Detecting Sucker Bets

By Loot, Sports Handicapper,

Sports Betting: Detecting a Sucker Bet

There is a balance in sports-betting, between finding good value on our wagers and not falling headlong for sucker bets. It can be a contradictory endeavor at times, as we look to get good value on our wagers. There is a difference between getting a good price and falling victim to a sucker bet.

From a value standpoint, we are attempting to find bets where the true (or what we perceive as true) chances of something happening are better than the odds being offered at the book. That could mean betting on a football team that should be a 4-5 point underdog that is getting a touchdown. Or betting on an MMA fighter (we offer free MMA picks!) who should be a -400 favorite, but is only -240. Or taking an underdog in baseball that is +280 that should in reality be only +160. Stuff like that.

Once we do things like that, we’re on our way. We’re not like some bettors who base everything solely on our opinion of who will win and damn what the odds are. That doesn’t get it done. We are value-oriented, looking to buy in on things where the price tag doesn’t represent the true worth of something. That’s good stuff and what we should be doing.

As our journey for exceptional value carries on, however, we will be faced with some bets that should make us say “hmm.” We want value, but when something strikes us as being too good to be true, we should pause for review. Let’s say you like a favorite in a college football game. You figure after all your handicapping that the favorite should be giving about 10 points. Then when the lines come out, you see the favored team is only -5.5.

Our sense of finding good value now needs to be tempered with some common sense. That point-spread seems like almost an invitation by the bookie to take the favorite. Why would they dangle that carrot out there like that for you, to hook you up with a good bet? Of course not. They’re trying to get you to take the favorite because the wise guys probably know something that you don’t.

Tip: Another sucker bet that 90% of sports bettors get sucked into is paying full price for odds. Most bettors lay -110 on football and basketball games. Did you know that you only have to lay -105 odds when you make your bets at BetAnySports? They pay fast too!

In the 2012 season, I was about to bet the San Diego Chargers at home against the Carolina Panthers. The Chargers looked like maybe they were going to get on a roll after beating Pittsburgh on the road the previous week. I expected the Chargers at home to be favorites to the tune of -5.5 to -7, hoping it was on the lower end of that range. Then I saw the spreads and it was only San Diego -3. It was like they were begging me to take the Chargers. I laid off the bet and the Panthers went on to slay the Chargers 31-7.

A few years ago, there was a middleweight fight between Daniel “The Golden Child” Jacobs and Russian import Dmitry Pirog. Jacobs was ballyhooed as a top prospect, winning a lot of Best Up-and-Comer awards from various publications and websites. He was getting a major push from HBO and had wowed audiences with some impressive performances. Pirog, meanwhile, was an almost-totally anonymous fighter. He was unbeaten, but no one had really seen him.

Usually, the more known quality in Jacobs would be a pretty significant favorite in a fight like that, like in the -400 range. So it raised eyebrows when Jacobs was listed as a modest -150 favorite, with Pirog getting a lot of respect at +120. My first thought, as the book wanted me to think, was how good of a price that was on Jacobs. Sensing something was askew, I decided to delve in on Pirog’s career, finding he was a real diamond-in-the-rough, a complete fighter with unique skills, so I took a stab at +120, knowing there was a good reason why he was getting such a low price considering his unknown status. He knocked Jacobs out cold. It wasn’t even close.

The books are in business year after year for a reason. It’s not by accident. And one thing they tend not to do is serve up gifts for bettors. So when we stumble upon a line or point-spread that looks too good to be true, we need to find the invisible line in the sand that separates good-value bets and sucker bets.

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