There’s no secret formula for a successful wager in sports betting. The odds shift every game, and factors can change in the moments leading up to the game. For that reason, you need an adaptive strategy when it comes to sports betting—one that’s flexible and considerate of all the relevant details.
You may have heard of sports handicappers. But how can situational handicapping help you place successful bets?
What is situational handicapping?
In a sports game, there are all sorts of conditions and circumstances that affect how teams perform. Situational handicapping involves analyzing the factors at play in a game. You can also compare them to how similar games have played out in the past. The goal is to gain an edge over the sports books who might have failed to consider what you’ve learned through research.
Here are a few examples of situations in sports games:
- Injuries: One thing that can be said of any sport is that it takes a toll on your body. When placing a bet, you can’t overlook how injuries affect the performance of a team. What shape are the team’s top players in? It changes the playing field if several of the players are injured.
It’s also worth considering how late into the season teams are. If they’ve recently played a lot of games, and they’ve been going for months, then the players are probably tired. Check what the schedule of the team has been like—if they are playing back-to-back games, they might be fatigued.
- Weather conditions: Something as simple as a change in the forecast can have a drastic effect on the outcome of a game. When you’re researching a matchup, review the past games a team has played in similar conditions. Do they tend to win by a landslide whenever there’s snow on the field? Or are they more likely to drop the ball when the weather is unusual?
- History: It’s always important to check how two teams have fared against one another in the past. If they have a rivalry, one team might be especially fuelled to beat the other due to a previous loss.
- Rotations: How will one team’s lineup play against the other? You’ll need to research the performance of each rotation and analyze how they’ll perform against the opposing team if you want to practice effective situational handicapping.
- Travel: Jetlag can change the way players act during a game. This is partially where the home field advantage comes from, since most teams have a higher win rate for games at home. But the opposite of this can sometimes be true—some teams fare worse when they play at home because they feel pressure to win in front of their fans. The only way to find out how travel will affect a team is to investigate their history with away games.
But what does situational handicapping look like when placing a bet? The answer depends on which sport you’re wagering on:
- Football: The NFL has a shorter season than most sports, with a week between each match. That gives you plenty of time to analyze the situations at play in any game. Since games are played outdoors, weather conditions are especially important.
- Basketball: This sport is the opposite of football in the sense that there are a large number of games in a season. Games tend to be high scoring, so you’ll have ample data to analyze when you’re trying to predict final scores.
- Hockey: Given how long the regular hockey season is, you can expect players to be fatigued and injured towards the end. Games are hosted at an indoor ice rink, so you can ignore the weather forecast.
- Baseball: A game of baseball can be like a slow burn or a rapid-fire slaughter. You’ll need to keep your wits about you when analyzing the situations at play. Pay particular attention to matchup histories and starting pitchers when you’re betting on a game.
Why is situational handicapping advantageous?
Knowing the game is one thing, but putting in the time to research each variable in a situation is another. It makes the difference between an amateur sports bettor and one who cashes their bets.
The goal of any sports handicapper is to beat the lines, spreads, or totals that the sports books set. To do this, they need to scrutinize the matchups of each game and find the details that oddsmakers overlooked or didn’t weigh heavily enough. Situational handicapping takes this a step further—it involves analyzing each factor that will affect the outcome of a game.
No one said that situational handicapping would be easy. It’s a time commitment that requires attention to detail. If you want to gain an edge in sports betting, consider siding with the professionals at Kyle Covers, a sports handicapping service that delivers results based on data analysis and years of experience. Check out our All-Access packages for the NCAAB picks, NBA picks, MLB picks, NHL picks, and NFL picks.
Also, for more information, read our guide to sports handicapping.