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Sports Handicapping Methods
by Website Staff

If you ask ten gamblers how to handicap a sporting event there is a good chance you will hear ten different answers. Some suggestions might be valuable while others will cost you money.

Expert handicappers consider all variables including power ratings, trends and angles, situational and match up analysis.

Power Ratings

Power ratings are statistics based calculations used to rank teams. Handicappers compute power ratings to give them a baseline when analyzing sports match-ups.

Trend Analysis

Trends and angles are tendencies that repeat such as, NBA teams not doing as well when playing back to back road games with no rest. Trends and angles that have a small sample size should not be given too much weight when handicapping. Consider trends that have a statistically significant sample size or team trends that you are intimately familiar.

Do not bet random angles but scrutinizes every idea to verify that they will produce a significant advantage. This may lead to a concept being modified or totally discarded but a system should be thoroughly tested before real money is wagered. Back testing systems is an essential part of the process.

If you find a trend that has done well in the past than it must be tested against following years to prove it is valid. Ideally testing or practice betting should be done on live games. If the trend still holds water, you may decide to use it if you are confident that the sample size warrants faith in it. It may be necessary to review a statistical reference to determine if the sample size is sufficient.

Situational Analysis

Situational Analysis measures the impact of outside influences. This may include the weather, injuries or a mid-season coaching change.

John Madden mentioned on Monday Night Football that passing teams had the advantage over running teams on a slippery field. The reasoning is offensive lineman and running backs cannot get any traction in the mud. True or not weather should be considered when handicapping.

In the 2008 Capitol One Bowl the Florida Gators were a ten point favorite but took one on the chin from the University of Michigan. The Wolverines had enough fortitude to win their Head Coach's last game. Meanwhile the Gators experienced a classic letdown game having played in the BCS Championship game the year before.

Injuries can be over compensated for by handicappers. Exceptions are cumulative injuries at a specific position and season ending injuries to Pro Bowl or All-Star caliber players. Most winning teams can handle any player loss for a few games but a long-term injury to a team leader can result in a losing streak.

Match Up Analysis

Match up analysis compares a team's style of play with their opponents. Statistics can be used for match up analysis. For example comparing an NFL teams rushing yards versus their opponents rushing yards against.

A position by position analysis might be used. When analyzing match up's we are looking for specific strengths or weaknesses when comparing two teams. In the NFL, Head Coach Bill Belichick's Patriot teams are well known for exploiting the competition by taking advantage of player mis-matches.

It can be difficult to handicap games early in the season when so few games have been played and there is not enough statistical data to properly evaluate a team. During this time of the year it is important to include returning starters in the equation when handicapping College Football. Also consider NFL teams that performed better than expected during the previous season often regress the following year due to having a tougher schedule.

Sports are year round entertainment for many fans. With national signing day, spring games, free agent signings, the draft and training camps it never ends. The crowning of the Super Bowl Champion is a reminder that March Madness and baseball season are not too far away. Now is the time to update your database and start crunching numbers because next season is just around the corner.

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