Who doesn’t love an underdog story? They are impossible to hate, right?
An underdog is a team that is playing the favorite, the one that no one is picking to win. Thankfully for you, the underdog comes with a set of perks like better odds and more value. Many bettors love the underdog, but there are certain things to know before you place a bet on a team that isn’t favored for a reason.
In this article, we will explain how to bet the underdog, what to look for, and what to avoid when putting money on one of the riskier bets in sports.
What’s an Underdog?
In any sporting event in the world, one side is deemed the favorite to win. The opposition to this is an underdog, which is “expected” to lose. Whether it’s an NFL game on Sunday, a prime game on a Thursday night in the NBA, or a high school game on Friday Nights, there is an underdog in each and every sporting event.
In betting, the underdog is symbolized by a plus in front of the odds. This means you are getting plus odds on this team. For instance, if the 0-13 Browns are playing the 12-1 Raiders (unrealistic, right?) you will see the Browns with +330 odds to win the game outright.
The favorite has to give up an advantage to make the market efficient which is why they are given negative odds.
The beauty of betting on an underdog is that the payout is far better than if you are just betting on the favorite. That +330 odds would be a $330 payday if the underdog wins and you placed $100 on the bet.
How To Bet on the Underdog
There are lots of different kinds of underdogs and you need to know all of them because they all represent different kinds of value. Let me put it this way, some of these underdogs are the cutest puppy labrador retrievers that you have ever seen and it is a no-brainer that you are going to bet on them.
The other is that same puppy that just rolled around in the mud for 10 minutes, walked into your living room and ripped up the couch, and then peed on the wall. You are not betting on that dog and there is a good reason for it.
Music to a bettor’s ears. A home underdog feels like a cheat code. Winning on the road in any sport is really hard (we will admit it is harder in some sports). These teams have to hit the road, travel long distances, stay in hotels, and in some cases play in stadiums that look or feel nothing like their own, so there is going to be an automatic advantage for the home team.
That’s what makes a home underdog so intriguing to bet on. You are immediately getting value on a team that has the advantage before the ball is ever snapped, tipped, or pitched.
On top of aspects like ballpark dimensions in baseball, or crappy locker rooms in outdated NBA stadiums, you have to deal with a home crowd that can be loud and intimidating.
If that adorable brand-new puppy that is being cradled in your arms is the home underdog, the road underdog is the one that just rolled around in the mud. Some sports don’t offer as much of a home-field advantage. In recent years, the NFL betting market isn’t giving home teams as much of an advantage.
For starters, all the fields are the exact same, they are 100 yards long by 50 yards wide. These stadiums are brand new and the locker rooms are like luxury suites and many are now indoors, taking away a weather aspect. If a home team has a poor fan base or one that doesn’t get rowdy, it’s not hard to imagine why betting on a road underdog in the NFL is a smart move.
If you aren’t in the NFL, betting on the road underdog isn’t nearly as friendly to gamblers who have burned time and time again.
Usually, people immediately think of this kind of underdog when they are imagining winning a huge bet. An outright underdog is one that is going to inflate those odds to numbers you never see. We are talking the +300, +450, +550 odds in some extreme cases. Many times an underdog bet that is successful is just taking the points and betting that a team will cover the spread by losing by just a certain amount of points.
When we talk about outright underdogs it can be a bit riskier although the payout is far more. You must really judge the scenario in this case and decide whether or not it is worth it to place a bet of that magnitude.
We’ve talked about live betting on this site before and finding value with an in-play underdog can be a valuable asset to a bettor. Let’s look at an example between the 10-2 Pistons and the 5-7 Jazz. Before the game, the Pistons are 4-point favorites. The game begins and the Pistons come out flat as can be and quickly trail 20-6.
All of a sudden, the Pistons are now 4-point underdogs and their value on the moneyline is still a plus number. After looking at the pregame spread and the record of these teams, you still understand that the Pistons are expected to win, you’re just getting a much better number than you would have before.
This is the perfect way to spot great value on an underdog that really isn’t an underdog. If you have patience and can wait until a game tips off or gets to halftime and know when to strike at the right time.
Bettor beware. There is no feeling more electric than loading up a four-team parlay on a college football Saturday with underdogs. When you see the odds of your bet go from your typical -110 on a straight bet to +650 on four teams that you have absolutely convinced yourself can win or cover the spread, it can be dangerous.
Our advice is this: there is always a reason that a team is an underdog. Sure you might be able to hit one or two legs of that parlay, but if you keep loading up on it, you are just increasing your risk and allowing the big numbers to cloud your judgment. You must be aware of why a team is an underdog and only bet on the ones that you truly believe in.
Is it worth it?
After reading about the different kinds of underdogs, hopefully, you can choose for yourself as to whether or not it is a good bet to move forward with the team who is not ever favored. Some scenarios are perfect, you could wrap that dog in a pretty box and gift it to someone for Christmas. Other times, you’ve got to put a muzzle on the dog and hope it doesn’t bite anyone in the dog park.
Our favorite kind of underdogs are home dogs and in-play underdogs while we like to avoid the road dogs outside of the NFL and the underdog parlays where sometimes your eyes are too big for your brains.