Interested in the NFL? If you know a lot about it, you can potentially earn some money on it as well. Betting on the NFL is not easy, since knowledge and stats are very widespread. The bookmakers usually provide very precise lines, so you need to be sharp if you want to win long-term. Here’s a guide on how to do so.
As one of the most popular sports leagues in the world, there’s always a lot of attention directed to the NFL games. And with significantly fewer yearly games than most other sports, each single event is covered in serious detail by the media and by the bookmakers.
Even though some bookmakers have a very small margin (as low as 2%), it takes skill to beat the market. But if you follow the principles below, and you have some basic knowledge, you should be able to turn a profit.
Focus on spreads and totals
When betting on NFL games, you will usually be presented with a lot of different options. You can bet on the winner of the game and various scenarios – such as how many yards a player will throw, run or receive.
But we advise you to turn your attention to the most popular variants – the spreads and the totals.
Betting against the spread is usually where you will find the lowest margins for the bookies, and therefore the highest theoretical payback percentage for yourself. The bookmaker creates a handicap, and you’ll need to pick a team to cover the spread. Let’s say that the New Orleans Saints are playing the Atlanta Falcons at home. The Saints will be slight favorites and the bookmaker puts the spread at -3.5. If the Saints win the game by more than four, they will cover the spread. If the Falcons win the game, or lose with three or less, they will cover the spread. The odds will be priced somewhat even, which is the whole purpose.
You can also bet on totals – arguably the second-best option. The premise is very simple. How many points will be scored in the game? Let’s say that the total line for the Saints and the Falcons will be placed at 48. If you believe it will be a high scoring match, then bet the over. If you believe it will be a low scoring match, or at least lower than the line, then bet the under.
In the long term, you will have to pick the spread winner around 51% of the time to make a profit – assuming you’re placing your bets with the best bookmakers. If you’re betting lower odds, such as when the bookmaker has a 5% margin, you’ll need to pick the correct team to cover at least 52.5% of the time.
How to pick a winner
You’ll need to analyze each game before placing your bet. It’s important to analyze every matchup carefully. Most players are fast to pull the trigger, but if you’re serious about becoming a successful bettor, it’s important to make sure that you know at least as much as the market.
Look into each team and see how they are doing. What’s their current form like? Any important player injuries or returns? How meaningful is the home field advantage?
Also, look into specific matchups. Once again, let’s use the Saints and the Falcons game as an example. How are the Saints passing offense matching up against the Falcons passing defense and vice versa? Will the Saints have success running the ball against the Falcons? Any special teamers that can make a difference? Which of the coaches has been preparing in the best way?
It’s easy to find information and stats, but you have to look into the details. Knowledge is king, so be sure you have it. If you don’t consider yourself an expert, you can follow a successful tipster instead.
Value betting is the way to go
In order to beat the bookmakers long term, you have to be better at them and master their own principle. The bookmakers price their odds based on probabilities. So, you also need to estimate a probability for a certain outcome before you bet it.
If you believe that the Saints have a 55% chance of covering the -4 spread against the Falcons, and the odds is priced at -110 (or odds 1.909 in decimals), then it’s a value bet.
Here’s how to find value: Multiply your estimated probability with the decimal odds. If the result goes above 100, it’s a value bet and you should pounce on it. If the result is less than 100, skip it and go to the next game. In this case: 55 * 1.909 = 104.99. A clear value bet.
Read more about value betting here. It’s one of the key principles to become a successful sports bettor.
No long-term success without money management
Money management is about as important as value betting is. With just these two principles, along with specialized knowledge in the NFL, you can beat the market long-term.
Money management means that you are sensible about your money. It means that you set aside a bankroll to be used for betting and not for anything else. An amount you can afford losing if you’re unlucky or incompetent. But also an amount that can grow into something substantial.
If you have a bankroll of $1,000, you obviously shouldn’t bet all of it every single game. On each bet, aim to bet around 2-3% of your bankroll. That means $20-$30 per game. Adjust the staking size regularly, but keep the same percentage. If your bankroll grows to $1,200, you will still bet 2 or 3 percent, but your staking size will chance. Now, it will be between $24 and $36 that you should place each time.
If your bankroll is small, you can be more aggressive and bet 3-5%. If your bankroll is large, and you have a conservative mindset, then bet between 1-2% per bet instead. It depends on your risk profile, but in any case, never go above 5% of your bankroll per bet.
Use the best bookmakers
Your choice of bookie makes a huge difference.
Pinnacle has a 2% margin on NFL spreads.
Bet365 has a 5% margin on NFL spreads.
Obviously, you will win more by betting with Pinnacle, so that’s an obvious choice between those two. Ideally, you will get the highest odds on the market every time you place a bet. But of course, you probably can’t have an account with every bookmaker in the world.
So select 2-3 of the best bookmakers and create accounts with them. We recommend Pinnacle, SBO and Marathonbet for most players. They offer really high odds with low margins, so you get the best possible payout each time you win a bet. And that means a lot long-term.
Also, keep in mind that Euro bookies like Bet365 have a higher amount of props and player specials which could be worth digging into.
However, in some countries, such as in the United States, these bookmakers are not available. Instead, pick one of the best Bitcoin bookmakers. We highly recommend Cloudbet and Nitrogen Sports. They also offer high odds, and you can bet with them anonymously. You’ll need to bet with Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash, but that’s probably better anyway, since it’s a secure way of depositing funds. Cloudbet, like Bet365, has a decent amount of props and specials on game day.
Keep track of your bets
Ultimately, you’ll need to keep track of your bets. The main reason is to see if you are winning or losing.
But it’s also to review your decisions and to find out what you are doing right or wrong. You should always keep statistics because it allows you to get a full overview of all your previous bets. All successful bettors look into their stats to see where they can improve. With NFL betting, we advise you to do so at least every month, or if you can, after every single week.
We hope that this NFL betting guide was useful. If you follow the principles written in this article, you will definitely improve your chances of winning in the long-term.
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