How to Act at the Sportsbook

NFL Football Handicapping Tips: How to Act at the Sportsbook

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper,

Sportsbook Behavior

There is etiquette in a sportsbook that you should try to adhere to, but it’s your choice. If you’re not hurting anyone, it shouldn’t really matter. But for some people, they want to act properly when they come to the book. This is man stuff, baby. And as Vito Corleone once said, “You can act like a man!”

Act like you’ve been there. You’re in our world now. This isn’t a Jonas Brothers concert, pal. Get your picks together. Don’t stand there at the window on Sunday at 9:55 a.m. asking the teller what a teaser is. In fact, if you are new to this, try to hit the windows during down periods. Try a Thursday at about 11:20 in the morning. As you get your act together, you can start to dance with the big boys.

And you know how you can tell a guy is a winner? When he’s not yelling like a lunatic. A certain amount of celebration even fringing on gloating is OK. But guess what–you’re not on the team. You’re a guy sitting in the book sipping an Amstel with nacho cheese on your fingers. Be happy, but if you see yourself celebrating more vociferously than most players, you might have become “that guy.”

Even veteran bettors foul up at the book. If you ever have some time, take note at the plight of the cocktail waitress. Imagine being a woman in the midst of hundreds of football betting degenerates. You have to haul drinks back and forth all day, trying to navigate your way through thoughtless throngs of people. And let’s face it–a giant room full of football bettors is not the most considerate lot in the world.

Just like you cut against the grain with your actual NFL handicapping, do the same in how you treat cocktail waitresses or other help-people at the book and neighboring food outlets. Take care of the cocktail waitress. Reward her for her hard work. Offer a few kind words. You don’t have to get carried away, but don’t be a stiff. You gotta figure the karma factor over the course of a season is worth a few extra point conversions if you’re nice to the help.

A few veteran tricks: When needing to get in a quick-moving line, use the same analysis you use when driving in a rush. You don’t get behind a Lincoln with an old-timey hat resting on a head you can barely see when trying to get to work on time. In sportsbooks, employ the same strategy. Look for guys who look like they’ve made some bets before. Single out a line with guys in their thirties or forties. Avoid lines with women (sorry gals) or older cats who need 20 minutes to get a $100 bill out of their wallets.

Dangers of Betting Late

When betting NFL, you want to be calculating. You don’t want to be put on the spot. Whether betting online or in a brick-and-mortar book, giving yourself time is a very basic but often overlooked part of betting. First of all, it’s stressful. And when you’re stressed-out, that’s when the rest of the world seems to be at its most inconsiderate.

It can be coming right down to the wire and some guy in front of you is making a Super Bowl futures bet. The teller starts moving slower and chatting up his colleagues when you’re in a gigantic hurry. Forget it. Then when you get to the front of the line or you’re online with a minute left, the line changes! If it’s in your favor, it’s an easy call. But notice it seldom is, especially when you’re already having a bit of a hard day.


At a brick-and-mortar book, you never know what lies in store. It could be a normal week with nothing really special going on and you find the book is absolutely packed to the gills. Unless you have a specific reason to hold out until the last minute before betting, why subject yourself to this madness? Give yourself time to place your bets without stress and where you have time to consider any changes that sometimes and usually do happen.