Doc Greenfield: The Warren Buffett of Sports Betting
For the past 30 years, the man known as Doc Greenfield has been tormenting bookies and casinos with his ability to pick winners and take their money. With a mixture of modern-day analytics and old-school street-smarts, Doc has been able to find value plays across the board.
To celebrate the launch of The Odds Factory, we were able to coerce the good doctor to share some dos and don’ts for betting on sports:
Locks Are for Doors and Bagels
Doc Greenfield: I’ve known many more bettors that have ended up in the poorhouse than have ended up in the penthouse. The main reason people get smeared (“killed,” for those of you that don’t speak Yiddish) is because they load up too much on one game.
Listen, over the years there have been a lot of fixes: CCNY, BC, Arizona State, Tulane, etc. And do you know that those fixes only hit at about a 75% win rate? 75%, not 100%. These were fixes and they only hit at 75%. So how in the world can a straight bet be a 100% lock? It can’t be.
Have a core bet at 1 unit and if you really-really-really like a play, go to 3-4 units, but that’s it. Anything more than that is a prescription for problems.
Your Heart Lies to Your Eyes
Doc Greenfield: Never bet on your favorite teams, or against the teams you hate. There was a good book (not great, a little dry for me) by Michael Lewis a few years ago called The Undoing Project, in which a Nobel Prize-winning sociologist talks about how our eyes and our experiences distort our vision.
No place is this more evident than when people bet on their favorite teams and fade their rivals. It’s natural; you have an extra layer of emotion that is loaded into the equation and extra emotion is not a formula for good handicapping.
X out the teams that fall into this category to keep your bankroll intact.
Favorite Dogs and Dog Favorites
Doc Greenfield: People’s eyes naturally drift towards favorites and overs. Action normally comes in at a rate of 60% favorites/40% dogs and an even more skewered 70%-30% in the case of road favorites against home dogs.
Not surprisingly (because there are a lot more suckers than sharps), home dogs clock in at a very robust 60% win rate.
If you like a favorite, half the unit you normally bet. If you like a dog, double the unit.
*Same rules apply for Over/Unders. Half the Overs, double the Unders.
Multiple Wagers Are for Bookies' Girlfriends
It’s hard enough to win when you’re paying 11-10, and it’s impossible if you’re paying 12-10 or 13-10 for parlays, birdcages, wheels or accumulators.
Don’t even get me going on teasers, do not bet those either.
Know How to Take Your Own Temperature
Jerry Reed had a country hit in the ’70s that went “When you’re hot, you’re hot / And when you’re not, you’re not.” Every gambler should have that as his ring tone.
Press when you’re hot, and take a break when you’re cold. I know it’s simple and I know that everyone in the world knows this, but 90% of all bad betting stories are because people pressed when they were down. If you can live by this rule, you’ll have a long enjoyable life betting on sports.
Sharks Eat Fish
Watch the money flow.
If you see tons of small bets on one side and a few big bets on the other side, pick up your phone and put a few bucks on the side with the big bets.
This is a magic combo that has paid for vacations, pools, tennis lessons, and a Bat Mitzvah with a raw bar.
Stay Off the Highway and Travel the Backroads
In all of my sports betting endeavors, there is one league where I have by far the lowest winning percentage: the NFL. The lines are too good, the info too plentiful, the analysis spot on. The line/score deviance in the NFL is by far the least of any sport that uses a point-spread. In the NFL, you’re basically flipping coins and paying vig (so if you don’t bet over your head it’s a fun way to spend your Sundays).
I’ve always made my money focusing on places where the lights aren’t as bright. Ivy League basketball, with its weird Friday/Saturday schedule, has been a personal ATM for decades. The MAAC conference in football and specifically the Toledo Rockets have always treated me exceptionally well.
Bet the Super Bowl because it’s always nice to have a kibbutz when you’re watching the game. Bet Siena/Niagara on a Tuesday in January to make your bookie cry.
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