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    NFL Betting – Getting out of Your Comfort Zone – QuadJacks Commentary and Handicapping

    Posted by FairwayJay September 16, 2012

    Identifying situations to support and understanding underdogs and public perception

     
    As a professional sports handicapper and poker player living in Las Vegas, I could share with you an endless number of comments and opinions from fans and mostly recreational bettors while playing poker or in the sports books. The common theme and opinion I hear from many of them is that they are usually interested in betting on favorites, high-profile or stronger teams, and have a difficult time betting on “bad” teams and often underdogs.

    Why does the majority of the public lean this way?  It’s understandable. It feels better to support or bet on “winners,” and the emotional effect of betting on “bad” teams or many underdogs doesn’t usually feel right. It’s uncomfortable. So is betting on a bad team and then seeing them lose by a margin or not be competitive. The inner self thinks “I knew it” or “I’m not betting on those losers again.” It’s similar to a poker player getting aces cracked a few times in a row and from then on having an unfairly prejudiced view of the hand’s vulnerability.

    Thus, when you make an effort to change this attitude, you are moving out of your comfort zone, and that takes time to begin to feel right, or at least not as wrong.

    Poker players understand this and know the emotional ups and downs of winning and losing. Taking a bad beat. Getting frustrated. Succumbing to the emotional turmoil that afflicts even the best players. You play well, but the percentages and pots do not always pay you off appropriately.

    Good poker players can overcome many of the tough times, but it is never completely without hassle, and they too can have trouble adapting. Most sub-par players will give in to the emotional side of the game and continue to make decisions they later regret, playing too many pots or inferior hands, or fail to adjust to the game, opponents or hands being played. They will lose in the long term. But if you’re a good player, you will sharpen your skills and, in so doing,get out of your comfort zone. That means identifying and admitting your own strengths and weaknesses, along with superior studying of your opponents, concentration of game selection and making changes while improving your skills and mentality.

    Golfers that change their golf swing to improve are moving out of their comfort zone, and it takes time to train the physical and mental side of those changes. Poker players improve by getting rid of bad habits and making a commitment to improve and get out of their comfort zone. Pitchers in baseball cannot be successful just throwing a fastball or curve. They have to improve those pitches and work on additional arsenal. That takes time, practice and definitely a move from a comfort zone in delivery and mechanics.

    But sports bettors may be the toughest to change. Mostly because we have so many opinions, and are exposed to many forms of sports media, some of which must invariably support whatever opinions we may have. Our minds are filled with sports highlights, rankings, polls, standings, teams, players, all encouraging a constant focus on “winners.” After all, winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing, right?

    Gamblers drive the market. The oddsmakers know public tendencies in betting. A majority of those tendencies show a bias towards good teams and a slight against bad teams. They are aware of the high-profile public teams and that most fans and bettors prefer to take a position or bet on the favorite. With that in mind, you could start changing your habits by simply looking at the betting lines and trying to focus only on underdogs and perhaps more competitively lined games where the underdog is not so “bad.” That would be a start to help you change some of your thoughts and allow you to not only get out of your comfort zone, but likely improve your win rate when betting NFL games. Add some money line underdog plays to your wagering menu and you’ll really start to step out of your comfort zone. And as you see below, you’ll start to profit from the experience.

    In Week 1, betting favorites went 7-9 against the spread (ATS). So if you bet every underdog, you would have won money. The public opinion was to look at last year’s records and results and sure enough, most bettors were not willing to bet on the “bad” teams from last year. Then after just one week of play, bettors have formed a (strong) opinion on this year’s bad teams, as the winless Dolphins, Browns, Panthers, Colts, Rams and Seahawks were mostly the least bet on teams in Week 2, along with the Cardinals, a 13-point underdog at New England. Consensus sites proved it, and so did the LVH SuperContest, the biggest NFL contest in America.

    How did these teams do in Week 2?  6-1 SU and 6-0-1 ATS. All six winners were straight up underdog winners. Betting all the underdogs would have produced profit again in Week 2, as favorites went 6-8-1 ATS (Monday night pending).  I was involved with many underdogs in Week 2, but unfortunately more of the losers!  After a huge Week 1 of winners for me and my clients, I still had a tough time with some of the games in the emotional part of handicapping and betting as it relates to some of the bad teams. I review and chart stats and endless information Sunday night and throughout the week while trying to interpret what I saw and relate it to the specific match-ups and stats for this week’s games. But I didn’t make a strong enough case for many of these “ugly” underdogs either, as I did not necessarily interpret or analyze some of the match-ups correctly. That’s not uncommon in the NFL, but I take pride and produce profit for me and others by interpreting data and analyzing information correctly more often than not. I had some strong over/under totals winners, and some of my analysis and review of situations and stats played out as planned. But like playing poker, I misread some information and failed to get out of my comfort zone to make the appropriate adjustment for the games at hand. (That’s not going to happen too often, as I have a documented winning history of point spread prognosis success while understanding and correctly analyzing and interpreting information.)

    You’re going to hear plenty of talk about how and why the Saints lost again, that the mighty Patriots were upset, and that both the Redskins and Cowboys lost as betting favorites. And what many thought was going to be the worst team in football this year, the Dolphins rebounded well to crush the Raiders.

    You’ll hear some bettors say that “contrary” betting is the way to beat the NFL. Conflicting, opposing, different and divergent views.  It’s simply going against public opinion, for which a majority of the public is betting or supporting what “feels” right and that involves wagering on winners or the “better” team.  It didn’t feel right for most people to bet on those teams mentioned above. Yet you would be feeling much better if you had gone against public opinion and your own feelings, as your pocket book and bankroll would be bigger.

    Get out of your comfort zone and you’ll grow yourself along with your (betting) game.  After all, it’s not much fun playing from the rough, and the game becomes easier with more scoring and birdie opportunities if you’re playing from the fairway when firing for the green.

    Best wishes the rest of the season as you pursue profits and stay on course.

    @FairwayJay

    About FairwayJay

    Fairway Jay is a recognized leader and one of the sports industries insightful point spread prognosticators. Fairway Jay understands the dynamics involved in sports handicapping and betting over and above the myriad of stats to sort through to have success. You can sign up for weekly game analysis at www.fairwayjay.us & Follow on Twitter: @FairwayJay

    View all post by FairwayJay Visit author's website

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