If you want to win betting NFL playoff games, go against the suckers. That’s the message from former Australian bookmaker Justin Wolfers, who now teaches a business class at Stanford University.
Wolfers said the Super Bowl offers a good chance to go against the "suckers" because 90 percent of the action comes from "unsophisticated bettors," he said.
He added that most NFL games, in fact, attract a lot of less sophisticated players, who often have strong team loyalties and little handicapping acumen.
The key, of course, is tracking the bets in order to know which lines are being pushed by "sucker" bettors.
Other pitfalls to avoid, according to Wolfers, include overreacting to a teams’ most recent performances while ignoring their longer-term records, overestimating the significance of games with lopsided scores, and overplaying the home teams.
This past weekend’s Wild Card action should underscore some of Wolfers’ points. The Falcons came limping into the playoffs (having lost three of their past four), yet were far superior to the overbet Green Bay Packers, who were playing at home.
Other games in which the home team had a tough time were at Pittsburgh and San Francisco.
It will be interesting to see how the Jets, a runaway winner last week, is bet and fares against Oakland this week. Wolfers’ advice is to ignore the blowout of the Colts and evaluate the match-up with the Raiders.
Insiders report his money could be on Oakland, which is just an hour’s drive from his Palo Alto home.