Betting Football Games Early

College Football Betting: The Benefits and Downfalls of Betting a Game Early

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

College football ends on Saturday. The lines come out early in the week. that leaves a large window for you to choose the best time to bet. One of the many challenges facing college football bettors is when to pull the trigger on bets. When betting college ball, we’re not just picking the winners–we’re dealing with point-spreads. The lines can move and we need to focus on getting the best price. And we also need to worry about missing out on vital information, something that can easily happen when betting early in the week.

Some bettors, and even ones who are successful, bet early in the week. A lot of the time, when line moves early, it’s because of the “wise guys” betting a lot on a certain side early in the week. So a lot of movers and shakers in this business are in fact those who bet early in the week. Those who choose to do it that way see a number they like and they act on it. It’s decisive and it shows that they are confident in their moves. There’s nothing wrong with that.

For the more general bettor, however, there are some considerable drawbacks in betting early in the week. For starters, it puts us under pressure to do all our handicapping as soon as the previous week’s games are finished. Not all of us can have all that work done by Tuesday. We have jobs, we have families and friends, and we need to spread it out more over the week. In college football, with dozens of games on the board, not all of us are adequately-informed by the early part of the week.

In addition, injury reports will be dicey in mid-week. If the team you’re betting doesn’t have any outstanding injury issues, that’s one thing. Most times, however, there will be some players that are banged-up. It can really sting to see a player on a team we bet early in the week get downgraded after we already placed our wager. Waiting until closer to game allows us to not bet in the dark, as we are armed with all the information we can get our hands on.

Line movement is a key concern when betting early. There are just going to be times where early bettors end up getting the shaft. They take Michigan State at -4.5 and then look at it on Friday night and it’s -3. Or you take under 56.5 and see that it’s 59 late in the week. As you develop a knack for line movement with added betting experience, you can preempt some of these miscues by having a better instinct of where the numbers will go. Even so, betting early can and will lead to some situations where you won’t get the best value.

Then again, bettors can sometimes sense which direction a line will move. Take it beyond the fact that the public likes offense and the more nationally-followed teams. That has a lot to do with it, but it’s not a sole guiding light. If betting on Notre Dame vs. Pitt, you can assume the number will move against the Irish, but that isn’t always the case. Or if Oregon is facing Arizona, you can assume the total will go higher, but then again, it doesn’t always work out according to plan.

It’s nice to see where the “smart money” is going, which can be difficult when placing an early bet. Not that we want to become grovelers for smart money and follow it every chance we get. At the same time, there can be an empty feeling when we see smart money coming in on the opposite side. If Alabama is playing LSU and we take Alabama at -4.5, it stings to see the line move mid-week to Alabama -3.5, meaning some smart money probably came in on LSU.

It’s not clear what is worse–being on the wrong side of smart money or missing out on a better price by betting it too early. But it can also work in your favor. With more seasoning, you will be right more often than you’re wrong when it comes to determining which direction a number will move. There will be a lot of cases where pulling the trigger early on a wager will give you a leg up in the value department.

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