The Pitfulls of a Superfan

NFL Betting: Why Being a Super-Fan Means Little in Wagering

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

To be a great NFL bettor, you need to think in manner unlike a typical fan. It can be hard. We all started out as fans. If not for our being fans, we would have never even entertained betting on NFL. In addition, being a super-fan is not bad from a knowledge point-of-view. The biggest fans often know a lot about the players and teams. At the same time, becoming a successful bettor is tied to how far you can distance yourself from the mentality and perceptions that governs fans.

There is a misconception on the part of many that the guys who are successful at betting are just super-fans who took it to the next level. These guys are the cream of the crop. They can tell you a 30-minute bio on a reserve guard for Carolina. They can recite the secondary of every team in the league. They’re the guys whose knowledge of the sport is almost encyclopedic.

Make no mistake, knowledge is part of it. Knowing the sport up-and-down can’t be a bad thing. But becoming good at NFL betting doesn’t boil down to that. There are other issues at play and unless you master these, you can be sure that your knowledge will only get you into trouble. All that stuff is nice if you one day hope to be a football analyst. To be a successful bettor requires a different set of skills.

You need to know about gambling. It might be more important to know about all the ins-and-outs of gambling than it is to be able to recite rosters or quote team rankings. A guy who knows a ton about the NFL, but his grasp on gambling is minimal is dead meat. It’s like a quarterback who has a great arm and is a tremendous athlete whose knowledge of football itself is lacking. Maybe he can throw a 80-yard spiral, but if can’t read defenses, he isn’t going to make it.

Gambling is a discipline. There are a ton of factors to consider. Learning about the theories and mathematics that rule the world of gambling is a pre-requisite for any successful betting man. Take a trial lawyer, for example. He might know the law as well as a person can know it. But his success won’t come down to that. It will inevitably boil down to his ability to present a case. In NFL wagering, the most successful bettors are not people who know the most about pro football, it’s the guys who know the most about betting itself who shine.


Even if you understand gambling, you need to know the different forms. NFL football betting is a different genre of betting than any other sport. Even the differences between betting college and NFL football are vast. There are items and considerations that are very specific to NFL wagering that need to be mastered before a bettor can become successful.

While being a fan serves as a gateway to being a betting man, your success in betting will be decided in part by how far you can distance yourself from the thoughts and perceptions of the typical fan. Even the term “fan” should be a cause for alarm, being that it comes from the word “fanatic.” When looking at the sharps in the biz who succeed year after year, the last word you would use to describe them is “fanatic.”

Fans bring certain prejudices to the table that are poison in the world of betting. There are teams, coaches, and players that you either like or dislike. Obviously, that can contaminate your analysis. If unable to shed those perceptions it might be a good idea to just avoid betting on games involving teams you love or hate. But for the most part, you want to become more clinical in your overview of the NFL.

The betting man takes all performances of a team or player into account. The typical fan, however, tends to over-emphasize his personal narrative. In other words, a fan tends to over-value what he personally witnessed. Fans judge things based on what they personally saw. They see a running back tear it up on Sunday–they think it’s always like that. Or if a team plays a great game–that will become their perception of the team.

A betting man knows to avoid this way of thinking. He realizes that a team or player is capable of a wide range of performances. A team or player is never as good or bad as they appear when at their best or worst. So when he sees something outside the normal range of play, he can put it in its proper perspective.

This is not meant as an indictment on being a fan. After all, if we were never fans, we probably never would have laid a bet. What we need to do, however, is make sure we’re separating the two dynamics. Being a super-fan and a super-bettor are two wildly different things.