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Watch your weight!

By Corey Dragge

There are many things that one can do for a living. You can become a doctor, lawyer, politician (god help us), a firefighter, hell anything if you put your mind to it. But I have to honestly say that I don't think that there is any job out there as emotional exhausting as a being a sports handicapper.

Now I know your thinking that I am a couple of beers short of a six pack but believe me when I tell you that there is nothing as nerve racking as knowing that every pick you make will impact how much money you make that day, that month, or that year. That with every winning streak comes a losing streak. That no matter how sure you are about an outcome the game is still decided by the players and that lady we all want on our side...lady luck. Sure there are some handicapper out there that will tell you that luck has nothing to do with it but if that is the case then explain this to me. It's the bottom of the ninth and there are two outs. You researched every aspect of the game that you could think of and placed your money on the team that your analysis pointed to as a plus 4 play. Your team is up by two and all they need is one out to win it. The opposing team has a man on first and second and the pitcher is due up. They pitch hit with a rookie that has very faced a major league caliber pitcher like this guy before. This guy has got Pedro's heat and a curve that leaves a batter baffled. This kid comes up and first pitch gets sent into the cheap seats. You lose. Now tell me that lady luck wasn't involved. You have to realize that you may research a game for days and still lose. There are something's that are beyond your control. The idea of Handicapping is not to win every pick. It isn't even to win 70% of your picks. The idea is to win a "majority" of your picks, to get an above average winning percentage. Imagine dealing with that on a daily basis.

Sports Handicapping is viewed as more of a hobby by the public then anything else and because the laws of probability come into pay it is often viewed as a hit or miss kind of thing. But there couldn't be anything farther from the truth. First of all, people view this as a hobby because they can't see how anyone can make money on a regular basis when they know that the books are winning so much, I mean Las Vegas wasn't built on the money of winners right? What they don't know is with some sense of restraint and proper money management this is an industry where one can double their money in a short period of time. There are those that say that the risk is too great to take. I only have one thing to say to them. How are all those DotCom stocks you bought a few years ago doing now? The stock market is just as much a gamble as sports gambling and the turn around is much slower as well. Sports handicapping is an art form. The hard thing to grasp is that just like every other art form it is always evolving. There are new stats, new research tools, and new players. This is an art that from day to day, week to week, and month to month requires the artist to keep up with its evolution where as in other art forms the artist dictates its evolution. The amount of variables that a sports handicapper has to deal with and analyze is mind-boggling. See... if you don't show up to work cause your sick you still get that cushy salary and benefits to fall back on right? Does a handicapper have that luxury? No...the majority of handicappers have to get up and prove themselves day in and day out. And if you're lucky enough or simply good enough to get paid for doing it then you have reached a pinnacle of the art form. Yep... Sports Handicapping is most defiantly one of if not the most emotional exhausting job out there.

With that said I want to jump right in and teach you that which has taken me years to understand. Now if you have been reading my previous articles you will understand but if this is your first visit I strongly recommend that you read my previous articles or email me at [1] and I will send them to you myself. I spare no expense for true students of the art but you have to catch up on your own. Now on with the next lesson and one of the most difficult to grasp. See there is one thing that will get you past this part and that my friend is experience. See, this is the part where you get start making calls on your own analysis. Now granted there is little I can do to help you with this but I can at least point you in the right direction. Ok so if you followed my last article you have all these stats in front of you and your going over them with a fine toothcomb. The only problem now is what do you do with them? You have been looking at numbers and stats for so long that they all look the same. Which ones are important and which ones are not. Well, see this is where you put higher weight on some trends or stats then on others. Which ones get the most weight or are the most important completely depends on the situation in which the game is played. Lets take for instance that the two teams (no matter what the sport) have played each other in the past. Team A beat Team B by a landslide. Does that mean that Team A will win again? Not necessary. See there are many factors that have to be considered. Everything from weather to injuries to team morale needs to be considered. There are so many different factors to consider that one can easily throw their hands up in the air and call it a day. But I strongly recommend that you listen to your gut. I am not saying that your gut will always be right but I am willing to bet that if you have done your research and listen to your gut feeling you stand a lot better chance of winning then the average Joe betting on his favorite team. Everyone has their own way of handicapping and we all put different amounts of value or weight on different stats or trends so all you have to do is find what works for you. You have to play out the game in your head so to speak. Using all the information that you just force-fed into your brain make a call on the game.

Now one thing that I strongly recommend you do while trying to learn what works for you is that you make your plays with points and not cash. When you gamble on a weekend how much do you use? $100? $500? $1000? Pick a weekend and give yourself that many points. For sake of argument lets say its 1000 points. Now do your research and bet with your points. Write down your plays and be honest with yourself. Right down not only the outcome but how you got to that conclusion. I assure you that you will see some sort of trend in the way that you put value on certain stats or trends and you will see if they truly work or not. Do this for at least two weeks or four weekends before you actually place a wager with your own cash. If you write it all down, at the end of those two weeks or four weekends look at what you played and research your picks like you would research a game. One reason that I tell you to do this for so long before you actually place a bet is because once you start trying a certain "system" or pattern of handicapping you need to do it for a while before you can honestly see if it works or not. If your style of handicapping isn't working don't dump it right away and move on to something else because in the end you may be doing more damage then good. You have to play it out. If I were to change my style of handicapping every time I went on the inevitable losing streak I would have given up handicapping a long time ago. When you first get started a little fine-tuning may be all you need but if you tear down the entire engine you may be ruining a perfectly good thing. There are two important keys to good handicapping. One is taking your time and two is "if you're in doubt simply don't". If your not sure simply don't place the bet, don't take the chance. Watch the game and learn from it. It will cost you nothing to do this but bad bets on questionable plays could cost you a lot.

Now with football season come up I figured I would give you a couple of ideas as to what you should be looking into. That's right, there is a ton of information out there that you need to gather if you want to have a winning handicapping season. These are only a few of things that I find very important in my pre-season research. So here are three factors that I feel are mostly overlooked or under rated for the football season.

1. Offensive and Defensive Styles of each team.

Some teams have evenly balanced offensive and some don't. Some run the ball more some pass it more. Some teams defend well against the rush while other defend the rush better. Knowing what each team's strong and weak points are before the season begins can really pay off big.

2. Position by Position

Knowing what certain players bring to the table for a team and how that plays into a game can mean all the difference in the world. Now I am not just talking about key position players like QB's or WR's but everything from the Tight End to the offensive line players should be seriously looked at.

3. Probably one of the most overlooked factors is the team and players attitude. Is there trouble in the locker room? Is one key player playing big shot and holding out? Is the team in a most win situation? Is the team already locked out of the playoffs? All these things can play a major factor in the way a player performs. Any number of things can affect the outcome and in my experience this is one that is way to often overlooked.

So there you have it. This should keep you busy until the next article. Good Luck and remember Picasso didn't paint masterpieces right away... it takes practice, patience and persistence to make it.

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