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10 pro tips on betting football from prolific contest winner

A hard way to make an easy living.

That’s how professional sports bettor Cris Zeniuk describes betting, though he’s made it look easy in recent years.

The Las Vegas resident has had an astonishing run of success in football handicapping contests that includes winning Station Casinos’ pro Last Man Standing last year ($150,000) and college LMS in 2016 ($52,000), and finishing second and fifth in the Circa Million II in 2020 ($244,000).

Zeniuk (@lasvegascris), who shares betting strategy content on his YouTube channel (search for LasVegasCris), has picked NFL winners at a 61 percent clip ATS the past three seasons.

Here are 10 general tips he gave me for betting football (with comments on each):

1. Fade popular plays

In my first year covering betting in 2017, everybody seemingly loved the Buffalo Bills over the New Orleans Saints in a midseason matchup.

That included nine of the 10 contestants in the RJ NFL Challenge contest who took Buffalo to cover as a 2½-point home underdog. When I alerted VSiN host Matt Youmans, who had picked the Bills, he changed his mind and bet on the Saints. They crushed Buffalo 47-10.

Zeniuk subscribes to the same contrarian theory.

“If everyone is on the same side, I’ll feel better being on the other side,” he said. “I love it when everyone is anti-everything about players or teams. It’s usually a buy spot.”

2. Pick your spots

Don’t bet on a game just because it’s Sunday, Monday or Thursday night.

“Just because it’s available, it doesn’t mean you have to indulge. Don’t let the game choose you. You choose the game. So much wasted money on TV games of no value.

“TV games have the least value. I suggest never betting for the sake of action. It blows up in your face.”

3. Don’t chase

Don’t try to recoup all of your weekend losses with the infamous Monday night bailout bet.

“Don’t vary your bets drastically. Don’t chase losses Sunday and Monday. You’ll regret it. Money should be an afterthought. Any pressure leads to poor decision making.

“Don’t booze it up when betting.”

4. Don’t always follow the money

“Don’t chase lines that have moved too much. Even a 1-point move can be crucial. Many hear that pros are on a bet, but the line move already obliterated any remaining value and may be in a position of value the other way.”

5. Don’t buy points

“You don’t buy points because they cost too much.”

6. Shop around

“Have as many shops to wager as possible. Lines matter, and if you don’t get the best of the number, you’ll be reaching in your pocket to keep funding. Have multiple outs and look at one of the many free line services to find your best line. This is critical. You have to find the best line.”

7. Limit parlays, teasers

“Parlays will bury you. I suggest two or three teams max because the house steals money from you for four or more. If you like four to five games, you can consider a round robin wager by 2’s and 3’s. Parlays should be complete nonsense money, not a significant amount of your bankroll.

“The best bettors around have done well with betting, what they do well. But they bleed it back with silly teasers, props, parlays as just a little here and there. Unfortunately, all those add up.

“Only tease at -120 or less and only tease completely through the 3 and 7.”

Two-team teaser bettors should remember that most books refund bets if one leg of the teaser is a push and the other is a loss.

8. Follow proven winners

“If using a service to buy picks, focus on long-term history. Short-term results are meaningless. Subscriptions from proven long-term winners only. Daily pick buyers get suckered by ads stating the ’capper is on a heater at 8-2 or 12-3 over a short time. The real angle is to stay away from them because now they will regress and lose. Find the proven winner that is in a slump.”

9. Pace yourself

Avoid the perils of poor money management.

“Forty percent of bettors have lost their bankroll by the first two weeks of October. Don’t be one of those people. Have a bankroll that doesn’t interfere with your life comfort.

“Bettors hate to hear this, but a proper bet size for a person with a $1,000 bankroll is between $10 and $30, 1 to 3 percent. Sorry, that’s the way it is.”

10. Have fun

“Have fun in contests. Don’t overthink things. If you’re worried about your entry fee cost, skip the contest.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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