this to yourself and those that agree with your techniques.

“which sportsbook to you prefer to use in Vegas”

I do not use the vegas books but prefer online wagering. Its easier since I work from home trading stocks and options.

“Money is not the issue to us; we just like picking winners as it is entertainment to us. The same goes for these NBA games, just where to you draw the line to lay off of and when to bet.”

I have parameters that I use that define whether the game is pass, 1 unit or 1/2 unit. It changes from time to time but its mostly based upon how my handicapping has performed the last 2 years. The idea is not to change it every week but stick to it for the season and then adjust at the end of the season if needed. The 80-20 rule is good as a general guide but keep in mind the public thresholds are different for each sport…and for some sports not very relevant. So a blanket approach used across the board will not work well. In addition the totals are a completely different animal. First the volume is much lighter and the public is much less at work in moving the totals. It would not be a bad idea to pass on handicapping totals until you have a workable system in place for the sides.

“My only other question was if you think vegasinsider.com is a good site to look at line movements”

If I were you I would use sbrodds.com. Its as close to real time odds that you can find for free. Myself I like sports insights as I can easily view the open and current line for multiple books. I find that the line movements mean much more when Pinnacle and Cris coincide. In addition I am presently tracking the early moves and they are showing quite a bit of promise…perhaps more so then the late moves. Sports Insights makes it easier to do that.

“And one more quick question. Our group has always argued about this matter. Is it best to go big on select few games or diversify your bets across the board with smaller amounts and more picks?”

This question seems to me to indicate that you are most likely not doing your beting correctly. Remember if your a positive ev bettor then your biggest enemy is variance. So the best approach would be to establish a bankroll…..and then for 1 unit bets use 2% as your wagering size and for 1/2 unit bets 1%. If you want to get more aggressive you can use 2.5 and 1.25. You would not think there is a big difference between the two but its really significant. I would not recommend anything larger then 2.5.

In addition if you have a defined strategy in place betting big or small or number of wager will not be an issue since it either is a bet or it isnt.

The whole idea behind handicapping successfully is to take human judgement out of the equation. The more you get your gut instincts involved unless your a seasoned professional this will hinder you at every step.

Thanks for the email….these are my thoughts on the subject…and I welcome anyone else to also give their insights to these questions

Rick

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