The four most captivating days on the sports calendar are fast approaching.
To help your bankroll survive and advance on the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, we asked a group of professional sports bettors, handicappers and oddsmakers for tips on wagering on March Madness.
Money line rollover pays more than futures bet
“If you want to bet $100 on Virginia to win the tournament, don’t take it at 5-1, just bet $100 on the money line on their first game and keep rolling it over and you’ll end up getting more,” Caesars Entertainment sportsbook risk manager Jeff Davis said.
That’s also the No. 1 piece of advice from professional sports bettor Cris Zeniuk (@lasvegascris): “That is the best advice to be had for any tournament or playoff. It’s very, very rare to find futures odds lower than running your initial amount of money all the way through via the money line.”
Get apps and shop around
Mobile apps let bettors place wagers anywhere inside state lines, avoid waiting in line and find the best lines.
“It always pays to shop for prices,” Davis said. “It’s worth having money in a few mobile apps. Not everybody is going to have the same price on every game. Even if it falls (on the number) once every 20 times, it makes a difference at the end of the year.”
Play first-half unders
Professional sports bettor Frank Carulli recommends betting under in the first half of every first-round game. First-half unders went 25-11 last season, including the First Four games, according to Betlabssports.com. The trend is 147-137-4 since 2011.
“It’s a great blind bet, but you have to bet them all under,” Carulli said. “A lot of factors contribute to it. Certain teams are off at least a week since their last game, they’re playing in new arenas, and there are nerves and strange starting times that take them out of their rhythm.”
Back teams that don’t belong
VSiN.com handicapper Wes Reynolds (@WesReynolds1): “One thing I like to do is to take the teams that all the media pundits are shocked or think shouldn’t be in the tournament. Those teams win that first game more often than not. Casual bettors listen to mainstream media, and that provides line value to the other side.”
Look for value on unders
Handicapper Dana Lane (@Danalanesports): “Look for totals and look for value in the number, especially in the first round. I almost always go against where the number goes, and that usually means I’m betting unders because a lot of people obviously want to bet the over.
“I’m more of a side player in the regular season, but when it comes to the tournament, I’m much more of a totals player because the numbers aren’t as sharp.”
Play undervalued underdogs
Systemplays.com handicapper Doug Fitz has developed a system for underdog plays based on the difference between the power ratings he uses on Statfox.com and NCAA Tournament lines.
“I only use the ’dog if the power rating is in my favor by three points or more compared to the spread,” he said. “I’ve been looking at power ratings for years and years. They don’t seem to hold up in the regular season. But in the NCAA Tournament, they do exceptionally well.”
Ride the hot hand
Fox Sports Radio host Bernie Fratto (@BernieFratto): “Look at programs who won their regular-season conference title and followed that up by winning their conference tournament. Midmajor and small conference teams who do this show they’re prepared to make a statement, and they know how to close. Typically they’re matched up against a Power Five school, and they’re getting a nice number. All they have to do is cover. They often do.”
Keep calm and fade public underdogs
Handicapper Paul Stone (@Paulstonesports): “I would certainly advise people to not become intoxicated by emotional urges. Bet sizes should probably be smaller, not larger. If you like to have action on a large number of games, be sure and keep the bet sizes small on the ones not at the top of your list.
“In days gone by, there was some value in trying to identify live underdogs in the opening-round games. But the linemaker has grown wise to this phenomenon, and the paradigm has shifted to the side of more closely examining favorites over public underdogs.
“I recommend identifying a public darling and perhaps betting against that team if the number is fair.”