The Zen of College Football Betting

College Football Betting: The Zen of College Football Wagering

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper,

The idea of zen might not seem compatible to college football wagering, where even the most composed people lose their cool on a weekly basis. If you’ve been inside a sportsbook on a Saturday betting college football, you will not see much zen. Rather, you will see a lot of guys flying off the handle on every first down and flag that goes against their team.

But if you want to make a run at being a successful college football bettor, there are some elements of zen that would be very helpful to incorporate into your game. You might not end up having the composure of a Buddhist monk, but you won’t be unraveling every time something goes wrong. Think of a zen-master. What are some of the traits that he has? He’s composed. He never loses his patience. He handles success and failure just about the same–committed to a course of action that takes years, not weeks, to unfold.

The zen-master forgoes pride. He knows that in the face of turbulence–calmness is the antidote. And if anything is turbulent, it’s college football betting. Spend a few Saturdays betting on a bunch of college football games and you will see how deeply your composure, patience, calmness, and temper will be tested.

Leave your pride and ego at the door–just like a zen-master. This is one of the major pitfalls waiting to gobble up college football players prone to losing their cool–which is just about every college football bettor. Pride gives way to a sense of entitlement. And some players just can’t help but fall victim to this. They feel like they deserve to win. Their handicapping is so good, that they deserve to win every week. And when they don’t, it is difficult to cope with defeat.

This ties into patience. The bettor who feels entitled will lose and not be able to accept it like a pro. The bettor who has managed to hang in there for years knows that a week, or even a series of weeks, will pass by without much wagering success. The zen-master can handle it. He knows this is a long race that will have moments of bumpiness. He is confident enough in his abilities to know that over the long run–he will win. And the long-run will almost certainly include difficult short-runs.


Patience is the trademark of the zen-master. These Buddhist monks can sit on a rock for 10 hours just meditating. No one is saying to do that, but try to adopt that mindset when it comes to patience in betting college football. This applies to both winning and losing. Some bettors might actually get off to good starts. Now they think that’s the way it always goes, even though they’re due for a little coming down to earth. But figuring that they’re doing well, they grow impatient and want to see their bankrolls swell faster. So they begin betting a bigger percentage of their bankroll on games. And in a bad week or two, they wipe out all the progress they spent weeks building.

Then the losing bettor starts winging it–throwing stuff against the wall to see if it will stick. He can’t handle the stench of a losing weekend and tries to refresh the air immediately. In the process, he starts betting on games he wasn’t even entertaining earlier in the week when he was handicapping with a clear head. A little bit of zen in your game will give you the confidence to grin and bear the tough moments, knowing that over the long haul–the good moments will surely come.

Use your setbacks positively. Take the opportunity to let the stink wear off. The last time you want to start making rash moves is when you’re firmly ensconced in the wraps of failure. That doo-doo on your shoe needs time to air out. Take the opportunity to get your head screwed on right and acknowledge the unpleasant reality that it might take you a few weeks to get back to where you were before. The zen-master knows that picking against the spread is just naturally going to lead to a lot of losses. If you can pick 58%, you’re killing it. That means 42% of the time you will be losing. So knowing how to deal with losses is possibly the most important part of being good at college football wagering.