Many people bet on sports because they are already casual fans of the game who plan on watching the event anyway and by throwing a bet on the outcome of the contest they get to experience even more fun than usual. However, there exists a different breed of sports bettors out there that care about nothing but finding any edge they can get no matter how small and making a living off of them.
These highly intelligent edge-seekers are called sharps or professional sports bettors and while it might seem impossible to beat the house in the long run, the sharps have it all figured out to the point where they do not have to work a regular job anymore. In this article, we will closely examine topics such as how professional sports betting works, the pitfalls that one might fall into when trying to pull it off, and some pro tips that will help you find some edges for yourself.
How Does Professional Sports Betting Work?
If you are a professional sports bettor then that obviously means that you are making a profit from your bets on a somewhat consistent basis. But how do you figure out exactly what you have to do in order to be profitable? The best way to understand the concept of profitability is to look at an example.
Let’s assume a strange scenario where a certain professional bettor ONLY makes bets that have -110 odds attached to them. This means that they will have to bet $110 in order to win $100 profit on each of these wagers which reduces down to 11/10 odds in fractional form. If they were to bet on 21 different games they would need to win 11 and lose 10 in order to break even which comes out to a 52.4% win percentage. If the odds were changed to -115 then they need to win 53.5% of the time to break even, for -120 they would need to win 54.6% of the time to break even, and so on.
Once a bettor has established that he has a profitable win rate over a reasonably large sample size then they can officially call themselves a professional sports bettor. At that point, a sharp simply look for edges anywhere they can find them and they bet extremely hard in order to maximize their profits.
A professional sports bettor won’t win every single bet just because they have an edge, just like a professional poker player does not win every single hand that they play. However, in the long run, anyone who has an edge in a game of chance will clear a profit once a large enough sample size has been reached.
How Difficult Is Professional Sports Betting?
Any sports bettor can have an extremely profitable day, week, or month in sports betting due to the high-variance nature of the hobby. The difficulty level gets much higher when you try to repeat this success month-in and month-out for multiple years in a row.
Just like in other forms of gambling, there can be extreme highs and extreme lows when sports betting on a regular basis. Through all of these upswings and downswings, a professional sports bettor simply has to beat the juice that is being charged by the sportsbooks so hard that he has enough profit to live off of.
The best way to beat the juice so hard that you can become a profitable sports bettors is to have a model which will help you create your own projected lines and find some meaning amongst all of the noise. Once a sharp with a reliable model knows which of their projected lines are the furthest off from the Vegas lines then they can confidently bet on those selections knowing that they will win just enough in the long run to make a profit. There are sports betting models for sale on the internet but you can also make your own in Microsoft Excel if you are so inclined.
As we showed in the example above in the How Does It Work section, merely winning 50% of your bets when betting on the favorites in every game will not even be good enough to breakeven much less make a profit. The only way a win rate lower than this would work in your favor is if you are only betting on underdog teams all of the time.
Even if you do reach a point where you have a high win rate and the ability to make a profit from sports betting you will have to face the inconvenient fact that sportsbooks do not want you around. These establishments will instantly ban anyone who they think might be a sharp who has an edge since those types of players can potentially cost them a ton of money over time. If they are not sure whether someone is a pro or not then they might just limit the amount of money that they can bet on each sporting event which is also a huge inconvenience to a sharp since they need to bet big to make a living due to the extremely small profit margins involved.
Nonetheless, just because an activity is insanely difficult does not mean that it can’t be done. People climb Mount Everest every day despite the fact that most of Earth’s population could never survive such a feat. There are still numerous people in the world who consider themselves a sport betting professional, it’s just that the number of them has dwindled over the year due to the increase in difficulty.
Tips for Professional Sports Betting
Even the most elite tier of sports bettors boast a bet win rate of around 55% which is just a few percentage points over the profitable threshold that is needed to be a winner. The trick is that these sharps bet so much money on every bet that the small edges become large amounts of money.
However, you should be careful when betting large sums of money if you do not first have a high win rate over a large sample size. There is no reason to subject yourself to trial by fire when you could just take things slowly at first and see how good you really are. If your win rate is not above 50% after a large sample size of smaller bets then your process could be flawed and you will need to work on improving it before you move on to higher stakes.
You should also be careful with betting too high with regards to what your bankroll is sitting at. Too many people who could potentially be professionals do not understand proper bankroll management and they go broke before they even get to see the long run. We recommend that you employ a flat betting strategy of anywhere from 1% to 5% of your bankroll on every profitable play that you find.
Often times sportsbooks will have a limit to the amount of money that can be bet on any given game by one person, which can really put a damper on a sharp’s plan to bet hard in every spot. This is especially true once a book suspects that you are a professional and then your limits will become even lower. For this reason, many professional sports bettors will make bets at various different brick-and-mortar sportsbooks in order to increase the amount of money that they are risking on that contest. For example, if a sharp wants to bet $20,000 dollars on a game but there is a limit of $5,000 on any bet at every sportsbook nearby then he would need to visit four different sportsbooks to complete his $20,000 wager.
Our final tip is that if you are considering becoming a sport betting sharp then you will need to have access to as many online sportsbooks as possible. Many pros will make an account on numerous online sportsbooks in order to maximize their exposure to the games they are targeting. This allows them to shop around and find the best odds or spread lines possible for the side that they want to bet in any given game, which is a huge advantage.