Publish Date: 02/03/2021
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
Today, if you look up Michael Jordan and gambling, you’ll be greeted with articles about how much Jordan loves to gamble. If we had Google in the ‘90s, and you made the same search, you’d probably learn about how many bettors put action on Michael Jordan – the man generated a lot of buzz.
Betting on your favorite player can be really exciting – maybe you’re a huge Patrik Laine fan and you’re confident he’ll make waves with the Blue Jackets, or you love Kawhi and you’ll bet on any NBA team that can land him. No matter what your taste in sports is, most of us have a favorite player or two at some point, and putting action on them can get us more invested in the sport.
We’re going to look at the pros and cons of betting your favorite, but a warning before we do: simply betting on your favorite player every time is not a viable betting strategy. Successful sports bettors use their heads way more than their hearts.
In other words, all other things being equal, bet your favorite, but if you’re sure a rival team has an advantage over your favorite, don’t place a bet on the wrong side out of loyalty.
The assessment above is a bit bleak, but betting your favorite isn’t all that bad. There are actually a lot of advantages to betting your favorite: namely, you know a lot about them because you’ve followed them for a long time. You might even know more about them than the sports handicappers do (though you might not – these guys are pretty religious about sports).
You might know that your favorite goes hard in the paint, but has a hard time shooting 3s. In a game where you think your favorite team will drive to the basket frequently, you can be pretty sure they’re going to score a lot of points. A game that you think is going to be decided by 3s, on the other hand, will be a game in which you’ll be less likely to place prop bets on your favorite.
This is especially important in baseball, but can be applied in any sport: you know your favorite’s matchups well, so you’ll be able to get a sense of when they’ll thrive. Your fave might be a slugger who has a terrible matchup against southpaws – if they’re up against a notorious southpaw, you’ll skip your bet, while if they’re up against a pitcher they have an excellent average against, you’ll bet.
Most action on individual player performance pays out higher than action on a whole team – that’s because player performance tends to vary more from game to game than whole team performance. A lot of knowledge about a particular player can, thus, lead to much higher payouts.
Hey, betting doesn’t have to be about maximizing your edge. You might just love this player, and want to put money behind them because you enjoy it. More power to you.
Most sharps will bet on a wide array of teams in a variety of circumstances – and they’re placing an assortment of different bets, too. You won’t find a career bettor who made their name by just slamming money on the table for one player over and over again (with, perhaps, the exception of people who placed a lot of bets on Jordan).
Here’s why you shouldn’t just bet your favorite:
Love can make us blind to the truth, and if you really love your favorite, you might ignore all of the stats that show they’re a bad bet. You might even feel bad for not betting on them – and that would be a huge mistake. Sometimes, the right bet is a bet against your favorite.
If you’re just making prop bets on your favorite, instead of, say, betting the spread, you’re going to have far worse odds of winning. Those bad odds are somewhat compensated by higher payouts – but most professional bettors don’t make their money on prop bets.
You don’t want to get tunnel vision. By expanding your bets beyond your favorite player, you’ll be encouraged to learn about other players and teams in your sport (or, if you’re like us, sports) of choice. Only betting on your favorite means you’re limiting your experience, both as a fan and as a bettor.
And with that, we’ve covered some of the most important pros and cons of betting on your favorite. If you take nothing else away from this article, know this: sometimes, it’s appropriate to bet your favorite, but if that’s all you ever do, you’re just betting for fun, and it’s extremely unlikely you’ll make a profit over the long run.