The Truth About Wagering on Sports

Every year, millions of people find themselves wagering on sports. It’s fun. It’s exciting and there is the possibility of winning money. That is always a plus. Unfortunately, the majority of bettors are casual gamblers who are unaware of some shocking realities about sports betting. 

Key Points

– The reality of wagering on sports is that winning percentage by itself doesn’t matter.

– Bettors must understand how to read odds and how to find value if they want success.

Winning Percentage Means Nothing by Itself 

Have you ever seen an ad where a sports betting expert tries to convince you to buy his picks? If you spend time on sports betting sites, you see these handicappers all the time. They make ridiculous claims regarding their winning percentage. 

Somebody says they have a 70 percent success rate. Sure, he might have a 70 percent success rate over a week or even a few weeks. In the long run, even the best of the best in the industry only win 55 to 60 percent of the time.

The bigger issue is this. It doesn’t matter. Winning percentage in and of itself means absolutely nothing. If you really understand sports betting, you know that you could have a 70 percent winning percentage and be losing money.

Likewise, you know that you can pick winners 35 to 40 percent of the time and make some nice cash in the process. 

This is one of the biggest fallacies in sports betting. No one wins all the time anyway, but those that are enamored with winning percentage are missing the boat. Let’s say you win 70 percent of the time.

The problem is that you like big favorites. I mean they can’t lose, right? Please note the sarcasm there. 

Let’s say you like the -1200 moneyline favorite in whatever sport. You choose to wager $1200 in order to win $100. Your outstanding winning percentage of 70 percent means you’ll win seven out of 10 wagers. 

When it’s all said and done, instead of having the $12,000 you started with, you’ll have $9,100. Whomp. Whomp.

Winning percentage by itself has little value.


Wagering on Sports Doesn’t Require 60 Percent Win Percentage

Speaking of winning percentage, you don’t need to cover the spread 60% of the time in order to experience wins. 

Many amateur sports bettors don’t consider how many games they need to win in order to break even over the long term. They place wagers based on their level of comfort. 

Their bankroll isn’t separate from their other finances and they don’t know how to use it. They essentially place bets haphazardly and then wonder why they can’t win just 60 percent of the time.

Ask a typical bettor what a good winning percentage is and that bettor will likely say 60 percent (or more). In reality, the best gamblers in the world often don’t come close to winning 60 percent when betting against the spread. The great thing is that they don’t have to.

Once again, winning percentage by itself doesn’t matter.

Pay Attention to the Vig 

Want to win more money betting on sports? Then pay attention to the vig. The vig, or juice, is simply the commission that a sportsbook charges to take a bet. 

Bettors can see the vig expressed in betting odds. Standard American odds on a point spread or totals bet are -110. This means that in order for a bettor to win $100 he must put down $110. When the bettor wins, he wins $100 which comes from a losing bettor. The sportsbook keeps $10 from each bet. The book is guaranteed to make money as long as there is equal investment on both sides of a contest. That’s how they stay in business.

Here’s a better example. You and another person place wagers at -110 on each side of a bet. The sportsbook collects a total of $220. One side wins the bet and gets the $110 wager back plus winnings of $100. That adds up to $210. The other $10 goes to the book. It doesn’t matter who won. The book always makes money.

Breaking Even When Wagering on Sports

Why should bettors care about vig? Bettors should be concerned because the vig has an impact on how profitable they can be. You’ll lose money if you only succeed 50% of the time. When the vig is higher, you need to win even more games in order to break even. 

To break even at standard betting odds of -110, you must win 52.38% of the time. 53 out of 100 games won results in a small profit. 

Bettors can benefit by getting a lower vig. They don’t have to win as often in order to make a profit. your winning percentage must be lower to make money. 

When the juice is -105, bettors only need to win 51.19 percent of the time to break even. Think about it like this. If you wagered $1 million per year at -105 odds instead of -110 odds, you would save $19,000. 

Betting $1 million seems like a lot, but if a bettor wagers just $100 per game, that equates to 1,000 games during the course of a year. It might be $1,000 wagers on 100 games. Either way, saving $19,000 is a big deal. 

How do you find lower vig? That’s easy. You shop for it. There are tons of sportsbooks in the industry and they all feature different pricing. You can use two or three sportsbooks in order to find the best prices. It’s like going to fill up your car with gas. There are five gas stations within a few miles of your house. They all have the same product but at different prices. 

You Can Win Wagering on Sports

Here’s one that not many people believe. Anyone can make money betting on sports. It’s like anything. It takes time and energy to create successful betting systems. 

Anyone who is willing to put in the effort can become a successful sports bettor with the variety of tools and information that are currently available. 

The majority of people are simply unwilling to do so.  

Be Careful Buying Picks

Too often, bettors want to put their fate in the hands of others. With the rise of sports betting, there has been growth in both the sportsbook and sports handicapping industries. Like any industry, there are some great ones, and there are some duds.

If you can put in the time necessary to handicap your own games, you may not need a handicapper. You definitely don’t need a handicapper if you are a small stakes bettor. Why pay for handicapper’s picks?

Picks cost money and usually the cost of picks will eat up all the winnings of smaller stakes bettors. If it makes financial sense and the handicapper shows a propensity for winning some big bets, by all means invest the money.

If you’re just too lazy to handicap on your own, you need to be careful when buying picks.