I’ve decided to start a new column here at MMAOddsbreaker.com where I will offer sage advice to all the MMA gamblers out there that will both make you some cash and avoid losing it. The first volume of this new column debuts this week, and here it is below: MMA Gambler’s Advice Vol. 1: Don’t Lay Juice On Prospects My first piece of advice to all the MMA gamblers out there isn’t going to necessarily help you make money, per se, but it will help you save money over the long term, which is just as important as making it. What I’m talking about is the rule of thumb that one should not lay juice on prospects, at least not heavy juice. It’s a rule of thumb that will help you keep your cash in your pocket, and it’s a rule of thumb that I guarantee will save you from a lot of headaches over the course of your tenure as an MMA gambler. How many times have we seen a fighter come into the UFC with all sorts of hype, only to lose in their first fight in the Octagon? It happens all the time — almost very card, in fact — and yet the majority of gamblers don’t learn from it and continue to lay the juice on these prospects. It’s a mistake I’ve made many times and I’m not afraid to admit that; but I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes and that’s why I want to help everyone from making this simple mistake themselves. The reason why you should not lay heavy juice on prospects is quite simply because prospects are just that: prospects. If you notice the first three letters of the word “prospects,” its the same as the first three letters in the word “proven” and there’s a good reason for that — because prospects have yet to prove themselves. These are fighters that are still learning about their game and sometimes — actually, more often than not — this involves losing in fights that we all expect them to win, and while a loss on the way up may eventually help them become better fighters over time, it won’t help you — the MMA gambler — out if you placed a wager on the losing prospect. Let me give you some recents of example to help illustrate my point of not laying juice on prospects:
- Two weekends ago, Justin Gaethje — who is one of the top prospects in WSOF — took on veteran Brian Cobb in a lightweight contest at WSOF 3. Gaethje closed at -320, while Cobb closed at +290, which obviously indicates the public was playing Gaethje despite the fact Cobb had way more experience. In the fight, Cobb took an early lead and nearly finished Gaethje with a submission; although he didn’t finish, the round could have been scored 10-8. In the second round, Gaethje took control and the fight was likely tied up heading into round three, not what you would like from a -320 favorite. Then in the third Cobb was winning and was looking in control until Gaethje started unleashing some brutal leg kicks and was able to finish the fight with only a few minutes to go. Even though Gaethje won, laying -320 on him was the wrong bet to make; instead, the bet to make here was simply a pass.
- Last weekend at RFA 8, Lance Palmer took on Jared Downing a five-round fight for the promotion’s first-ever featherweight title. Palmer closed at -755 while Downing was +545, but those odds didn’t indicate how the fight would go at all as most who watched the fight believed that the fight should have been scored a draw. Instead, Palmer was gifted a split decision victory from the judges, and although bettors won that night, everyone who parlayed Palmer was sweating their bet and got really lucky when the judges wrongly scored the bout in his favor and those who played him straight at the giant pricetag were even luckier. Again, the right bet to make here was a pass.
- Back in April at UFC on FOX 7, Jordan Mein took on Matt Brown in a welterweight bout. After debuting at UFC 158 with a brutal TKO win over Dan Miller, Mein entered the fight with Brown as a -305 favorite and while he did win the first round of the match, the +270 underdog Brown took it to him in the second and ended up winning via second-round TKO. For the majority of bettors this was a losing cause as most parlayed Mein thinking he would easily dispatch of Brown, but the fight played out the way it did and it proved that the right play here was to just pass on the prospect Mein at the juiced-up pricetag.
- Had you laid the juice on straight bets on these three fighters — two of whom won — you would have actually been down over $100, even though you got two of three winners right. And, to me, that really says a lot.
So as you can see from these examples, high-juiced prospects do win but it seems like the headache isn’t worth the high price tag attached to them, and sometimes they just downright lose and you, in turn, lose your cash. Sure, there are prospects that have bucked this trend like Jon Jones, but those phenom prospects are few and far between. For the majority of the youngsters coming up in the sport, there’s often stumbles and road blocks on their way up, and it’s just not worth risking your hard-earned cash on them. So my advice to everyone is to avoid laying high juice on prospects. If you can get a highly-regarded prospect for -150 or less then that’s ok — I would say up to -200 is tolerable, but personally another rule of mine is to only lay straight bets at less that -150 — and if they’re an underdog paying decent plus money that’s never a bad play. But for the most part never lay -300 or -400 or -500 — or in the case of Palmer, over -700 — because you will lose in the long run and you work too hard for your money to lose it on an unproven fighter. So keep this rule of thumb in mind for the future and save yourself the headaches.