Sports Betting – Reality vs Expectations

Despite the efforts of the US government to curtail gambling on the internet, millions of dollars are still being wagered each day on sporting events, poker and online casino’s. Estimates for the amount of money being wagered yearly on sporting events vary greatly but it is a common acceptance by all the estimators that it is in the Billions of dollars. Obviously the internet makes up a big part with its worldwide attraction and availability, but there are also the legal sports books in States like Nevada and some foreign countries that have legalized betting on sporting events. What makes it difficult to get an accurate estimate is the number of “barber shop bookies” throughout the US and around the world. The illegal bookmakers it is estimated, makes up nearly 50% of all sport betting action annually.

What draws the public to the “windows” to place wagers on sporting events….? Of course many are drawn by the thrill of having “something riding” on a game and almost always can watch the outcome on a TV broadcast. Why do the Vegas Sports Books put a TV next to a game on their board? Because they know that more action will come in on a game that is being televised than ones that are not. This alone may answer the question of how many sport bettors actually end the season or the year with a profit? Playing games just because they are on TV is certainly not going to put a sport bettor into profit.

General opinion by bookmakers estimate that less than 10% of all consistent sport bettors will end up with a profit at the end of the year. Most sport bettors do not have the expertise, the resources and the time to intelligently analyze a sporting event that will give them the edge against the bookmaker. Professional handicappers will spend many many hours each day analyzing statistics, reading press releases, studying injury reports, watching weather forecasts, tracking line movements, analyzing trends and comparing team and player matchups.

Besides just the thrill having something riding on a sporting event, is the lure of those preying on the greedy. Many sport services (touts) advertise winning percentages that are nothing more than marketing ploys to reel in the sport bettor in search of making that “big hit”. The reality is that anyone able to consistently predict the outcome of a game (against the spread) more than 60% of the time is in the top 10 to 15 percent of all handicappers. We are not referring to the hobbyist handicapper here, the one who places a wager once in awhile on they’re Alma mater or a once a year wager on the Super Bowl. We are talking about those that place 200 or 300 wagers per year. The serious sport bettor who is out to make a living or at least a decent profit off his efforts will wager on at least 5 to 10 games each week and higher when football season overlaps the basketball season. So, how much can a serious sport make betting sports throughout the year? Answer: how big is your available bankroll to get started?

The expectation of the novice or unsuspecting sport bettor is invariably far above the realm of reality. This is in part, as mentioned above, is caused by the outlandish advertising claims of some sport betting advisors and services. Claims of winning 70% or 80% of all their games, or that you can make 100 times your starting bankroll in one season….etc. Our example of a really good handicapper being able to win 60% of his wagers is very accurate, you can trust me on that one….To prove this point, why is it that the biggest football handicapping contest in the world (The Super Contest), which is at the Las Vegas Hilton, and draws some of the best handicappers from throughout the world, offers a $10,000.00 bonus to anyone who correctly picks 63% or 66% (forgive me but the exact number escapes me at the moment) during the contest. The contest requires each entry to pick 5 NFL games per week for 17 weeks. That’s a total of 85 games, which means if someone could correctly pick 56 winners of those 85 games, they would collect the 10K bonus. So you can see that the average Joe hitting 60% is quite an extraordinary feat.

Now here is the reality of making money by betting sports….Let’s assume you have a starting bankroll of say $1000.00 and you are going to wager on average 5 games per week. If you placed a $100.00 wager on each of your 5 games and you made a total of say 200 wagers over the year, you would have a total outlay of $22,000.00. This is including the 10% commission the books add to the wager. So if you make a $100.00 wager, you must put up $110.00 to win $100.00. This is sometimes called the “juice” or the “vig”. This is how the bookmakers stay in business. They make 10% off the bet off all the losers, which is one reason it is difficult to beat the books. They adjust betting lines so they can keep the action on a game as close to 50-50 as possible….They keep the $10.00 of the losing bets while the winner gets his initial $110.00 wager plus the $100.00 win. So if a book had say 100 wagers at 100 each which would be 10,000 wagered on one game and 50 of the bettors had side A and the other side B, this is the perfect scenario for the book, because they profit no matter who wins the game.

Let’s use our example of your $100.00 wager on 200 games over the course of a season, and let’s say you are a good handicapper and are able win 60% of those games….I must point out here, that you need to win at least 53% of those games to break even, just because of the Vig as mentioned above. Ok, so you wagered a total of $22,000.00 over the season, at 60% you won 120 of those 200 games. You will get back $210.00 for each of the games you won (the $110.00 you put up plus the $100.00 you won) which gives you a total return of $25,200.00 return, or a $3,200.00 profit for the year….That is the reality. Consider someone who is wagering only $10.00 or $20.00 per game and expects to make a big profit and you see that the reality is that you need a big starting bankroll to make a living at betting sports. Even at the $3,200.00 profit, you certainly cannot consider that as making a living….And again we are assuming you are a “good” handicapper picking winners at 60%.

Fortunately, most sport bettors are recreational or hobbyist players and not out to make a living. Just seeing even a small profit at the end of the year can be very gratifying for them and fulfills their desire to add to the excitement of the game. Over the past 16 years of providing sport betting advice to my clients, it is gratifying to me when even a small player is making even a small profit off my service…I have never failed to make a profit for my clients in the 16 years I have been in business….However, the reality is: you may not get rich.