Jason Paglia is an NFL, NCAAF and MMA expert at The Sports Keg and he he has joined the OddsMarket team as we continue to bolster our collection of professional handicappers.
<p>American sports betting expert Jason Paglia has joined the OddsMarket team in order to share his expertise on NFL, college football and MMA. He will provide regular articles on his specialist sports and appear as a recurring guest in our daily sports betting videos. In this in-depth interview, he shares information on his background and provides tips for anyone interested in betting on American football and mixed martial arts.</p><p><strong>How long have you been a handicapper and what sports do you specialize in?</strong></p><p>Sports betting has been in my blood since the womb. My grandfather owned racehorses when I was young. By the time I was eight years old my grandfather taught me the fundamentals of how to handicap a racing program. At age nine I was placing bets at the local tracks through my pop and his trainers and the fire was lit.</p><p>I can literally remember the first ticket I cashed, it was a 5/1 shot from the rail on the last race of the day. Little did I know at that moment how important gambling would become to me. On my 12<sup>th</sup> birthday I finally realized my father was a bookie. I had always wondered what my father's 2nd job was. He referenced it often, calling it “the side job”.</p><p>At 15 I placed my first bet on a sporting event. It was Super Bowl XXX and I remember it like it was yesterday. I backed the Pittsburgh Steelers as a 13.5-point underdog. Final score, Cowboys 27-17 Steelers.</p><p>In 1998, I took over my father's side job and for a decade I had a front row seat to some of the worst gamblers on the planet. I didn't know it then, but what I was learning was invaluable. These guys offered a masterclass on how not to gamble. For the last 15 years I have perfected my handicapping style and five years ago it became a full-time job.</p><p>Sixty percent of my income comes from sports betting. Finally, a year ago, a friend said to me, "You can help people. So many people pay for sports picks from people that lose and take advantage of them, you can actually make them money." After I spoke to him I thought about it for a few months and finally The Sports Keg was born. At The Sports Keg we provide a service in specific sports that we specialize in, the NFL, NCAAF, NCAAB and MMA. August was our first football season and we finished 160-83 (66%) and plus-65.66 units on the season and away we went.</p><p>In my teenage years I completely fell in love with the sport of football. For six months every year during the NFL and NCAAF seasons I completely immersed myself in the sport by studying rosters, defensive and offensive schemes, sabermetrics and more.</p><p>For anyone that plans on doing this for a living, be prepared to spend 50-plus hours per week, every week, handicapping to find one or two angles that you can exploit every day. You have to love this; it has to be a way of life. You are married to this like you are to your wife. If you can make the commitment, you will be successful.</p><p>Around 1997 I became obsessed with a new sport, one that was too brutal and taboo for the mainstream. The sport of mixed martial arts was still in its infancy. At the time the UFC was the butt of every joke, and boxing snobs swore it would never go anywhere. I just happened to know they were wrong 10 years before the rest of the world began to catch on. I have literally watched every fight the UFC has ever promoted multiple times, and little did I know being a huge fan of the sport would benefit me tremendously when I became an MMA handicapper 15 years later.</p><p><strong>What have been some of your biggest successes?</strong></p><p>The best of the best that handicap professionally maintain a winning percentage around 57% across all sports. Specific sports, however, can be see higher percentages depending on what you specialize in. For me NFL, NCAAF, NCAAB [college basketball] and MMA have been good to me. The last five years I have averaged a 60% win percentage in American Football. This past year, however, I had my best season yet, winning 65.9% of the time over 243 picks. My biggest haul in a single game was last year’s Super Bowl. I won 111 units on the game between bets that included sides, totals, money line and props. Two years ago I hit my biggest parlay [accumulator] ever in MMA. It was a huge money line underdog parlay that paid 12,100/1 and, needless to say, it was a very good night.</p><p><strong>Do you favour stats and does gut instinct come into play?</strong></p><p>I certainly favour stats. Stats aren't everything, but research is 90% of the game. That gut instinct does come into play sometimes, but even that feeling you have in your gut is probably predicated on the stats you just poured over. Some people use systems and algorithms where you input the numbers and it spits out a pick like it’s a vending machine. That works for certain people.</p><p>A couple of my partners at The Sports Keg swear by systems and algorithms and it works for them. Personally I don't use them. The last five years my brain has hit at 60% when most respectable systems and algorithms hit at a 55-56% win rate depending on the sport. The gut feeling that most sports bettors feel is usually centred around line moves.</p><p>An example would be a football total bet. If a total opens at 47.5 and you think the line should be 50, then clearly you like the over, right? Then during the course of the day the market – which consists of people that know what they're doing as well as people that don't have a clue what they're doing – pounds the under and the closing line is 45.5. Clearly the market may be seeing something that you aren't. That gut instinct you feel now has to determine if the entire betting market is wrong and you are right or you aren't seeing the angle correctly and maybe its best to pass on the game completely.</p><p><strong>What advice would you give to the average NFL/NCAAF bettor?</strong></p><p>Time. Time is everything. The average NFL/NCAAF weekend bettor is not successful. Why? Because they don't have the time it takes to prepare. If you work a 45-hour week, are married, have kids and weekend obligations, you don't have the time it takes to put yourself in the best position to win. You are basically throwing darts. If you take this seriously and you want to make NFL sports betting a seasonal, supplemental income, set aside time.</p><p>First things first, watch the games. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I am serious: watch the games. Don't have the games on every week in the background as the soundtrack to your Sundays. Pay attention, take notes, and learn defensive and offensive schemes, what do teams do in situational spots. Is a team built to come back from behind? How does a team play with a lead?</p><p>You start with truly watching the games. I said time because at a minimum you should be setting aside 15 to 20 hours a week to watch film, go through team stats and rankings like net yards per play among 100 others. Sabermetrics are key. Football Outsiders metrics like DVOA, just to start.</p><p>I spend 50-plus hours per week focused on one sport. I don't know how handicappers sell plays in 5 different sports at once because it is literally impossible to do your clients justice. There aren't enough hours in the week to truly prepare for more than one or two sports at a time. Finally, if you just don't have the time to put yourself in the best position to win then do your research thoroughly and find a professional that can.</p><p><strong>Do you have any tips for someone new to MMA Betting?</strong></p><p>Again, time is really important. Watch all of a fighter’s previous fights. That is really important when betting on MMA. Styles make fights. Just because one fighter has a record of 19-3 and the other fighter is 14-6, it doesn't mean the fighter with the better record is a lock to win. How a fighter wins or loses fights is the most important factor when betting on MMA.</p><p>It is also important to limit risk. Any sport that is mostly money line-based [winner betting], you can get hurt in a hurry. Until you feel like you have a true grasp on the sport and the fighters in the sport I wouldn't risk anything more than -200 [1/2 or 1.50] on a favourite. If you are new to the sport and you take a shot on a fighter that is a heavy favorite at -600 [1/6 or 1.17] and you don’t really know what he is about or what his opponent is about it could mean trouble. You can be in a 6-unit hole right out of the gate. Look at fights where the odds are low and then watch every fight they have fought and then and only then should you place your bet.</p><p>Most of all, betting on sports is supposed to be enjoyable. It is supposed to add a little extra excitement to an already exciting sport. Don't let yourself get hurt. Don't bet the mortgage, don't bet the money set aside for the utility bill or the kids’ college fund. If you are losing consistently and want to continue betting, find a proven professional that is married to the game we call gambling. Most of all, have fun!</p>