The dust has settled from this past NFL season that was capped off by quite an exhilarating Super Bowl. As the weeks have passed since the final big game it has given me time to reflect upon what was my first official season of handicapping NFL games. It was a fun season that proved very rewarding and equally trying at times. As any who follow my weekly picks knows, I not only offered my predictions, but I weighted each one in terms of bet strength to better assist in proper money management of your bankroll. During this past season while there was never a time where the recommended starting bankroll of 100 units was ever even close to busting, there were times when the volatility of the game would seemingly put pressure on our profit making ability. Starting from week 6 of this past NFL season through the Super Bowl we encountered some pretty major fluctuations. I was confident my approach to handicapping and weighing these games would withstand these swings, but I can honestly say there were moments along the way where I would just shrug my shoulders and say, “who knew”. My professional approach to playing blackjack is one where there is an analytical and mathematical reason for every move and therefore all subjectivity can be taken out of the game and there is clearly black and white decisions that can be made. Handicapping football has much of the same elements, but it is more akin to poker than blackjack as there are far more human intangibles that can affect outcomes. I found this a challenging factor, but one I fully enjoyed exploring and tried to apply it accordingly. There were mistakes along the way, but so were there improvements made along with a better understanding of the game. There were many good, and definitely a few bad points to my picking through this past NFL season. I’d like to go through much of it now to see if we can sum up the past year’s picks and close up our freshman season while looking ahead to what promises to be an improved and hopefully profitable new season ahead.
In analyzing the past NFL season of picks, one doesn’t need to look too far to see our first good point, a 23.9% profit. The bottom line of any sports bettor is to make money on their wagers. With that in mind, this past season was a success, to at least some degree. A near 24% gain in bankroll growth in just over a 3 month span is pretty good, actually if you could do that in conventional investing every quarter it would be amazing. However, the volatility of such a gain was one I would feel the need to smooth out a bit moving forward. There were times where at the beginning of the season we were down almost -20%, while there were times during this same season we were up well over 50%. The end result settled in a comfortable profit margin, but I believe as I move forward with future seasons, my handicapping must move to more consistent results. Of course there are going to be many swings positive and negative throughout the season, but the goal is to put a more tolerant threshold on the spikes and valleys. I believe this is possible and I am taking steps forward in that direction.
The next point of interest that has the same element of good and bad in its makeup is my overall record of wins and losses. At first glance it would be a check in the bad column. With a total season record of 37-36-2, that is just barely over a 50% winning percentage. In a standard handicapping method of flat betting the same amount per wager, a winning percentage of 52.5% is needed to just break even due to the house take, or “vig”, on losses. So with that being said my winning percentage numbers would be inferior to a winning game, if my method were not different. Thankfully it is. Don’t get me wrong, I am not satisfied in the least with my current winning percentage, but with properly weighted wagers, I managed to generate a rather huge profit in comparison to a very meager win loss record. This means that when the proposed strength of a positive outcome increased, so did our wager. Basically, based on a wagering spread of 1-10 units, we not only determined if a game was right to pick as winner, but what was the strength of the wager to be placed. I find this to be very important information to anyone doing any kind of betting. As you can see, placing the right size bets can drastically impact the success of the bettor. So to break it down further, My overall win percentage was just 50.68%. However, looking at my win percentage at wagers placed at 5 units or higher it increases dramatically to 58.06% with a record of 36-26. That points out a few things to me that seem significant. First off I picked miserably on my lower percentage wagers where I thought there was an advantage but not necessarily a big one. That leads me to believe that I need to re evaluate my system on finding borderline advantage games. Going 1-10 on the lower advantage plays is unacceptable, and when corrected, will greatly improve on our system and ultimately our profits. Just as a note, we went 6-0 on our max bets, meaning of course they stand at 100%. It’s a very small sample of games and something that offers no real insight, but nonetheless, it’s a stat I’m proud of so far, and plan on building on it in the future.
I look back on when I first started analyzing games this season and I find it quite amazing at how different my approach became as the season wore on. I have always been a huge fan of the NFL and have followed it fairly closely. I knew largely just about what every other fan knows about the game. When I offered ThePogg my handicapping services this past season, I really didn’t know what I was getting into. I have made a good living finding advantages playing blackjack in the casino and I thought I could translate that into sportsbetting as well. I learned fairly early the average knowledge of what a fan possess is not enough to forge through a whole NFL season making a profit wagering on games every week. It became clear to me that sifting through sports articles and listening to “expert” analysis on TV and radio sport shows would not be enough in truly becoming a competent handicapper. Listening to opinions will not give the understanding needed to properly evaluate a games worth or advantage. I found one must be able to breakdown the teams and all the game variables to actually come up with numbers of your own. Line spreads and game totals is what my bets have been based on all this past season. Many of these numbers that are given by the bookmakers move in the direction of the public’s perception of the game and not necessarily with the actual game factors. It’s in these games where the values can be found and exploited for a bettor’s gain. But general knowledge of the game won’t do it. Watching NFL pregame shows with commentators and ex jocks will not give you the optimal numbers nor will they give you a weighted value of bet strength. That’s ok, that’s why I’m here, I do. My system has evolved from typical fan gathering info, to assessing power rankings among teams and players, to finally devising my own rankings and tracking trends. The good thing is, my system is still evolving, and as far as we have moved forward this year, I plan to make even bigger strides next season. This coming season we will be developing software that will actually be able to simulate the data input and bring to life hopefully very accurate conclusions to game stats and outcomes. I find it to be a very exciting development in the handicapping arsenal and I love the idea of all my data gathering being able to be truly tested. Of course, there is more to picking these NFL games than pure data input, there are many organic qualities to measure as well. But every tool added to the box makes for a more complete set able to better get the job done.
I look forward to this coming season, as I am very confident we can improve on are already successful system. I hope all who followed last season did so diligently, and if so enjoyed the economic boost we were able to provide their bankroll. A near 24% season profit was a fair take this season. I’m not prepared to offer up any goal figures for the upcoming season other than to make it a profitable one and to improve dramatically over the success of this last one. So look for the picks to start up again in September when the NFL regular season begins. It should be a great one!
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