How to bet: Recognizing and betting football’s key numbers
It doesn’t get much better than watching football while making money off it. And knowing what the key numbers are is a crucial to the latter.
The one number oddsmakers hate to get off is 3. That tells you right there that three is the most important number.
Statistical guru Andy Iskoe, researched the past 17 years to see how frequently games were decided by three points. He discovered that 15 percent of NFL games finished with a 3-point difference.
That’s twice as high as 7, the next key number. Iskoe found out that seven percent of NFL games end with one team winning by seven points.
Other key numbers are 6 (occurs six percent of the time), 10 (five percent) and 4 (five percent).
These are the numbers to put heavy emphasis on. Rarely will you find a football game, particularly in the NFL, end in victories of 1, 2, 5, 8, 12, 15 and 16 points. Extra point kicks have nearly a 100 percent success rate, unlike in college.
It’s important to anticipate if and when a game may move off a key number. A strong clue is higher juice tied to one side, especially early in the week.
If the favorite opens -3 and the vigorish keeps climbing, there’s a possibility of the line eventually moving to 3.5. So if you like the favorite, the time to bet is right away. If you like the underdog, it would be prudent to wait in the hopes a 3.5 will come up.
Just like on sides, there are key betting numbers on over/unders. The two most important numbers in this area are 41 and 37.
Successful totals players often make their own power rating and then look for a disparity of at least three points in the odds from their number.
If a 37 or 41 are involved, the disparity could be just one or two points.
Other key totals numbers are 51, 38, 44 and 45. It can be much easier to middle or side a total rather than a pointspread number because oddsmaker move totals faster. That’s because there is usually more wiseguy action on totals.
The Browns-Colts Week 2 total, for example, opened at 37. One sharp told me he played over 37. But when the total moved up to 40 he bought back some of his action hoping to win both sides. It didn’t work that time because the Browns won 27-19, with the combined 46 points going above the total.
Still, it’s extremely rare, if not impossible, to find a pointspread side moving three points in the NFL when there is no key injury or suspension.