Sports betting attracts the smart bettors since it is not a game with a fixed house edge where the casinos are raking off fixed percentages. Sports betting needs more skill than luck like live poker. You will not win every time but the skilled handicappers have a big advantage over the recreational bettors. Before coming into more details you need to be aware how sports betting works. Let’s have at football where a point spread is involved. Basketball also has a point spread.
The casino Sports books earn their money on sports bets by gaining a commission on losing bets. This is known as the Vigorish or Vig for short. The most popular odds are 11 to 10. This means that if you want to gain $100 you will have to risk $110. For instance, you make a bet on the Giants at the casino sports book and pay $110. If the Giants win you get $210 when you cash your winning ticket. If you lose your bet you will suffer a loss of $110.
Ideally the Sports book want to have the same amount of money bet on the two teams which are playing.
If the Giants play the Colts and they have one player who bets on the Giants and one player who bets on the Colts they could pay the winner $100 but get $110 for the loser. This gives them a $10 profit so they really do not care who wins as long as they have an equal amount bet on each team. To complete this they assign a line or spread to make the contest equally appealing for both sides.
The Point Spread
A number of people think that the point spread is the predicted margin of victory by which one team will defeat another team. This is wrong. The line is the handicapper’s guess of what number will be required to split the betting evenly on both teams. For this reason the line changes from the opening line to the line at game time. The Sports books aim is to split the betting as evenly as possible.
If the public is swayed by sentiment to wager on a certain team then the odds makers have to change the line to get some actions on the other team. If not, the betting could be heavily lopsided. The general betting public reacts from the opinion of others. This is why you observe so many people “Jumping on the band wagon” of a winning team.
For the sports books the line is flawed if it doesn’t appeal to the same amount of action on both sides however from a smart handicapper’s points of view, the line is flawed when it doesn’t compute to his predicted outcome of the game. A weaker team may become the favorite if public sentiment is with that team. When this occurs, the underdog shows a huge overlay for the seasoned handicapper, which means the odds are in his favor. For instance: Team A should be a 3 point underdog to Team B however The public like Team A and bet on them and the line moves to make Team A a one point favorite, then Team B becomes a good bet. This is the contrarian rule and why many wise handicappers go against the normal wagering public.
A winning handicapper has his own opinions about the game and does not care most of the public sentiment. A handicapper gets information from numerous sources, assigns weights and values to it. They make their own power ranking and make prediction of what the point spread should be without looking at the official line first, and then make comparison between their predictions and the line to look at discrepancies. The huge amount of data available through the internet and other sources means that the handicapper gets more information but it means there is more to sift through to find the gems. The use of computer programs can help when looking for through the data.
Why don’t more people win at sports betting? Like any other endeavor it requires time, patience and practice to succeed. A person of average intelligence can be a winning handicapper if they have the hope and passion. Based on the odds of -110 for a straight football or basketball bet a handicapper only have to be right 52.38 percent of the time to break even however many sports bettors can not gain that percentage of winning over the long term. The table below illustrates the break even points for the different odds you will see when you place a bet on the money line. With higher odds you need to have a higher winning percentage to break even. If you bet the underdogs you can have a lower win percentage and still get money.