Surviving may sound like a funny word to use about football season.
Most fans and sports bettors can't wait for the season to start. They spend half the summer getting ramped up.
But the football season is full of ups and downs. Here's a guide with 10 things you need to understand to survive football season.
The NFL and NCAA football seasons last for months. If you hope to survive them you need to be aware you're in for a long haul.
Throughout any season you'll face ups and downs, times of doubt, feelings of invincibility, and a wide range of other emotions.
When you can remember the season is long it can help you handle all of these things without letting them change how you approach your handicapping responsibilities.
As the season progresses the media will start building up some teams and seemingly tear down others.
Teams and players get momentum and the Internet, television, and newspapers love to jump on a bandwagon and a funeral procession. When teams are doing well (like when a team wins their first four or five games) the hype quickly builds. The longer the winning streak continues the more the hype builds.
When a team starts the season on a losing streak the stories seem to get worse and worse. All the bad blood starts coming out and nothing positive makes the news.
Your job as a handicapper is to ignore the hype surrounding winning teams and the negatives being put out about the losing teams. You have to base your handicapping on facts and your eyes, not on the media.
The best sports bettors win more than they lose, but even the professionals have losing weeks.
The longer you place wagers the higher the likelihood of a losing streak. Because the lines the book makers set are for the most part accurate it's hard to create a consistent edge.
The way most winning sports bettors progress from losing to winning follows a fairly consistent pattern.
First they struggle and pick somewhere around 50% winners and 50% losers. This isn't any better than flipping a coin. Most sports bettors are stuck at this level their entire life. They either don't have the skill required to handicap games profitably or they aren't willing to work hard enough to win.
Next they start winning more than they lose but don't win enough to overcome the vig. This level of handicapping gives them hope that they can win in the long run but still doesn't pay the bills.
The next level is when they start breaking even. You have to win 52.38% of the time with a 110 to 100 vig structure in order to break even. Even though this level doesn't win any money in the long run, if you can reach it you belong to a small group. Bettors who reach this point just need to work a little harder to get over the top.
The final level is when you can win 53% to 55% of your bets to start making money consistently.
Here's why I just covered the progression from losing bettor to winning bettor. With such a small area between winning and losing you'll have many weeks where you break even or lose money.
Statistically speaking you'll probably win around 55 weeks out of 100. This means you can lose 45 weeks out of 100.
Of course nothing works out perfectly like this, but hopefully you can see why even winning bettors have many losing weeks. Don't let a losing week or two get you off track.
The natural progression for most football players is to weaken slowly as the year progresses. They get banged up and their bodies wear down. This isn't always noticeable because everyone else is going through the same thing.
But if you can develop an eye for players who slow down more quickly than others, or for ones who seem to be able to buck the trend you can get an edge that most miss.
Here's an example of a player who improved and seemed to get stronger as the season wore down.
Ezekiel Elliot, the main running back on the 2014 – 2015 Ohio State national championship team, had his best games of the season in the final three games. He looked like a different runner than early in the season.
Time will tell if he's able repeat this trend in the future, but if you can spot it as it happens you can use the information to win more money.
Every sports bettor knows injuries can make or break a game or a week. A key injury can win you a bet or lose you one.
The NFL has rules in place about reporting injuries, but coaches try to do everything they can to create a competitive advantage. This means they might lie about injuries, report the severity of injuries incorrectly, or mislead everyone in some other way.
Your handicapping ability is directly hurt by lack of accurate injury details.
The NCAA is much worse than the NFL as far as injuries are concerned. You might not hear anything about an injury until the game starts and a player isn't on the field.
You can only do so much, but track sports news in the cities where college teams are located to have a chance to find out about injuries before placing bets.
I've already pointed out how long the season is and that you'll have losing weeks. As you mentally prepare for these things and go through them, the last important mental thing to do is decide you won't deviate from your plan.
If you're winning in the long run you've developed systems and ways of handicapping that work for you. Don't make the mistake of questioning your abilities or your systems after a few losses.
Have faith in your system until you have mathematical proof it no longer works. This does happen, but not anywhere near as often as successful sports bettors start doubting their process.
Of course you already know the weather is a factor when handicapping football games, but you need to plan ahead as much as possible.
I try to determine the projected difference in points based on the weather at game time. Forecasts are spotty at best so you can't trust the prediction on Thursday to be true for the Saturday or Sunday game.
When you handicap a game consider the projected outcome with the predicted weather and how it changes with different weather. Then place your wager as close to game time as possible so you have the best weather consideration possible.
This is one of the areas that separate the losers from the long term winners. Winners try to consider everything possible when handicapping a game and losers just look at a few things and hope they get it right.
Because football is a violent sport players get injured every game. If you know how strong the backups are you can get a step up on your competition.
I try to assign a general depth chart grade for each area of a team. Areas include the quarterback, skill position players, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, and defensive backs. You don't need to know every backup player, but it's nice to know the relative strength in each area.
Your bankroll is the life blood of your football betting business. If you don't have money to bet with you're out of business.
Each week has dozens of games between college and pro match ups. You not only need to make sure your bankroll lasts the entire season, you also need to make sure it's large enough to let you bet on as many games as you need to every week.
Make sure you don't have to put too much of your bankroll in play at any one time.
You want to be able to place bets on all the games where you feel you have an edge. Some weeks this may only be a few games, but other weeks may offer numerous opportunities.
If you remember back to the first tip, the football season is long.
Don't be afraid to take a week off if you start getting mentally fatigued.
Being a successful sports bettor requires a great deal of mental ability. You have to stay sharp to work at your best level. Sometimes in order to maintain your top mental abilities you have to step away and give your mind a chance to recharge.
Don't be afraid of stepping away. You'll find plenty of games to bet on next week.
Now you know how to survive a long football season. Take a minute to print this page out or bookmark it so you can read it again a few times during the season.
If you stay aware of the things listed above you should be able to enjoy the season more and stay on top of your sports betting and handicapping business.