How to recognize and handicap spot bets

Jun 15, 2017 |
How to recognize and handicap spot bets
Letdowns, lookaheads, revenge, and schedule spots are all part of situational handicapping. Find out how to spot these unique opportunities and how to bet them.
Photo By - USA Today Images
Letdowns, lookaheads, revenge, and schedule spots are all part of situational handicapping. Find out how to spot these unique opportunities and how to bet them.
Photo By - USA Today Images

No matter the sport, bettors can find situational edges – also known as spot bets – throughout the course of a season. These unique situations sometimes influence the outcome of a game, beyond the two teams and how they matchup, and can give you an edge at the sportsbook.

Here are the different types of spot bets and how to handicap these situations:

Letdown spot

The letdown spot – often known as a trap game – comes when a team is fresh off a big victory over a top-tier opponent or rival and plays a lesser foes in the following game.

The theory behind the letdown spot is that the team is: 1. Emotionally vulnerable to a letdown after such a big win, and bound to level off. 2. Tired and unfocused following such a competitive contests and not at peak form in the following game. 3. Has a false sense of accomplishment and enters the following game unfocused and lacking effort.

Lookahead spot

The lookahead spot can take place when a team plays an inferior opponent but has an important game or rival scheduled for the following contest.

The theory behind the lookahead spot is that the team is not prepared or focused on the current opponent and is more concerned with the upcoming game, leaving them to play a sub-par outing against the weaker foe.

Often times, in sports like football, coaches will not give a full effort or use their entire playbook if they have an important game upcoming on the schedule. Knowing that their team is likely good enough to defeat the weaker opponent in the current game, they will rest key players and limit their playbook (as to not give any info away), knowing the upcoming opponent is scouting that game in preparation.

Revenge spot

The revenge spot tends to hold more weight in college sports rather than the professional leagues, but should not be discounted when it comes to heated rivalries or bad losses in the previous meeting.

The theory behind the revenge spot is that the team that lost the previous encounter will be extra motivated to avenge that defeat, and providing more value to the betting markets. The revenge spot is most common among division teams or long-standing rivals who meet once or twice a season.

Travel and schedule spots

Bettors can also find hidden value handicapping scheduling quirks that may benefit or burden teams involved.

With sports like MLB, NBA, and NHL, which play a rigorous schedule that has teams traveling multiple times in a week, bettors can find situational spots in which teams are making a cross-country trip to play on the opposite side of the map and different time zone, facing multiple road games in a short period of time, or playing an extended stretch of contests in their home arena or stadium. The NHL recently added extended breaks for teams throughout the schedule, allowing injured players to heal up and rest. That “bye” has had adverse effects on some NHL teams, however, leaving them rusty and out of form for the first game back off the hiatus.

In the NFL, weekday games like Monday and Thursday nights, can work for and against the teams involved. Playing on a Monday allows for an extra day of rest but also makes for a short week of preparation for the following game. A Thursday night game can be tough for teams coming off a road trip the game before, leaving little time to return home and prep for that weekday outing. However, teams coming off a Thursday game do have extra days off before their next appearance. The NFL also gives its teams a scheduled bye week, so knowing how those breaks could impact a team is important for bettors.


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