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Once the NBA Finals wraps up, sports handicappers often feel as if it’s the offseason until football rolls around in early September. The dog days of summer aren’t just a lazy period on the calendar for most of the country – they’re a time where the sports schedule is as light as it’ll be all year.
Despite the lack of football or basketball, there are still plenty of ways you can put your bankroll to work and put some extra money in your pocket. In this article, I’ll go over the three best sports to bet on during the dog days of summer.
1 – Betting on Major League Baseball
I understand that plenty of people bet on baseball already. However, it rises nowhere near the level of its other pro sports counterparts like the NBA or NFL.
Major League Baseball has suffered somewhat of an identity crisis since the steroid era eliminated the big hitters from the game. While it’s still very popular on a local level, national coverage is not what it used to be when McGwire and Sosa were chasing the home run record and generating unparalleled interest in the game in the process.
Even if you aren’t going to be sitting down to watch a three-and-a-half hour pitcher’s duel between two teams you aren’t familiar with, you can still make money on the games if you learn how to bet baseball properly. While there are plenty of common mistakes that new bettors make when they try out MLB action, these can largely be avoided if you know what to look for going into it.
Baseball, if you’re completely unfamiliar, is primarily bet using the moneyline. While there is a run line (which typically gives odds on -1.5 and +1.5 “spreads”), most experts would agree that the moneyline is the easiest way for beginners to get started.
The best part about baseball is that even the worst teams in the league will win about 60 games each year. That means the opportunity to take advantage of the value underdogs present is always there when you bet on baseball. While I can’t go as far as to say you should always be choosing the underdog in every situation, there’s certainly an argument to be made that it’s usually going to be the better pick. The key, then, is game selection.
While there isn’t a hard and fast rule when it comes to deciding which games to bet on, I’ve always subscribed to the theory of betting on teams during a streak. For example, if a team has won three straight games I would be on them to continue the streak. The reverse is true for if a team has lost three straight. Of course, this logic flies in the face of the Gambler’s Fallacy, but in a sport, which isn’t a probability-based situation, it works out.
Even If you aren’t crazy about the sport itself, if you like making high-value bets with good odds, baseball is for you. Not to mention, there are so many games on a daily basis that you’ll never run out of viable betting options.
Of course, you still have to build your handicapping skills if you want to make money gambling on baseball. But baseball is easier than some sports offered in the books.
2 – Take a Swing at Golf Betting
Most people are either a “golf person” or they’re not. Some diehard sports fans that religiously follow the other “major sports” may not have ever paid attention to golf, but that just means they’re missing out on a great betting opportunity.
Before I started making real money bets on golf, I was concerned that I wouldn’t like trying to pick the winner of a tournament before the first round, and then watching as my chances of winning were eliminated within a matter of hours. When I discovered the other ways to bet on golf, my opinion of the sport changed dramatically.
One of my favorite bets to make in all of sports is the golf head-to-head (sometimes called ‘matchup’). If you’re not familiar with how it works, it’s about as simple as it gets: Two golfers are paired together by the sportsbook and whoever has the lowest score in the upcoming round wins. Typically the golfers will be similarly-matched players, so the odds will usually be between -150 and +150 on the extreme ends.
When you want to raise the stakes – and the potential payout that you’d receive if you pick the right golfer – you can try out group matchup bets. These play out similarly to the head-to-head matchups with one noticeable difference. Of course, that difference is that more than two players are involved.
With group matchups, sportsbooks will put a handful of golfers, such as 4, 6, 8, or 12 total. Once the group is set, bettors will try to identify which golfer will finish with the lowest score. Obviously this is a much more difficult play to win than the head-to-head between only two golfers, but the advantage is that the payouts are much more significant.
A golfer who might be +120 to win in a head-to-head matchup might be +350 to win in a group of 6. Of course that means they’re less likely to win, but for some, the odds make it worth the risk. I would recommend making at least one of these bets along with more traditional matchups so that you at least have the potential for a big payout.
In addition to matchups, golf also offers a number of prop bets that keep things exciting throughout the round. Whether or not someone will get a hole-in-one, the number of eagles that will happen on the day, and several other options (usually specific to the sportsbook) are going to be available.
Golf might not have been your radar for most of your betting life, but when betting options are limited it’s a great choice. Not to mention, you might be surprised at how much you enjoy it.
3 – Tennis Betting Opportunities in Summer
To round out the country club sports, tennis should be noted as a good betting option that is usually overlooked by most amateur handicappers in the U.S. It makes sense – not many people grow up playing or watching the sport, so betting on it (or even watching it) just isn’t at the top of most sports fans’ minds.
If you’ve never bet tennis before, the good news is that it’s extremely easy. Whereas sportsbooks put together their own matchups, tennis is actually a sport of one vs. one matchups.
The issue for most sports bettors when they give tennis a shot is that they aren’t familiar with any of the players outside of the biggest names in the sport. Once you get past Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, and a few others, the tennis knowledge of most of most sports fans goes by the wayside.
If you take the time to do your research on which players are good in which situations (meaning surface type, tournament location, etc.) you can get yourself up to speed in a relatively-short amount of time. Even if you don’t know much about the players, if you bet the odds there’s no reason you can’t come out of a tournament with a few extra dollars in your bankroll.
Betting on tennis isn’t like betting on the NFL, but when there aren’t any other alternatives available, its enough to hold you over until the fall rolls around.
You could take a break during the slow period that is July and August and try to save up for football season, but let’s be honest – that doesn’t sound like much fun.
If you’ve never given the sports in this article a real try in terms of betting, I highly recommend testing your luck and seeing if you can take advantage of the lines that are typically a little less sharp than the NBA and NFL. Plus, you never know – you might just find that you have a new favorite sport that you’ve been overlooking all along.