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Handicapping A Players' Form
by Mike Boozer

Week after week and year after year it's the same old story. How much weight should a golf handicapper attribute to Recent Form, Median Form and Historical performance? What form should we pay most attention to? And most importantly, how do we apply these elements in the handicapping process?

Well, the answer to the above questions is "IT DEPENDS." So, let's define the word DEPEND by understanding the assessment of "Form" and its application to profitable wagering.

Historical performance defines the player as a whole by identifying strengths/weaknesses relative to course compatibility and performance under various weather conditions. Historical information profile's the nature of a player and gives the handicapper a reference point to accurately apply "Form" as a whole. For example, Historical form tells us that Brad Faxon contends year after year at tournaments in the northeast, and that Tim Herron consistently reaches top form later in the summer. Why, Faxon plays better in the northeast because he grew up playing on those courses and Herron spends the off-season in Minnesota, so it takes him a few months to get into golf shape. Hence, historical information often times interprets or illustrates fluctuating tendencies in a player's performance.

Understanding historical information, the handicapper can now take the next step by determining a player's median form. Forget averages, they only distort the truth. An average takes into account everything, whereas the median discards aberrations by measuring normalcy. Median form is designed to more accurately measure performance by eliminating a player's highs and lows. For example, golfer X plays eight rounds of golf. He shoots: 70, 70, 68, 75, 61, 68, 80, and 69. Based on these scores player X has a stroke average 70.125. However, by throwing out 2 high and 2 low scores you'll get a different number and for the handicapper a more accurate number.

The median measures 70, 70, 68 and 69. Based on these scores player X has a median score of 69.25. These numbers are very different and with 15 years of handicapping experience the median value is a sharply focused picture.

Lastly, and most importantly, is accurately accessing recent form so not to compromise the reliability of the handicapping process.

Handicapping short-term performance is a micro approach by analyzing data in segments. For example, handicap in segments of five, whatever variable is being measured say GIR, (greens in regulation) base its performance on the golfers last five tournaments. The purpose of segmenting variables is to distinguish fluctuation by referencing it against a player's historical median. When done correctly recent or short-term form becomes clear and will ultimately determine handicapping success. It's what handicappers refer to as, "the money shot!"

I hope you now have a better understanding as to how these forms are inter-related. In assessing a player's tournament chances, historical information is used to identify the player's capabilities and recent form defines the present. After all, it's more likely that a player can re-capture a higher level of form than it is for a player to discover a level of form never displayed.

A final note, I'm fully aware my articles focus on how instead of what to handicap. I'm also sure most of you are interested in what to measure and what variables ultimately equate to, "the money shot." Well, for many reasons I refrain from the what, but for those of you genuinely interested in learning more, I will gladly answer any questions and share what I've learned in the past 15 years of sports betting. So, you are welcome to contact me via email or by phone.

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