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How to Use Data to Win More Bets

By Hank Blaine

An old sports handicapper saying is, “It’s all in the stats.” The saying derives from the very first sports gambling that ever occurred in the United States, horse race betting. All in the stats means that to find the winning horse, you must just look at the past performances.

Things have changed. In today’s sports betting, it’s not always all in the stats. However, stats remain an integral, undeniable, part of finding winning sports bets. Check out how we use stats to find wagers that pad our bankrolls.

Using Statistical Data to Win Sports Betting Picks

1. Choose stats based on the bet

Sounds simple enough, but a lot of times, we don’t study the right stats. For example, let’s say we’re thinking of betting over or under an MLB pitcher prop.

The total is 10.5 strikeouts. The most important stat to study isn’t how many strikeouts the pitcher averages, but how many strikeouts the pitcher has had versus today’s opponent.

We must take it even further for the stats to be more relevant. How many strike outs has the pitcher had versus today’s playing opponents. Baseball players don’t play ever day. They often do, but not all the time and turnover happens a lot in a 162 game season.

Always think of and choose relevant stats based on the wager.

2. Look at relevant stats in relation to each other

We can continue with our MLB pitcher example to illustrate the second most important use of stats on our list. But let’s switch it up.

Let’s talk about an NFL against the spread bet. Suppose Team A is -3.5 to cover the spread against Team B.

You determine the most important stat is Team A’s ability to pass the ball. Team A ranks second in passing yards per game. Ah, but after looking at Team B’s passing defense stat, you realize Team B is excellent defending against the pass.

Do you ditch the bet? Not necessarily. What if you see that Team A’s RB1 averages 5.4 yards per carry? Now what do you do?

The most relevant stat in a situation like this isn’t even a stat. It’s the head coaches and offensive coordinators ability to change strategy depending on the opponent. So if the HC and OC are willing to lean on the rushing attack to open up the passing attack, your bet on Team A might still be a good play.

3. Use trends to support or deny the validity of statistical information

Let’s say you see that the head coach and offensive coordinator have leaned on the passing attack in every game of the season. They leaned on the passing attack last season.

That doesn’t mean they won’t change the strategy for this particular game. But it does mean the chances of the two changing the strategy isn’t great.

So you could be making a losing bet. Stats may be valid overall, the Bills did average over 28 points per game last season, but may not be valid for every game, the Bills also scored less than 28 in 7-of-17 regular season games.

4. Don’t overuse statistical info when determining bets to make

This also comes from horse racing. In the 1960s and 1970s, the brilliant Andy Beyer developed the Beyer Speed Figures. Those speed figures became the way to handicap horse races.

Unfortunately, speed isn’t the only determination. Jockey trends, trainer trends, track surface, the past performances of other horses in the race, all of those things matter. The fastest horse doesn’t always win the race.

The best team doesn’t always win the football, basketball, or baseball game. And the best team, for sure, doesn’t always cover the spread.

Stats are great, but they crack open the window. True handicapping is an art. So use stats, but don’t ever place a bet just because of statistical information.

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