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McNeil: 10 Commandments For Betting Football

Always remember: Thou shalt not bet with the heart.

Dan McNeil
May 16, 2018 - 11:40 am
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By Dan McNeil--

(670 The Score) Some contend the trail that's being blazed toward legalized sports wagering is a gateway to despair, just another device for the reckless to self-destruct.  

I'm out of the business of predicting human behavior, but this much I'm certain we can count on -- human beings always will be just that, 100 percent human. Each of us possesses blemishes. All are capable of weakness. 

Some are susceptible to compulsive behaviors and mental illness genetically. Addiction doesn't discriminate.

I was nine when I first experienced the rush of dopamine swirling in my head. I took the heavily favored Colts in Super Bowl III.  My grandfather took a quarter off me.

George Lawson chirped about Namath all week. I can't recall if I gave him the Jets and the record 18 1/2 points, but he took me down and it hurt.  

More recently -- as in the last 25 years -- I've enjoyed investing (gambling is such a dirty word) more than quarters on college and pro football games. For the first 20, I lost money. Annually.

The absence of a playbook and a commitment to adhering to those rules were my undoing. Four or five years ago, I started listening to a buddy I knew to be a successful football wagerer. And I started receiving wads of sweaty money instead of giving it to my guy. 

With the Supreme Court's ruling Monday paving the way for states to legalize gambling, I feel like it's my civic duty to offer the 10 Commandments of Football gaming. Following these guidelines has earned me a few bucks. I've staved off losing seasons for the last four seasons.

Here you go:

1. Thou shalt establish a budget

It's pretty simple, really. Don't be a goof. Don't wager more than you can stomach losing. If that's $200 a week, stick to it. No exceptions.

2. Thou shalt not chase

If you didn't like the Sunday night game on Sunday morning, it's reckless and unacceptable to plunk down for it because you went 0-3 earlier in the day. Chasing losses is the most egregious mistake a player can make. Don't do it.

3. Thou shalt never utter the term "house money"

Going 2-0 at noon isn't a license to throw more chips on the table for the Chargers and Raiders at 3:25. Don't increase stakes because you're hot. Going for the kill is gluttonous and a recipe for giving back what you earned. Keep your money in your pocket and be content to walk.

4. Thou shalt not bet with the heart

If you can't bear the guilt for treasonous behavior like betting against your team, it's best to not play it at all. I understand the temptation. And it doesn't stop with your hometown team. If you've laid points with the Badgers for three straight weeks and visited the pay window all three times, it's easy to wake up on a Saturday morning belting out "On, Wisconsin." Don't fall in love. Take emotions out of the equation. 

5. Thou shalt not make more than five plays weekly

Ideally, three moves a week is a good idea. My goal is to win two out three moves every weekend. This is a difficult discipline. Master it. And beware the parlay.  

6. Thou shalt not guess just to have action

It's another Thursday night dud matchup. You have no fantasy players going. So how do you sweeten the pie and pump up the motivation to plug in? You choose a position. Wrong. Thursday night games typically are sloppy, so why put your trust a team like the Dolphins? If you absolutely must choose a lane, make a wager with a buddy for lunch or a night of beverages.      

7. Thou shalt not lean on trends

Trends can be useful if you're torn and need a push, but relying on them hasn't benefited me. In sport like football, where teams meet a maximum of twice a year and rosters are always evolving, a six- or eight-game aggregate isn't a good barometer. A valuable trend for me has been on coaches with a high rate of success after a bye week or an extended "refractory period" because of a Thursday nighter.  John Harbaugh and Bill Belechick are trustworthy in that scenario. 

8. Thou shalt not forget the calendar

Make sure you're mindful of reserving some bank for the playoffs and Super Bowl. If it's early December and you're close to reaching your budget for the season, back off radically. Cut the number of your moves at least in half and minimize your plays. January should never sneak up on you. It invariably follows December.

9. Thou shalt listen to but not follow the crowd

See the seventh commandment for similar logic. That said, Kirk Herbstreit and Jimmy Johnson have earned their keep on "my team."

10. Thou shalt play extremely guardedly the first three weeks of the season

Many of us salivate for the lidlifter. Week 1 unquestionably pumps up the production of endorphins and dopamine. Pump the brakes there, Sparky. Small moves only as teams begin to explore their identity. In Week 2, I like investing in coaches. If a team remains unpredictable through three weeks, it's best to avoid it. 

Dan McNeil is a co-host of the McNeil and Parkins Show in afternoons. You can follow him on Twitter @DannyMac670.​​

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