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Betting against your own team, also known as the emotional hedge, is an incredibly divisive topic amongst sports bettors. Those in favor of it believe there is nothing wrong with putting money down against their own team because they are still 100% rooting for their squad – they just don’t feel as devastated in the event that their team doesn’t come out victorious. Those opposed to the emotional hedge believe that you aren’t a true fan if you bet against your own team regardless of the circumstances.
For me, watching my team lose is akin to witnessing a car crash: I don’t want to look, but I hope all involved die a slow, painful death – like any true fan. If there’s a way to get any semblance of hope out of that pit of despair, I’m open to it. The way I think of it is this: am I willing to pay money to see my team win in this situation? The answer is “sometimes.” I am a proponent of the emotional hedge as long as certain guidelines are followed.
DO: Bet against your team if they’re playing an opponent ranked 24 or more spots higher than them and/or their opponent is ranked #1 in the country
Why 24? Seems completely baseless, right? Well, it’s not. 24 is the magic number. Your school is unranked and takes down the number one or two team in the nation? That’s a program victory. You’re going ape shit and don’t care that you just lost some money. If you’re a top 24 team, though, you shouldn’t be excited enough if your school beats a higher-ranked team (not including #1) to be able to hedge your emotions. You’ve gotta act like you’ve been there before.
That’s just what the top 24 mentality is. If you’re ranked 24th and you’re playing a team ranked 23rd-11th, you can’t bet against your squad because, while you’re at least somewhat expecting to lose, you won’t be happy enough if you win to warrant the loss of money because the probability of victory was too high. While some may say it’s worth it to bet against your team if they’re playing an opponent ranked 10th-2nd, I advise against it. Not for any real reason – I just like to believe that my squad has the ability to pull it off. If you’re playing the #1 ranked team, though, you always bet against your merry band of shitheads, even if you’re a top 5 team. You can’t put a price on beating the #1 team in the country. I’d pay any amount of money to watch that.
DON’T: Bet against your team when they’re playing an unranked or lower-ranked opponent
Total bitch move. If you don’t irrationally believe that your team is 100% incapable of losing to any team that has been arbitrarily ranked lower than them, you aren’t a true fan. Plus, there isn’t enough emotion involved in this type of game to render your emotions a proper hedge. When your team beats Nobody State and you’re out $50, you’re not going to feel like it was money well-spent – you’re just going to feel like a moron for wasting money and betting against your obviously superior team. If your team loses to Nobody State, your entire season is ruined, your life is over, and that $50 is just going to go towards buying a noose – not a long-term investment by any stretch of the imagination.
DO: Bet against your team if they’re in a league/national championship game and you aren’t 100% confident in their abilities
The biggest regret of my life is not betting against the Wisconsin Badgers in the 2015 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship Game earlier this year. I knew they were going to lose. I was 100% sure of it. It was a mortal lock. During my tenure as an undergrad at Wisconsin, I suffered through losses in the 2012 Rose Bowl (in person), 2013 Rose Bowl, 2014 Capital One Bowl (in person), and 2014 Final Four. That’s at least one big loss a year. After witnessing the Badge roll Auburn in the Outback Bowl only a few months prior, process of elimination meant that this game would be lost to complete the one loss promise. That’s just how it was going to go, and there was nothing I could do about it except bet against them. But I didn’t do it out of sheer laziness.
When it comes to a championship game, all rankings-based betting strategies are thrown out the window. Your team is either going to win or it isn’t. If you have 100% absolute confidence in your team’s abilities, then by all means be a good fan and don’t bet against them. I’ve never been that sure about anything in my life, though – even my sexuality, which I’m fairly certain I’ve locked down at this point (you never know!!!). If one of my teams ever makes it to a league or national championship again, I’m dropping at least a c-note against them. You can take that to the bank – and I hope I can, too..