An Emotional Hedge: Betting Against Your Loser Team To Profit From Pain

Written By Jon Humbert on 12/23/2021
Melvin Gordon Broncos

Editor’s note: The following article represents the views of the author.

When the Denver Broncos coughed up a lead, or a patented John Elway comeback fizzled into the ether in the late 1980s and early ’90s, my exasperated father would toss his hands up, leave the room and curse the orange-and-blue with his made-up nickname, the “Donkos.”

If only he had bet on the game – and against those disappointing Donkos.

There’s a philosophy in fandom that no one hates your team more than you do. Goodness knows that Detroit Lions’ partisans or Cincinnati Bengals’ supporters or woeful Jacksonville Jaguars fans know the suffering.

So, how to make a loss more bearable? Bet against your own team. I call it “Profit from Pain.”

If your team is going to get shellacked, keep finding ways to bumble away a cover, or miss the over team total by this much, it hurts twice as hard. You lost in real life, and your bankroll took a hit, too.

Instead, use your fanaticism to guarantee at least a little happiness on Sunday. You’ve likely watched nearly every snap, and if you confront the honest truth about your team, you can find exploitable weaknesses and leverage your masochistic support.

In NFL Week 12, the books shared their most popular bets by state on Twitter.

Colorado sports bettors overwhelmingly chose the Los Angeles Chargers moneyline in a pretty even matchup with a three-point spread. This means Coloradans used their brains and rational understanding of the middling Broncos to try to make some coin on the expected Denver loss.

Instead, the Broncos came alive and hacked apart Los Angeles in convincing fashion. Electricity surged through Mile High by being back “in the hunt.” It’s the purest form of hedging: you win in real life or you make some money.

At least you’ll get something.

Now, this isn’t carte blanche to always bet against your team. It’s not some telepathic rope-a-dope where you “reverse psychology” your way to a win. Those same Broncos are 11-3 to the under this season. That’s a massive data point that you likely already figured out as a fan. That offense is flat-out trash, yet the defense is above average. It’s maddening. It’s also a lot of under.

Watch early-season matchups as well. It can often take time for the market to adjust to trends you may already know as a superfan.

In recent years, the Colorado Rockies have had relatively strong starting pitching but bats that stay silent. That, too, is a perfect mix to look at the first five innings under. Yes, the bullpen lets down a lot of teams, so exploit the market’s assumption of Coors Field moonshot home runs when the stats (and your eyeballs) prove otherwise.

So yes, it’s not always easy to honestly confront our fanaticism for our favorite teams. We tend to excuse their flaws and explain away their deficiencies. It hurts when they lose, sure. Let’s at least profit from the pain.

Photo by AP / Jack Dempsey
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Jon Humbert

Jon brings a well-rounded and unique Colorado native's perspective to the multi-sport wagering beat at PlayColorado. He is a communications and public relations strategist based in New York. An Emmy and Murrow award-winning investigative journalist, he’s worked in El Paso, Las Vegas, Seattle and Reno, Nevada.

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