How to Approach Betting Underdogs

You need a strategy for betting underdogs.

Key Points

– Underdogs win outright a lot in sports like baseball and hockey.

– Finding underdogs with value is the key to betting underdogs in sports.

How to Approach Betting Underdogs

The goal of sports bettors everywhere is to win more. Bettors should think about what that means though. Sure, we love a winning bet but, ultimately, we want to win more money. That’s really what it is all about.

Bettors can bet on two favorites and win both bets. Great! They can also place a wager on one underdog and win more than the bets on the two favorites combined. That’s the power of betting underdogs.

While betting on underdogs may seem risky, the rewards can be great. It’s kind of like moneyline parlays. That’s why every bettor should have a strategy on how to approach betting underdogs.

The Case for MLB Underdogs

In Major League Baseball, underdogs win roughly four out of every nine games. That’s about 44 percent of the time. That’s a pretty big number compared to other major sports. 

Keep in mind that baseball is a moneyline sport. Scoring in baseball is not like that of football and basketball. Because it is a moneyline sport, bettors will often see short underdogs. Oftentimes, those short underdogs have great chances of winning. 

For example, the Boston Red Sox might be a +106 underdog to the favored New York Yankees.   The Yankees might be favored at -108. This is a situation where both teams have great chances of winning and, often, the underdog gets the win. 

They should approach betting MLB underdogs with fervor. It’s the key to a winning MLB strategy. If you bet on nine MLB favorites at an average of -150 odds, you’ll need to win six or seven of those bets just to break even. If you bet on four underdogs at an average of +130, you will likely take home profits in the range of $500.

Again, that’s the value of betting underdogs.

Betting Underdogs in the NFL

In the NFL, underdogs do not win straight up as often as MLB underdogs. The NFL underdog can take two forms. There is the NFL moneyline underdog and there is the NFL point spread underdog.

Moneyline underdogs in the NFL only win 34.2 percent of the time. Still, that number is big enough for bettors to consider finding value on underdogs each week of an NFL season. 

Point spread underdogs in the NFL have covered the spread 53.6 percent of the time since the 2018 season, the first after the historic PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) was repealed by the U.S. Supreme Court. That landmark decision put fuel to the fire that is sports betting. 

With underdogs covering over 53 percent of the time over the past few seasons, it only makes sense that NFL bettors should target those underdogs that offer superior betting value.


NHL Underdog Betting

Betting on the NHL is much like betting on baseball. Hockey is a moneyline sport because of the lack of scoring. Roughly 70 to 71 percent of all NHL games in a season will be decided by a single goal. This leaves the moneyline as the preferred betting option for NHL bettors.

The scenario is similar to baseball in that short underdogs win a ton of NHL games. As a whole, underdogs in the NHL win 41.4 percent of the time. That means there is a lot of value on underdogs if you are able to find the right ones. 

The NBA Conundrum

The NBA has become somewhat predictable lately and that is evident in the game’s underdog numbers. Only 32.1 percent of NBA underdogs win games straight up. That doesn’t mean there isn’t value and bettors can also find value on NBA point spread underdogs.

Only NCAA football (21.9%) and NCAA basketball (25.9%) have lower underdog winning percentages. Those sports also have hundreds of teams competing against each other. That makes for a wide variety of skill levels. 

The best teams in college football are way better than the worst teams. In the NFL, NHL, MLB, and even the NBA; there is much more parity. The worst team in any of those leagues could beat the best team on any given day.

When to Bet Underdogs

Understanding how often underdogs win in each of the major sports will help bettors as they go about finding the best ones to bet. There are a number of certain instances when betting underdogs makes sense.

One is the case of the over-hyped favorite. We have all seen it and we all know how much the public puts faith in favorites and the sports media. There have been enough upsets in situations like this for bettors to take notice. Do all of your research, but keep an eye out for over-hyped favorites.

Another situation is when you see favorable matchups. In MLB for example, you have a team that hits a certain starting pitcher very well even though he and his team happen to be favored to win. It could be an NFL situation where a team, particularly in division rivalries, just has another team’s number. The Cleveland Browns, for example, only had a handful of wins over the Pittsburgh Steelers over the past decade.

Don’t count out motivation either. Sometimes, teams simply aren’t motivated to beat what might be considered a lesser opponent. That happens often in college sports like NCAAF where a highly ranked team falls to one that is unranked. Finding value in NCAAF betting, for example, is worth the time investment. The favorite will overlook the underdog and, in the end, a bunch of underdog bettors are extremely happy.