The traditional way for sports bettors to try to make money is by handicapping games and looking for value on the offered lines. While finding good lines is important for every sports bettor, handicapping can be hard.
Sportsbooks invest a great deal of time into getting good lines, because they make money by doing so. As the books get smarter, it gets harder and harder to handicap games and find true value.
While I still do some traditional handicapping, over the years I’ve started trying to find easier ways to make betting decisions. I’ve put together some of the top easy ways in the lazy sport’s bettor guide below.
If you’re looking for simple ways to pick teams or are an experienced handicapper looking for an extra edge, the information below can help.
Moneyline wagers are my favorite lazy method of sports betting. Handicapping games against the spread is hard, but it’s usually easy to pick straight up winners. Of course, the downside when you’re trying to pick moneyline winners is that when you back heavy favorites you risk a lot for a small return.
And when you back underdogs, you can win more than you risk, but you don’t win as often as when you back favorites. While it can be good and bad, the truth is that sometimes favorites lose and sometimes underdogs win.
Betting on moneyline favorites and underdogs is really two different things. Your thought process needs to be different when looking at each side, so I’ve divided them up into their own sections below. But in the end, if you look at one side and determine it’s a bad bet, the other side might be a good one. But don’t determine the other side is good value just because one side isn’t. Many games don’t offer value on either side.
Picking favorites is pretty easy, but when one of your picks get upset it can wipe out a bunch of profit. My favorite sports for picking moneyline favorites are NCAA football and MLB.
In NCAA football, every week there are games where a powerhouse team is facing a cellar dweller. Some of these games are predicted to be so lopsided that the books don’t even offer a moneyline. It’s best to focus most of your wagers on home team favorites, but the best teams play almost as well on the road as they do at home.
MLB offers a neat trick that lazy sport’s bettors can use. The best teams rarely get swept in a series, and even the worst teams rarely get swept in a series at home. When you’re betting on MLB moneyline favorites, look for the best teams in the game. When they’re playing teams in the bottom half of the league, bet on the favorite in the first game of the series.
If they get upset, bet on them again in the second game. You have to bet enough to cover your losses from the first game, but the odds are even better than they win the second game. Do the same thing if they happen to lose the first two games of the series.
This method can get costly if the favorite happens to get swept, but good teams don’t have extended losing streaks, so you should be able to win one of their games soon, especially if your bankroll is big enough to suffer a few losses.
You can look for moneyline favorites in other sports, but I try to avoid the NFL. NFL games have tighter lines than any other sport, so they tend to be harder to beat in the long run.
Betting on moneyline underdogs can be exciting and offer a nice payday when one of your teams pulls off the big upset. But you don’t have to bet on big underdogs to have a chance to win. Sometimes slight underdogs can offer a good value.
When you bet on big underdogs, you don’t have to win many games to make up for many losses. Big underdogs pay out big returns when they win, so you don’t have to risk much on the games. I like to bet $10 per game on a couple of big underdogs every week in the NCAA football season.
Every year you see a few heavy favorites lose. By betting a small amount, I don’t risk much, it gives me a reason to watch the games, and when my team gets lucky I have a nice payday.
Also, remember in the last section I told you about the trick available in MLB? The other side of it is betting on home underdogs. If you look at the results from the past several MLB seasons you can see that very few home teams get swept.
You can use this information to bet on MLB home underdogs starting with the first game of the series, but it might be smarter to wait until they lose the first game of the series. Then bet on the underdog for the second game, and double up on the third game if they lose the first two.
Unlike when you bet on favorites, you don’t have to bet as much on the game after a loss when you bet on underdogs.
In every sport, the first thing I look at when picking underdogs are home teams that aren’t favored. The best chance an underdog has to pull an upset is when they play at home. You still have to consider many other factors, but I rarely bet on underdogs on the road.
When looking for moneyline underdog wagers is if the dog is more rested than the favorite. This comes into play more in the NBA and MLB than in football, but it can happen in the NFL when teams play on Monday or Thursday and in the NCAA when a team has an off week.
You should also consider how far teams have to travel and how the predicted weather might change the game. I realize that this is beginning to sound more and more like traditional handicapping, but none of these things require too much time and effort. And the more you learn about a contest, the better your chances to pick a winner, whether that’s a favorite or an underdog.
Handicapping Against the Spread Shortcuts
I’m going to discuss betting against the spread, also known as ATS, in the next section. But in this section, I’m going to give you a few tips for handicapping games ATS. Because this page is about finding easy betting methods, all of these are short and simple.
Betting against the spread is what most punters know as traditional line betting. One side is favored and the other side is the underdog. The favorite gives points and the underdog receives points.
Here’s an example:
- Bills +7
- Dolphins -7
In this game, the Bills are playing at the Dolphins, and the Dolphins are favored by 7 points. If you bet on the Bills you get 7 points, and if you bet on the Dolphins you give 7 points. Often, the number is only listed on the favorite, so the + 7 wouldn’t be listed by the Bills.
1. Focus on less popular sports. The more popular the sport, the tighter the lines tend to be. Smaller conference NCAA football and basketball games often have soft lines, and the NHL isn’t popular. MLB has so many games on the schedule that you can find value lines if you’re a big enough baseball fan that you know the game and players well.
2. Use all of the available resources. The internet is filled with stats and details about every team. Most teams have multiple people in the media covering them and sending out details on Twitter every day. You can subscribe to advanced statistical services for most leagues, but just about everything you need is available for free if you know where to look.
3. Become an expert on a few teams. It’s possible to learn more about a few teams than the sportsbooks know. It takes a great deal of time, but if you’re a fan and enjoy following the latest sports news, you can build a knowledge base to help you make profitable wagers.
4. Over/under lines can be tricky, but once you learn what you’re doing to can find soft ones, especially on less popular sports and games.
5. Make sure you understand how lines work in MLB and the NHL before you start placing bets. They’re called puck lines in the NHL and run lines in MLB. I rarely bet puck and run lines, sticking to moneylines, but if you specialize you can find success with run and puck lines.
6. Never underestimate home field advantage. You need to factor it in before you make any wager. Of course, it’s possible to put too much emphasis on home field advantage too. Keep it in mind, but try to learn to factor it into the mix at the correct level.
7. Football lines have important levels. Lines at 3, 7, 10, and 14 are important because field goals are worth 3 points and touchdowns with extra points are worth 7. Many football games end in score differences at these point differentials. Look for lines that cross these levels. Betting a line getting 3½ points is much better than 3.
Here’s the laziest way to bet on sports. It’s so easy anyone can do it. And in the long run you won’t lose much money, if even if it seems like you’re unlucky. And when you combine it with a risky strategy that I’ll explain shortly, you might even be able to turn a long term profit.
The easiest way to bet on sports is to simply flip a coin to pick games, or just bet on your favorite teams and not worry about handicapping.
If you use this method, you can still help your long term results by finding the best lines. Don’t look at lines until you pick a team to bet on. You can bet on your favorite teams, or pick a random game and flip a coin to determine which side to bet on.
Once you know the team you want to bet on look at the available lines and pick the best one for your team. I recommend using this method against the spread, but you can use it for moneyline bets as well.
The reason I recommend using it for against the spread bets instead of the moneyline is because when you give or receive points the lines are designed to roughly equal out. If you bet on enough games you’re going to win roughly half of them, so you have a roughly 50 / 50 chance to win any game you pick at random.
When you pick winners 50% of the time, you still lose the vig on half your bets, but it’s the only cost in the long run. In addition to finding the best line, if you can find reduced vig you reduce your cost even more.
You decide to bet on an NFL game between the Bengals and the Browns. You flip a coin and decide to bet on the Browns. You check the lines at three different sportsbooks, and see the following options.
- Bengals –3
- Bengals –3½
- Bengals –4
Because you’re betting on the browns, you bet at the third book, taking the Browns and getting 4 points. The third sportsbook is also running a promotion that lets you bet at 105 to win 100 instead of the traditional 110 to win 100. This combines the best line and a lower vig.
But what if the first sportsbook is offering reduced vig instead of the third one? You have three choices when this happens. You can still bet with the third book, bet with the first book because of the reduced vig, or switch and take the Bengals at the first book instead of the Browns.
In the long run, you’re better off taking the reduced vig no matter which team you decide to back. You can even flip a coin to determine which side to back when you find reduced vig, instead of using a coin to pick teams before you look at lines.
Now let’s look at a risky strategy that you can use to possibly show a long term profit while picking teams at random.
Before I explain the doubling up strategy I want to make sure you understand that it definitely doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to win. It comes with a risk of losing a huge amount of money sometimes, and the rewards are fairly small in comparison in the long run. If a high-risk low reward gamble is acceptable, this system can work for a long time.
With a 50 / 50 chance of picking winners, the odds of winning or losing several games in a row are small. But long streaks do happen from time to time. When a long losing streak happens, it either wipes out your bankroll or requires you to have a huge bankroll to keep going.
Here are the percentage odds of picking a loser on a random 50 / 50 bet:
You can look at the numbers to see how often, or the percent chance, that you lose a certain number of games in a row. Your chances of losing two games in a row are 25% and your chances of losing 6 games in a row are 1.5625%.
Knowing this, if you have a big enough bankroll and the stomach for it, you can double your bets after losses. If you win a game before you run out of money you make enough to cover your previous losses and turn a profit.
But there’s one more problem with this method. Because of the vig, you have to bet slightly more than twice your previous wager. Here’s a list of what you have to bet, using the traditional 11 to 10 vig structure.
|Bet Amount||To Win|
Every time you win a bet you win roughly $10 and cover all of your previous losses. If you lose seven games in a row, you’re betting $1,920.59 on the eighth game for a chance to show a profit of $10. Looking at the earlier chart, you lose seven games in a row less than 1% of the time.
While 1% is low, it still happens once out of every 100 times. Can you afford to lose as much money as it requires to keep going on a long losing streak?
I recommend using the flipping coins method if you want to bet on sporting events with the least amount of work as possible, but I don’t recommend using the doubling up method unless you have plenty of money you can afford to use and are able to make huge bets for small returns. Most people should avoid doubling up.
An easy way to make bets that have a chance to show a long term profit without much work is something I call middling. Middling is finding lines at different sportsbooks that have enough of a gap where you can bet on both sides of a game and win both sides when the score ends up in the middle.
You’re looking at NFL lines for an upcoming game between the Colts and the Texans. Here are the available lines at two sportsbooks.
- Texans –5½
- Texans –6½
You can place a bet on the Colts at the second book and get 6½ points, while placing a bet at the first book on the Texans, and give 5½ points. If the Texans win by 6 points, you win both sides of the bet. Any other final score means you lose one side of the game and win the other.
But you don’t break even when you win one side and lose the other. You lose the vig on one side.
Here are the possible outcomes:
You place a bet of 110 to win 100 on each side.
If the Texans win by 6, you win 200.
When the Texans don’t win by 6, you lose 110 on one side and win 100 on the other side, for a loss of 10.
This means that you only have to win one middle game out of 21 to break even. If you can win one out of 20 or less, you turn a profit.
Is finding games that offer a middle opportunity. In order to find middle opportunities, you have to have access to as many sportsbooks as possible and be able to place your bets quickly when you find a middle.
If you find middles and can afford to bet them, it’s one of the easiest ways to bet on sports without doing much work. Lines are usually fairly good at predicting outcomes, so you have a good chance to win one out of 20 or less.
You don’t have to work hard to be a successful sports bettor. Every trick you learn can make sports betting easier. Use all of the tips and tricks on the lazy sport’s bettor guide to reduce the time you spend handicapping games.
Every sports bettor should take advantage of middling opportunities. The easiest method to pick games is the coin flip method, but don’t chase losses doubling up unless you have a big bankroll and are willing to risk losing it all.