I’ll wager there are a lot of Leafs fans looking to drop some serious cash on Buds in Game 5 and beyond. Obviously, as a sports betting consultant, I’d recommend NOT dropping your next mortgage payment on any type of wager. Let’s be real though, there are degenerates among us. So, in that case, how can a degen go about making smart bets on their favourite team?
Betting the Toronto Maple Leafs Like a Pro
Focus less on the stats and more on the narrative
Okay, I know that this is not what you’re going to want to hear if you focus a lot of time on breaking down games through stats and advanced analytics, Trust me, when I started out I was one of those stats guys. What I learned by being “one of them” is I fell victim to “odd prices” and “perceived value.” Every time I’d see a good line, I’d jump on it thinking it was a gift. The end results did not indicate my initial preconceptions. Not only did I lose, but I also became frustrated. That lead me to make bad bets and to avoid wagers I otherwise would’ve taken. Wagers, of course, which would’ve won.
What’s frustrating about all of this is I missed out on what I really needed to focus on. For example, I’m sure everyone heard the narrative after Game 1 that “Toronto is done” and Tampa Bay is going to sweep them. Many people who bet on the Leafs in Game 1 quickly flipped sides for Game 2. And it made sense on paper because Tampa Bay just blew Toronto out of the water. Add in the fact that the Lightning was widely available at + money on most books and betting on the Lightning was a “no-brainer” to those bettors who got embarrassed two days before.
Easy bets don’t equal winning ones
As you can probably see, the “easiest” bets like Tampa Bay to win Game 2, often are not easy. Books will happily hang those lines knowing that many will fall for the trap. What separates pros from joes on this front? The pros know sticking with Toronto was the proper bet even though the overall narrative might say otherwise.
Yes, sometimes sharps will get stubborn and drop unit after unit on bad teams who couldn’t win a game if their lives depended on it. Hell, it happened last year with the Cincinnati Reds of the MLB. The brothers went on a phenomenal losing streak but the sharps stuck with it. Eventually, the Reds strung together a few wins and the wiseguys were quickly up on their investments. Why? In most games, the Reds were +200 dogs or more.
The point is if you want to be good at betting, you can’t get caught up in the madness.
What to look for when finding sharp plays
Every game in this series has hit the OVER in goals. The narrative has quickly become that this series will be high scoring. Most are saying, “Why is Game 5 going to be any different?”
It’s a good question. Not to mention, a fair one. In a world where everything is predictable, the OVER 6.5 goals (-110) would hit rather easily. Sharps, on the other hand, don’t think that way. Their line of thinking is what goes up must come down. The UNDER is due. It doesn’t mean they hammer it pregame. They might look for something in-game. The wiseguys already know these teams play fast and strong out of the gate. They might be able to get an inflated number. Not only giving themselves a better total and more wiggle room. They also give themselves better expected value.
Pros are patient
What a lot of the “normies” do is force bets. A lot of people just want action. Some are literally addicted and can’t help themselves. (If this sounds like you, please talk to someone. ConnexOntario Helpline: 1-866-531-2600 is a great resource.). Others want something to cheer for and might not be motivated by profit.
That said, pro bettors are motivated by profit—they only bet if something is good. If the bet’s risk outweighs its reward, sharps will pass on those wagers. The rule of thumb is quality over quantity.
For example, wanted very badly to play the UNDER 6.5 goals in Game 4. That said, I knew that the bet’s risk far outweighed the reward. Instead, I chose to play the Maple Leafs moneyline. The bet itself looked dead in the water for most of the game, but thanks to some heroics, it cashed. Even if the bet would’ve lost, I still would consider it a sharp bet as it offered +EV.
Quick Highlights courtesy of Joe Bowen and Jim Ralph. #LeafsForever @BonsieTweets @Jim_Ralph
Lightning vs. Maple Leafs R1G4 – Apr 24, 2023 pic.twitter.com/kSGYnrkMB4
— LeafsJellyHD (@LeafsJelly) April 25, 2023
Case in point: If you ever want to be profitable, you’ll have to learn to back off. If it doesn’t feel right to you, it probably isn’t.
Pros bet with a system
Pros bet with a system that has built-in angles. Therein, sharps can easily find good plays that they think are worth looking into. How these systems are created varies from person to person. Most are built to find +EV bets. Some are based on betting against the market/public. Others rely upon analytics to find value in player props.
If you’re not betting with a system, my advice is to create your own mini-angles. For example, if that’s all you do is watch the Leafs, look for your own trends. Remember, don’t use trends that are widely available on social media—create your own. Matthews only got two shots on goal and everyone is calling him a bum. You notice after an iffy game, Matthews comes back with an A+ effort. The Shots On Goal line is set at 4.5 with a price of +100. Everyone is hitting the UNDER because Matthews is playing a good defensive team. The OVER becomes your play.
An important FYI, make sure to track those mini-angles even if you don’t bet them. It helps you to find out how profitable that mini-angle is. It can also affect how aggressively you bet on this mini-angle. If it’s not profitable over the span of 50 wagers, it gets tossed and you look to create a new mini-angle.
Understand that betting is not easy
Betting on sports isn’t easy. Just like investing in the stock market isn’t easy. The best way to become good at betting on sports is to learn how the market works. That might mean taking a class or finding a mentor. It might mean betting small at first and learning your lessons before you go all-in.
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The worst thing a person can do is think that just because they know sports they can be good at sports betting. If that were the case, the “experts” on the betting shows wouldn’t be on TV giving out bad pick after bad pick. Former players would be able to rake in millions off their knowledge of the sport that they once used to play.
Being a good bettor means investing a lot of time into learning the craft and evolving with the market.
If you don’t know what that means, this is an indicator that you SHOULDN’T be going into this business headstrong just because it’s the playoffs. Instead, you should be trying to learn as much as you can. It doesn’t mean you can’t bet. It just means be smart about how you do it.
Hey Mr. Know-It-All, what are the sharp plays for Game 5?
As a part of my system, I rely on information like sharp buys and book needs. To be honest with y’all, there’s not much popping right now. That could change within the next couple of days as the limits at the books increase.
Right now, there’s a small amount of sharp money coming in on the UNDER 6.5 goals. This makes sense as some sharps are trying to fade the OVER trend in this series.
I’ll be back Thursday morning with a Game 5 betting update. By that time I’ll have a better idea where the sharp money is going. I will also provide my leans for Game 5. (FYI, leans are essentially what bets I’m interested in on a particular game. They’re not set-in-stone bets. All it means is I’m looking to further evaluate those wagers to see if they meet my system’s criteria.).