Betting Strategies: Why You Should Always Keep Things Simple
In the frankly brilliant Adam Sandler movie Uncut Gems, the climax is dominated by a fantastical sports bet made by Howard Ratner (Sandler). The bet is a three-legged parlay, based on Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers. The bet went as follows: Celtics to win the opening tip; Kevin Garnett to 26 combined points and rebounds; and the Celtics to win the game.
If you haven’t seen it, we won’t ruin the movie’s ending by telling you whether Ratner won or not, as it’s a crucial part of the plot. But it’s enough to say that expert bettors wouldn’t be making such wagers, for reasons we will expand on a little later. But broadly speaking, the bet is too complicated (Garnett’s performance stats) and relies too heavily on blind chance (the opening tip is statistically a coin toss).
These types of bets, consisting of a multiple-leg parlay (accumulator) based on a single game, have become more and more popular among bettors. There is nothing inherently wrong with them, but expert betting guides and betting strategies will always advise you to keep things simple. But we often tend to overcomplicate things, which can hurt our chances of success.
Try to use a “this or that” principle
illustrate what we mean, let’s talk soccer. Now, let’s say we made a three-leg parlay on a hypothetical Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United. Our bet might be something like over Chelsea to win, 2.5 goals, and over 9.5 corners. That might seem sensible if it is backed up by stats. 56% of Chelsea’s Premier League matches have had over 2.5 goals, as have 50% of Manchester United’s. United’s matches have averaged 11 corners, and Chelsea have the better form. So, all is logical. Please note that the stats are real (pre-Christmas 2021), but the matchup is hypothetical.
But this goes a little further. All of the legs of these bets are fundamentally based on a simple “this or that” premise: There are two outcomes for the goals, two for the corners, and three for the match result. It’s simplified in the sense of the number of possible outcomes. The fact that it is backed up by statistics means the bet is a logical one with limited variables, and that is much better for the bettor.
Predicting player behaviors leads to complications
The problem, however, is that we can get offered options similar to ‘the tip’ bet in Uncut Gems. Chelsea to win the first throw-in or corner, for example. While this is still a “this or that” premise, it relies more on blind chance. It is putting a 50/50 outcome into your bet without any real basis in statistics. Any team can win the first throw-in, and it has little to do with overall strengths and weaknesses, or a team’s strategy.
And then there are the legs that rely on individual performances and behaviors. You might add a leg like Christian Pulisic to hit the woodwork, or Paul Pogba to receive the first yellow card. While you might argue that everything in betting is based on “this or that” outcomes (Pogba will either receive the first yellow card or he won’t), such selections take in such a myriad of different factors to render them illogical in terms of a betting strategy. The bet becomes speculative. Sure, it might win, and one of those more spectacular legs will beef up the odds, but you are more likely to end up disappointed.
We mentioned expert betting advice earlier, and you will notice that the best tipsters rarely go down the route of individual player bets, with the exception of those bets (goals, points, sacks, etc.,) that can be backed up by statistics. It all goes back to what we have been saying over and over again: Don’t overcomplicate things and try to keep down the number of variables for successful betting. The more fantastical bets should be reserved for the movies.