Sports Betting Systems

By Loot, Sports Handicapper,

In sports betting, a system is a way of betting predicated on some type of formula or conditions. In other words, you don’t really handicap games–you just pluck in variables and if they meet a pre-determined set of conditions, the bet is placed. A system could come in the form of a numerical formula, where the bettor plays with the numbers in an effort to turn a profit. Or it could be based on actual game conditions. It is based on past data to find a weakness in a line and create, supposedly, a statistical edge.

An example of a football betting system would be a football bettor who always bets on home underdogs of more than 3 points. Or a baseball betting system, a bettor who always bets on a team coming off a day loss playing a team coming off an evening win in the first game of a series. It can get downright convoluted. A system could be to bet on any NBA team that is a 6.5 to 9-point underdog on the road coming off 2 home losses against non-division teams.

Situational Systems: This is any sports gambling system that uses established conditions in a game to exploit a line as being weak. It might be to always bet against an NBA team coming off 3 games in 4 nights. Or to always take the over in a Monday Night Football game involving NFC North teams. It could be a million different things.

First of all, respect the bookie. And admire his ability to adjust. Notice how only a few percent of players succeed at this, while almost every bookie thrives. By the time you notice a pattern, the bookie has surely done so, as well. There might be people out there who tapped into a system and are exploiting it for all its worth. Good for them. By in large, however, your recognition of a pattern will be accompanied by the bookie acting against it and thus depriving it of its value.

Many betting systems are based on very short windows of something happening. You might hear something like Stanford is 13-7 against-the-spread in their last 20 games against non-conference opponents at home. If you flipped a coin 20 times and hit heads 13 times, would that mean that from here on out, heads is the bet to make?

Line Movement Systems: This system relies on looking at how the lines are moving. Bettors try to see where the “smart” money is going. The big players in the sports betting world can singlehandedly move lines with monstrous bets. Bettors look for “steam”–when a lot of action suddenly comes in on one side, causing the line to move.

There is also reverse line movement, when the public is heavily one-siding a certain team, but the line is actually moving the other way. That peculiar move would cause a person using this system to bet against the public.

With line movement systems, there are a few problems. Firstly, people think “smart” money wins more than it does, with the real movers-and-shakers lucky to clock in at 60% winners. It’s not infallible. In addition, by the time smart money acts to a point where you were able to notice it, you are no longer getting the same value.

Regression System: This is when the past is used to determine the most important variables of a game, with point systems then being assigned to the different factors. This model attaches weight to each potential factor, with the bettor then assigning credit to the teams along these different lines in an effort to come up with the soundest calculation of how a game will go. If the result of this analysis suggests the point-spread or odds are off by a certain threshold, a bet is placed. A main limitation of this is that today is not yesterday and sports is not played in a laboratory or on paper.

Double-Up System: Many forms of gambling have made people at least ponder this tactic before. If you lose, you double your bet and keep doing so until you recover. If you win, you pocket the money. Sounds good. And you know what, there have been people who have actually gotten this to work for a while. Then again, you’re never too far from oblivion. All it takes is one extended losing streak to put you on the extinction list.

Start betting $200 on games. Now lose 8 in a row and you’re betting 25 grand. It may seem you can avoid an 8-game losing streak and for the most part you will. All it takes is one and you’re wiped out playing this way. And not a lot of people have bankrolls or enough heart to take this system to the absolute edge.


When it occurs to us that system-players in all forms of gambling have the red carpet rolled out for them by casinos–we should think twice before subscribing to one. Remember when your dad told you there is no substitute for hard work. Admittedly, he probably wasn’t thinking about sports betting when he gave you that good advice. But it still applies. The bookies are the almighty power in sports wagering. To beat them, we’re going to need to be more innovative.

If you’re making money had-over-fist betting a system, more power to you. At the same time, most pushers of sports betting systems are scammers. At the end of the day, we want to use information from the past, but not to the point where we fail to acknowledge the full ramifications of the present. Most systems take us away from that dynamic.

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