16 January 2013

Cold Streaks: January NBA Malaise

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA


America was in the middle of a deep freeze. The frigid temperatures were a perfect metaphor of my current state of affairs. I'm stuck in a losing streak in the NBA. Cold. Cold. Cold. It started almost two weeks ago and intensified during a trip to Las Vegas last weekend.

The bad news... I'm in the middle of a 11-20-1 stretch over 33 games including 5-10 since I first set foot in Vegas last Friday.

The good news... I'm 2-2 since leaving Vegas so I might be finally pulling out of this downward spiral into Hades. Thankfully the Clippers bailed me out the last couple of nights.

Overall NBA record is an unimpressive 88-84-4. If we didn't hit a couple of big teasers, we'd be deeper in the hole... which currently sits at -$55. Yep, I'm down $55 after firing away 176 wagers since the season tipped off on Halloween.

Did variance rear its ugly head? Was it time for a market correction? Have I been analyzing the data wrong? Have I been cherry picking the wrong lines? Have I not been betting enough overnight lines? When I bet the overnight lines and am on the right side of the line, did the line move? Have I been pressing too hard? Have I not been watching enough games?

Those are all questions that rattled around my head on the drive back from Las Vegas to LA. I was content with the NFL Divisional playoffs, but I completely overlooked the importance of putting in long hours to handicap basketball. The grind. You have to put in the hours, no matter what. I forgot that primary rule. The losses in the NBA put a damper on the weekend in Vegas. I shipped a pair of big bets on the Niners and Seachickens, yet pissed away some of the profit on NFL teasers and the NBA losing streak.

When I played a significant amount of online poker, I constantly evaluated my game every few days. Then again, online poker just required me to show up and react. I didn't have to crunch numbers or do endless hours of research. The constant re-evaluation aspect is something I'm going have to add to my NBA regimen, which means more intense scrutiny and re-evaluation twice or sometimes three times a week.

The NFL season is almost over. Three more games, including the Super Bowl, are spread out over the next three weeks. That reduction in the NFL alleviates a huge burden and I can watch more games to obtain a stronger sense of what's happening right now in the NBA, to see things you might not be able to grok in the stats. One of the primary factors why a professional bettor like Haralabob is so good is that he watches every game possible and then make decisions based on stats and his own personal "pass the eye" test and scouting report.

Earlier in the season, when I first acquired NBA Season Pass, I had more time to watch three or more games at night. Once the holidays sprang up, I had less and less time to sit around and watch 7-12 hours of basketball every day. Life got in the way of gambling! I was out of my comfort zone during the two weeks I spent back home in NYC for the holidays. Once I returned to LA, I got off to a positive start but things went downhill fast. Throw in the major distraction of the football playoffs and a side trip to Vegas, and I had less and less time to watch NBA games. That hurt the bankroll.

So, I've already mentioned two points of improvement, closer scrutiny and setting aside more time to watch games... even bad ones.

The overnight lines are something that gave me an edge earlier in the season. Being a resident of the Left Coast gave me a chance to get down on a line at midnight PT which otherwise would jump a point or point and a half by breakfast time. The hardest thing to stomach about the recent losing streak was so many games in which I lost by a meager half point. Sharper lines could have been the different between an 8-7 clip and a dismal 5-10.

The good news is that I did not keep pressing the action (much) and kept the same betting size throughout the downswing. I weathered the eye of the hurricane without losing my shirt. The NBA bankroll is back to where I started. Square one. After 10 weeks of the season that's nothing to be proud about, but I'm trying to be positive... I know a few guys who went busto two or three times this season already.

Cold streaks? Feels like shooting an airball...
If you cannot handle the swings, then you have to get out of the kitchen. Or something like that. The last two weeks was a huge test, which I failed. But at least I know why I failed. Can I plug the leaks? I must, otherwise I'm doomed.

The game plan? Take a day or maybe the rest of the week off and let the NFL Final Four play out before returning to the hardwood to grind the bankroll back up.

The painting by Valerie Ng is titled Cold Streak (2007).

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