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Middling Football Games
ASSUMPTIONS: To make this work you'll need several outs–the more the better. You should be able to bet at many of these places online, or at least see up-to-date odds online. You'll need a bankroll, divided into about 30 units. Start with 4-5 units at each shop and you may have to withdraw/reload from certain shops as the season progresses. Naturally, having local outs helps greatly.
METHOD: This method is called "middling", because when a game lands in the "middle" of your two bets, you hit the jackpot.
NFL: (In order of preference)
1) Any time you can play a favored team at -2.5 or less and simultaneously play the underdog in the same game at +3.5 or more at a different shop, place 2 units on each team in that way. Example: If it's Cowboys vs. Redskins and 5 dimes has the Cowboys -2.5 and sportsbook.ag has the Cowboys at -3.5, put two units on the Cowboys -2.5 and 2 units on the Redskins +3.5. Alas, these days this scenario is pretty rare. When it does occur, sacrifice a Virgin in honor of the gods. Well, at least sacrifice a dash of virgin olive oil for the top of your pizza in celebration.
2) Any time you can play a favored team at -6.5 or less and simultaneously play the underdog in the same game at +7.5 or more at a different shop, place 1 unit on each team in that way.
3) Anytime you can play the favorite at -3 and the dog at +3.5 or more, or you can play the dog at +3 and the favorite at -2.5 or less, place one unit on each team in this way.
4) Any time you can simultaneously get a two or more point differential in lines from two different shops, put one unit at each shop to take advantage of this. Example: If it's Patriots vs. Jets, and one sportsbook has the Patriots -4 and another has the Patriots -6, play one unit on the Patriots at -4 and one unit on the Jets +6 [This will occur very rarely, unless you have local outs at your disposal. Again we're not advocating breaking any laws, but IF you choose to use local outs you'll make more plays.]
COLLEGE: (by preference)
1) Anytime you can get a 2.5 point differential on a game where the line is less than 20 points, play one unit on each team. Example: one book has Notre Dame -15 vs. Kansas, and a local guy has Notre Dame -18. Play Notre Dame -15 at one sportsbook and Kansas +18 locally.
2) Anytime you can get a 3.5 point differential on a game where the line is more than 20 but less than 35 points, play one unit on each team. Example: A sportsbook has UCLA -22 vs. Air Force, and another sportsbook has UCLA -25.5. Put one unit on UCLA -22 and one unit on Air Force +25.5.
"That's All, Folks!"
Now, you may have to take some chance. When you see a line moving one way, you can open one side of the wager. Then, wait for the line to move as far as you think it will go before betting the other side. This takes some practice. It's really an art within itself. But the more you do it, the better you'll get.
OK, OK, a little Q & A:
Q: "How can I make money by betting on both teams against myself?"
A: Consider the NFL 1) scenario above. OK, if the Cowboys win by more than 3, you win the Cowboys bet, lose the Redskins bet, and overall lose the juice on the losing Redskins bet. If the Redskins win or lose by 2 or less you win the Redskins bet, lose the Cowboys bet, and net out to losing the juice on the Cowboys bet. But if the Cowboys win by exactly 3 points, BOTH your bets win. Minimal risk (one bet's juice) for a big potential reward (two winning bets). The other scenarios work the same way, but are less profitable over the long haul than middling an NFL game around the number 3. One game in every seven in the NFL is decided by exactly 3 points, and NFL lines tend to me more accurate as forecasts of total scores than do college lines, so that's why the first NFL scenario above is the one I load up on, 2 units per side.
Q: "So games land on the magic number often enough to turn a profit?"
Q: "Is there any way I can further minimize my risks in pursuit of profit?"
A: Likely. Some offshore books offer reduced juice. 5 dimes for example.
Now suppose you just have to lay between $100 to $105 on a $100 bet because you're playing at places with no-juice-on-Fridays or reduced juice. If you're laying $105 on each side, when the game does not land on Cowboys by 3, you lose $5. Again, when you win you win $200. Now you must win only one bet for every 41 placed to break even.
Suppose, insanity of insanity, you're getting down with NO juice. You have no risk at all. When the Cowboys win by exactly 3, you cash both bets; when they don't, you just move money from one bookie to the other.
Q: "Speaking of insanity, I'm working really hard and finding line discrepancies. I can bet the whole bankroll each week. Am I insane?"
A: No you're not. If you bet 20 units on middles, the most you'll lose (i.e. if no bet comes in at all on the number) is one unit in juice–the 10% juice on the ten units of losing bets. TRY to bet the whole roll every week.
Q: "I've been at this a couple of weeks and haven't hit any middles. I'm 0-for-15 or 0-for-20 or something. Should I quit?"
A: If you're going to do this, commit to doing it for the long term. Suppose a casino offered you a game where you could bet $1 and roll a fair die. If you rolled anything but a snake-eye, you lost your dollar, but if you rolled a snake-eye, you'd get a return of $8. You'd be in, right? Even if you rolled no snake-eye for 10, 12 rolls, you'd keep at it, right? This works along the same principles.
Q: "Actually, I'm finding it hard to spot big differentials at the online sportsbooks. Is this unusual?"
A: Unfortunately, no. The advent of the live odds screen has made it more difficult for players to find big differentials in lines. Some books even move their lines "just because other books are moving them". This is where selecting a wide range of outs can help. Pick different shops on different continents, some thousands of miles away, maybe one or two in the city in which you live (assuming, of course, you live somewhere where it's legal....). You really want a variety of numbers to maximize your chances of getting different point spreads from different places. Play the differential that's the most advantageous.
Q: "Is this called ‘scalping'?"
A: Most people call it "middling" when you apply this technique to point spread bets. Scalping refers to money line bets in sports like baseball, where the astute bettor bets different teams in the same game at different shops to try to guarantee himself a small profit no matter who wins. In middling, you risk a small amount of juice each time to go hunting for the big tuna.
Q: "This could be done with totals too, right?"
Q: "Somebody who refined their middling technique and played for huge stakes, could they make a living at it?"
A: Some do, some do. It's harder to do in the NFL because there are comparatively few games each season, but many people do it by middling college football, and pro and college hoops, and by scalping baseball.
Q: "This has nothing to do with evaluating teams and picking winners. It's like being a bottom-feeder. Is there something shameful in it?"
A: It's a shame more people don't try to feed off it.