Simple Football Betting Systems
A lot of people completely misunderstand the concept of betting systems. This is not necessarily their fault, as the term can actually be used in a few different contexts. For the sake of this article, please consider a betting system to be a simple strategy that you can employ to improve your chances of winning.
It's important to take the above definition literally. The football betting systems we describe in this article can give you a better chance of making money, but they can't GUARANTEE that you will. That's simply not how betting works. There isn't a magical formula that will deliver a steady stream of winners if you just follow it step by step. Successful betting is about combining sports knowledge, handicapping skills, and various systems and strategies in order to consistently make good decisions.
In betting terms, good decisions are decisions which have what is known as positive expected value. This basically means that they should return a profit in the long run. No-one can achieve a 100% hit rate with their wagers, but making good decisions does generally pay off over time. The purpose of this article is to provide you with some systems that will help you to make good decisions more frequently.
Don't expect these systems to make you rich, as they probably won't do that. They are mostly very straightforward, and aimed primarily at beginners and recreational bettors who want some simple "rules" to follow. Essentially they're just a selection of tips that we recommend taking under consideration. They can also help you to develop good betting habits and think about betting in the right way. Please note that we've not listed these systems in any particular order.
Utilize Bonuses & Rewards
If you do your football betting online (and you should do), then you're already aware that most sports betting sites give away various bonuses and rewards to their customers. Simply opening a new account and making a deposit will usually earn you a bonus, and other available rewards are based on monthly betting activity. Taking full advantage of these bonuses and rewards is perhaps not a strategy in the strictest sense of the word, but it's certainly an excellent way to grow your football betting bankroll.
For more information on maximizing the added value you can get from sports betting sites, please read our article on sports betting bonuses and rewards.
Shop for Best Prices
The odds and lines for football games are not always the same at every bookmaker. They don't tend to vary by a lot, but they do vary. It's very much in your best interests to always try to place your wagers where you can get the best value. A half point difference on a spread or a couple of points difference on the odds may not seem like a big deal, but over time these small differences can add up. By opening accounts with a few different sites, you can easily shop around for the best odds and lines. This is one of the best ways to maximize potential profits.
You should have accounts at at least a few different betting sites to make shopping around for the best prices as easy as possible. Make sure you only use suitable sites though, such as our top ranked football betting sites.
Bet Based on Motivation Factor
Some professional bettors and experts say that motivation factor is an overrated concept in football betting, but we wholeheartedly disagree. In fact, we think the complete opposite and believe it to be something that is overlooked too often. Betting based on motivation factor can be a useful way to make selections, and it's a very easy system to follow.
The idea is basically to study the previous week's results, and look for any games that were either blowouts (one-side victories) or heartbreakers (won by late heroics).
Teams that get blown-out frequently bounce back the following week with a great performance, so are often worth backing. Teams who blowout their opponents, on the other hand, can struggle to perform to the same heights the following week, perhaps because of over confidence. It's often worth betting against these teams.
Teams that win a game from behind by pulling off a late miracle can often lose focus on the next match. The sheer exhilaration of what they just went through has its effect, so you should consider betting against teams that have just won in such circumstances. On the other hand, a team that has just lost in those circumstances is going to be determined to put in a good performance. They could be a good team to back.
Please note that you probably don't want to use the motivation factor in isolation of other factors that can affect a team's chances of winning. It's definitely worth taking into account though.
Exploit The Bye Week
Many recreational bettors don't pay any attention to bye weeks. More specifically, they don't pay any attention to how they can affect a team's chances of winning. Statistical analysis has shown that teams coming off a bye week have a higher than average win rate, and this is something that can be exploited when betting on games.
However, this doesn't mean that you should automatically back a team just because they had no game the previous week. You need to be a little smarter than that. Further analysis of the stats shows that the better teams tend to do well coming off the bye week, but the poor teams don't perform noticeably better. A strong team might therefore be a good pick following their bye week, but a poor team probably wouldn't.
As with so many systems, this doesn't really stand up as a method for picking selections by itself. It needs to be used in conjunction with other considerations. It's clearly something to bear in mind though, as the stats do support that bye weeks do have an impact on results.
Be Aware of Look Ahead Games
When a team is a particularly strong favorite for a game, it's natural to assume that they're going to win easily. Indeed, teams that are big favorites do win far more often than they lose. That's great if you're placing moneyline wagers, as you only need them to win the match, but it doesn't necessarily help when betting on the point spread. Being a strong favorite usually means having to cover a large spread.
It's tough to know how likely a strong favorite is to cover a large spread, but there are some particular circumstances when it's quite likely that they won't. If a team happens to face "easy" opposition one week and then much tougher opposition the following week, there's a very good chance that most of their focus will be on the harder game. They probably won't lose the easier game, but they may well struggle to cover the spread.
A good system to consider is therefore trying to spot situations like this. When you see that a team has an easy game followed by a much harder one, look to bet against the spread in the first game.
Look for Correlated Parlays
Parlays are generally considered to be bad bets, that don't offer much value. There are, however, some occasions where parlays can actually offer better value than straight bets. A specific example is when a correlated parlay exists. These are not particularly easy to find, but when you do find them you should definitely try to take advantage.
Correlated parlays are possible when there's a situation where if one thing happens, something else is likely to happen too. Let's use an example in context to make this a bit clearer. Imagine a game where the over/under is set at 32.5 points and the spread is 21 points. If the favorite covers the spread, there's a very good chance that the total points scored will be 33 or more. It therefore makes a lot of sense to place a parlay combining a wager on the over on a wager on the favorite to cover the spread. This offers better overall value than the two wagers made separately.
We've simplified the whole concept of correlated parlays here, but you can read more about this strategy in our article on betting football parlays.
Focus on a Niche
There's a lot to be said for specializing when it comes to betting. The more attention you can give a particular niche, the more likely you are to do well. A good system for football betting could therefore be to focus on a single NFL conference. This might mean less betting opportunities, but could definitely make for more accurate predictions. You could even go a step further and focus on a specific NCAA conference. If you went for one of the smaller ones, you may be able to gain an edge over the bookmakers. They don't dedicate the same time and resources to pricing up matches from those.
Bet at the Right Time
Smart bettors tend to back the underdogs and get their money on early, while the average bettors tend to back favorites and get their money on much closer to game time. This is by no means an absolute rule, not even close in fact, but it is something to bear in mind. It means that the best odds and lines for backing a favorite are generally available a few days before a game, and the best odds and lines for backing an underdog are available within a day or so of a game. This is due to the way bookmakers change their prices on the money they take.
Therefore, there is some merit in timing your wagers based on what you're backing. When going for an underdog, bet late. When going for a favorite, bet early.
Bet According To Confidence
This is a simple, but entirely, logical approach to trying to maximize the amounts you win and minimize the amounts you lose. The idea is to assign some kind of rating to every potential wager based on how confident you are of it winning. A higher rating means a higher stake, and a lower rating means a lower stake. In theory this should mean better overall returns, as the wagers you're most confident in should win the most often.
The problem with this system is obvious. It only works if your confidence levels truly reflect the chances of a wager winning. If they don't, it's effectively useless.
There is a sports betting strategy that is based largely on this principle, and it's one that many professional bettors use. If you're interested in learning more, please read our article on The Kelly Criterion Staking Plan.
Follow Your Hunches
The last "system" in this article is one that most betting experts would explicitly advise against. However, although it's not exactly a recipe for long term success, trusting your instinct from time to time is really not the worst strategy in the world. This is especially the case if you're generally quite knowledgeable about football and able to make reasonably accurate predictions based solely on that knowledge.
We wouldn't go as far as suggesting you should just follow your hunches for every single game you bet on, particularly if your ultimate goal is to make long term profits. If you bet primarily for the entertainment value, though, there's nothing wrong with simply having faith in your own instinctive judgements.
As we've tried to make abundantly clear, the systems we've written about here are just a few simple methods that should give you a better overall chance of winning some money. They should not be considered shortcuts to success, and indeed there are no shortcuts to success. The only way that anyone can make money out of football betting for a sustained period is by putting in significant time and effort.
That fact doesn't stop some people looking for shortcuts though. This invariably leads to making mistakes, and a particularly common mistake is spending money on touts who sell picks. There are loads of individuals and companies selling picks for football matches, and the vast majority of them are far better at sales and marketing than they are at making accurate predictions.
Touts can often sound very convincing. They can come up with editorials such as "since 1993, home teams, playing on a Monday night, on artificial turf, after losing their previous game are 7-0 against the point spread." They can tell you how poorly a quarterback has done the last few games on the road, or how great a defensive line has been at home during a season. Basically, they can find all sorts of ways to support their picks. That's exactly what most of them are doing though, finding ways to support their picks rather than actually trying to make good picks in the first place. However impressive they might seem, there's every chance that a tout is nothing more than a slick salesman.
We're not saying that all services providing picks are bad. There are some good ones out there, but they're not easy to find and they're certainly not cheap. If you're only betting for fun, you don't need these services anyway. If you're serious about making money, there are much better ways to spend your time and money. Don't look for shortcuts, and please don't blindly put your faith in someone else to find your winning picks.
Author: Jim Griffin
Updated: September 2015
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