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Gaming Guru

 

Why Sports Betting is Profitable

18 June 2010

Sports betting appeals to the smart bettor because it is not a game with a fixed house edge where the casinos are raking off a fixed percentage. Sports betting requires more skill than luck, similar to Blackjack and live poker.

The skilled handicapper won't win every time, but he has a huge advantage over the recreational bettor. Before going into more detail, you need to understand how sports betting works. We will take a look at football, where a point spread is involved. (Basketball also uses a point spread.)

The casino Sports Books make their money on sports bets by collecting a commission on losing bets. This is called the vigorish or vig for short. The most common odds are 11 to 10. This means that if you want to win $100 you are risking $110. For example, you place a bet on the Giants at the casino sports book and pay $110. If the Giants win, you collect $210 when you cash your winning ticket. If you lose your bet, you lose the $110.

Ideally the Sports Book would like to have the same amount of money wagered on the two teams playing. If the Giants are playing the Colts and they have one player betting on the Giants and one player betting on the Colts, they would pay the winner $100 but collect $110 for the loser. This gives them a $10 profit. They really don't care who wins as long as they have an equal amount bet on each team. To accomplish this they assign a line or spread to make the contest equally attractive for both sides.

The Point Spread

Many people believe that the point spread is the predicted margin of victory by which one team will beat another team. This is not true. The line is the handicapper's prediction of what number will be required to split the wagering evenly on both teams. For this reason the line may change from the opening line to the line at game time. The Sports Book's goal is to have the betting as evenly as possible.

If the public is swayed by sentiment to bet on a certain team, then the oddsmakers need to adjust the line to get some action on the other team. Otherwise the betting would be heavily lopsided. The general betting public reacts from the opinions of others. This is why you see so many people "jumping on the band wagon" of a winning team.

For the Sports Books the line is flawed if it does not attract the same amount of action on both sides. However, from a smart handicapper's point of view, the line is flawed when it does not compute to his predicted outcome of the game. A weaker team can actually become the favorite if public sentiment is with that team. When this happens the underdog presents a huge overlay for the seasoned handicapper, meaning that the odds are in his favor. For example, Team A should be a 3 point underdog to Team B. However the public loves Team A and is betting on them. The line moves to make Team A a one point favorite, then Team B becomes an excellent bet. This is the contrarian principle and why many smart handicappers go against the general betting public.

The Money Line

A money line wager is a bet placed without the point spread. Baseball and Hockey wagering use the money line, but you can also bet football and basketball games on the money line. When you do this, you are betting on the team to win the game outright, which is also called winning "straight up." When you bet a game on the money line, you will have to pay odds other than the normal -110 that you would pay for a straight bet using the point spread.

Obviously if you want to bet on the favorite to win straight up, you will have to risk more to win less. If you bet on the underdog, you would bet less to win more. The money line bets are based on a $100 bet. When you see a money line listed the favorite will have a figure with a minus symbol in front of it and the underdog will have a plus symbol in front of it.

For example, the Boston Celtics are 5 point favorites over the Atlanta Hawks. The money line is listed as:

Celtics -220
Hawks +180

If you wanted to bet the Celtics on the money line, you would have to wager $220 to win $100. If you want to bet the underdog Hawks, you would wager $100 to win $180. Your team would have to win straight up to win your bet.

The Handicapper

A winning handicapper formulates his own opinions about the game and ignores most of the public sentiment. A handicapper takes information for numerous sources, assigns weights and values to it. They will make their own power ranking and predict what the point spread should be without looking at the official line first, and then compare their predictions to the line to look at discrepancies. The large amount of data available via the internet and other sources means that the handicapper has more information but it means there is more to sift through to find the gems. The use of computer programs can help when searching through the data.

Why don't more people win at sports betting? Like any other endeavor it takes time, patience and practice to become successful. A person of average intelligence can become a winning handicapper if he has the desire. Based on the odds of -110 for a straight football or basketball bet, a handicapper only need to be right 52.38 percent of the time to break even, however many sports bettors cannot achieve that percentage of winning over the long run.

The chart below shows the break even points for the various odds you will encounter when you make a bet on the money line. With higher odds you have to have a higher winning percentage to break even. If you bet the underdogs you can have a lower win percentage and still make money. Many smart handicappers will make the majority of their bets on the dogs. In baseball the underdog wins about four out of 10 times. My mentor who taught me how to handicap sports would never bet a favorite team. He would always tell me, "If you got to lay it, don't play it!"

Favorites

 

 

Underdogs

 

ODDS

BREAK-EVEN %

 

ODDS

BREAK-EVEN %

 

 

 

 

 

-105

51.12

 

+105

48.78

-110

52.38

 

+110

47.62

-115

53.49

 

+115

46.51

-120

54.55

 

+120

45.45

-125

55.56

 

+125

44.44

-130

56.52

 

+130

43.48

-135

57.45

 

+135

42.55

-140

58.33

 

+140

41.67

-145

59.18

 

+145

40.82

-150

60.00

 

+150

40.00

-155

60.78

 

+155

39.22

-160

61.54

 

+160

38.46

-165

62.26

 

+165

37.74

-170

62.96

 

+170

37.04

-175

63.64

 

+175

36.36

-180

64.29

 

+180

35.71

-185

64.91

 

+185

35.09

-190

65.52

 

+190

34.48

-200

66.67

 

+200

33.33

-210

67.74

 

+210

32.36

-220

68.75

 

+220

31.25

-240

70.59

 

+240

29.41

-250

71.43

 

+250

28.75

Bill Burton
Bill Burton is a gambling expert and best-selling author of Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em and 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets. He is the former Casino Gambling columnist for About.com.

Burton's Texas Holdem book was published in 2002 long before the game became a national phenomenon. The producers of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown used his book during the first season to teach the game to the participants.

He writes for several national gaming magazines and newsletters. These publications include: Casino Player, Strictly Slots, The Southern California Gaming Guide, Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine, Southern Gaming and Destinations magazine, Midwest Player and Blackjack Insider.

Burton is an instructor for the Golden Touch Craps dice control seminars teaching players how to gain the advantage in craps. He is an expert at all casino games and can teach players how to play any casino game as well as offering them advice to get the most out of their casino visits.

Bill Burton Websites:

www.billburton.com
www.goldentouchcraps.com

Books by Bill Burton:

> More Books By Bill Burton

Bill Burton
Bill Burton is a gambling expert and best-selling author of Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em and 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets. He is the former Casino Gambling columnist for About.com.

Burton's Texas Holdem book was published in 2002 long before the game became a national phenomenon. The producers of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown used his book during the first season to teach the game to the participants.

He writes for several national gaming magazines and newsletters. These publications include: Casino Player, Strictly Slots, The Southern California Gaming Guide, Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine, Southern Gaming and Destinations magazine, Midwest Player and Blackjack Insider.

Burton is an instructor for the Golden Touch Craps dice control seminars teaching players how to gain the advantage in craps. He is an expert at all casino games and can teach players how to play any casino game as well as offering them advice to get the most out of their casino visits.

Bill Burton Websites:

www.billburton.com
www.goldentouchcraps.com

Books by Bill Burton:

1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets

> More Books By Bill Burton