2021 Handball World Championships Betting Review (Part 1): Hunches, Descat and a Humbling Performance

Hugo Descat: Sharp Action’s MVP for the 2021 World Championships.

During the 2021 IHF Handball World Championships, I conducted another daily betting experiment. Joining me this year was Sharp Action, who’s Twitter profile reads, “Former Handball player for HBC Nantes providing expert advice for sport betting.” We both started with a $1,000 bankroll a couple of days after the tournament started. Our bet sizes varied, but the standard “unit bet” was $100. Here’s how our respective bank rolls went up and down on a day to day basis:

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who had a better campaign. I lost a hypothetical $282 while Sharp Action made a tidy profit of $732.69.

Overall, I made 12 bets, winning 4 and losing 8. As most of my bets were less than 50-50 propositions, a .500 betting mark would not have been required to break even. Probably, a winning percentage of .460 or a 6-7 record if I had made 13 bets instead of 12. Regardless, I clearly fell short of that expectation and lost money.

As mentioned, Sharp Action had a phenomenal tournament with several good calls and far fewer misses. His betting W-L record for the tournament was 18-9. Since he tended to bet favorites this record is a bit inflated, but no matter how you slice it’s pretty damn good.

Arguably, his most astute pick and observation was noticing a huge disconnect on the total goals scored props that were being offered for French left wing, Hugo Descat. Descat was sharing a lot of playing time with veteran Michael Guigou and perhaps the bookies didn’t think he would get enough playing time. Or, maybe they did not recognize what an effective and consistent scorer he was. Regardless, Sharp Action saw that they were really underestimating Descat, and “Victor” Hugo came through 3 times for a nice profit of $273. Seriously, seeing how Descat blew right past 2.5 goals each time, after the fact, it looks like taking candy from a baby.

Sharp Action “Victor” Hugo Bets

Humbling Results, but Don’t Feel Sorry for Me

Well, the hypothetical debt is start to pile up. Last year, I participated in a similar experiment and lost $115. This year I did even worse, losing $282. Maybe, I’ve got a gambling problem? Good thing I moved out of Vegas, but maybe not such a good thing that online sports betting is now legal in Colorado?

Rest assured everyone. I didn’t lose my shorts. Let’s just say my typical betting unit is around $10 (not $100), meaning I loss $28.20 for the bets recorded above. And, did I make other bets? Did I by chance, jump on the Sharp Action bandwagon for some of his suggestions I found persuasive? I sure did. I haven’t done a full accounting, but I’m actually on the plus side for the World Championships in real money.

Really, the only thing I’ve lost is my handball expert pride. Because I clearly don’t have anything to back up my would be knowledge. On the contrary, there’s now documented evidence that clearly demonstrates that I don’t know what I’m talking about. And, this leads to the following rhetorical question:

Ever Wonder Why “Experts” Rarely (if Ever) Make Betting Predictions?

Seriously, there’s probably not a more powerful way to demonstrate how much you really know about a sport then to open your wallet and go out and consistently pick winners.

Well, there are a number of reasons why so called experts don’t make predictions. It could be that they have personal morality issues with gambling or simply don’t want to be seen as endorsing something that others have issue with… But, there’s one reason that rises above all others.

  • It’s really hard and there’s a solid chance when all is said and done that they are not going to look like much of an expert.

Yeah, your credibility is at stake. It’s better to just take a pass.

Flensburg 2014

At times like this I will always, always take solace with having been remarkably right once. And, that was when I made my EHF Champions League Final Four predictions prior to the 2013-14 season. I selected all 4 teams that would make it to Cologne and the eventual winner, Flensburg before even a single match had been played. It’s on YouTube and no matter how poorly I screw up forever forward, I will always look back and smile… They can’t take that away from me.

Gloating from 2014: I Heart Flensburg: Link

Preseason Perfection: Documented on YouTube

But, could someone be more consistently win on handball bets by relying less on hunches and more on discipline and predictive models. The answer appears to be yes and I will explore this in more detail in a follow on commentary