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Here’s the Score on Playing the Odds in Football Wagering

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Football season is back, and everyone is looking for an edge when it comes to wagering on the game. We went to two experts for advice on gridiron handicapping: Jordan Runco, chief operating officer for ATS Consultants, a professional sports consulting and handicapping service based in Baltimore; and Todd Fuhrman, race and sports analyst at Caesars Palace. Here are their top tips:

Tip 1: Keep It Simple Most of the time, stick to betting the point spread, which requires favorites to win by a certain number of points and gives underdogs a handicap. Runco says a player’s odds for simple point-spread wagers are often better than teaser, money line or specialty wagers. Point spreads work because they give you some breathing room when betting the underdog, he explains.

Tip 2: Bet with Your Head There’s no place for fans in the world of wagering. “Betting with your heart usually gets you into trouble,” says Runco. “When you step into the sports book, you should check your allegiance at the door.”

Tip 3: Seek Value Study trends and matchups to find lines you can leverage. Fuhrman suggests: “Look for teams who are on an against-the-spread losing skid because you may be able to get an extra half point or point that wouldn’t normally be there.”

Tip 4: Be Forgetful Despite inevitable media hype, it’s important never to place too much emphasis on a single game or single performance. “A football team is never as good as their best game or as bad as their worst,” Fuhrman notes.

Tip 5: Manage Money Masterfully While it’s tempting to put big bucks behind a single game, long-term success depends on hitting a much higher percentage of your bets on multiple games. Runco’s advice: Diversify. “You wouldn’t put [a third] of your 401k on one stock,” he says. “It’s important to mix it up.”