Do you gamble? I love to gamble. Well on football anyway. For me it isn’t about winning money, its just about being right. Ego trip. That isn’t to say that on the instances where my payoffs have been big, that I wasn’t happy; but rather to take note of the fact that the sense of accomplishment probably out-weighed the financial gain.
So the start of another NFL season and the Redskins’ first game, is just part of the rapture that I get to enjoy this week, with the other part being that I get to start shuffling money. You see, I know when I am looking at the NFL Week One Odds that even if I win big this week or at any point, there’s always a good chance that I’m NOT going to win. It’s the nature of the beast. So if I look at my gambling winnings and losses as “shuffling” – it’s a good way for myself personally to make sure that I always bet responsibly.
I find week one of the NFL season the most difficult to predict. With nothing but vanilla preseasons and offseasons to rank, opening day games always feel like you’re trying to pick a winner based on the past. Or sometimes on trends because there is such a little body of work. Here are a couple of tips that I have found to help me earn a little bit on opening day, when many are losing…
1) Go small, or take a fall. Do you know the adage, “go big or go home”? Don’t use it in week one. You don’t have enough of a frame of reference to justify the expense. Make more bets if you want to spend more money.
2) Play smaller parlays. Obviously everybody loves the allure of small bet, big win – but there’s a reason that they pay better, it’s harder. Especially in week one. If you’re the kind of gambler that likes to pick 10 cards to try and earn a big payout – consider two 5-cards instead in week one.
3) Concentrate on games you feel good about. You know that nagging feeling in the back of your head you get, when you can’t pick a winner? Go with it in week one… and don’t pick. Move to the next game. There is no law that says that you have to try and pick every game’s winner. Join a pool to show your prowess in that regard. There might be games in week one that you just feel better about because of certain factors like perennial powerhouses or key injuries/suspensions on a roster. It may just be because you feel like you have a firmer grip on the game because of geographic familiarity. Whatever the reasoning you find is, go with your gut in week one. That is to say, stick to the games that you want to pick a winner in, and don’t stretch outside of that comfort zone to make some extra money. Usually you won’t.
4) NEVER use preseason as a barometer. It’s tempting, but it is a recipe for sure disaster. There are coaches in the NFL – good coaches – that have ZERO interest in the outcome of those said games. One might argue that some even make them vanilla by design, so as to not give away any trade secrets early in the year. So be careful using the “4-game practice” as your gauge of a team’s current state of grace.
5) Stick to basics. Limit the games you look at with the above criterion, and then really buckle down and look at a match-up when you have made a few selections. Go to NFL.com Game Center, or your favorite game preview site, and look at injury reports and news on Friday. Study individual match-ups of interest in the games, and look for bad mismatches. Consider the venue. Take advantage of limiting your work with steps one through four, and use the added time for proper due diligence on the games that you are going to make selections in.
These are simple tips. In some ways, they are mental reminders as much as anything, but it’s easy to get caught up in the rush of the beginning of it all, and forget. Take your time.
Tomorrow I will take a look at some more esoteric tips to try and help you even more. Stay tuned.