First and foremost, I have a responsibility.
People rely on me. Look to me for guidance. Like some degenerate, American Buddha endowed with sports gambling wisdom (some have gone as far as to declare me a prophet. I don’t confirm their accusations, but neither do I deny). And I don’t take that shit lightly. It fuels me to my core. All the way down to my inner sphinter if I’m being completely transparent. It spurs me to work harder, at times feeling more like a burden than a gift. I often don’t sleep well at night.
A shepherd must tend to his flock. To whom much is given, much is expected. The leaders and teachers will be judged more harshly at the end of their days. Etc, etc… (As the Apostle Paul once wrote: I am speaking to you in human terms due to your natural limitations).
I’ve been meaning to write this for some time, and I’ve determined the time is now. Its funny how getting into something new can rejuvenate your passion for something you’re already doing. While reading some of Alexander Elder’s ‘Trading for a Living’, it hit me. There are a lot of parallels between that world and the betting world. And just as people vociferously seek after material that improves their trading acumen, there are bettors in need of content beyond sports consulting on a pure handicapping level alone.
For the record, I started reading that book because I considered dabbling in the world of stocks and options myself. However, it dawned on me while I was talking to a wise, but also smelly, and slightly crazy, Asian man (you know who you are) that does trade options. He knows me from my next-level gambling picks and he straight up asked me, ‘why would you want to get into that if you already do what you do so well?’ You know what? He was right. Shifting focus to something else while simultaneously betting on sports would cause both things to suffer for it.
It pays to specialize.
As I alluded to, its one thing for me to provide you with stone-cold-cash-money-picks, but the picks are just half of the puzzle. If you don’t know how to utilize the picks correctly, then you aren’t maximizing your full bankroll potential. While this isn’t a COMPLETE A to Z guide on how to be a successful sports bettor, its pretty damn thorough (depending on how this is received, I’m not averse to sitting down and writing a full book on the subject). It will change your life. That isn’t hyperbole. The things I would give to be able to go back in time and hand this document to a younger version of myself… But alas. Experience is the great teacher.
There’s a reason ‘How To’ articles and videos are so popular. Many of you Money Train passengers have asked for this at least semi-directly. Plenty others of you have wanted this info but just haven’t outright inquired for it. And then another subgroup of my readers need this information and don’t even know they need it yet. I’ll also note that I wrote this for bettors of all experience level. From the absolute beginner just starting out, to those that consider themselves to be advanced. I realize I have readers on all ends of that spectrum. If you aren’t a beginner, feel free to skim past the basics section and read on from there. We’re dumbing this thing all the way down for the newbs.
A note to the beginner
Anyone with forethought can see where all this is headed. The legalization of sports betting is already bring the subject out of the shadows and into the limelight. I for one, politically more libertarian in nature, say its about damn time. The last time I checked, America is a free country. And as long as a citizen isn’t harming any other fellow citizens, I say let them eat cake (or edibles). It won’t be long before everyone involved in producing sport-related content will need to be able to intelligently discuss things such as the point spread in order to stay relevant. I think the impact will be that grandiose. So even if you don’t plan on personally wagering, it still behooves you to increase your knowledge on the subject.
Now. For you mother effers out there itching to get balls deep in this never ending quest to cash tickets, its time to get educated and begin to hone your new craft. You’ll love it. You’ll hate it. Its addicting as hell. But most importantly, YOU CAN MAKE MONEY DOING THIS. You just have to know what the hell you’re doing. A lot of you are sports junkies as it is. You can use that knowledge to generate cash in your pocket. Make your sports addiction productive.
However, something important to understand is this is by no means a get rich quick scheme. To be at the top of your game, there’s a lot of work involved. But if you’re willing to put in the time and follow the process I lay out in this document (and obviously follow my personal picks), you can be a profitable sports better.
The ARMT faithful that have been following me for a few years now, are aware that I know what the hell I’m talking about. For those of you that don’t, welcome to A-Rob’s Money Train, I’m A-Rob and I get buckets betting on sports. Feel free to go into the archives and see that I’ve given weekly picks for two straight profitable college football seasons (over 54% ATS year 1 and over 56% ATS in year 2). I fully expect to be pushing 60 percent ATS this upcoming season. I’m out for blood this year.
For those of you that think I’m a one trick pony, last year I finished in the top five amongst literally hundreds of participants in the Sports Gambling Podcast NFL competition where you pick every game against the spread. I also put out picks for numerous sports on a Instagram account with another handicapping sharp I personally respect the hell out of. He goes by Dingo and together we are the DosCappers, so be sure to type that in the Gram search section and hit that follow button.
For starters, you’re going to need to find a good sportsbook. I’m not going to sit here and suggest any, because I refuse to plug any of them in particular until they’ve become an official sponsor of the site. However, I will say avoid Top Bet at all cost. Unless you personally feel like arguing with them for months when it comes time to cash out. Or you just enjoy someone stealing your card information and spending over 500 dollars with it in a Kate Spade located in Las Vegas. They freaking suck. Look around, read reviews, do your research and find yourself a good reputable book. Hit up SBR (Sports Book Review), they have grades for just about any online sportsbook there is on the inter-webs. Once you become more advanced, you’ll want to have multiple books you’re involved with. That way you can maximize your potential of getting the best of the number.
(Side note: I’m so damn proud of my state. Tennessee is leading the charge and has legalized online sports gambling within its borders. I’m interested to see what types of opportunities pop up here and I’ve heard shit could be ready to roll by football season. I’ll be sure to keep y’all posted.)
Alright, so once you’re in an online book, I can’t stress this point enough. Rule numero uno is STAY TF OUT OF THE VIRTUAL CASINO. I AM NOT F***ING JOKING WITH YOU.
DON’T. TOUCH IT.
I don’t give a damn if your buddy says he racked up in there. That same buddy will give it all back and then some by next week. You laugh, but I personally know numerous people that have lost their entire bankroll in a span of 45 minutes playing blackjack. I’m talking about months of hard work from building that bankroll through sports betting, gone. In 45 minutes. If you wanna play cards, go to a real casino so you at least get some free drinks out of it. Or get with some buddies and bet each other in poker over some cold brewskis. Those virtual blackjack tables are the literal devil.
What is the point spread?
The spread is what you’d call an exact science. However, explaining the spread to someone that has no working knowledge of the concept is certainly not. Some people understand immediately cause its honestly not that freaking hard. Others just cannot seem to comprehend, even after you feel like you literally couldn’t explain it any clearer to them.
At some point in time, every passionate gambler has found themselves attempting to break it down to their cousin or girlfriend by using an imaginary whiteboard in the air. They seem so close but it just doesn’t connect. Bless their hearts, they just want to know more about this hobby that consumes your entire life to the point that it puts strain on the majority of your relationships. The obsession slowly driving a wedge between you and the ones you love…
But that’s neither here nor there.
There’s plenty of debate over when the point spread was invented. Some say it first became uniform practice betting college basketball in the 1940s. Others say Cricket in the 1500s. Some say a bookie in Chicago invented it, while still others say it was Genghis Khan’s idea, who forced his ideals on every culture he conquered (The Chinese have gambling deeply imbedded in their DNA to this day). While the history is murky, one thing is clear: if you want to garner action on both teams in any circumstance, you got to make it ‘fair’.
Obviously, if you just picked whichever team was going to win any given game and the odds were even, you could rack up picking teams that far outmatch their opponent. The point spread is designed to level the playing field.
Once you’re looking at the lines, you’ll see the team that’s favored will have a (-) in front of their point spread, and the underdog will have a (+) in front of theirs.
Let’s look at an early week one college football line as an example:
Alabama -32 vs Duke +32 (good to see Bama is really challenging themselves in their neutral site opener in Atlanta). So if you bet Alabama laying the points, you need Alabama to win by 33 points or more to win the bet. Reversely, if you take Duke, and they lose by 31 or do better, you win the bet. If the difference in score lands on exactly 32 (say the final score is Bama 35 – Duke 3), then that’s called a ‘push’ and both sides are returned the money they bet and neither side wins.
Sometimes the line will include a 0.5 point. This eliminates the possibility of a push. Here’s another week one example of that scenario:
Fresno State +13.5 vs USC -13.5. If USC wins by 14 or more, that bet pays out. If Fresno loses by 13 or performs better, they payout.
Next to every team’s odds will be a 3 digit number. Typically with spread bets it will be something like -110, -115, -105, or even +100. This is what we refer to as the ‘juice’. Essentially, you move the decimal two places to the left of that last number of the juice and that represents what the payout is in relation to your wager.
So let’s look at some examples of what a 100 dollar wager would payout for each one of those:
- -110 = $90.91
- -115 = $86.96
- -105 = $95.24
- +100 = $100.00
It’s fair to say that books have the majority of their spread bets sitting at -110 for both sides. Sometimes they’ll have one side be -115 and the other -105 based off the number of bets coming in on one team, or if they just want you to pay a higher premium to take one particular side.
This is a good time to mention the fact that obviously the payout is a bit lower for what you’re risking on these spread bets. Get this into your head now: you must be very good at this if you want to consistently make a profit. If you want to do this for a living, you’ll have to be downright exceptional. Because of the juice, on ATS (against the spread) bets alone, you need to shoot to hit about 55% to make substantial money (more on this later). 52% or so, and you’re basically breaking close to even. If you’re hitting half at 50%, because of the juice you are losing money.
Ways to bet
We’ve already covered betting against the spread, but there’s other ways you can bet. Let’s get into it.
Moneylines: Let’s say you want to throw the spread out the window and bet straight up on who’s going to win the game point-blank-period. There’s an option to bet the ‘moneyline’. Example: The Lakers are playing the Warriors in the NBA. The spread is Warriors -7. But, the moneylines are Warriors -280 and Lakers +225. Say, hypothetically, you think the Lakers are going to win straight up so instead of taking them +7 where the juice is -110, you take the moneyline of +225. Whatever you bet on a plus number is the decimal moved twice to the left and multiplied by your wager. So if you put down 100 dollars and the Lakers win straight up, the payout would be $225. Reversely, the minus odds reduce your payout. If you’re convinced the Warriors are going to win the game but don’t trust them to cover the 7 points, you could take the -280 ML and your 100 dollar bet would payout $35.71.
Some sports are strictly moneyline sports because there’s no points involved. I.e. UFC and horse racing. Major League Baseball has runs but they’re a moneyline sport as well, although you can take the ‘run line’ which is -1.5 or +1.5 for either side, but the juice is typically not -110 on those unless you have a heavy favorite. Soccer is similar to baseball, but they’ll have lines ranging for -0.5 to -2 and often times those games go to a draw so the -0.5 comes into play. Golf you can bet head to heads, but you can also take a golfer to win the tournament at whatever his odds are.
Parlays: These can be a thrill and they can also break your damn heart. I can’t tell you how many parlays I’ve missed by one freaking leg. But the payouts can be fat based on how you string them together. A parlay is when you take multiple bets and put them together into one, so all the bets you put inside it have to hit in order for you to win. If one team effs it up for you, that shit is over. Here’s what parlays payout based on the number of teams you put in them if they were all spread bets (-110) (based on a 100 dollar bet):
- 2 Team = $264.46
- 3 Team = $595.79
- 4 Team = $1,228.33
- 5 Team = $2,435.91
- 6 Team = $4,741.27
It keeps going but I’ll stop at six, you get the picture.
This would be a good time to throw in a betting strategy a lot of people employ that seems to work for them, and I admit I dabble in this practice as well. Moneyline parlays. Essentially, what you do is throw in a bunch of heavy favorites, but instead of the spread, you go moneyline and hope everyone just takes care of business. Its a fun way to bet, and it can be profitable. I’ll throw a real life example of my buddy Dingo’s parlay he hit this past week:
- Jon Jones to win his fight against Santos (-600)
- Three CFL games with the teams at (-580), (-450), and (-560)
- USA Women’s Soccer (+110)
A 200 dollar wager on that paid out $627.53.
Overs and Unders: Personally, I’ve retired and unretired from betting totals more times than I care to recount. For whatever reason, I seem to have much more success betting on teams. But everyone is different, and some people have an ability to have more of a feel for how the game is going to go than which side is going to come out on top. If that’s you, have at it. A total is set for every game, and its the combined amount of points from each side added together and you can bet the over or the under on that number. It can be fun cause you find yourself either cheering for both team’s to score or both teams not to score depending on what you took.
Teasers: Teasers are parlays with a little extra help and a lower payout. They’re used with spread bets and you get to pick between a 6, 6.5, or 7 point tease, with the payout being more the less points you tease it. For example, if Oklahoma is favored by 12, Georgia is favored by 17.5, and Tennessee is an 8 point underdog, if you threw those three teams in a 6 point teaser it would look like: Oklahoma -6, Georgia -11.5, and Tennessee +14. The teaser just pushes the line 6 points further in your favor for each team you include.
*Pro Tip* – when you’re teasing football games, you’re looking to cross key numbers, and you typically want to avoid crossing zero. For instance, in the teaser above you’re bringing Oklahoma down to under a touchdown, Georgia under the key numbers of 17 and 14, and Tennessee up to two touchdowns. When I say you don’t want to cross zero, I’m saying there’s not as much value in taking a team that’s -3 to +3 or -2 to +4, cause the margin of error is much thinner.
Futures and Win Totals: Long term, season long investments. Future bets are what make the news when you see some dude that took an obscure team at like 66 to 1 odds and they end up playing in the championship and he decides to ride it out instead of selling it to someone and they hilariously end up losing. Sometimes dreams do come true though. When the Eagles won the Super Bowl a couple years ago they were 50 to 1 to win it all preseason. Perhaps the greatest Futures story of all time was 2016 Leicester City winning the Premier League when they were 5,000 to 1 to win it all in the preseason.
Win totals are like a spread bet where the juice on both sides is closer to even (although sometimes not). Bookmakers hang a line before the season starts and you can decide if the team will win more or less games than the win total put on them. For example: LSU’s win total right now is at 9 wins. If they go 10-2 or better, the over hits, if they go 8-4 or worse, the under hits, and if they finish 9-3 then its a push and bettors are returned the money they bet. IMPORTANT NOTE: Will someone put out a memo to the National Sports Media that these win totals are only including the regular season. I’ve heard too many saps throwing out overs cause they’re oblivious to the fact that a conference championship or bowl game DOES NOT COUNT TOWARD A TEAM’S WIN TOTAL.
Another note to the beginner
If you don’t feel like losing your ass while you’re learning how to bet, take the paper trading account approach. Write down every pick for your first season and the amount you would have wagered and track your progress. If you want to see what the juice pays out for each bet, use a parlay calculator online, you can find them a few different places. There’s an art to this and it takes a little while to get the feel of it. An app I’ll shoutout is Picking Duck. They have a virtual sportsbook that has weekly free competitions and getting in there and playing around will give you an idea of how to navigate a betting site.
If you’re insistent on coming in hot and going balls to the wall, I commend you. Experience is the great teacher and those that take the above advice will still have an adjustment period when they start betting their real hard earned money. The pressure around it is just different and takes some getting use to.
Ok, now that the new gamblers are up to speed, let’s get into the nitty gritty. This part is what trips the most people up. A lot of you will disagree with my advice in this section, but I can promise you… I’m right about this. If you want to consistently make real money on sports betting, this is literally the most important principle to adhere to. I can’t stress it enough.
I need you to ask yourself this question right now. It may sound silly, but its a serious question:
Why are you personally betting on sports?
Are you in this for thrills? Cause you’re bored and in need of some excitement in your life? Your mundane, 9 to 5 job slowly eating away at your soul and you need that rush just to satisfy some primordial urge to do something risky to spice up your current sad excuse of an existence? Or…. are you betting on sports to make a real profit? To put some extra money in your pocket.
Honestly, there are no wrong answers. Personally, I’m a little bit of a combination of both those things I just said. But at the end of the day, the profit is what matters most to me. I want to win. To do something hard, that most people can’t do as well as me. That shit is what motivates me the most. Its the same reason I take the time to write these blog posts and put out my picks. I get satisfaction in ‘winning’ the game and beating the book, while the creative side of me looks to turn this into a business where I help others do the same thing.
If you are the type of person in this for the thrills, I get it man. Seriously. There’s no feeling quite like throwing a fat stack on a football game and winning. The long build up to game time after you placed that huge wager is a thrill unto itself. The anticipation often times being comparable to the actual game. And if this is you, my objective is by no means to put you down. I have no beef with you. Keep living life your way homie.
Now, if you answered the above question the same way I did, that you want to conquer the books, and be a consistent winner and make a real profit, its time I get real with you. Betting for profit and betting for thrills are two total different approaches. Too often the guy that wants to make a profit bets like the guy who’s betting for thrills and he ends up losing his money in the end. Because here’s the thing about bet for thrills guy: sometimes they do win big. And sometimes they win so big that they’ll be up for a long time. But they mostly inevitably give it all back. For every massive bet they’ve won, there is another massive bet they’ve lost. I’ve even seen talented guys do this. They build a massive bankroll through a few big hits, and then they roll it all into another game and eventually the luck runs out and they’re right back where they started, or are in the hole.
The guy that is trying to bet for profit but bets like a guy that does it for thrills, is often in denial. If you talk to him, he will be sure to accentuate his big victories. The massive bets that hit for him. While conveniently leaving out all the massive bets that didn’t go his way. If you really pressed him into calculating if he was overall, over the course of his betting career, up or down, he probably wouldn’t even know how to answer that question. And that right there is an answer unto itself.
Betting for profit is a Long. Term. Game.
I joke a lot in my write-ups about ‘put the rent check’ on this game, ‘double your savings account with this one’, and etc, etc. But I’ll be real with you here, cause I owe it to my faithful audience. Gambling on sports is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes time. You have to build your bankroll the right way. Us millennials struggle with patience, but I think we get a bad wrap cause all humans do.
For this portion of the program, we’re going to have story time with A-Rob. There’s no better way to illustrate a point than with a story, and I have a personal one for you:
I promise I’m not trying to be cocky, but when I first got into sports gambling, I was fairly successful at picking winners right off the bat. College football, NFL, and NBA are my wheelhouse now, and were my wheelhouse back then. I’ve watched so much sports over my life, and played football at the collegiate level as well, that from the start, I had a pretty good idea at what I was looking at. The gambling aspect just took my interest to a whole other level. I started out putting anywhere from 15-30 dollars on any given game, and I was building my bankroll slowly but surely. I did this for two years, and was disciplined in my betting amounts. Until… I started to hit a little downturn.
I went through a few week stretch where shit just wasn’t hitting for me. I was still up but I wasn’t up like I was, and instead of patiently waiting for my bankroll to build back through picking consistent winners, I made the mistake of chasing. I decided one NFL Sunday that I was going to put the vast majority of my bankroll on one game that would not only put me back to where I was before my downturn, but put me much higher above that. And I mean quite a bit higher. It was a huge risk. Reversely, a loss would just about wipe me out.
I’ll never forget. It was October, 2016. I bet on freaking Sam Bradford ON THE ROAD as the Vikings quarterback against the Eagles…
Yeah I know. I deserved to lose that one. People do forget though, that Vikings team had been on a tear ATS dating back to the previous season.
After that loss, I succumb to a big factor that curses a bettor:
I got emotional.
I was pissed off. Two freaking years of hard work, gone. And I was determined to get it all back. I reloaded with my book and it was on. I was ‘Big Bet A-Rob’. And you know what? I went on a bit of a run. I was throwing down a few hundred dollars a game and I was making moves. But then, the bets started going south again, and I continued to chase with even bigger bets. To the point where the NFL playoffs came, and in the wildcard round I constructed a six-leg parlay of ATS and over-unders that I put my entire freaking bankroll on.
I missed that parlay by one-leg. The effing boat trip game. I haven’t forgiven OBJ to this day.
The next week I reloaded again and did the same thing. Massive bet on a six-leg parlay. I missed that parlay by one. leg. again. I took the under in the Patriots – Texans divisional game and Brady ripped that vaunted Houston defense to shreds.
As I’ve said, in a lot of ways experience is the great teacher. And most people have to lose money doing this before they learn how to really win. Even the best in the business lose money if they aren’t adhering to sound money management principles. Can you imagine how much money I would have won if I had bet on each of those NFL games individually? I went 10-2 ATS in a two week stretch and had nothing to show for it. Or if had even divided those parlays into two 3-teamers each week, I would have been much better off.
What is a unit?
If you want a technical definition, a unit is exactly 1 percent of your overall bankroll. And if you’re adhering to sound money management principles (to the T), you should never, ever, EVER, exceed 2 units on any one, single bet. And I mean ever. Like an alcoholic has to avoid a single drink, no matter how long he or she’s been sober. You cannot convince yourself that ‘just this one time’ I’ll exceed the 2 unit limit. Its a slippery slope, and once you’re rolling down that hill, its damn near impossible to stop.
Now that I’ve laid out for you the ‘technical’ definition of what a unit is, lets have an honest conversation. Unless you have a massive bankroll, its going to be hard to rack up substantial winnings based off of bets that are 1-2% of your bankroll. Even if you have 2,000 dollars set aside for gambling, that hamstrings you to 20-40 dollar bets. If you want to know the truth, the only way to operate safely and still make a pretty penny is to have a large bankroll to play with.
However, I realize that the vast majority of my audience is not going to fork up that kind of cash into their book. To be completely transparent, I don’t adhere to the 1-2% rule myself. BUT, I set my unit size and I DO NOT DEVIATE FROM IT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE. Before you start gambling, determine what your unit size is going to be, and stick to it. Do not get in the habit of chasing losses with bigger bets. Your unit size may be 15 dollars. It might be 30. 50. 100. Even 1,000. Whatever you decide you’re comfortable with, stick to it at all cost. Obviously, the larger your unit size is compared to your overall bankroll is going to directly correlate to how big of a risk you are taking with every wager. So for example, if you have 500 dollars and you decide your unit size is 100, that’s not going to leave you much room for error.
The magic of 55%
Here’s the beautiful thing when it comes to sticking to your units: you no longer have to stress over hitting that one big bet. It eliminates the variance. Now all you have to do, is focus on being a good handicapper. Water always finds its level. This eliminates the possibility of a down turn or bad weekend completely ruining you. If you can hit 55% of your bets overall, then you’re going to make money. How much will then be determined by the size of your units.
I’ll prove it you right now.
Let’s take a look at the Money Train’s college football performance last season, that actually exceeded 55% (every pick was posted right here on this site). We went 88-67-4 ATS (56.77%). So let’s say that every bet had -110 juice on that unit, and of course every loss was a subtraction of whatever unit was put down. For example, let’s say that your unit size was 100 dollars and you took every single one of the picks provided. 100 dollars on -110 juice is paid out $90.91. So 88 wins multiplied by 90.91 equals $8,000.08. Subtracted by the 67 losses at 100 dollars a bet is -$6,700.00. $8,000.08 dollars won subtracted by $6,700 dollars lost gives us a profit of….
$1,300.08 for the season.
Not too shabby. Let’s look at what some other unit sizes would have paid out:
- 20 Dollar Units = $259.84
- 30 Dollar Units = $389.76
- 50 Dollar Units = $649.60
- 200 Dollar Units = $2,600.16
- 1,000 Dollar Units = $12,999.92
Another factor to consider when you get a good feel, is opening yourself up to betting as large as 2 units if you really love a particular play.
Reiterating reasons to stick to unit size
- Every experienced bettor has hit rock bottom at some point. How many times are you going to let this happen to you before you adhere to sound money management?
- Even great, talented bettors, have left themselves vulnerable to where a down turn in luck takes them completely out of the game.
- Gambling can be streaky, eliminate variance. It allows you to focus on being an overall 55% bettor and letting the profit take care of itself (the profit becomes a by-product of being a good handicapper).
As far as importance, I would rank psychology right up there with proper money management. Having a sound psychological framework around your betting decisions is absolutely vital for your success.
Managing your emotions
The reason this can be so difficult is that both winning and losing money are very emotional experiences. Hell, for the sports fans out there that already have way too much emotionally invested in their favorite teams, sports are already a mental health strain as it is. Don’t get me started on what the Vols have put me through.
It takes awhile to master this art, but if you want to make bets to the best of your ability, you have to find a way to rise above, and emotionally remove yourself from what you’re looking at. Those that are familiar with Myers-Brigs know that there are thinking and feeling types of people. For you analytical, thinker-types, this may come easier to you than those of you that operate more based on your feelings. But like most things, its a skill that you can acquire.
Be a robot as much as possible. Don’t see what you want to see, see things for as they are.
When it comes to winning and losing money, you can look at some of the best sharps in the game and from their outward appearance you’d have no idea if they were down or up for the day based on how they are acting. People get legitimately angry at teams, players, and coaches based on the bets they win and lose. But here’s the thing: its not really their fault that you lost that bet. Its your fault. You took the wrong team. Whether or not you bet on a particular team does not sway any outcome. The outcome is going to be what the outcome is going to be. Its completely independent of you and your bet. Its not personal. Its on you to make the right decision.
I say all that because anger is one of those emotions that drives gamblers to bet irrationally. They act like they’re about to ‘get back’ at the book for taking that money from them. But that anger pushes you to a dark state of mind. Angry people make decisions they normally wouldn’t make. A level-head is important in making the right bets. That’s why (I keep harping on this because its all connects) its so imperative you adhere to proper money management. You know you don’t have to focus on where your losses stand for that current day / week / moment in time, because if you’re good enough, you’ll get it back by focusing on being a good handicapper and hitting your 55% for the course of the season.
Q: How does Vegas win?
A: In a word? Impulsivity.
That applies to anything gambling related: sports, blackjack, roulette, etc. There’s a reason ‘Beginners Luck’ seems to have a degree of validity to it. The truth is, it does! Want to know why? Beginners typically have a more cautious approach. They’re on guard. People that bet for awhile get too relaxed, angry, frustrated, too confident, and too elated. AVOID THE ROLLER COASTER.
Some betting intangibles
For starters: be adaptable. Gamblers are often people of strong convictions. Makes sense considering we’re willing to put money on the line in belief we are right about something. But the best sharps have a level of discernment where they’re able to recognize when they’re wrong about a team or a trend, and able to move off of them. At the same time, they know when they believe strongly enough in a trend, if it doesn’t pan out immediately, they don’t bail on it, but stick to the course until it eventually pays off.
Speaking of, open-mindedness is a great trait to have. Be willing to listen to others, look at the numbers, and be open to changing your mind based off the things you are seeing and hearing. Don’t be stubborn. But….. at the same time trust your gut above all else.
I’m HUGE on trusting your gut. Perhaps more so than most others, but I have interdimensional theories. I firmly believe we have senses beyond the five (smell, touch, taste, sight, hearing). Sometimes you just know something and you can’t quite articulate why you do. Or you’ve just seen enough sports to know when something is coming. This is where watching sports your whole life can really come in handy. Some would call this woo-woo, but I’ve always approached betting as more of an art than a science. Like when a coach tells you to visualize yourself making big plays before a big game, try to visualize yourself watching the game, and how is it going? Some sharps in the business refer to this as ‘constructing a narrative’, and I know plenty that do it as well.
However, I don’t want you to hear me as completely favoring straight gut-handicappers over analytics guys. Both methods can lead to success, and I personally believe utilizing some combination of both spectrums is the best approach (what a concept that perhaps our politicians in Washington could consider).
Styles, Strategies, and Other Practical Tips
Everyone’s different, and there’s not necessarily a right or wrong approach in shaping your betting method, but I personally am what you would call a ‘volume bettor’. Now I’m not quite as extreme as some other volume bettors that will bet literally every single game on the board any particular day in a given sport, but I do find myself getting down on everything I like. Essentially, its a numbers game for me. I know that the more picks I make, the higher percentage chance I have of making a profit. On any college football Saturday I’ll take anywhere from 7 to 13 or 14 games. NFL, same way. That’s what has seemed to work the best for me.
Some bettors are more apt to pick their spots. They’ll hone in on 3-5 picks that day and really focus on only betting on their favorites.
Find a niche
Mark Twain once said, “Write about what you know about.” I’ve always loved that quote. And applied to gambling, I’d say ‘bet on what you know about’. It helps when you really love and enjoy a particular sport. You’re more naturally inclined to have a deeper knowledge of it cause you find yourself paying close attention to it anyway.
Remember… It pays to specialize.
The public is dumb and you can get a decided edge over the rest of the bettors by honing in your focus. Spreads are often priced the way they are because they’re trying to incur action on both sides of the number based on the perceptions the public has on the teams. If you’re smarter than the public, you’ll be able to spot mispriced lines, based on your own perceptions and numbers.
Speaking of the public being dumb….
FADE THE PUBLIC
I’ve been told that there are sharps that have built entire careers on betting the exact opposite the majority of the public bettors are on. The logic being they are aligning themselves with the side of the House. While I now think constructing an entire career based on that sole principle has to be a bit of an overstatement, there is quite a bit of validity to the concept.
- Group think = primitive
- Individual think = complex
That’s not my idea, that’s coming from doctors of psychology. Avoid falling into group think. Be a contrarian. The more your buddies hate your pick when you tell them about it, the better.
I’ve gotten carried away at times with this line of thinking, sometimes allowing it to be my main driving factor, and I don’t think that’s ultimately the key to unleashing its full potential. That’s asking too much of it. It would make things a little too easy. How I utilize it now is by adding it to my list of various factors I’m looking at when breaking down a game. I recognize it as additional confirmation when it lines up with the way I’m already thinking, and it provides an extra degree of clarity when I’m sitting on the fence. But I don’t let it scare me away if I’m already set pretty firmly on the public side. Hell, the public gets it right from time to time.
There are tools that can help you find out which side the public is on and which side the sharps are on. If you can find a break down of the tickets vs the amount of money wagered, the more number of tickets written on a side will represent the public team, and the more amount of money wagered on a side will represent the pro side. They are often on the same side, but they are also often not, and when there’s a noticeable difference, I take greater credence in it.
Transitive Properties DO NOT WORK
Easily one of the biggest mistakes I see from squares.
Once I was talking with an old man (interesting character, has owned a few liquor stores), and he and his buddies used to sit around and try to pick parlay cards. They would try to whittle it down to an exact science where they would research and say, ‘well this team beat this team, and they’re playing this team that lost to that team, so certainly this team will cover.’ And you know what? They would never win those parlays. And they were only doing like 3 or 4 teamers. There’s so many other factors at work when you’re considering who’s going to win a game, or cover a spread. Transitive properties can just flat out mislead you.
In fact, when I’m breaking down a matchup, lets go over some of the things I’m looking at:
- Styles make fights: If you have two teams that are very similar in personnel or strategy, then most likely the more talented or ‘better’ team has a clear advantage. But if one team employs a strategy that is schematically opposed to the other team, that difference in approach either helps level the playing field or can make the gap even wider. Its also good to dive into the numbers and look for edges based off each team’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Home field / court environments
- Revenge spots: for example, if one team got beat in embarrassing fashion the last time they matched up with the other team, the next time they play that team is in a revenge spot. If the team that got destroyed has any pride in them, they remember that shit and often times at least out perform their typical baseline. You can also throw in coaches or players going against a team they were previously a part of in this category.
- One team is coming off a physical or emotional game. Perhaps they went to multiple overtimes, or they won or lost in a particularly epic or heartbreaking fashion.
- Look to see if a team is fighting the injury bug / ‘banged up’. (Try not to fall for the classic ‘illness sweeping through the locker room reports’ rumor. That’s burned me more than once.)
- Examine trends in rivalry games especially
- Fade teams that just came off winning their quote on quote ‘Super Bowl’ or they’re ‘just happy to be here’
- TRAP GAMES. A trap game would be the matchup that happens right before a team plays an opponent that’s particularly good. They may not have their focus completely on the team at hand. It can be human nature to overlook a perceived weaker opponent. These are especially tasty when you know the team being overlooked packs a little punch.
- When a team needs to impress / prove a point / feels disrespected. Reversely, beware of the team everyone believes in.
- Some coaches are assholes and show no mercy, while some call off the dogs when the game is in hand.
- Teams that are well rested (extra time since last game / coming off bye week).
- Juicy home underdogs!
- Don’t be scared of the chalk. If you like a heavy favorite, lay that big number homie.
- AVOID RECENCY BIAS: People love to overreact. In fact, our modern day media thrives on overreacting. Just remember, trust your eyes but teams are rarely as good or as bad as they may have looked in their previous matchup. Things often get painted in broad black and white strokes, but the truth is there is plenty of gray area.
The last tip I’ll leave you with is perhaps the most important to remember….
As in New World Order.
- NWO: Don’t get too cute. Don’t fight it. Resistance is futile. Bet on the teams that rip the heart and soul out of the competition every year (i.e. New England Patriots, Clemson Football, Warriors (until their whole team died), etc, etc.). Think, if this shit is rigged, who would win this game? Bet on that team. Bet on scenarios that bring the league the most money (I.e., what teams advancing ensure the most viewers). The more you pay attention to NWO strategies, the more it will make sense.
Treat yourself post victory
I don’t mean treat yourself as in blow all your winnings as soon as your bet hits. What I mean is (listen to this carefully), the money in your online book or the tally kept with your bookie is NOT REAL MONEY UNTIL YOU’VE CASHED IT OUT. As long as its sitting there, that money is just a number on a computer screen. Subject to change as long as its a few buttons away from being used on another wager.
When the season is over, cash it out! Buy a big screen tv with it. Get your wife some flowers that help her get over the fact you blatantly ignored her and your children all football season. Hell, put it all in your savings account if you want to. The point is, when you take it out it feels good. It brings a sense of accomplishment and added value to what you’re doing. There’s honestly few better feelings than having that fat bankroll you’ve acquired turn into real life cash stacks.
Conclusion + Personal Plug
To be a successful sports bettor you need sound, rigid money management principles, a strong psychological frame of mind, and a personal betting style adapted to a philosophy that works for you.
As I was contemplating my role as a trusted and reliably source for betting insight, this idea really began to hatch and form into what it is. I appreciate you taking the time to read my betting guide, and my hope is that you’re a better handicapper for it.
I’m proud of what this site has turned into, and I can’t stress enough how important my audience is to me. I don’t charge for picks or content and I put a lot of hard work into what I’m doing. So if you enjoy the material, all I ask is for you to tell your friends, family, and captive strangers next to you on airplanes to tune in.
Follow and interact with me on social media. This football season will be my 3rd consecutive (4th if you count the year I did YouTube videos) posting weekly college football picks and then NFL playoffs:
Instagram: @doscappers (My partner Dingo and I post our picks on there regularly)
I know plenty of you follow the blog through my personal Facebook Page as well. I’m considering starting an official ‘A-Rob’s Money Train’ Blog Page for those of you that prefer FB as your medium. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.