The Basics In Sports Betting: The Five Star System

Susan ShanCorrespondent IJuly 21, 2010

I used to handicap and bet on college football. I wouldn't call myself a professional handicapper; but, I thought I'd write about the method recommended by handicappers around the world: the five star system.

Firs step is to pick 10-15 games a week on which you think you have an edge, based on the line. For example, if the Florida vs. Georgia game is -14 Florida, and you think that the line should be -15 Florida, then you have a slight edge on the current line. After you've picked 10-15 games, the next step is to rate them based on a five-star system: Rate one star for games you maintain a soft edge.  Rate five stars for games you think are definite locks.

After this exercise, your picks should be mostly 1 and 2 star ratings. The 4 and 5 star ratings should be pretty rare.  For those, you should be very sure you cannot possibly lose.

Now for the connection to your bets. A 1 star rating means that you bet that game with 1 unit. You must determine what your unit is. For example, if my unit is $100, I will bet all 1 star games for $100 (not including juice). If my unit is $200, I will bet all 2 star games for $200, and so on.

If you are a square or beginning bettor, you should also be aware of trap games. There are two kinds of trap games. One kind is as a game wherein Las Vegas oddsmakers skew a line oddly toward one side. You can recognize these because the skewed line goes against all reason and research. This is considered a trap game in that oddsmakers want to trap you into betting a certain way by making the line too good to be true.  And it is too good to be true.

The second classification for a trap game is when a team has just gained a tough, improbable victory, only to let down the next week. For example, after undefeated Rutgers beat undefeated and No. 3-ranked Louisville in 2006, the Scarlet Knights lost the next week to 5-5 Cincinnati in a huge let down game.

With these tips, you can now bet confidently.  For more info on betting on sports winning, visit!