Category Archives: Sports

Parlay Betting Strategy

sports betting siteA parlay is simply a combo bet where, rather than betting several teams individually, you group them into a single wager. Using this option, the payout is greater and the risk is less, but you need all teams selected to win.

To give an example, say you’re interested this week in betting Jets -4, Patriots +3, Dolphins +2.5 and Colts -7. If your bankroll is limited to just $100, using straight wagers you’d make four separate bets of $25 to win $22.73. If you we’re feeling both lucky and in the mood to gamble, you might instead bet them all together as a four team parlay. Under the parlay option, the stakes would be $100 to win at least $1,000. To win, you’ll need to go 4-0; if one or more games push while all others win, the payout is reduced, and with any other outcome, the bet is a loss.

Parlay bets can be very tempting as they can offer some big payouts.

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Are Parlays Sucker Bets?

There is a general misconception in sports betting that all parlays are sucker bets. This is simply because most sports bettors are not familiar with how they work, or how to bet them properly. In this article, I’ll address parlay betting strategies, but first let’s look at parlay odds and how they are calculated.

The parlay odds at most Las Vegas sportsbooks are:

2 teams 2.6 to 1
3 teams 6-1
4 teams 10-1
5 teams 20-1
6 teams 40-1
7 teams 80-1
8 teams 150-1

Online the odds are similar.What’s important to note is that these are fixed odds based on a 50/50 wagering proposition. If a spread is listed at Home Team -7 / Road Team +7 this is 50/50 proposition. If, instead, the spread was Home Team -7 -105 / Road Team +7 -115, this is no longer a 50/50 proposition, and the payout will be calculated using a method bookmakers refer to as “true odds”. I’ll cover that later in this article, but first let’s take a moment to understand where fixed parlay odds are derived from.

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Let’s say you decide for the next eight weeks you’re going to bet the Monday night football game, starting with a $1.00 bankroll and betting your entire bankroll each week until you go 8-0 or bust. The potential win is as follows:

Week 1: $1.00 to win $0.91: If win total profit = $0.91 (Bankroll =$1.91)
Week 2: $1.91 to win $1.74: If win total profit = $2.65 (Bankroll =$3.65)
Week 3: $3.65 to win $3.32: If win total profit = $5.97 (Bankroll =$6.97)
Week 4: $6.97 to win $6.34: If win total profit = $12.31 (Bankroll =$13.31)
Week 5: $13.31 to win $12.10: If win total profit = $24.41 (Bankroll =$25.41)
Week 6: $25.41 to win $23.10: If win total profit = $46.51 (Bankroll =$47.51)
Week 7: $47.51 to win $43.19: If win total profit = $89.70 (Bankroll =$90.70)
Week 8: $90.70 to win $82.45: If win total profit = $172.15 (Bankroll =$173.15)

The reason parlays are often sucker bets shows up in this middle column. Had you bet these in an 8 team parlay, you’d only get paid 150 to one. Essentially, a parlay is no different than betting all in each time, only parlays generally pay much worse. However, you’ll notice the odds are not poor until you get to four teams, where the sportsbook has a whopping 31.25% advantage. Two teams pay a smidgen worse than the manual parlay (all in each time) option, where three team parlays pay a smidgen better. Rarely ever is a 2 or 3 team parlay a true suckers bet.

True Odds Parlays

Earlier, I mentioned fixed odds are only given when all selections are 50/50 propositions. If one side of a line requires a greater stake than the other to yield the same payout, this is not a 50/50 proposition, and the bookmaker will now use “true odds”. What’s important to note is that true odds doesn’t actually mean the “true odds” of winning. Rather, true odds pays the same as if you bet each team individually and rolled the profit forward each time, which is what I showed in the example of 8 all in bets starting with a $1.00 stake.

To calculate true odd parlays, each bet first needs to be converted into a multiplier. To do this, take what a winning ticket would return and divide it by the amount risked. For example, at -110 a $110 stake returns $210 ($110 stake + $100 win). Calculating the multiplier as return/risk here, we plug in 210/110, which means the multiplier is 1.91. If we did the same on -115, the multiplier is 215/115=1.87.

Let’s say you’re in the mood to gamble on an 8 team parlay, but the only out available to you is a bookmaker paying 150-1 fixed odds. A trick of the trade here is to include one bet that is priced differently than -110 in order to force the bookmaker to use true odds. So, let’s say you make 7 selections priced at the standard -110 pricing and one at -115. A true parlay calculates by multiplying each modifier together. The math is 1.91 * 1.91 * 1.91 * 1.91 * 1.91 * 1.91 * 1.91 * 1.87, which equals 173.41. This bet returns 173.41 times the stake, which includes the risk amount, so the bet is 1 to win 172.41. Notice this is significantly better than the fixed odds payout of 1 to win 150 on an 8 team parlay. In short, the trick of the trade when dealing with poor fixed odds is to simply add one team to the parlay that is priced differently than the standard -110.

As you can now see, if you know how to bet parlays properly, they are not always sucker bets. There are, however, a few reasons that parlays are generally not a good move. I’ll cover these, and then cover the times it does make sense.

Top Reasons to Avoid Parlays

1) Progressive betting systems are generally regarded as poor strategy for both bankroll management and bankroll growth. Professional bettors make wagers based on their quantified edge per game. While the math can work out, doing the math for proper bet sizing on a parlay is a lot of added work with little to no upside for most sports bettors.

2) Parlay bets have higher variance than straight bets. Here you’re getting the same odds, but your chance of hitting a dry spell is greatly increased. When the odds are the same it is most often better to go with the lower variance option, which in this case is straight wagers.

3) Line Shopping – Sports bettors maximize their profit by always shopping for the best price. For example, finding -4 when other sites are -4.5, and finding reduced vig options such as -104 instead of -110. When betting parlays, you’ll need to find the most favorable odds for each team at a single betting site. This scenario is rare, so generally you’ll end up with better odds by making straight wagers at multiple betting sites.

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How To Get Maximum Value When Betting

sports betting siteA topic that doesn’t get discussed often in sports betting is how to maximize value. Let’s take NFL football for example. If we like the Jets this week, we could bet the Jets on the moneyline or the Jets on the point spread. This is a basic decision gamblers make on a regular basis, some using strategy, others using feel.

The question I’ll pose is: how many NFL bettors dig deeper than that to look at the effects of buying half points, teasing/pleasing, as well as evaluating the first half betting lines and prop bets derived from the primary betting market. In this article, I’ll address this topic. If you pick up on, understand, and apply a percentage of what I share here, you should immediately increase your sports betting earnings.

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To Maximize Value Line Shopping is Critical

One of the biggest leaks in most sports bettor’s game is failure to shop for the best line and price. For example lets say the betting line for the Cleveland Browns at various betting sites is Betting site #1 +4.5 -108, Betting site #2 u +4 -110, Betting site #3 +4 -110, Betting site #4: +4.5 -115, Betting site #5 +4.5 -120. In this case, Betting site #1 has the best line.

To illustrate the importance of line shopping, if I give the Browns a 54% chance of covering +4, hence the reason I am looking to bet them, my expected return at each online betting site above is: Betting site #1 6.7%, Betting site #2 and Betting site #3: 3.14%, Betting site #14 1.87%, Betting site #5 1.1%.

Compare and think about those figures for a few minutes. How much are you betting per game? How many games do you bet (per day, per week, per year)? Most sports bettors throw hundreds or even thousands of dollars away each year because they don’t line shop. This applies to losing sports bettors the same as it does to winners. Losing bettors end up losing considerably more than they should, while winning bettors don’t win as much as they could.

While the ability to pick winners is nice, more often than not sports bettors are going off instinct and can’t win at a high enough amount to beat the vig. When shopping multiple betting sites for the best price, the effects of vig are nearly negated entirely. Be sure to read the conclusion of this article where I share which sites are best for line shopping.

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Understanding Half Point Value

When shopping betting sites, both point spread and price are a concern. Deciding between +4 or +4.5, when both are equally priced, is a no brainer; we’re going to take the extra half point. Where it becomes a challenge is when one site is offering +4.5 -110 and the other +4 -103. A professional sports bettor would head to his NFL database and calculate that over the past five years underdogs have lost by exactly 4 points 3.38% of the time. He might choose to refine that further, running only games where the spread was 3.5 to 5.5, or where the total predicted scores were similar, and then take weighted average. For this sample, we’ll just go with 3.38%.

To calculate which line is better, the first thing we need to know is how often we must win at -103 to break even. The math for that is risk divided by potential return. Example, $103 risked, wins $100; so a ticket returns $203 (stake +win). Here we take 103/203 and get 0.5074. This means we need to win 50.74 percent of the time to break even betting at -103. Now to see how much the half point is worth, lets go back to our 3.38% push rate on the 4. Keep in mind that we can’t take credit for the full 3.38% when moving from +4 to +4.5, because half of that push probability is built into our opponent’s line of -4. Taking credit for half, we add 1.69% to 50.74% to determine +4 -103 is the same at +4.5 (52.43%).When we consider that we don’t bet in percentages, we need to figure out what line breaks even 52.43% of the time. While we can solve this with simple algebra, the math is boring; so let’s just Google search “Moneyline Converter”. Using a moneyline/percentage calculator, plug in 52.43% to determine +4 -103 is the same as +4.5 -110.2. Therefore, while not by much, we’re getting a little better expectation on +4.5 -110, so that’s the line we’ll bet.

If you’re betting professionally as a source of income, you’ll eventually want to get a database where you can calculate push rates on your own. For the casual bettor, here is some rough value of half points on and off of key numbers.

1=5.5 cents, 2=4 cents, 3=22 cents, 4=7.2 cents, 5=3.4 cents, 6=7 cents, 7=12 cents, 8=4.5 cents, 9=1.8 cents, 10=10.4 cents, 11=4.5 cents, 12=0.9 cents, 13=2.6 cents, 14=10.5 cents

To explain the above so it is clear, you’ll see 1 point is worth 5.5 cents. This means that +1.5 -110 is the same as +1 -104.5. Take another example, where 7 is worth 12 cents. This means +6.5 +100 is the same as +7 -112, and the same as +7.5 -124. As you can see in the second example, this can be used both ways. It also can be used on the favorite: -7.5 +100 is the same as -7 -112, which is the same as -6.5 -124. The push charts shared above are good enough for the casual gambler shopping lines.

Buying Half Points

Most online sportsbooks offer players the opportunity to purchase half points at 10 cents each when the 3 or 7 is not involved. While this is generally a bad idea, looking at the push chart above you’ll find 10 and 14 are worth more than 10 cents. Therefore, after all your line shopping is done, if the bookmaker also sells half points at 10 cents, you should purchase them under the following circumstances:

1) +9.5 to +10 always purchase one or two half points to get the line to +10.5

2) -10.5 to -10 always purchase one or two half points to get the line to -9.5

3) +13.5 to +14 always purchase one or two half points to get the line to +14.5

4) -14.5 to -14 always purchase one or two half points to get the line to -13.5

These days, there are very few sites that sell points on and off the 7 for ten cents.

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Prop Betting Strategy

Betting StrategyIn sports betting on a proposition, also called a prop bet or a prop, a wager is placed on anything other than a point spread, moneyline or game total. Exactly what this wager might be is anything from which team will score first, to which quarterback will have the most passing yards, to any other scenario described by a betting site

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This form of wagering is generally considered the easiest to beat. To support this, Las Vegas’ number one sports book for prop wagers, the Las Vegas Hilton, has gone on record many times claiming that Las Vegas sports books frequently lose money on prop bets. Meanwhile, many betting sites willing to take $5K-$40K per bet on NFL sides limit props to $200 or $300 max bets.

The reason props remain the easiest wager to beat relates largely to careless bookmaking. Don’t get me wrong: this is not at all a knock on the bookmaker. With several hundred lines to create and manage, lines managers are content with simplistic methods and low betting limits for small market props. This means that it is quite possible for a serious low to mid-stake pro to analyze a single prop in far greater detail than the odds maker that created it. Meanwhile, the small max betting limit keeps the sharks away and allows for line movement based on recreational action. Careless bookmakers, no sharks, and lots of fish, sounds like a profitable market to me

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To make one thing clear about prop betting, the more smart bettors there are betting props, the lower the opportunity becomes. No one in their right mind is going to write a detailed guide to betting props. To learn, you’ll need to pick things up in bits and pieces. So, while you’ll need to do some digging to get to the point where you can analyze any prop offered, I’ll go ahead and get you started in the right direction. Here, I’ll cover a prop widely available for NFL football, “Which team will score first?”

A Little About Derivatives

The prop bet we just analyzed was a two level deep derivative: Which team to score first is derived from the half time line, which is derived from the full game line. If you’ve read my article on the current betting market, you likely understand that the top level derivative here is the most efficient. The beautiful thing about derivatives in sports betting is that as the main market moves, derivatives follow at a slower pace. Going back earlier in the week to when this prop market first hit the board, the Patriots were favored by more points than they are now. The fact that a small-market level two derivative never fully caught up, combined with recreational bettors moving the line, are the reasons we were able to find this +EV bet. This is an article for another time, but one of the top ways to win in sports betting is to find slow moving derivatives. When you go forward to learning other props, look for ones that are as many derivatives deep as possible, and you’ll have an easier time quantifying your edge.

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Teaser Betting

online gamblingA teaser is a parlay bet that uses modified point spreads. In football, the most common modification is six points. So let’s say this week there are three bets you like: Jets -7.5, Raiders +1.5, and Bills +5.5. Rather than betting these straight or in a parlay, you could make a three team six point teaser bet of Jets -1.5, Raiders +7.5, Bills +11.5. To win the bet, you’ll need all three teams to cover. At most online betting sites, a winning three teamer pays 1.8 to 1.

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Standard Teaser Odds

Teaser odds vary from site to site. When betting six point football teasers, you want to find 2 teams -110 or better, 3 teams +180 or better, 4 teams +300 or better.

5Dimes.eu is worth mentioning as well, as they have industry leading odds with 2 team six point teasers at +100. The catch however is 5Dimes often shades lines in such a way that it is hard to find good value teasing. What I mean by this is that if every site has Jets -8.5 / Redskins +8.5, 5Dimes might have the line listed as Jets -9.5 +105 / Redskins +9.5 -125. The pricing +105, -125 etc. has no relevance to teasers, because you can tease either side six points and get the same payout as when both sides are -110. The reason 5Dimes lists the line this way is teasing +8.5 to +15.5, doesn’t have as much value as teasing -8.5 to -2.5 for reasons we’ll cover later in this article. When you get deeper into advanced teaser strategy, 5Dimes is a great out to have; but as a beginner, just know that +100 on two team six point teasers can be deceiving.

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Teaser Rules for Pushes

The rules for pushes are generally the same at each site. If a leg in a teaser pushes while any other leg is a loss, the teaser bet is graded a loss. A push and all wins reduce the same as they would in a parlay. For example, a three team teaser with the results: push/win/win is paid as a two team teaser. In the case where there are no losses, but only a single win, bets are refunded (example: 2 Teamer with push/win = no action and bets are refunded).

An Intro to Advanced Teaser Strategy

As we mentioned, a teaser bet is a parlay using a modified point spread. In order to analyze teasers strategically, we need to break the bet down to the point where we understand what odds we are paying per leg. If this is at all confusing, don’t worry, it should make sense momentarily.

Let’s start with 2 team 6 point (-110) teasers. As you might already know, to break even at -110 you need to win 52.38% of your bets. The formula used to calculate this is risk divided by return, where return equals stake plus win. For example, a bettor risks $110 to win $100, the return is $210, so the math here is $110 risk/$210 return=0.5238 which is 52.38%. This is how often “both” legs of a teaser must win for the bet to be break even. In order to do any sort of statistical analysis of teasers, we need to ask ourselves “how often must each leg individually win to achieve a 52.38% win rate?” To calculate this, what we need to know is what number times itself equals 0.5238. Using a square root calculator, we find 0.7237 x 0.7237 = 0.5238. This means that each individual leg must win 72.37% of the time on average for the teaser bet to have neutral (break even) expectation. To keep from getting math intensive, I’ll simplify things and tell you to Google search “Moneyline Converter”, plug in 72.37%, and see in American odds format that this equates to a moneyline of -262.

We’ve now deciphered a two team six point teaser at -110. What we have is a two team parlay at -262 per team. The bookmaker sold us six points and charged us 152 cents (from the standard -110) for those points.

This same math can be used on other teasers as well. To run through one more example, we’ll look at a three team teaser at +180. A bet at these odds is $100 to win $180, so a winning bet returns $280 (our $100 stake plus $180 win). Using the break even formula of risk divided by return, we get 100/280=0.35714. This teaser has three teams, so we need to know which number times itself three times equals 0.35714. Here we use a cube root calculator to determine that the answer is 0.7095 x 0.7095 x 0.7095. So in a three team six point teaser, each leg must win 70.95% of the time to break even. We plug that into a moneyline converter and get -244.

We’ve now deciphered that a three team six point teaser at +180 is a three team parlay at -244 per team. The bookmaker sold us six points and charged us 134 cents (from the standard -110) for those points.

After running this math on several options, I get the following odds for how often individual legs must win for the given teaser to break even:

2 team -110 = 72.37% / 2 team +100 = 70.71% / 2 team -105 = 71.57%
3 team +180 = 70.95%
4 Team +300 = 70.71%
5 team +450 71.11% / 5 team +500=69.88%
6 team +600 = 72.30% / 6 team +700 = 70.71%

The four to six team options have a higher variance, and it’s not often we’ll find that many teams in a given week worth teasing. So, in comparing the other options, you can see that 3 teamers at +180 offers us the best value, unless we can find a site offering 2 teamers at +100.

The Golden Key to Teaser Betting

We now know that when betting three team teasers at +180, we need each team to win 70.95% of the time. To determine if it was better to bet straight against the spread or in a teaser, let’s compare. If we bet straight at a reduced juice sportsbook such at 5dimes, we’d pay -105. To calculate our required break even rate at -105, we use the risk divided by return formula again. A $105 bet returns $205 (our $105 stake plus $100 win), so the math is 105/205=0.5122, which is 51.22%. The difference between the 70.95% break even rate in a teaser and the 51.22% betting straight with reduced juice is 19.73%.

Now, if you’re a savvy bettor familiar with teasers, a light bulb might have just turned on in your head. If not, don’t worry, you’re likely overwhelmed and need more time to adjust. To determine if a teaser is a better option than a straight bet, we need to know if those six additional points increases the win probability by 19.73% or not.

The truth of the matter is that most teasers are sucker bets, because very few times will six points increase your win probability by 19.73%. To do this, you need to cross key numbers. In the NFL, the most common margins of victory in order are 3, 7, 10, 6, 14, 4, 1, 17, 13 and 2. This is why basic strategy teasers have historically been +EV.

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Sports Betting Math

Sports Betting Most people who want to place bets on sports are fans to begin with. It isn’t unheard of for a gambler to place some sports bets, especially during big games like the Super Bowl or the NCAA basketball Final Four, but for the most part, sports bettors are sports fans looking to use their knowledge of a game or of a game’s players to earn a little extra cash. Being a fan of a particular sport, a team, a college or professional squad—these are all precursors to placing sports bet. Sports betting is also a way for a fan to get in on the action of the game, with something more than self-respect at stake.

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All gambling is mathematics, even games of chance. If you understand the math behind the game, you understand the game and can give yourself an advantage. For many games, like penny slots or poorly placed roulette bets, are so bad that smart bettors earn their advantage by avoiding them altogether. In sports betting, the math is more complicated. Depending on your favorite sport, you may need to think about things like bye weeks, underdogs, quarterback ratings, and injuries with the same fervor other connoisseurs reserve for fancy winces.

So how difficult is sports betting math? The math behind placing a winning bet is fairly complicated, but the way to stay ahead of the bookmaker is rather straightforward. If you collect on 52.4% of your bets, you’ll break even. We’ll have more details on that number later, including why it takes more than 50% wins to break even, but first some general knowledge about sports gambling and the numbers behind it.

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Sports Betting Basics

The easiest way to demonstrate the math behind a sports bet is to make up an example. Let’s say you and your buddy walk into a casino, each with $200 burning a hole in your pocket. There’s a big game on tonight, the Cowboys and the Redskins, so you wander into the sportsbook to check up on the latest news about the game. While you’re sitting there, you see the wagering board, with some funny numbers on it. It looks like this:

428 Cowboys +175
429 Redskins -4 -200 38

Some of this is easy enough to read. The Redskins -4 means the Redskins are favored to win and must do so by at least 5 points for a bet on the ‘Skins to pay out. The next number (-200) is the moneyline, in this case the Redskins are a 2/1 favorite. The last number (38) is the total, the over/under of the expected number of points scored in the game.

More on Placing Sports Bets

Look at that over/under number, in this case 38. If you or your buddy thinks this is going to be a particularly high or low scoring game, based on your knowledge of the team’s offenses and defenses, or information about a hurt player or bad playing conditions, you can place a wager on the total of points scored.

So how is a guy supposed to know how to literally lay down a sports bet? You need to know three things:

*the type of bet you want to make
*the number of the corresponding team you have chosen and
*the amount you wish to wager

Knowing all that beforehand gives the ticket writer the details he needs to write the ticket without having to bend over backwards to process your bet.

Sports Betting Odds

Remember at the beginning when we talked about the magic number necessary to guarantee a break-even week in sports betting? If you read enough about sports betting, you’ll hear this number repeated often: 52.4%. If a bettor can win 52.4% of his bets, he’ll break even. Where does that number come from?

When betting the spread, you get odds of -110. Sometimes, sportsbooks will offer a -105 line as a promotion or to welcome new business. But for the most part, if you’re betting the spread, you’re getting -110.

We draw that 52.4% break even number right out of the odds. -110 is equivalent to 11/10. That means if you bet 21 games, you’d have to win eleven of them and lose ten of them to break completely even. Even at -105, you’d still have to win an astounding 51.2% of the time just to break even.

If you don’t trust the basic math behind this break-even principle, look at another real-world example. Let’s say you get really into sports betting after your Cowboys cream the Redskins and you go home with a nice fat wallet. You then bet on the next 10 Cowboys games, winning six times and losing four times. That 60% betting record (with the odds of -110 that is traditional for against the spread bets in football) will leave you with a profit of $160. Think about it—your $600 profit from your 6 winning bets minus the $440 you lost on losing bets leaves $160. It took you $1,100 to win $160, meaning you have to bet $6.87 to win $1 on average. So you see the small differences between a 52.4% winning rate and a 60% winning rate—inside those 7.3 percentage points lies hundreds of dollars in profit.

Now imagine instead that you lost one of those six winning bets, leaving you with a 50% betting record. You spent a total of $1,100, won $500, and lost $550. That means overall your 50% record drained your wallet by $50. That’s where the vigorish will get you. Not even winning half the time is good enough to break even in sports betting.

Professional Sports Bettors

Believe it or not, some people really do bet on sports for a living. Maybe they work part time at a sportsbook or in some other marginal job in the casino industry, but there is a group of gamblers who bet on sports for their life’s work. With all the math swirling around in our heads after the last bit of the article, it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to do this for a living.

If you know that a 52.4% record will mean you break even, the simplest way to turn sports betting into a career is to bet enough so that a 53% winning record will bring in the kind of money you want to make.

Another example. After your successful Cowboys experiment, you decide to invest $10,000 in sports gambling over the first four months of the following football season. That $10,000 is set aside to win or lose in sportsbooks.

You plan on betting on 160 games during your investment period. You dream of a 55% winning record because your win-loss with a 55% winning record would give you an 88-72 record. That’s an expected profit of +8.8 units. How did we get to that number? To calculate your units, subtract the total of your losses (multiplied by 1.1 to include the vig) from your wins and you’ll get your unit profit.

Placing $460 bets on each of these games, a number pulled from some quick and dirty math about how much you could afford to bet in a single week’s NFL play without blowing your bankroll, would result in a $4,048 profit if you maintain that 55% winning record. Turning $10,000 into $14,048 in just four months is an investment return of 40.48%. I dare you to ask your bank for that kind of return on your savings account.

But that’s all assuming you can pick the winner 55% of the time. Do your research, look into the records of professional sports gamblers. 55%, while not impossible, would place you among the elite sports bettors in the country, if not the world.

Professional sports bettors have to worry about variance more than any other type of gambler. Working against the forces of variance means managing your bankroll over the course of the season to avoid the negative possibilities that could totally empty your wagering account. Professional sports bettors have the time and resources necessary to calculate these variances, and there are even a few pieces of software out there that can help you figure out your ideal bet in the face of negative variance. But the bottom line is that professional sports bettors would dream of having a 55% winning record, simply because it guarantees you’re beating the house.

Pro bettors make their money on bets that sportsbooks offer that give them even the slightest betting advantage. The key to becoming a profitable sports bettor is being able to find advantages, opportunities where the line a book is offering is vulnerable.

This is why many long-term sports bettors are math freaks. Good sports bettors understand statistics, particularly what are called inferential statistics, though any higher math will help when it comes time to place a bet.

Here is what a professional baseball bettor might do in his head. After looking over statistics from MLB (kept religiously by all sorts of bloggers, data archives, and magazines) between the years 2000-2010, he notices a particular statistic pop out. For example: when the home team starts a left-handed pitcher the day after a loss, that team wins 59% of the time. Good sports bettors can do this sort of math in their head or very quickly on paper. From that bit of information comes a new betting theory—look for game situations that mirror the above example and bet on them. That means he’ll only bet games where the home team starts a left-handed pitcher the day after a loss. Does he just jump in and start betting based on this back of the napkin math? No way. More statistical analysis is required—he may find that this was a fluke for that particular decade and isn’t a trustworthy statistics, or he may find an even more advantageous bet based on his original theory.

Pro sports bettors also keep near-obsessive records of their bets. Obviously, no edge in sports betting lasts longer than a single game. Taking proper records will also help you test theories, like the above one about left-handed pitchers and losses. Without taking good records, no sports bettor’s bankroll will last very long.

What Is a Good Record for Sports Bettors

So, at the end of the day, what could you call a “good” record for a sports bettor? Most casual gamblers looking into sports betting see a pro advertising his 1100-900 record and shake their head a little. How could such an abysmal record be something to be proud of? That’s a 55% winning percentage, and it indicates to those in the know that this bettor is actually turning a profit placing bets on sports.

A good record for a sports bettor is any record equal to or larger than 52.4%, because that number or anything higher means you’re not losing money. A 53% winning record, while not impressive on paper, means you’re actually beating the sportsbook and putting money back in your pocket. Ask your friends that play the slots or play online poker how often they end up putting money back in their pocket.

A -110 wager, standard for spread bets in the NFL, gives the house a built-in advantage of 10%. It means that even if you do win, and you line up to collect your $100, some sucker behind you just spent $10 to hand the casino $100.

A good record for sports bettors is any record that ensures they at least break-even. If you bet 16 games this NFL season and you won 9 and lost 7, you probably made money. And taking money away from a casino is always something to be proud of.

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Types of Sports Betting

Sports BettingWhen most people think of sports betting they tend to think of it in its traditional form. That is, simply placing straightforward wagers on the outcome of sporting events. Even though the internet has changed things dramatically, online sports betting is still largely about making traditional wagers. However, there are a few other ways of betting on sports too.

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In Play Betting

Most sports betting sites offer in play betting these days, and it’s one of the most popular ways to bet on sporting events. Although, relatively speaking, it is something of a new development, in a few years it has had a huge impact on the way people place wagers. It’s also incredibly straightforward. Basically, it’s all about placing wagers while a sporting event is taking place rather than before it starts.

It’s also known as live betting and it opens up a whole new range of betting opportunities. There are all kinds of different wagers you can place such as which player or which team will score next. One of the biggest reasons it’s so popular is that it allows you to get a feel for how an event is turning out before deciding where to put your money.

Exchange Betting

Exchange betting is another relatively new development in the world of sports betting. It has proved to be incredibly popular though and many people now choose to place their wagers in this way. The wagers you can place are essentially the same as in traditional sports betting but there is one fundamental difference in the way it works. Instead of using the services of a bookmaker, you are betting against other people who are taking the opposite position to you.

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Fantasy Sports Betting

Playing fantasy sports is not about betting directly on the outcome of sporting events at all. It’s still about trying to make money out of your sporting knowledge. The basic concept is that you create a fantasy team by picking your chosen players and then put that team up against teams created by other players. The betting aspect is that you stake money on how your team will perform against your opponents.

You can play on a number of sports and there are various ways in which you can wager money. Playing fantasy sports has become very popular and it’s a great way to combine having a bit of fun and also trying to win some money.

Spread Betting

There are actually two types of spread betting. One is betting on the point spread, which is a very common way of betting on sports – particularly in America.

The other form of spread betting is not quite as straightforward, or as common. It can be very profitable but there is also a lot of risk involved too. This is because the amount of money won or lost is not a fixed stake, but varies depending on how accurate a wager is.

In some ways it’s similar to totals betting, in that you predict whether a specific value (for example the number of goals scored in a soccer match) will be higher or lower than the amount set by a bookmaker. However, wagers are settled based on how much higher or lower the value is. To understand exactly how this works, please read our dedicated page on the subject.

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How to Bet on College Football

College FootballThe college game is a completely different animal from its NFL counterpart, providing bettors with a greater slate of games throughout the week, including 30+ matchups on Saturday alone. We will prepare by starting with the basic college football betting types, including: spread bets, moneyline, totals, parlays/teasers and halftimes.

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Spread Bets

Just like the NFL, college football’s most popular wager is the spread bet. The spread is a type of bet that equalizes the chance of winning a wager (see example below). The spread, or line, for college football is generally released days in advance of the game (these release dates will vary due to college football’s games taking place Tuesday-Saturday). An underdog team’s spread will be accompanied with a “+”, while a “-” indicates a team that is favored. The example below demonstrates an example of a spread bet:

Team Spread Final Score
Michigan +3 -115 30
Ohio State -3 -105 31

The juice for this game is -115 for the underdog. The juice can be thought of as a fee the bookmaker charges for you to place the bet. Typically, the juice for any side wager is -110, but several sportsbooks offer reduced juice. In this example, a winning bet of $115 would yield $100 profit, for a total of $215 ($115 bet + $100 profit = $215 total). Despite losing the game, Michigan covered the spread by losing by less than 3 points.

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Moneyline

A Moneyline (ML) takes the spread out of the equation as bettors simply pick who they think will win the game. Different odds placed next to each team will quantify the payout of betting on either team. The example below from the SI Archive should clarify things:

Team Moneyline Final Score
Michigan State +260 7
Alabama -375 49

As you can see, a bet of $375 on Alabama would yield a profit of $100. Generally, the Moneyline is a direct reflection of the spread. For example, the spread for this game closed at 7.5, which helps to explain the drastic ML odds. With the amount of games available on any given Saturday, a bettor may choose to parlay (see below) several big favorites, which will increase the risk AND the payout of the wager.

1st Quarter/Half Lines

Every major U.S. sport is broken down into division, whether it is quarters, halftimes, periods, or innings. Naturally, the bookmakers have made available wagers for these partitions, and for NCAA football, they are known as the 1st quarter and Halftime lines. As one might expect, the 1st quarter line is generally a quarter of the entire game’s line, while the first half line is usually about half of the entire spread. These lines are available at all reputable sportsbooks.

Halftime Lines

Halftime wagers are only available during halftime of the contest.

Team Halftime Score Halftime Spread Final Score
Duke 10 +10 28
North Carolina 21 -10 35

Halftime lines use the events of the 1st half to help determine how the rest of the game will play out. In this example, the bookmakers expect the Tar Heels to continue to dominate their rivals, however, the Blue Devils endure the 1st half deficit to help cover the halftime spread, despite losing the overall game. Halftime action can be a good way to capitalize on middle plays.

Totals

Another popular side bet for NCAA Football is the Total or Over/Under (O/U). The sportsbooks determine what they believe will be the total points scored by EACH TEAM and the bettor places a wager on the over or under of that total. The example below shows the final total for the 2011 Texas Bowl:

Team Opening O/U Closing O/U Final Score
Illinois 61.5o -105 64.5o -110 38
Baylor 61.5u -115 64.5u -110 14

Like many bowl games, the majority of bets in this contest were placed on the over, to the tune of 77%. In this instance, public money pushed the total line up three full points, while the final total landed under at 52. A wager of $115 on the opening under would earn a profit of $100 due to the increased juice originally placed on the under.

Parlay/Teasers

A parlay is spread, moneyline, or total bet in combination to increase the payout. In order for a parlay to payout, or hit, EACH one of the wagers must win. A teaser involves the same stipulations as a parlay, only you select a number of points to put down to decrease the risk (and reward) of a parlay. For example, if a proposed line is -7 (a popular number for football lines) and you have a 3-point teaser bet, your new line is -4. This 3-point advantage applies to each part of the teaser play. Below is a chart of the typical parlay payout structure:

# of Teams Payoff
2 2.64/1
3 6/1
4 12.28/1
5 24.35/1
6 47.41/1
7 91.42/1
8 175.44/1
9 335.85/1
10 642.08/1
11 1226.70/1
12 2342.79/1
13 4473.51/1
14 8541.25/1
15 16306.94/1

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Major Line Moves

betting oddsA major line move is as sudden, drastic and uniform line movement across the entire sports betting marketplace.

This is often the result of a sudden overload of money placed at multiple sportsbooks and, in most cases, occurs due to betting groups, betting syndicates and a few key players with the resources to “get down heavily” at multiple locations, all at once.

Since the advent of sports betting, the holy grail in sports betting strategies has been to beat the move.

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This strategy had its ups and downs for years. Blindly following every move caused a lot of players to go broke. Wiseguys knowingly bet on the wrong side just to obtain a more favorable number when they finally “bought back” on the other side.

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Some of biggest names in sports betting (The Billy Walters’ of the world) do exactly that. By betting $50K on the home team, they’d force an overreaction in the market. Once this occurred, they’d then bet $150K on the side they wanted, usually getting a 1.5-point to 2-point move in their favor.

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Betting Against the Public

online betting Betting Against the Public is one of the most popular and simplest methods used . The logic is simple: always bet against the public. Whichever team the public is loading up on, simply bet the other team.

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There is a reason why sportsbooks are in business. We’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to conclusively prove that the Betting Against the Public betting strategy will produce a positive return on investment.

How can simply Betting Against the Public produce a profitable result?

The answer is based on psychology. The public loves to bet favorites and “overs”. It’s human nature to root for winners and scoring. The media, which over-hypes winning teams that score a lot of points, further inflates this human tendency. Sportsbooks understand this and shade their lines accordingly. Sportsbooks do not look to balance their books. They look to exploit sports bettors’ tendencies by shading favorites and overs.

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With the difference in long-term winning and losing measured by 1-3%, continually getting an extra 0.5 to 1.0 point every time you bet an underdog or under will increase your win percentage by 1-3%. This is a measurable fact!

Every new season we update the betting percentage data and tally our earnings from betting against the public. We also reveal the latest optimal betting percentage threshold when betting against the public. Is it 65% or maybe 70%? Every sport is different so check back at the beginning of every season for an updated report.

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Sports Betting Strategies

online betting siteThe following concepts represent some of the most lucrative historical betting trends and are the same tools used by sharp bettors to turn consistent profits.

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Betting Against the Public

Betting Against the Public is one of the most popular and simplest methods used by Sports Insights to maximize value in the sports betting marketplace.

Reverse-Line Movement

We’ll show how analyzing betting trends data and line movement can help you identify which games the sharp money (wagers placed by sharps, wiseguys or betting syndicates) is taking.

Major Line Moves

Our major line move analysis explains how to interpret line moves across the sports betting marketplace in order to find value.

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Shading Sports Betting Lines

This article explains how sportsbooks shade their lines to exploit human tendencies and how you can take advantage by using our Betting Against the Public strategy.

Shopping for the Best Line

Shopping for the best possible number is an easy way to improve your winning percentage over the course of an entire season.

The Importance of Units Won

Understanding the importance of units won vs. winning percentage will help you evaluate the true worth of any sports betting system.

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