Value the Dogs for Crying Out LoudThe Betting Public's infatuation with playing favorites has always amazed me. After all, common sense tells this gambler taking points before a game starts is a worthwhile strategy. The problem is most amateurs would rather give points than receive them? Quite simply, they will convince themselves of anything in order to bet on the better team.
Given my fascination with this subject, I took it upon myself to conduct a few informal and admittedly rudimentary studies pertaining to the subject.
The results proved my hypothesis correct, as amateur support for favorites far outweighed amateur support for dogs as a whole. As a matter of fact, between 65% and 75% of all amateur action is wagered on the favorite.
For the sake of simplicity, I will make three excruciatingly uncomplicated points to illustrate the overall thesis. Given that we about to kick off the NBA season, I will use the NBA as an example, yet most of the concepts can be applied to any sport possessing a point spread.
First Simple Point: Lines remain in check by an equal amount of action failing on both sides of any particular game. With this in mind and given that 65% to 75% of public money is on the favorites, who do you think is supporting the dogs to keep the line in check? That's right, the professionals. Ask any professional where the value lies as a whole and see what he tells you. He will say, "Play the dogs."
That is precisely why when you call your local man on any given night, his favorites will most likely be shaded higher than those of the Off Shore Books. Quite simply, your local man is not fielding the sharp money and is able to inflate his line to offset Joe Public's propensity to lay the wood.
Second Simple Point: When betting on a favorite, how many ways can you win a bet? When betting on an underdog, how many ways can you win a bet? To cash a ticket with the favorite, your team has to win by more points than you are giving. To win with a dog, your team can win outright or your team can lose by less than you are receiving. Lets see, my back of the napkin math indicates betting dogs may possess better odds. As a matter of fact, there are exactly sixty six and two thirds percent (or a two to one ratio) in favor of ways that dogs can win vs. favorites.
Third Simple Point: What most amateurs fail to consider when breaking down a particular game is the motivation factor. When one team is clearly better than the other, the point spread is reflective of the disparity. So the question is not whether Team A can beat Team B by the allotted amount, but rather will Team A bother to beat Team B by the allotted amount?
Having watched thousand upon thousands of NBA games, two distinct scenarios inevitably occur. Scenario one is the underdog gets out to an early lead. This usually occurs because the favorite lacks focus to start against the inferior opponent. Most of the time, the favorite will receive a wake up call of sorts and exercise their projected dominance. The result is a come back and eventual win. Unfortunately for those backing the favorite, the slow start often prohibits a win by more than the spread.
Scenario two has the favorite coming out focused, exuding their dominance and annihilating the dog early on.
Unfortunately for those backing the favorite, their early lead often times breeds a let down later in the game.
In turn, the underdog often is able to climb back in just far enough to cover the spread. Is there any worse feeling in the world than falling victim to the proverbial and hated backdoor cover?
A good case and point on the motivation dynamic was the 2002 playoff record of the Lakers. Through the first two rounds, they were favored in each of their 8 games. During this span, they were a stellar 7-1 straight up, yet were 1-7 ATS. Why was this the case?
Quite simply, the Lakers players and coaches knew exactly what they had to do to win the game outright. Moreover, they could have cared less about the spread. If on the real scoreboard the Lakers started at a negative eight (or whatever the spread was), rest assured they would be able to overcome that difference with a much greater regularity.
Let's recap. Amateurs primarily bet favorites and Professionals primarily bet dogs. Which side do you want to assimilate? There is exactly a 2 to 1 ratio in favor of ways to win betting dogs vs. favorites. Which side of the
ratio do you want to be on? Players for the most part do not care about the point spread and will only do enough to win the game outright. It seems until the NBA changes the rules and incorporates the spread on the real scoreboard, it is a wise decision to look at dogs first. Of course, that is just one gamblers opinion on the subject.
Before I leave you, let me interject a disclaimer. There are no simple answers when it comes to winning long term. No single strategy in and of it self will make you a winner. Successful handicapping requires detailed examination of all variables pertaining to each particular game combined with a long-term disciplined approach pertaining to all facets of wagering in general. In other words, do not think that betting every dog on the board on every night from here on out will make you a winner, because it won't.
The premise of this article had to do with the inherent value of dogs as a whole.