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Letting "Trends" point you in the right direction

By Corey Dragge

There is no time of year like the end of March. To people like me, it's better then Christmas. This is how I pay all those outrageous Christmas bills! At this time of year, the informed gambler can make a killing. It also the time of year when the bookies are counting on the not-so-informed gamblers to let their personal feeling for teams influence their bets. This is the time of year when every yahoo comes out of the wood works and claims to know all the winners in the NCAA's Big Dance. This is when the nuts come out and claim they have a winning strategy that will guarantee winners every time. This is when everyone in the local sports bar has got a friend that knows a guy who has a sister that dated the roommate of a player of some team and they say this game is a "lock". The Books are counting on the fact that the majority of these people will bet big on these hunches and these people will probably bring in a few friends with them. For those of you who don't already know this, there is no such thing as a "lock" and anyone that guarantees winners every time is yanking your chain and trying to dip into your wallet. There is only one way to win at sports gambling - and I am going to tell you how to do for free.

Who am I you ask. My name is Corey and I have been gambling since I was old enough to see over the poker table. I got into sports handicapping about ten years ago and placed my first sports bet when I was in the sixth grade. I took the Redskins to cover against the Raiders in the Super Bowl. Damn Marcus Allen! Needless to say I lost. It was only five bucks but I realized then that if I was going to bet my hard earned money, (Hey, I had to mow a lot of lawns to get that five bucks!) I should be informed. But it wasn't till much later that I learned that there is a big difference between being "informed" and handicapping.

You see, a person can watch Sports Center every night, read all the articles and watch every game but he probably won't win more than 50% of his bets. It's not that he or she doesn't know what is going on with the team and how they are doing, it's that they just don't know the right things to accurately handicap the game. The key is research. That is how you win games, but like the example above you have to make sure you're looking at the right things. I am going to show you the best way to find those things. Just for the record, I have used the same method I about to show you to handicap games for years and since Jan 5th of this year, I am winning about 58% of my bets. With that said, I am not promising you anything. I am merely saying that using the tools I am going to give you, you stand a pretty good chance of improving your winning percentage. I am not saying that you will suddenly win every time you place a bet, but over the long haul you will see that these tools will help you make better choices, and that leads to better bets.

Now, I have mentioned in the past that the first thing you should do is look at the lines and find ones that look out of whack to you. What is a "wacky&auot; line you ask? Here is an example:

Philly 76ers -17
Warriors 168

The 76ers are playing the Warriors at home and the 76ers are favored by 17 points. This means that the 76ers should win by 12 points. The over/under total is 168 points. This means that the total points scored by both teams should be 168 points. What is wrong with this line? Can you figure it out?

The line is basically saying that the 76ers should just roll over the warriors with ease, but the over/under is pretty low. 168 total points in just 84 points per team! So they are saying that the 76ers will win big but it will be a low scoring game. Does that make sense to you? To win by 17 points don't you usually have to score lots of points? If this game was to "push" on both the line and the over/under it would have to end with the 76ers winning 84 to 67 or something similar to that. This would be an extremely low scoring game with a point spread that high so you should put it on your list for further research.

Now lets continue with this example. The key to researching is knowing what to look for. I can pull up thousands of stats on the Philly 76ers but most of them will be pointless. Most people do tons of research and overload themselves with worthless information that clouds their minds. In my last article, I told you about "Trends". This is one of the first things that I look at and I am going to show you how to properly use them. Teams develop Trends as the season progresses, and for the most part these Trends can help you determine what information you should look at. They help point you in the right direction. Here are five Trends I have made up still using the example above.

76ers are 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings.
76ers are 9-3-2 ATS in their last 14 games on the road.
Warriors are 1-3 ATS in their last four games overall.
The over is 9-2 in the Warriors last 11 home starts.
The over is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
(ATS = Against the Spread)

Let's start with the first Trend and work our way down. So what information can we get from that first Trend? Well, for starters we know that the 76ers have covered in 5 of their last 7 games. That doesn't mean that they have been playing well though, so be careful. That only means that we should look at their last 7 games and see if they won outright when a underdog, barely covered when a favorite, or lost outright but covered the spread as a underdog. We should also see how much they covered by. Are they blowing out the spread every time by 10 points or are they covering by 1 or 2 points each time?

The second Trend doesn't show us much other then the fact that they seem to cover more often than not when playing on the road lately. This means we should look at their last 14 road games and see if they were favored or underdogs and just how high the spreads were in those games so we can compare them to this game.

The third Trend tells us that the Warriors have only covered the spread in one game in their last 4. Once again don't jump to conclusions, because they may have only missed covering in those games by a point or two each. So we should check out the Warriors' last 4 games and find out just how badly they missed covering. It's important to know whether they missed covering by 1 point or by 15.

The fourth Trend tells us that the "Over" has hit in nine of the Warriors last 11 home games. This is why it's important to look for Wacky lines! The over has hit in all but two of the Warriors' last 11 home games, and yet the over/under in this game is only 168 points. We need to check out the over/under lines in the last 11 home games by the Warriors and compare them to this one. Are they higher? Lower? How much did they cover the over/under line by?

The fifth and final Trend says that the last 5 times these teams have faced off they have hit the Over 4 times. This means we need to check out exactly what those over/under lines were and compare them to this one. Here I have provided an example of what we may find for the last five match-ups between these teams.

Recent Meetings
Date Home Away Line ATS

2/13/2001 76ers 99 Warriors 89 -8.5/196 76ers /U
12/26/99 Warriors 103 76ers 92 -5.5/192 Warriors /O
12/23/99 76ers 105 Warriors 89 -1/189 76ers /O
2/24/98 Warriors 124 76ers 112 4.5/199.5 Warriors /O
12/27/97 76ers 111 Warriors 101 -5.5/197 76ers /O

If we look at the Over/Under line in the last five games and compare to the one for this game we can see the Over/Under lines in the last five match-ups between these two teams has been significantly larger then the one tonight. The Over call on this game is looking better and better! We may have found ourselves a winner!

Sure, this example is a little extreme, but it proves my point. If you look for lines that are out of whack and you let the Trends point you in the right direction for the information you need you not only improve your chance of winning but you also save yourself countless hours of digging through worthless stats and other information. Sure it takes time to do this research, but let me ask you one thing. Do your remember the last time you lost a lot of money gambling? What was it you said right after you lost? More likely than not, you said something like " Next time I will be more prepared!" Think of how hard you had to work for that money. Doesn't it seem only logical to take the time and do the research to give yourself a better shot at winning? Sure does to me.

So let the Trends point you in right direction so you don't get caught unprepared this time. There are no "LOCKS" and there are no "Guarantees", but if you let the Trends show you what to look for and where to find it, you can only IMPROVE your chances of winning dramatically. Good luck and remember to check back c'ause in the next issue I am going to show you how I handicap games with fairly even lines.

Good luck and may all your bets be WINNERS!

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