WinPicks Reference Manual

Appendix A.10. Checking Trends

After you find a successful formula, you may want to use SITUATION ANALYSIS or TEAM HISTORY to check the recommended picks. For example, your formula might pick a certain team to cover as a road underdog against a divisional opponent. When you check the team's history, you might find that they seldom cover the line in this situation. Or, your formula might pick a team that is clearly superior "on paper", but has a history of playing poorly against this week's opponent. To make you aware of these situations, routinely checking trends is often a good idea. You can then qualify your formula's picks by checking to see if they agree with the trends.

A pick based on sound statistical information that agrees with the trends is usually a solid play. Of course, it won't always be right. However, in the long run you can usually do quite well by combining a good formula with some trend analysis.

Finding trends is a popular pastime among handicappers, perhaps the most popular pastime of all. Many handicappers, perhaps the majority, base all of their selections on trends. If you choose to go this route, the WinPicks software is probably the most powerful tool you can buy, since it includes a trend engine that lets you study a game from nearly every conceivable angle. There are also dozens of articles published each year that uncover "hidden" trends with incredibly high winning percentages, and trend information is routinely discussed by radio and television talk show hosts and play-by-play announcers. While it is certainly possible to profit from staying on top of existing trends, it is usually not wise to handicap using only trend information. Here are several reasons why:

Few pro teams have a distinct personality - Pro football and basketball are big business, and this means that there is high turnover among the players and coaches. Owners are always trying to shake up the team to win more games or save more money, and even the ownership is subject to change. A team may still have only a few (if any) of the players that played for them three years ago, in fact, entire NBA rosters have changed in one year. Also, many head coaches only last from one to three years before getting fired. Why should any organization with this much change follow trends? Our experience shows that college football teams seems to follow trends more closely even though their players can only play for four years. The reason is that many college football teams have a distinct personality imprinted on them by their coach and the amount of emphasis placed on football by the university. Also, there are many well-known rivalries in college football that the schools, players, and fans take very seriously. As college fans know, the atmosphere at these games is very similar from year to year. Few such rivalries exist in pro sports.

Once a trend is discovered, the oddsmakers will often prevent you from playing it - Since so many handicappers look for trends, the oddsmakers look for them, too. For example, one of the best known trends in pro football is to take Kansas City as a home dog (29-10-3 ATS, 74.4%, from 1985-2007). The trend was so strong from 1985-1991 that the oddsmakers decided not to let gamblers play it. Although they had many seasons without a strong team, the Chiefs were a home dog only 17 times, or about once per year on average, from 1992-2007 (going 8-7-2 ATS). Because so many people were waiting to take Kansas City as a home dog, the oddsmakers usually made them a home favorite instead, robbing this once strong trend of most of its value. By 2008, however, when the Chiefs had hit rock bottom, the oddsmakers no longer feared this trend, and the Chiefs were underdogs in seven of their eight home games. The Chiefs won only one of the seven games, and went 3-4 ATS.

Strong trends carry a high price, and the value goes away - Many gamblers refer to the line as the price, much as an investor refers to the price of a stock. And as stock players know, the stocks most likely to make money often have the highest price. The trick is knowing when something is overpriced, or too expensive to remain a good value. For example, during their Super Bowl years with Joe Montana, the San Francisco 49ers were an excellent road team that routinely covered the line. However, since the oddsmakers knew this, they kept raising the price, favoring them by more and more points every week until they were no longer a good value. During their championship years with Michael Jordan, the Chicago Bulls were considered so invincible that they were routinely a 15 to 18 point favorite and yet still covered over 60% of the time, often winning by 20 to 30 points. However, late in the year once they had clinched the division title and started "resting" for the playoffs, they were unable to meet the high expectations of the gambling public. There is always a point where the price is too high for the risk involved, and all trends eventually turn around and go the other way.

The key factor when doing trend handicapping is to try and find a trend before everyone else knows about it. Then, profit from it while it lasts. Remember, it doesn't help to know what everyone else knows, you have to know something that other gamblers don't. As we stated earlier, trends are best used as support for your statistical analysis. We recommend handicapping with formulas, and then checking each recommended pick to see if it agrees with the trends.

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