Sports Betting 101: How to Bet Underdogs vs. Favorites

Jun 19, 2019

sports betting, sports betting picks, sports betting advice, sports betting picks

It’s the age-old question that will never have a true answer: “Should I bet on the underdog or the favorite?”. While this question depends entirely on the two teams playing, there are some simple facts to understand about betting on both the underdog and the favorite.

Sports Betting 101- Betting on the Favorite

When a bettor bets on the favorite, he/she is choosing to go with the team that is expected to win. While this seems like the save move, it’s not always the best in the long run. Let’s take a quick comparison of the pros and cons that come with betting on the favorites in sports.

Pros of betting the Favorite

  • Best chances to win

The most obvious pro that comes with betting on the favorites of a sporting event is the increased chance of winning. When a gambler goes with the favorite, he is going with what the sportsbooks see as the likely outcome. While this is not always the quickest way to make a ton of money betting on sports, betting the favorites is a comfortable way to get started in the sports betting world.

  • Easier to hedge

True sports bettors are all about locking in a profit. Betting on the favorite allows bettors to get a jump on this, as long as the favorite starts strong. When betting on the favorite, it is essential to look for opportunities to hedge your bet, which simply means to bet on the opposite result of your first bet to ensure that you make money.

This is easiest to take advantage of after making a bet on the favorite. Once the bet is placed on the favorite, simply watch the game and monitor the live odds. If the team that is favored scores first, the odds will change, making the underdog even less likely to win the match after going down 1-0.

This is the perfect time to hedge your bet, as your team opened the scoring. This tactic of hedging is accomplished the easiest when initial bets are placed on the favorite, who comes out starting strong.

Cons of betting the Favorite

  • Sustainability is questionable

While betting on the favorite will get you plenty of winning bets in the long run, it does not guarantee plenty of profits. That is because the sportsbooks are masters at adjusting the odds, making it difficult to make money on the obvious favorites.

Low risk, low reward bets often force bettors to put up large sums of money just to win a few extra dollars. This is trouble for favorite bettors in the long run, as their profits are not going to be huge unless big dollars are invested into the bets.

Just one large, bad bet on a heavy favorite was the potential to erase any profit that may have been brought in by a number of other bets

Sports Betting 101 – Betting on the Underdog

Everyone likes an underdog story, but no one likes to bet on them. One of the gutsiest but profitable moves that a sports bettor can make is betting on an underdog. Underdog bets are considered to be risky because the outcome is unlikely, but does not mean you should avoid these bets? Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of betting on the underdog.

Pros of betting the Underdog

  • Only need a couple to be profitable

Unlike betting on the favorites, betting on the underdogs is a much more financially rewarding process when successful. Typically, favorites bettors can only afford to miss one of four bets to be profitable when betting, while an underdog bettor needs to hit just one of four bets to end up in the green.

This is due to the favorable odds that are set up to reward the underdog bettor. Betting underdogs can often feel like a balancing act, but if a bettor was to hit one or two of those bets that will multiply your bet amount by three and four times, then underdog betting would be instantly profitable.

  • Can be hidden by sports betting hype

Every time an underdog wins, a favorite has to lose. Many times, the odds before a game or contest are skewed because of many factors. One of the most influential factors that often affect the odds of a sporting event is the hype that surrounds the event or athletes.

The hype can come in many forms, including media reactions, fans on social media, betting trends, and more. All of this hype has the potential to sway fans and audience members into betting on a certain fighter or result.

This hype can get carried away, which will often open up opportunities for a legit opponent to turn into a huge underdog on the odds. When this rare occasion happens, witty sports bettors are able to take advantage of the underdog.

Cons of betting the Underdog

  • Takes experience (or guts)

There is truly not too many cons when it comes to betting on the underdogs. Of course, a sports bettor should not be going gung-ho on betting underdogs, but a good underdog pick can go a long way.

One problem that comes with picking underdogs is the difficulty that a bettor will experience when searching for the right pick. An experienced handicapper has the ability to pick out the underdogs that hold value, but people new to sports betting will likely be left in the dark, simply guessing on a gut feeling.

Make sure to develop your own strategies to find out the most reliable and consistent reads to be able to point out a possible underdog matchup, as this is bound to lead to some successful underdog picks.

Top 3 best sports to bet on the favorites

Every sports bettor has their unique strategy. Some love to bet big money on the favorites, while others like to ride with the underdogs. This quick countdown gives useful information for both parties as it goes on to explain the top three sports to bet on for both underdog and favorite bettors.

3. NCAA Basketball

College basketball is the third best sport to go to when a bettor is looking to place a wager on the favorite. College sports, in general, tend to be more predictable in the long run. Skill discrepancy and foreseeable results are more common at the college level as compared to professional sports, making for a safe bet on the favorites for the most part.

College basketball is a sport that is typically run by the same couple of powerhouse teams year-in, year-out. This consistent domination also leads to predictable results.

When teams like Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and Michigan State are always on top of the recruiting class and preseason rankings every year, it’s not too difficult to see who is going to be racking up the victories throughout the season.

In the last five NCAA Basketball seasons, only 25.7% of underdogs ended up winning their matchups, meaning that the favorite won the game a whopping 74.3% of the time. When looking for a sports betting lock, make sure to consider betting on an NCAA basketball favorite.

2. NCAA Football

Coming in at second on our list is NCAA football. Much like college basketball, college football is a much more predictable sport than its professional counterpart, making it a great sport to bet on with the favorites.

Dynasties like Oklahoma and Alabama have been good for the past decade. This kind of repeating success is quite common in college sports nowadays. This trend often results in the same teams winning year after year and getting the biggest and best recruits in return.

For example, Alabama has had the number one recruiting class in eight of the last nine seasons. This, combined with the world-class coaching ability of Nick Saban, has yielded four Championships since 2011. Other examples of domination and consistency aren’t as extreme as Alabama’s situation, but they are present throughout NCAA football.

Only 22.2% of underdogs have been able to pull off an upset in the last five college football seasons. With numbers like these, it’s safe to say that NCAA football earned their number two spot on our list.

1. Soccer (EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1)

Professional soccer in Europe is one of the few professional sports that does not recognize annual drafting of talent each season. The reason is that there are simply far too many teams. This huge volume of teams is one big reason as to why soccer is the best sport to bet on when placing wagers on favorites.

This is not stating that you should go out and bet on the favorites in each match. Instead, the bettor should attempt to take advantage of a large number of teams and matchups, and pick on the weakest teams in the bunch throughout the season. A simple math problem will put this strategy into perspective.

Considering soccer is such a global sport, we will start with the number 10. This number represents the number of professional European soccer leagues that can be bet on. Each league has around 18-20 teams, making for roughly 9.5 matchups per week, per league.

Now simply multiply 9.5 x 10, giving you 95 matchups per week. This number is much lower than the actual number of matchups available to bet on, but the 95 matchups should still be enough for a decent handicapper to scan and find a couple of favorites to bet on.

The relegation/promotion system that is used in soccer also makes it one of the best when betting favorites. At the end of each season in practically every professional soccer league in Europe, the top three teams in the league standings are promoted to the next division up, while the teams who finished in the bottom three of their league’s standings will be demoted into a league below.

This is the process of relegation and promotion, and it works to keep the best teams circulating to the top. Not every team that gets promoted is cut out for the big leagues, and this is often seen in the top flights of European soccer.

Often times, the teams who are promoted to the higher leagues struggle to pick up points and results, rarely surviving a season in the top division. These teams are often easy pickings for the big favorites of the league, adding another trend of betting favorites having success in the sport of soccer.

Top 3 best sports to bet on the underdog

3. Football (NFL)

While college football is largely a safe haven for the favorites, the same cannot be said about the NFL. With just a few respectable professional football leagues around the world, a majority of all of the football talent in the world is hyper-concentrated in the NFL.

This leads to high competition throughout the season, as each team has a roster filled with quality players. While there may be three or four standout teams, the fact remains that any NFL team can beat any other NFL team on any given day.

In the last five seasons, 33.6% of underdogs are able to pick up victories in the NFL, representing one of the more successful underdog statistics in professional sports. Most of these upsets take place at the home field of the underdogs. Whenever a competitive team is playing at home, especially against a division rival, there may be some betting value there for the taking.

2. Mixed Martial Arts (UFC)

The second best sport for betting underdogs is the sport of mixed martial arts, with the best MMA organization being the UFC. The fight game is crazy, and the results of the fight game can be even crazier.

The margin for error is much smaller in a UFC fight than in any other sport, as one zig when the fighter should have zagged, and the fight can be over. Every underdog has a puncher’s chance in this crazy sport, and sometimes that punch lands perfectly.

34.5% of underdogs have won in the last five years of UFC action, making bettors question whether or not putting big money on the favorites is the way to go. The UFC is always trying to match up the best against the best, unlikely its combat sport counterpart, boxing.

With the best title contenders always challenging each other on the way to the belt, an upset here and there going to happen, making MMA one of the best sports for the betting underdog.

1. Baseball (MLB)

The best sport for underdogs has to be baseball. The MLB is by far the best category to go to if you’re looking for an underdog to make you some money. The season is long, the games are long, and competition is tight, making up the perfect conditions for an upset.

In the last five MLS seasons, an astounding 42.3% of underdogs have pulled off wins. Many sports betting experts credit this to the changes in the level of pitching talent between a team’s starters and the bullpen.

Other sports betting tipsters tend to develop strategies based upon their own original angles that are discovered with some time and research. Regardless of the reason as to why there are so many underdogs, the fact remains that just over 40% of underdogs end up winning in the MLB.

These stats set any sports bettor up for profits, making baseball the number one go-to sport to bet the underdog.

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