Yes. You simply have to find lines that are far enough away from the “true” line for the bet to be profitable. This requires good line shopping and/or good handicapping. Personally I know far more winning line shoppers than winning handicappers. Line shopping really cannot be stressed enough. Generally the difference between a losing sports bettor and winning sports bettor is line shopping.
What are the best sportsbooks? What is the best book for US players? What do you think of (specific) book? What books do you use / should I use? Etc...
This depends on what sports you are betting, how often you bet, whether you want reduced juice, and lots of other factors. There is no single right answer. There is no one right book for everything. If you're remotely serious, you should have money in pretty much all of the top rated books plus an exchange. Lineshopping >>> handicapping in at least 80% of sportsbetting
Check out Sportsbookreview.com for full references and reviews on all the sportsbooks out there. This compiled information is much better than what you'll get by asking "hey what do you think of this site?". SBR has a clear grid which tells you which books do and do not allow US players.
Check out Sublime's excellent "Must have sportsbooks" post. This information may be somewhat outdated in a post-UIGEA world.
I'm in the US, how do I deposit?
Most places that allow for US play have figured out solution to take credit/debit cards over the series of tubes which comprise the internet. For example, Bodog has a pretty nifty solution called NUcharge which allows you to deposit for free and withdraw for a small $5 fee for relatively immediate cash outs. Otherwise pretty much everyone takes western union/moneygram.
How do sportsbooks make money?
Let’s take a standard wager, where you must lay -110 (11 to 10) odds. Most pointspread wagers are approximately a 50/50 proposition, something akin to flipping a coin. So you are laying 11 to 10 on the flip, while the book is TAKING 11 to 10 on the flip. Over time, the book must win. Also, the book has a margin for error in the lines. To win, you must overcome this inherent advantage by finding bets that are not true 50/50 propositions (i.e., far enough way from the true line). Note: There are lots of other types of wagers such as money lines, parlays, teasers, etc., but the basic idea is the same for them all – the sportsbook takes a fee by making you lay odds that are greater than the true odds of the wager.
What winrate do I need in order to make a profit?
This depends on the odds you are laying/taking. At standard vig (-110), you need to win 110 / (110 + 100) = 52.4% of your bets to make a profit. At any other price, you can use the same method to calculate the necessary win rate. Keep in mind that you can sometimes get by with a smaller win rate if you are collecting bonuses from the sportsbooks.
What is the highest sustainable win rate in point spread betting?
Generally, somewhere in the 55%-60% range is considered the maximum that is sustainable. However, if you start approaching the higher end of that range, you are probably passing up some +EV wagers.
Part II: The Basics: Learning How to Beat Sports
What are the best books to read?
Sharp Sports Betting by Stanford Wong is a good introduction to thinking like a sharp. Weighing the Odds in Sports Betting by 2p2'er King Yao is a good update to Sharp Sports Betting but does not replace it. David Sklansky’s chapter on sports betting in Getting the Best of It provides a good explanation of the math behind betting. Roxy Roxborough’s book Sports Book Management provides a good view of how sportsbooks operate.
Ok, other than Sharp Sports Betting (and Yao's book) what are the other good books to read?
Sadly this gets asked so much that it needs its own entry in the FAQ. There really aren't any other great sports betting books not listed here that I know of - if you know of one, submit it and we'll pimp it. Sharp Sports Betting is the Super/System of Sports Betting. No one has written a Sklansky-level follow up to it.
2+2'er King Yao has written "Weighing the Odds in Sports Betting" which is a solid follow-up to Sharp Sports Betting but does not replace it.
We've had one recommendation for the following - I can't personally vouch for them, but listing here for completeness: "For a good overall book check out Education of a Sports Bettor by Bob McCune. It's older, so you'll have to get past some editing mistakes, but it's very good. For football I'd also suggest How Professional Gamblers Beat the Pro Football Point Spread JR Miller and Beat the Sports Books by Dan Gordon." Another poster provided the following disclaimer: "you should ignore the advice about Kelly betting in the Miller book, and ignore the advice about parlays, teasers etc. in the Gordon book. Dan Gordon is a reasonably decent handicapper but pretty clueless about optimal betting."
What is a good bankroll to start with?
However much you can afford to lose.
Seriously, you can get started with as little as $100 with $1 units (see the next question).
What part of my bankroll should I bet for each game?
A commonly accepted guideline is 1%-2% of your bankroll. This is generally referred to as a "unit".
Why 1%-2%? A unit size greater than 2% dramatically increases your risk of ruin (risk of going broke). If you dont care about going broke, use whatever size units you're comfortable with.
Should I use flat betting or change my bet size each game?
If you can accurately quantify your edge on a bet, it is mathematically correct to vary your bet size. However, in practice (a) it is often hard to quantify your edge accurately and (b) the edges in sports betting are generally small enough that you don’t lose a huge amount by failing to vary your bet sizes on common point spread wagers. For these reasons, flat betting is best for most people even though it is not optimal. You can use what is known as "Kelly Betting", which is betting a certain percentage of your bankroll based on how much your edge is. If you are new, stick to the guidelines of 1-2% of your bankroll. If you know you are a winning sports bettor, then do a Google search of "Kelly Betting".
Are parlays and teasers bad bets?
Generally yes, parlays and teasers are -EV compared to straight bets. Although correlated parlays can be +EV, and teasers through certain numbers (through the 3 and 7) in the NFL (called Wong Teasers or "basic strategy teasers) can be +EV as well. Beyond that, stay away from parlays and teasers unless you are just out for fun.
In a game between the Braves and the Giants, the moneyline might be Braves -150 / Giants +130. That means you have to lay 15 to 10 odds to take the Braves and you get 13 to 10 odds to take the Giants. In other words, you have to bet $150 to win $100 on the Braves and bet $100 to win $130 on the Giants.
What are some general betting tips? What are some good tips for someone new to Sports Betting?
If you have other tools or resources to share, submit them!
Should I pay a service (aka "tout") for picks?
No. See this thread Paying For Picks for a good overview of why this generally is a bad idea.
Am I sharp or am I square?
See this thread from "TrixTrix" for a good discussion of some pointers that he feels delineates a sharp bettor from a square one. These are good points to read for someone just getting started as goals to work towards...
Where can I go for more information?
Click here for a massive amount of sports betting information, some good and some bad. At least you get different opinions to consider.
An arbitrage, also known as a scalp (the process is often referred to as "scalping") is the process of betting both sides of a game to ensure a guaranteed profit or at least no possible losing scenario. In a quick example, say BOOK-A is offering the line of Texas +105, USC -105 and BOOK-B is offering the line of Texas -105, USC +105. You could bet on Texas +105 with BOOK-A and USC +105 at BOOK-B, and you would win $5 per $100 risked no matter which team wins the game.
For a more detailed explanation and some more examples, see the questions and answers in this thread
Also check out the excellent resources available through ArbCentral.com (operated by Homer, a poster in this forum).
What exactly is a Wong Teaser (also called a "basic strategy teaser")?
This is a very specific teaser that is generally regarded as +EV, which Stanford Wong details in Sharp Sports Betting. Wong states that if you can cross 2 key numbers including the 3 with a 6 point, even money teaser, you have a wager with a statistically positive expectation. That means in the long term a winning result.
To spot a basic strategy teaser, look to tease games where you have a -7.5, -8 or 8.5 point favorite and/or a +1.5, +2 or +2.5 point underdog. These would tease to -1.5, -2, or -2.5, and/or +7.5, +8, or +8.5. So simply put a Wong Teaser is teasing across (not just to, but across) the 7 and 3. Either plus or minus. For example, teasing from -8 to -2 would cross key numbers at -7, -4, -3. Likewise teasing +2.5 to +8.5 would result in crossing +3, +4, +7.
Crossing to the 7 or 3 isn't, for example teasing a -9 to -3, as you're not gaining the probability of a win when the game lands on those key numbers, only a push. You want to move across them. Again, that's detailed in Sharp Sports Betting.
for those interested in more, look at Daliman's NFL Wong Teasers threads in the past weeks: (Week 1 | Week 2 or search for more recent ones). In these threads Daliman is playing every game where he can do one of these Wong Teasers (where he can move across the 7 and 3).
What is the easiest way to clear a sports book bonus? (Also asked as "What are the basics of Sports Book bonus whoring?")
Why isn’t there more detailed information on how to bet?
Generally, Sports Betting is about edges in market information, much like the stock market. For the most part, successful sports bettors don't have as much of a motivation as for example poker players to share techniques on how to be successful. As an example, if a sports bettor were to tell every little detail of how they bet sports, someone could simply beat that person to the lines they want and would negatively effect the success of the person giving out the detailed information.
In other words, giving out detailed information on how to bet sports is a significantly –EV proposition for those who do it well. So you're unlikely to see a detailed "this is exactly how I bet sports" guide.
How do betting exchanges like Betfair and Tradesports work? Can Americans use Betfair?
Betfair and Tradesports allow you to “trade” contracts directly with other users. The exchanges charge trading and settlement fees, much like stock exchanges. Currently, Betfair is the largest and best exchange, but it does not allow accounts from the United States (although it is rumored that this could change soon).
How often are Major League Baseball games decided by one run?
From Betting Baseball by Michael Murray, when the home team wins they win by 1 run 31.7% of the time. When the away team wins, its by 1 run 23.6% of the time
Keep in mind, however, that a game is more likely to be decided by 1 run if it is lower scoring, and less likely to be decided by 1 run if it is high scoring.
What is a correlated parlay?
Generally speaking, it means combining two outcomes which are more likely to occur together.
In sports betting, the basic idea applies most often to NCAA Football. For example, in a game with a large underdog and a relatively low total (over/under) - IF you think the under is a good bet, there is value in parlaying it with a huge underdog, because if the underdog scores at ALL, they're almost a lock to cover in any game that finishes under. The parlay nearly doubles your payout on the under bet, while *probably* not halving your odds of winning, giving it a higher EV. At least, that's the general theory of the correlated parlay when the spread is very close to the total.
What if I make a bet and the line later improves?
See this thread for good discussion on both sides of this issue.
What are the guidelines for posting in this forum?
Absolutely no spam, period. This is rule A, B, and C for this forum. This means no advertisements for tout services and the like. Anything falling into this category will be deleted on sight.
When you post picks, please post your season-to-date win/loss record along with units won in the subject line of your post. Also, please include at least some type of justification/reasoning for your picks. In many cases, the reasoning is more important to your readers than the actual picks. This is detailed in the Posting Picks Rules
Can I post low content / parlay threads / whatever ?NEW
This forum is for sports betting content. However, we allow one active thread with "anything goes" rules where you can post pretty much anything you want that doesn't break the terms and conditions of 2+2 or the general rules enforced in this forum by the moderators (i.e. still no commercial spam, no belligerently insulting other posters, no bypassing the content filter, etc). You can find the most recent forum chatter thread here - if that's not the most recent, try using the search forum to find a more recent one.
For the results of the 2006 SBFFL season, see here.
Note that other Fantasy Football posts are not allowed in the Sports Betting forum by rule. Those should go in the Sporting Events forum.
Part V: Glossary of Terms
Bar Stool Pundits. Abbreviated as BSP. A term used for universal consensus from the general public, i.e. walk in to your local sports bar and ask the Bar Stool Pundits who they think is going to win. If there's a consensus, that's a BSP pick. See: Natedogg's BSP thread
Juice – see Vigorish
Kelly betting – Kelly betting refers to a method of calculating your wager size given your edge on a bet
Line - see Spread
Middling – Betting both sides of a game in a way that gives you a chance to win both wagers. For example, let’s say Dallas is playing Denver. If you bet Dallas +3.5 at one book and Denver -2.5 at another, you win both bets if the game lands on 3. If it lands anywhere else, you only have to pay the vig. This allows you to bet much larger than your normally would.
Pinny - a common abbreviation for Pinnacle Sports Book. Generally regarded as one of the top books.
PK or Pick or Pick'Em - a spread of +0 for each team. Mostly shown as PK but sometimes expressed as Pick or referred to casually as "a Pick'Em". Note that you still pay "vig" on a PK line.
Push – When the outcome of a game falls exactly on the line, it is a “push” and the money is returned to bettors. For example, if the line on a game is New England -3 and they win by exactly 3, it is a push.
Runline – an alternative method for betting baseball; typically given as Team A -1.5 / Team B +1.5. This means that team A has to win by at least 1.5 runs to win a bet on Team A, and a bet on Team B wins if B loses by no more than 1 run.
Scalping – betting both sides of the same game in a way that guarantees a profit; for example, laying -120 on the favorite and taking +140 on the underdog
Sharps – knowledgeable bettors
Spread - a specific victory margin set for a game which must be "covered" to win your bet against the spread. For example, Chargers -7 means that the Chargers must outscore their opponents by 8 points or more to win this bet. If the Chargers win by seven in this case, the bet is a Push.
Squares – unsophisticated bettors, collectively known as “the public”
Square line – lines offered to square bettors, often shaded against favorites, overs, and other popular bets
Sharp line – lines offered to sharp bettors, often shaded against underdogs, unders, and other advantage bets
Unit - a standard amount you bet on a game. Generally recommended as 1%-2% of your bankroll. So if you have a $2000 bankroll and typically bet $20 per game, then $20 is your unit. Posting plays as units instead of $$$ is better as it lets people see an independant measure of strength regardless of if you're betting $20 units or $200 units or $2000 units.
Vigorish (vig) – This is the “fee” that sportsbooks charge for your wager. So instead of getting even money on your wagers, you must lay -110, -105, or something similar. The extra money you must wager is the vig.
If you have any suggestions for items to be added to this FAQ, please PM "Performify" the moderator of the 2+2 Sports Betting Forum. You may also contact "Performify" on Yahoo or AOL instant messenger protocols.
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