The Truth Behind the Math and Why There’s Hope
The cold hard truth about the world of sports gambling is that on a yearly basis, anywhere between 90% and 95% of bettors lose. In theory, picking a game against the spread is purely a 50/50 proposition. Of course, the dreaded “vig”, or juice (an average of 10% tax on losing plays), requires bettors to strike at a rate above 50% in order to break even. Roughly, you need to be right 53 times out of 100 to turn a minuscule profit. The true break-even point is 52.38%. These numbers are far more important to a casino or a book-maker than a player. The reason for this is that the sheer volume of the bets they take in essentially guarantees them a profit. In simpler terms, it’s infinitely more difficult to flip a coin >52.38% heads over the course of one million flips than it is to achieve the same ratio over the course 100 flips. The higher the sample, the greater the chances are of a regression to the mean.
This is where I wish I paid more attention in Statistics 300 and didn’t drop Calc 2 in college. Let’s say a sample of 100 bettors wager on one game a day for one year straight. They will need to pick 191 out of 365 games correctly in order to break even. Based on the data suggesting 90-95% of players lose every year, we can infer that 90-95 of the people in this sample will likely fall below the 52.38% threshold. This is where I’m supposed to drop words like standard deviation, probabilities, and variance. My days of running statistics are too far in the rearview to pursue solving this myself, so I decided to consult google. Turns out, there are some nifty sites out there that allow you to perform exactly the type of calculation I have laid out. Interestingly enough, with this particular sample size, more than 20% of bettors can expect to win at a high enough clip to beat the “vig”. This is more than double the expected outcome of 5%-10% “winning players”.
So what exactly isn’t adding up here? If an abnormally large number bettors are consistently losing, one could only assume that there are more contributing factors at work outside of “vig”. This said, it’s still important to recognize the negative impact of the “vig”. If you are uncomfortable with your handicapping skills or your general ability to gain an edge, your best chance at profitability is by reducing the sample size. Betting a handful of games each year is your clearest path towards avoiding a doomed fate amongst the 90-95% of losers.
This gap between actual losers and expected losers tells me there is a fundamental leak in the sports bettor’s overall strategy. The good news is that leaks can always be patched; the real challenge here is identifying these fatal flaws. Rattling off every deficiency of the modern day sports gambler seems a laborious, if not impossible, task. But I would venture to say that that majority of leaks, or mistakes if you will, can be categorized as either stemming from a lack of knowledge or a lack of effort.
My years of experience in the gambling world, combined with my years in college coaching, give me a built-in edge in the knowledge category. My commitment to “A New Method of Handicapping” is to relentlessly apply this knowledge with unmatched effort by studying the infinite fluid dynamics of each and every team in the National Football League. I’m excited to continue to create both long and short-term positions on every team, and ultimately use these positions to generate sharp, process-based takes. I’m extremely weary of becoming too results oriented, but the early numbers are showing a positive correlation between my position on teams “P”, and ATS winners. Looking forward to attacking week 5! Good luck everyone!