How many times have you found a betting line that looked like it was too good to be true? How many times have you made a bet on a line like this and found out that it was too good to be true?
I’ve learned that any sports gambling line that looks too good to be true is probably a trap. In this post, you’re going to learn how to avoid the sure thing trap.
What Is Too Good to Be True in Sports Gambling?
When a line looks too good to be true, it’s the same thing as looking at a game and believing that your bet is a sure thing.
I was recently looking at lines for the upcoming NCAA football games, and one of the lines jumped out at me. The road team was favored by six, but the road team hadn’t won a game by less than nine points all season.
In addition, the road team was on a roll, crushing the spread in their last two games, and they’d won the previous several years against the home team.
The Sure Thing Trap
I remember looking at a football game several years ago and thinking that the road team was sure to win. It looked like a great way to get free money. The only thing that saved me from losing a ton of money is I didn’t have a lot of money. I put $100 on the game for a chance to win $5 on the moneyline.
Anytime you see a bet that looks like a sure thing, you’re either mistaken, or you’re missing something important. A sure thing in gambling doesn’t exist unless you’re running a game that’s fixed.
Winning sports bettors know they can make money based on the long-term and expected value. But they also know that value has nothing to do with finding a sure thing.
If you want to make money as a sports gambler, finding enough value to win 54% or 55% of your spread bets is how you’re going to do it. The sooner you give up the idea that there are sure things in gambling, the sooner you can get to work learning the real way to make money gambling.
Value or a Sure Thing and Long Term Value or Relying on Luck
Winning sports gamblers identify value while losing sports gamblers rely on luck.
Here’s a recent line on a college football game. It’s a moneyline, so you’re betting on which team is going to win the game.
Tennessee is favored by 31 ½ points on the spread, playing at home, and it looks like there’s no chance in the world that Vanderbilt can win the game.
The question is important because if Tennessee doesn’t win this bet 100% of the time, the value is negative on this game.
If you run the numbers on making this bet 100 times and Tennessee only wins 99 times, you lose money. If you bet $10,000 100 times, the total amount you bet is $1,000,000. Every time you win, you get back your $10,000 and win $100. So on the 99 bets that you win, you make a total profit of $9,900.
But the one time out of 100 you lose, you lose $10,000. If Vanderbilt wins one time out of 100, you lose money on this bet.
Sometimes when you see there’s no value on one side of a bet, you find value on the other side of the bet. In this case, there’s no value on the other side of the bet either. Vanderbilt has to win at least one out of every 25 times for there to be value on that side of the line.
Of course, you’re not going to start making a profit until you learn how to handicap games correctly, but when you do master the art of handicapping, you can forget about the mythical sure thing and profit from finding value.
When you find a sports betting line that looks too good to be true, the safest thing to do is not to make a bet. The odds are that you’re missing at least one key piece of information.
Sportsbooks are extremely good at one thing, and the thing they’re best at is making money. It’s not that online sportsbooks don’t make mistakes and never set a bad line. But they rarely set a line so bad that you can see it without handicapping a game thoroughly.
When I see a line that looks too good to be true, once I start handicapping the game, I learn why the line is set where it is.
Until you learn how to handicap games well enough to win, the best way to handle bets that look like a sure thing is not to make a bet.
Bet the Other Side
If you see a line that looks too good to be true before you handicap a game, the odds are that most other gamblers see the line the same way. When this happens, most bettors jump on the line. Sometimes so many people jump on the line that it moves the line.
Winning sports gamblers never do anything all of the time except handicap games and try to find value.
- The first reason is that when you blindly do anything in sports betting, your long-term results tend to be close to breakeven minus the vig. In other words, if you blindly bet point spreads, you’re likely to win half your bets and lose the vig on the other half of your bets, resulting in a net loss.
- The second reason is that eventually, you’re going to learn how to properly handicap games, and you might be able to see lines with value that others miss before you handicap the games. Of course, you still have to handicap the games, but it might take a while before you know the difference between a too good to be true line that isn’t and a line that is that only you can see.
If a sports betting line looks too good to be true, the odds are that it’s a trap. But there’s a fine line between a line that’s too good to be true and a line that offers value. The key is learning how to tell the difference.
If you’re not an experienced sports gambler, avoid trap games by not betting when a line looks too good to be true. Then, as you gain experience, you can see if there’s value on the other side of the game.