3 Mar

Understand the Handicapper – Be the Handicapper

Learn what it takes to become a sports handicapper.

Learn what it takes to become a sports handicapper.They say there’s no exact science to gambling; that it all comes down to chance. The truth is, there’s a scientific method that can be applied to most forms of betting. The problem is that such methods cannot legitimately “guarantee” a win. So it’s true that luck will inevitably play its role in every bet. What’s also true is that, by applying the right strategy, you can increase, if not significantly increase, the odds of your success.

In sports betting, this type of strategy is known as “handicapping”. In this simple assessment, you’ll come to understand the handicapper, and—should you feel so inclined—how to become a handicapper.

What is Handicapping?

To put it simply, handicapping is when someone makes an educated guess as to who will win a match-up in a sporting event.

These aren’t just random guesses, mind you. They are not derived from the most basic info, like who beat who last week, or which teams scored the most points in recent games. It’s a genuinely educated guess, based on a list of logical reasons why one side should win over another.

What is a Handicapper?

A handicapper is simply someone who engages in handicapping. If you fancy yourself a devoted fan of any sport, odds are you’ve done some amateur handicapping already.

Have you ever looked at the schedule of games on any given NFL Sunday and thought to yourself, oh (Team A) is going to crush (Team B). Maybe it went something like this:

Oh man, the Packers are going to crush the Vikings today! They’ve got a way better passing game and lead the leagues in QB-pressuring defense, not to mention Minnesota’s running back is out for two more weeks with an injury. It’s a lock!”

This is exactly the kind of things handicappers think about. They know the sport inside and out. They know the current stats. They’re aware of player issues and injuries. This information gives them the ability to make highly educated guesses as to who will win, then use that knowledge to make smarter betting decisions.

Amateur vs. Professional Handicappers

There are two types of handicappers—amateurs and professionals.

An amateur handicapper is someone who utilizes handicapping (exceptional knowledge of a sport) to look for value in sports betting lines, then bets his/her own money on those lines.

A professional handicapper is someone who uses handicapping knowledge to come up with a list of betting picks for one or more sports categories, then sells that information to others for money. Some handicappers do so well as a commercial pick service, they don’t even bother with the gambling side of it.

How do Handicappers Analyze Sports Games?

There are two main ingredients to any good sports handicapping recipe. The first is research; cold, stark, fact-based research into the sport, the teams, the players, and a multitude of outlying factors. The second is intuition. You know what I’m talking about. When you’re watching Sports Center, and everyone is throwing their support behind the same team, but you’re gut is telling you they’re all wrong.

Both research and intuition are considered valuable in handicapping, but research plays the dominate role. You can make educated picks with research alone, but it would be unwise to ignore the facts and trust your gut alone. The magic occurs when both research and intuition land on the same side of the fence.

When a handicapper has this strong feeling that one team will pull out a win, and they can produce factual research to back up that prediction, odds are that selection is going to make the MVP (most valuable pick) list.

Finding the Right Analytical Data

So what type of information are they looking for, exactly? It all depends on the sport in question. The more you know about a particular sport, the easier it is to recognize the most important factors.

In boxing, for example, it’s all about strength, stamina, reach, power and experience. If a fighter is used to bringing down their opponent in TKO fashion within 3-4 rounds, they might not have the stamina to go 10-12 against a resilient fighter who can withstand powerful blows.

For team-based sports like football, there’s so much more to be considered. A handicapper will write down all sorts of stats, from current division and conference standings, to points scored (offense) and allowed (defense) per quarter, per half, and per game, all season long. They’ll compare these stats between the two teams. They take into account a team’s defense against the run and against the pass, versus the opponents propensity for run/pass yardage. Recent trades can add or subtract value from a team. Player injuries and recoveries can impact short-term performance.

Other important factors include things like home team advantage, tendencies of the coaching staff, and in outdoor stadiums, the weather forecast. The more intelligent thought and statistical data that goes into a handicapping strategy, the more effective it’s likely to be.

What it Takes to Become a Sports Handicapper

If you have a genuine passion for a sport, you may have what it takes to be a successful handicapper. The only way to find out is to give it a try. Fortunately, you can do this for free, without taking any monetary risks.

I would suggest coming up with a list of stats and other data you feel is important to your chosen sports. The more categories of information, the better. Then, come up with a points system, based on the relevance of each category. The more relevant the category, the more points it’s worth.

For example, in NFL, major team stats should be worth 1-10 points. These would include things like rushing, passing, rush defense, and pass defense. The team’s best receiver could have a 1-5 rating, as would a defense’s top cornerback, as they may be able to shut down the top WR. Continue down the stats list, assigning point values to each. I would suggest making yourself a nice, neat spreadsheet for handicapping.

Next, it’s time to put all this work to good use. Pick an upcoming NFL game and input all your data. Do your research. Evaluate the players, teams, and coaching staffs, accounting for trades, injuries, weather, etc. Decide what point value each of these categories is worthy of, then add them all up. This will give you a total for each side. Whichever team has the highest total points is the one your handicapping data suggests will win. The larger the margin of points, the greater you can estimate one team’s margin of victory.

Do this for every game of the week. Write down all your picks for all the week’s games, making note of the ones you feel most strongly about, then see how well you did at the end of the week. How many of your picks won and lost? How many of the picks you felt the most confident about were correct? How accurate was your points system overall? If your points system called for a close game, how close was it? In matches where you came up with a lop-sided points assessment, was the final score also dominated by your chosen team?

If you find your system to be successful, keep it up. Make adjustments to your points system as needed. If you keep with it, continue learning and making adjustments, you may find soon enough that you’re correctly calling at least 55% of your matches. Once that happens, it’s time to put your money where your data is.

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