Betting Dos and Don’ts

MMA Betting: Betting Dos and Don’ts

By Loot, MMA Handicapper,

Number one on the to-do list is the same in all fields–you have to put in the work. In MMA, there is an easy way out. You can just research a fighter by watching a 3-minute highlight clip and looking up his line-by-line record. That will give you some idea of what that fighter is all about, but it will only help you scratch the surface. Obviously, having such a poorly-developed understanding isn’t going to help us beat the bookies.

A lot of people think there is some secret recipe for being able to pick fights. What it inevitably boils down to is you putting in the work to watch the fights. Who has the time? On top of that, who has the mental stamina to pour over hours of fights while maintaining the laser focus necessary to create observations that will beat the bookie?

To develop a full understanding of a fighter, we need to be fully aware of his full scope of strengths and weaknesses. We need to see his career as a continuum. We can’t arrive at this level of understanding by reviewing a line-by-line record, watching a highlight clip, or by seeing a fight or two.

After we start putting in the time and mental energy to create solid observations we can use later, we need to record it somehow. If you’re watching a ton of MMA fights, you’re naturally going to have a slew of observations. You’ll see what a fighter does well or what he doesn’t do well and it will be on a very detailed level. You won’t merely note that a fighter is vulnerable to submissions, you will note specifically what hold he seems vulnerable to. Maybe one day, that fighter is a 8-1 favorite over a fighter whose best move fits that weakness perfectly and now you have some nice ammunition behind a big underdog pick.

Now let’s say you put in the time. You watched with a cunning eye and developed some solid reads. Now you have the wherewithal to create a solid opinion. bet be careful. We’ve only conquered half of the equation. When we break down a fight, we need to determine what price we are willing to take to actually make the wager. It’s not enough to merely forecast a winner. Of course, we want to pick winners, but we want them at the right price.

Getting optimal value on our bets is of utmost importance. It cannot be overstated. This applies to favorites and underdogs alike. With favorites, we need to be especially careful to not fall into the trap of accepting the odds without protest. Let’s say you like a fighter to win. You figure he’s going to be a favorite, but then you see he’s a much bigger favorite than you thought. You have to leave it alone.


Sometimes, we will feel an underdog has a great chance to win, but we just go ahead and bet him anyway. When you’re getting a money line anywhere in the plus-column, it feels good. But if you thought a fighter was a good bet at +300 and you are only getting +160, that’s not good. Consistently accepting odds that are outside the range we want will lead to leaving a lot of money on the table over the long-haul. It might be unpleasant to leave winning bets on the table, but accepting poor value in the long-term will also likely prove to be even more unpleasant.

When we make opinions on a fighter, we do it on an etch-o-sketch. MMA fighters can have short shelf-lives and even when they have long careers, that career can take on many forms. It can be hard to amend our observations. We see a fighter is a sucker for the right hand, for example, and 3 years later we might still think that. But maybe he worked on it and the big right-hand puncher you were going to bet on doesn’t have such a great chance after all. We need to be aware that was true today isn’t necessarily true tomorrow.

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