Watching sports is an exercise of pure emotion. Sure, the athletes are center stage, playing their hearts out, and playing the game you all love. You, however, are on the couch yelling your lungs out, screaming at the ref, or invoking your good luck charm.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with letting your emotions run a little wild when watching a game. It’s part of the fun. However, that little bit of emotion can be the absolute death of your bankroll if you decide to bet with your feelings.
For the most part, unless you’re a hyper-disciplined gambler, the smart money says you should never bet on your favorite team, alma mater, most-respected athlete, etc.
Most people do not have the analytical chops to remove their feelings about their team from the cold logic that should rule their sports betting choices.
With that said, normally, if you’re a fan of a team, it can give you insights into their performance that Vegas might not have. Because of this, there are a few (and I mean very few) cases where it’s okay to make a bet on your favorite team. However, keep these tips in mind before you do.
Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet in any circumstance. These are just things to consider when you place your bets.
1 — When in Doubt, Don’t Bet
It’s probably a strange place to start, but I want you to remember that just because you can bet on your favorite team does not mean you have to. You want to be sure that the bet you place has a reasonable chance of winning. If you’re not sure, you shouldn’t place the bet.
Again, when most normal fans feel an upsurge of emotion (pride, disgust, or both) about their team, that emotion can feel a lot like fact when you’re standing at the bookie’s window getting ready to place a bet. It’s not.
For instance, if you’re from Massachusetts, how easy is it to “know” that Tom Brady will throw for at least three touchdowns a game. If you’re from Golden State, you feel like you “know” Steph Curry will score at least 50 points every game, except you don’t actually know.
The Patriots might be focused on their run game and Golden State might be playing a tough defense. Therefore, if you’re not completely logically sure, bet another game. Your wallet will thank you. With that said, now we can look at times when it makes sense to bet on your favorite team.
2 — Local Turmoil Causing a Distraction
When you have a favorite team, even if you don’t live near them, you tend to be more dialed into what’s going on.
For instance, you’re more likely to read the local sports page, listen to local sports stations, watch local sports television, and so on. From local coverage, you may be able to glean some nuggets.
Pay attention to these tidbits. If you think it makes your team more or less susceptible to losing, you can bet on the game.
3 — Rivalry Games
One of the greatest things about sports is the rivalries. There’s nothing like hunkering down with your favorite game-day meal and beverage and watching your team bash into your hated rival. Winning a bet makes it even better.
Here’s the thing… Even in the world of sports, which is driven by emotion, rivalries take that to the next level.
Rivalry games are often more physical, more brutal, and, sometimes, are much closer than they have any right to be on paper.
Therefore, if the sports line is showing your favorite team is a big underdog against a rival, that could be the time to bet. We’re not saying your team is going to win, we’re just saying they may win against the spread.
4 — Favorable Pitching Match Up
If your favorite team happens to play baseball, then you have an additional betting opportunity to your advantage. When you have a favorable pitching matchup that isn’t obvious to Vegas, go for it. With all due respect to handicappers (who are incredibly smart, detailed individuals), they may not know the ins and outs of the hot streak your fifth starter has against a certain team.
Because you listen to your team’s broadcasts and follow them religiously, you just might have that valuable insight. You might also know that the pitcher has a vendetta against the other team or something like that. If you have this information, you should heavily consider betting on the game.
5 — Home Court Advantage Has Been Undervalued
When it comes to determining sports lines, the home team is always given a certain advantage. Playing at home offers a number of advantages for teams, like sleeping in their own bed, no jet lag, crowds cheering them on, the motivation to perform well, etc.
Sometimes, though, home field offers disadvantages like pressure to perform, a field that was used for a college game or concert the night before, etc. Again, this is an example of using local information about the game to your betting advantage.
If you think your team (or your opponent playing at home) hasn’t had their home field properly factored into the line, you can consider betting on the game. On the other hand, consider this carefully, because home field advantage is a bit of a guessing game, and it factors in a lot of emotion.
6 — Your Coach Chokes Under Just the Right Circumstances
No one likes to think about their coach choking (or playing poorly or having bad luck), but it happens. Sports is rife with examples of students who can never beat the coach that mentored them or new coaches who can’t beat the coach they replaced, etc.
Heck, at one time, Coach Bill Self of the University of Kansas couldn’t beat a team that started with the letter B in games in May.
The coach of your favorite team may also have a similar tendency to do poorly in certain games. If you have proof (in other words statistics or numbers that bear out such streaks), then you could possibly find a reason to bet on your favorite team. Just be careful. Eventually, these “choking” streaks tend to right themselves.
7 — Weather Conditions
Sometimes, being a local means knowing the weather better than Vegas oddsmakers. Clearly, this only counts for outdoor sports and, given changes in sports equipment and ball construction, matters less and less every season.
Still, if the forecast around the beginning or middle of the week called for sunshine but towards the end of the week, things look like rain when your favorite team plays, you might have a reason to bet on them.
Make sure that you’re reasonably certain that the weather will change and that the line hasn’t moved a few points since the weather reports started coming in.
Also, be sure that your team isn’t affected by the change in weather. A finesse team playing in a blizzard is going to be a lot worse off than a power team playing in a little drizzle.
Betting on your favorite team is always going to be risky. It’s hard not to “know” that your starting player isn’t going to rack up 10 touchdowns all by himself and place a bet based off that “knowledge.” Still, there are times when you can predict demonstrable facts and bet on them accordingly.
Still, the key to these circumstances is that each of them are less of a gut feeling and more like something that you can pinpoint and evaluate logically before placing your bet.
Still, I’m not trying to tell anyone that I’ve cracked the code on betting my favorite team and, in fact, all of this advice should be considered very carefully before you place a bet.
Still, if you’re the type of sports fan that prefers to watch a game when you have more than a little rooting interest, at least you have some factors to consider when you place your bet. Still, at the end of the day, sometimes it’s better to bet a different game. That way, it doesn’t sting twice as bad when your team loses and you lose your bet.