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Researching your sports betting picks is an essential part of a winning strategy. No matter how good you think you are, you can’t just eyeball every game and pick who you think is going to win. Even the sharpest of sports bettors use statistics and research consistently to shape their picks and their winning strategy.
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If you’ve never researched a pick before, it can be pretty tough to know where to start. With so many resources and so many stats at your disposal, you may find it hard to not only find a starting point but also to find a roadmap to get from starting to finishing and making your actual pick.
In the sections below, we’re going to walk you through everything you need to know to start researching your sports betting picks. We’ll talk about the correct approach to take (most people do it incorrectly), how to get started, the resources you should be looking at, the difference between good and bad statistics, and finally some awesome tips that our expert team thinks you need to know.
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How to Approach Each Bet You Want to Make
We’re going to go ahead and throw you for a curveball here right off the bat. It’s our advice that the best way to approach a particular bet is not to approach a particular bet. Instead, we think you should approach particular games, research and make predictions on the flow and outcome of the game, and then look for which bets you can make.
When you try and force a particular type of bet, you miss out on other opportunities, and you can end up making predictions that aren’t what you really want to be betting. For example, if you approach an NFL game and say, “I want to make a spread bet,” you may walk yourself into trouble. What if you’re better off making a moneyline bet? Or what if there are props that you’re better off making?
Instead of deciding that you want to make a spread bet on a particular NFL game, research a particular game and see if there are any bets that you like. Then, begin your research and create a prediction of how you think the game is going to go. Include as much detail as possible so that when you’re done with your research, you almost have a script of how the game is going to go.
Then, you take that script and start looking for bets that fit it. Does a spread bet look good now based on what you came up with? Maybe you found that you’d rather bet the over/under or a particular prop bet? Maybe you found some other value that you normally wouldn’t have if you only approached the game looking for which side of the spread to bet?
While this doesn’t address the main topic of this guide, we felt it was important to discuss before we went any further as it will have an impact on where we direct you to conduct your research.
Starting Your Research
Now that we’ve talked about the way you should be approaching sports betting, we need to start talking about the type of research that you’re going to be doing. How do you go about approaching your research? While there is no right answer to this, we do have some things that our experts prefer that work well for them.
We like to start with a top-down approach. We start with the major stats and big-picture items and then slowly work our way down to the little details. For example, let’s say we’re looking at betting on an upcoming NFL game. To start, we’d look at the implications of the game and each team’s position in the league. Does this game mean anything in particular to either team? Are there any big-picture factors affecting the teams or players that you should know about? Playoff implications? Home field advantage up for grabs? Pressure on the coach from the back office to perform?
Once you get all of this information, you need to start looking at team statistics. This might be their record, offensive and defensive stats, special teams, recent point totals, coaching trends…pretty much anything that you deem important to look at. What you choose to look at will be completely up to you.
After you look at the team stats, it’s time to start looking at individual players and matchups. How has each individual player been performing lately? Who are the key matchups, and who do you think will come out on top? How will that affect the game outcome?
Once you’ve collected all of these stats and information, you can start building out your prediction of how the game will go. We recommend breaking down the game into small chunks and looking at each individually. For example, if you’re looking at an NFL game, you could break it down into quarters. Figure out what you think is going to happen in each quarter and how many points each side is going to score. The more detail you can go into here, the better.
When you complete this for all four quarters (or whatever segments you choose), you can put it all together for your total game prediction. You can then take this prediction and shop it around to see what bets you want to make. For example, maybe your prediction shows that both teams are going to start off extremely slowly. Let’s also say that it shows the underdog is going to end up winning the game.
If you only looked at your spread bet, you might just make a bet on the underdog to cover the spread. But now, you might be able to make a lot more money by betting on the underdog to win outright and also by betting on the under in the first half.
We like to take this top-down approach to our research on each game because it gives us structure. If you just start randomly looking at stats, you’re going to end up getting lost and missing things. If you start at the top, you can be sure that you’re not going to miss anything big. For example, imagine if you forget to look at the big-picture stuff, and you don’t realize that a team playing has nothing to play for. Maybe they’ve already been eliminated from the playoffs and are just trying to scrape by and finish the season. You’d feel silly if you fired a bet on them when they don’t even care about winning.
This also helps you to make sure you’re prioritizing your time properly. If you focus on too many small details and run out of time, you might end up making a bet that you regret. But if you run out of time but have looked at all the big details, you can still make a pretty educated bet. Although in that situation, the ideal thing to do would be to not bet at all, but we know some of you probably just want some action.
Resources to Look At
We’ve discussed how you approach your research, but now we want to talk about some of the different places that you can go for stats and information online. There are a lot of different options you can choose from depending on what works best for you.
First, you can go to major media sites like ESPN to get statistics. Typically, they’re going to have recent stats and possibly some calculations broken down for you. If you’re looking for anything historical past this season, though, you might be hard pressed to find a lot.
Your better bet online would be to find some sort of statistics website. These sites are not only going to have every single stat under the sun, but they’re also going to pull calculations and trends for you to look at. For example, they might have all of the pitching stats on a pitcher for every one of their starts. But they might also pull their stats on their last 10 starts, their last 3 starts, and how they’ve done matched up against the team they are about to play. These might prove valuable depending on how you go about picking your value plays.
Sometimes you are going to need to pay for these resources, and sometimes you can find them for free. If you do choose to use a free option (and even a paid option), make sure the information you are getting is accurate and up to date. There’s nothing like trying to make predictions based on bad statistics.
If you notice, up until this point, we haven’t mentioned looking at any picks or predictions on the game you’re researching. This is for a reason. We want to advise you to start off by making your own prediction. Do your own research first, come to your own conclusion, and then you can see what the other experts in the world are saying. If you start by researching other people’s picks, you’re going to get swayed away from trusting your own instincts.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a look at what the pro pickers have to say, taking their picks and using them, or including them in your sports betting strategy. But do your own research before you start looking at what other people have to say. Remember, you’re training to be the expert here, and if you constantly rely on other people’s picks and predictions, you’ll never get a chance to see how good you are.
An additional resource that you should be using for research is game footage. This includes watching the games live. You can only get so much from reading stats on paper. It’s hard to see how well a team is jiving or what sort of trends might be developing that aren’t showing up on the stats sheet. Additionally, garbage time points and stats can skew traditional statistics. If you aren’t aware of these things, you may make an improper assumption that can cost you money. Watching sports is a big part of the sports betting research process.
Since we’re sending you the way of the stats, we wanted to make sure that we covered the difference between good statistics and worthless statistics. There are also a few other important things you need to know about the numbers to make sure you’re getting the most value out of them.
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First, let’s talk about the difference between good and bad statistics. Let’s look at an example to make our point, and then we can break it down. Let’s say you are betting on a baseball game. You’re given two different statistics to look at. The first statistic shows that the starting pitcher has an ERA of 2.61 in his last 4 starts against the team he is playing. The second statistic says that one team hasn’t lost a game on a Friday in September in 3 years. Which of these stats is a good stat, and which is a bad stat?
Well, the first stat is what we classify as a good stat and the second is what we call a bad stat. Here’s why. The first stat is going to have a real impact on the outcome of the game. How well the starting pitcher has done historically against a particular team is important. The second stat, though, is nothing more than a cool coincidence.
You have to be able to tell the difference between the two if you are going to succeed in sports betting. If you are constantly researching these pointless stats, you might be great for conversation, but you’re going to be a lousy sports bettor.
Additionally, make sure your stats are pulled from games that are relevant. If you’re using stats on how a player played three seasons ago or in games that were completely different from the game you’re trying to bet on, you’re just going to be shooting yourself in the foot. Use relevant stats that will help you to make a better prediction on the outcome of the game you’re betting on.
Research Tips to Get Better Results
Before we send you out to start hitting the books, we wanted to give you some tips to help you succeed. Below, you’ll find the top research tips from our experts. Utilize these along with the information we’ve already given you, and you’ll be well on your way to being a successful sports bettor.
Look Up the Game Implications
One of the biggest things that people will miss when researching games, especially later in the season, is game implications. If a team has nothing to play for, they’re less likely to give maximum effort. You can expect coaching decisions to reflect this as well, especially late in the game.
Conversely, if the team has a lot to play for, like home field advantage or trying to get into the playoffs, they’re going to play much harder. Coaching decisions will also reflect the need to win. You also won’t see star players pulled from the game to rest or be protected or anything like that.
It doesn’t take long to look these things up, or you may know them if you follow the league closely enough. Just make sure that you aren’t missing the big picture by getting too focused on smaller details.
Have a Starting Point Each Week
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When you sit down to check out the full slate of games, it can be a little overwhelming. We recommend having a designated starting point each week. This could be a particular conference, a particular type of matchup, or some other reason that you want to look at a few particular games. This doesn’t have to be anything profound or even have any effect on who you choose to bet. It just should be something that gives you a little structure to know where to start so that you don’t get information overload paralysis.
For example, let’s say you like to bet college football. You know that, historically speaking, home underdogs can be a pretty good bet. So, you decide that you’re going to start your research by looking at all of the home underdog games for the week. Or maybe you are a fan of betting the SEC. So, you decide that you’re going to start your week off by looking at all of the SEC games and then look elsewhere.
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This isn’t a profound way to help you make better picks. It’s simply giving structure to the process so that you don’t waste a ton of time at the beginning of your research sessions trying to figure out where to start.
Validate Your Stats
You have to make sure that the stats you are gathering from your research are correct. This is one of the main reasons that we’re hesitant to trust any stat that we read in an online article unless we test it out ourselves. This is the same if you are using a stat site. Just because they have a big name or are a paid service does not mean they’re perfect. They could easily have input information wrong and be spitting out facts and figures that are not correct.
If your information gathered during your research is wrong, you can imagine that your research is probably going to be pretty ineffective. How do you go about validating this stuff? First, make sure you’re using reputable sources. Second, when you first start using a new source, double check their numbers against a secondary source that is independent of them. Don’t check a sister site of theirs that might be pulling from the same database. Check with someone who is not connected to them at all to see if the numbers match up.
Continue doing this from time to time to make sure the numbers are correct and that they aren’t getting sloppy. Lastly, you should always give all of the stats and numbers you use the sniff test. Does the number make sense? Don’t just blindly look at all the numbers and hope that they’re right. If it says that Tom Brady has 900 yards passing per game, you know that something is probably wrong. This is why having general knowledge of the sport you’re betting is as important as pulling the stats during your research.
Be Careful of Opinion Pieces
Make sure that you understand the difference between researching cold, hard facts and reading someone’s opinion of what they think is going to happen in the game. While it’s okay to read picks and predictions, you need to make sure you’re not trusting them as facts. These are someone else’s thoughts on what is going to happen in the game. The only true things that you can trust are the numbers. Everything else becomes an opinion piece.
Don’t Be Scared of the Work
Winning at sports betting is not easy and is not as simple as some people might think that it is. It requires long hours of pouring through stats to try and find an edge. If you aren’t willing to put in that work, you shouldn’t expect to crush sports betting. It’s possible for you to pull off some wins in the short term, but you’re not going to survive long term if you aren’t okay with putting in the necessary effort to succeed.
How much time should you spend researching? It all depends on what sport you are betting, what your existing knowledge base is, and how quickly you can get through your research. The shorter answer to that question is that you should spend as long as it takes to be a winner. If that’s a few hours a week, awesome. If it takes you days to find your value and pick winners, then that’s what you need to do if you’re serious about winning.
Take Notes of Your Numbers
When you’re pouring through stats for a lot of different games and players, you need to make sure that you’re staying organized. It can be easy to research stats for one game, move on to another game, and accidentally keep using stats that you remember from the first game. No matter how sharp you are, it’s easy to get things twisted around.
Take notes if you have to. Whatever it takes to keep yourself organized, do it, because using incorrect statistics can be detrimental to your success in finding value and picking winners.
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Well, we hope we’ve provided you with all the information you need to be able to get started researching games and making great value picks. It’s ultimately going to be up to you to decide what sort of stats you look at, where you spend your time, and how dedicated you are to the process. We can only give you the tools to get the job done. It’s up to you to take those tools and use them to build your winning sports betting strategy.
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