Do Your Homework Before Placing a Bet

Placing a sports wager is the easy part these days. The accessibility to online sportsbooks is better than ever with plenty of websites, legal or not so legal. And thanks to a certain Supreme Court decision earlier this year, many more legitimate options, land-based and online, are on their way. Unfortunately, placing a smart sports wager is still as difficult as it has always been.

Every sports gambler has a system. Every sports gambler has a strategy. There are many factors that lead someone to lay a wager. However, the one thing all successful sports gamblers agree on is that to be a successful sports gambling, you must do your homework before placing any wager. Sports gambling is much more than point spreads and moneylines. There is a game to be played, after all, and even the oddsmakers are at the mercy of many factors out of anyone’s control. To be a successful sports gambler you must do your research on those factors that will affect the outcome of your game and, more importantly, your wager.


If there is one thing no one can predict, it’s the weather. Every outdoor game can be affected by the wind, rain, or snow that could be in the forecast one day, but not the next. There are many theories and strategies as to when you should lay a wager. Early when the line is new is one way of thinking. Or just before the game starts, when all the relevant information has been gathered. When considering an outdoor game, especially when they are being played in cities with well-known weather fluctuations, the latter is definitely the way to go. Where is the wind blowing in Wrigley Field? Is it going to snow at Lambeau? Is it raining in Pittsburgh? These are all valuable questions as they can directly affect the outcome of a game. More importantly, though, these factors can come into play long after the point spreads and moneylines are set. Weather can be a big factor in the final score and should always be taken into account.


Another factor to consider before laying any sports wager is the injury report. A team missing one of its most important players can change the outcome of a game rather quickly. Players get hurt all the time. In games, in warmups, and even during off days, a player could be injured to the point of not playing. Baseball alone has hundreds of oddball stories of why a starting pitcher due up in the rotation missed a start because of a freak accident. These injuries change games as well as odds, and you must be aware of them before placing any wager. Then, there is the dreaded “Questionable” or “Game Time Decision” moniker. Fantasy football players know this one too well and so should serious sports gamblers. Placing wagers on teams when important players are listed as such is a much bigger gamble. Simply checking the injury reports before placing your wager can clear up a lot of the mystery. Most injury reports are released a few hours before the start of any game in any sport. Get to know how to gather this information quickly to get the information you need to make an informed bet.  

Sitting Out

Even worse than the “Game Time Decision” or the “Questionable” designation is when a team holds one or more of its best players out for rest. These are worse than the “Game Time Decisions” because they don’t show up on injury reports. This happens more in baseball, hockey, and basketball.  (The San Antonio Spurs are notorious for doing this on long road trips.) Any sport where teams are playing games at a high rate. Professional basketball and hockey have three or four games a week, and baseball seemingly has a game every day. However, studying up can help you avoid these teams and these wagers. Press conferences and post-game reports can go a long way.


Keeping track of the schedule is the best way to get your homework done. There is no more important factor. Due to the schedule, teams face all kinds of extra obstacles. Whether it’s tired legs, back-to-backs, trap games, or long road trips, a team’s schedule plays a huge part in that team’s performance.

The best way to get ahead of this homework is to simply make yourself a checklist. This works very well for the sports like baseball, basketball, and hockey that have many games in a season but also for football as well. Did they play last night? Are they on a long road trip? Are they playing in a trap game? Knowing the answers will help you make an informed wager. If a team played a triple overtime game in New York and has to play the next day in Miami, you are going to want to know. If a team played a 15 inning game in Seattle one night and has a day game at Wrigley the next day, you are going to want to know. Study the schedule of any sports wager you make. It will scare you away from bad bets and fill you with confidence on good bets.

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