What is the Plan?
August 18, 2005
This question comes from a scene in the movie "The Hunt for Red October". The character played by Alec Baldwin has just landed on an aircraft carrier to de-brief its commanding officer regarding the runaway Soviet sub. The obviously experienced U.S. naval officer inquires as to its commander's plan, adding: "A Russian don't take a dump without a plan". By the same token, the successful sports bettor also needs a plan; he or she shouldn't "dump" money into bets without one.
Having a betting plan helps to protect you from both the external and internal factors which can impair your judgment. If you've ever been to a busy sports book in Las Vegas or even a decent sports bar, you'll know what I mean. After only a little more than the first quarter of the morning's slate of NFL games, some bettors will be on cloud nine because a great day is shaping up while others will be starting to order Jack and Prozac. In the words of handicapper Trace Fields, "the fog of war has begun". Wait an hour or so and sometimes it will look as though these two sets of bettors have all traded seats. A "mo" shift here, and a turnover there, is often all it takes.
The typical bettor who over-reacts to the outcomes of his bets like this usually does not have a plan. If he ends up with a big morning he gets cocky and will often add plays or add to plays in the afternoon; possibly giving back what he's won. The morning's losers will often either do the same because now they're "due", or pull in their horns and now pass plays that might win because they're in a bad streak.
Winning sports bettors are not affected by the short term results of their wagers because they bet according to a plan.
The plan includes:
1. Decision-making criteria for what constitutes a good bet based on:
2. The results of a standardized handicapping process. And:
3. A pre-determined money management plan that defines:
• Their goals,
• Bet size and,
• Maximum amount allowed to be at risk at once; all from a:
• Specific bankroll.
This plan prevents them from being caught up in the immediate vagaries of the fog of war.
The other essential, aside from having the plan is having the discipline to stick to it. As the day unfolds, unless there's been a significant development (a key injury for example), don't waver from the plan.