Always Look at Sports Betting Underdogs First

Person Sports Betting With Laptop And Sports Betting Sites With Underdog

One of the things I like about betting at online sportsbooks is there’s not just one way to pick winners. Some successful handicappers find favorites to profit on using moneylines or spread lines that offer value. Other bettors find value in underdogs that have a chance to win the game outright.

Many sports bettors simply look for value, whether it’s on the favorite or underdog.

But one thing that all winning sports bettors have in common is their ability to handicap games and find value.

The way I find the most value is by looking at the underdogs first. Here’s some information to help you find more value on underdogs that I’ve used in the past.

Types of Underdogs

When you look at underdogs, you can look at the spread or the moneyline. Most of my underdog wagers are on spread bets, but I do make some moneyline bets that offer long term value.

The reason why I like underdog spread bets is because the outcome of any game is never 100% certain.

Underdogs can win a game outright or they can use the points they receive to win the bet. Sports teams don’t care about the spread. They are usually trying to win, so they keep fighting until the end.

Ravens Scoring Touchdown

This is why so many big favorites don’t cover the spread. They get a big lead and then let the other team fight back toward the end, even when the game is out of reach.

When I look at moneyline underdogs I use a simple calculation. I use my handicapping system to determine how often the underdog wins the game if it was played 100 times. Then I compare this to the extra money I win on the moneyline when the underdog wins, and if it’s positive I consider placing a wager.

Here’s an example of a value moneyline bet:
An underdog has a moneyline of +200. This means that if you make a $100 bet and the underdog wins you get back your $100 and a profit of $200. You handicap the game and determine that the underdog should win the game 40 out of 100 times, or 40%.

To find out if this is a profitable bet, you determine how much you need to risk to bet on the game 100 times and your return the 40 times the underdog wins.

Your total cost to bet the game 100 times is $10,000. When you win you get $300, including your bet. This is a return of $12,000 on the 40 wins. This means that if your handicapping method is correct this is a profitable bet.

You don’t find many moneyline wagers that are this clear cut. Most of them are too close to risk a bet. When this happens you should skip the game and look for a more profitable opportunity.

Home Underdogs

Home underdogs are my favorite group of dogs to look at. Every home underdog doesn’t offer value, but some of them do. These are the games where I invest most of my bankroll.

Home teams are more likely to perform up to expectations or exceed expectations.

Minnesota Vikings Homefield Advantage

The players get to stay at home before the game so they tend to be better rested. The home players also are able to maintain their normal routine leading up to the game.

If you track upsets in every sport, you’re going to find that the majority of them are home underdogs. With the added benefit of receiving points when you bet the underdog, you have two ways to win. The dog can win outright or play well enough to win with the extra points.

You still need to do a good job handicapping these games to find value. Many home underdogs don’t end up providing value, so don’t force these bets.

I also tend to make larger bets on home underdogs than average. My long term profits are higher in these situations, which probably has as much to do with my handicapping system as anything else.

Please Note:
Every handicapping system or model is different, so your might do a better job predicting winners using a different starting point than mine.

Road Underdogs

Before I explain how I bet on road underdogs, I want to make sure you understand something that’s very important. Betting on road underdogs is dangerous, and if you’re not a good handicapper it can cost you a great deal of money.

Road underdogs have everything working against them. They have to travel and home teams perform better on average than road teams. Even the best teams play worse on the road than they do at home.

Peyton Manning Traveling On Broncos Team Bus
The good news is that the online sportsbooks who set the lines take all of this into account. They adjust their lines against the road team, and sometimes they adjust them too much. When this happens you can find value.

So what I’m looking for when I consider betting on road underdogs are games where the sportsbook has overcompensated for the home team advantage.

Please Note:
The road underdog has to offer a clear value for me to place a bet, and I usually make smaller bets than when I find value on home underdogs.

Betting Favorites

I’ve talked about betting underdogs up to this point. But a good handicapper doesn’t care is they bet on the favorite or underdog, as long as they find value. Not everyone handicaps games the way I do, but many use something close.

When I handicap a game I determine a final score, or final spread that I believe is accurate. Some games are easier than others to predict. On the challenging games, I rarely place a bet.

If there’s not clear value on one side of a game based on the line, I save my money for a better opportunity.

When I use my system looking for underdogs who offer value, sometimes I find a line that is far from my prediction model. The first thing I do when this happens is take a close look at the way I handicapped the game to make sure I’m not missing something important.

If I don’t find a mistake in my handicapping, I’m then willing to place a bet based on the value between my prediction and the line. When the line shows value on the favorite, I don’t hesitate to bet the favorite.

Here’s an example of using value to bet the favorite:
I handicapped a college football game because the road team looked like it had a decent chance to win the game outright. From past experience I was sure the road team would be the underdog, so I wanted to determine how many points I needed to bet on them for value.

My handicapping showed that there was value on any line that gave the underdog five or more points. But when I looked at the line, the home team was only favored by one. A four point difference is big, so I evaluated the game again to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.

After looking at everything again, my evaluation still looked good. This meant that there was no value in betting on the underdog. For me to win the best getting only one point the underdog had to win the game.

You might wonder how my model could be so far off if I’m any good at handicapping.

The truth is that sometimes my model isn’t close, because no model is perfect.

But in this case what happened is that the public was strongly backing the road team and the line moved.

This is a clear sign that there’s value on the other side of the game.

I made a bet on the home favorite, giving one, and they ended up winning a close game by three points. In this case, my original prediction was good. If I was able to get a line at +5 or more I’d have won.

But the line showed value on the other side of the game and I took advantage of it.

The point I’m trying to make is you should never ignore value.

Sometimes the only value to be found is one the favorite, but you can still get to this point by looking at the underdogs first.


Underdogs on spread bets can help you win by winning the game outright or playing well enough to win with the points.

Every underdog doesn’t offer value, but if you do a good job handicapping games you can make a long term profit betting on underdogs.

Of course, you’re also going to find games where the favorite offers good value, so you need to be willing to take advantage of these opportunities when you find them. Winning sports bettors take advantage of every value bet they find.

Rex Hoffman / Author

Rex Hoffman is a passionate sports writer, with over five years of experience covering sports journalism in line with the Vegas betting landscape. His favorite subjects include football, basketball, and baseball. As a Las Vegas resident, he enjoys finding an edge against the local sportsbooks and aims to share his extensive knowledge with both beginners and experienced bettors. Rex also dabbles in horse racing wagering and enjoys typical casino fare like blackjack and poker in his spare time.

  1. Good points! I didn’t find a lot of good sports betting advices but this is really right. Always have a look at the underdog first. We do this in german football bundesliga with success for years even if a lot of people think it’s easier to bet on favourite winners.

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