If you feel like your life is in dire need of a constant, mentally exhausting challenge, perhaps betting sports professionally will satisfy your needs. First, you need to understand a few numbers. One, the top sports bettors in the world don’t win even 60% of the time. They top out around 58 or 59. So right off the bat, you already know that this is going to incur quite a bit of failure, and failure leads to stress. Loss of money leads to stress. In this case, one happens because of the other. It cannot be emphasized enough that this is a very, very stressful job. Betting sports full time is not as easy, fun, or glamorous as it may seem.
The standard vig (fee for the house booking your action) is 10% of whatever you bet. You must bet $110 to win $100, $220 to win $200, and so on. If you win 52.4% of the time, you are something that around 97% of sports bettors are not and that is a long term winner. It will take you 10,000 bets of $110 to win $400 at a success rate of 52.4%. Not exactly golden, but hey, it is better than being down $200,000 and losing your job because of it. There are too many stories that end up this way. So how much do you want to make? If you want to make $40,000, you’ll have to make 1,000 bets a year, averaging $110,000 a bet, and succeed 52.4% of the time. You don’t want to be risking more than 2-3% of your bankroll on each bet. And that’s playing it hard.
Really, 1% is the safe way to go. But even if you do 3% each bet, you still need over $3.3 million to do this prudently. Yes I’m obviously taking this to quite an extreme. But it’s important, so let’s recap. If you want to make $40,000 a year, you need to do something that 97% of the people trying, can’t, and you must do it 1,000 times a year, and you must risk $110,000 every time. That is nearly 2.75 bets a day every day. That means you have to pretty much be an expert in every sport. May I remind you that this is if you are exclusively playing the games where the vig is -110. If you’re ever laying more or less than -110, then this will affect how often you need to succeed.
55% seems to be the going win rate that will put you in the clear to make money you can live off of. We were talking millions before as a sufficient bankroll on the extreme sides, but you are going to need a lot of money either way. I would say at least $100,000. You are going to have to be able to weather the storm for a lot of failure. You are too likely to just go broke if you can’t cover a long stretch of losing that wasn’t necessarily your fault. Even if you lower your bet sizes, you run the risk of not being able to win enough to live off of even if you’re winning. If you had $220,000 and won 55% of the time placing 300 bets a year of $2,200, you will win $33,000, or about $635 a week. The $2,200 bet is considered 1 unit of your bankroll. $635 is less than 29% of what you’re risking on each individual bet. And your net goal per week should be 1 unit.
It takes many hours of regular research, to find where edges possibly exist. I just told you that 52.4% is what you need to do to barely break above even. What happens if you bet on a game where the true odds were one team was going to win 51% of the time and the other was 49%? That means long term, this is a losing play. The sportsbooks make their lines so that this is how things will result as often as they can. But they are human so they are not perfect, that is why edges exist.
There are so many different elements to be aware of. Things like who is injured, what the weather is like, how the side you like has been doing lately against what schedule don’t even scratch the surface of the kinds of intricate and very mathematically complex things you need to always be researching. The said bits of information make up a couple grains of sand on the bench in the sports handicapping scene. Sports betting is a moving target of a game of being able to understand which elements are relevant and it varies on a game by game basis. It is never the same thing over and over again. How could it be? Almost everybody is losing!
I know it must sound like I’m completely against sports betting and presenting arguments as to why you shouldn’t do it, but the truth is I’m just talking about what actually goes on. If you think you can take on all of these things and still prevail, go for it. But there are reasons barely anyone can turn even the slightest profit at it. There are hazards everywhere. It’s not just the vig you have to overcome.
One hazard is just being able to ignore your passion to watch. People really love sports. They love it so much it gives them false beliefs they are able to predict the outcome, and just love to have action at all. How much you are entertained by a game has nothing to do with matching up what will happen with the spread, and if it’s even worth the payout. You may think you really see what’s going on, but how can you know you do? You are already aware that if hardly anyone is winning, then how can sports betting be as easy as it seems? It takes a lot of success over a large sample of time to determine you have in fact developed the ability to find edges.
Winning is such a monstrous thrill. You feel the emotions with the players and anyone else who has been sweating it out with you. You can get a little heater going and win 7 or 8 bets in a row. You think, okay I got this. Except that is almost like saying if you successfully ran a red light without getting pulled over a bunch of times in a row, then you are now a wizard on knowing which red lights to run and which ones to stop at. Betting sports blindly is like trying to run a red light. You are not aware of the oncoming traffic from the left or the right. You are not aware if a cop is nearby watching. This is simply an ill-advised unsafe decision. That’s why we have red lights in the first place, to protect us from getting hurt. That’s why you use caution and put lots of time and thought into each bet, to protect yourself from burning money.
It is a hidden illusion for many bettors that you have put your work in, but really you have not. You went into the sportsbook and saw a line that looked appealing to you, for whatever reason. You text your friend you like it. He says he likes it too. You go to the window and bet. If it was that easy, why is it that 97% of the bettors lose? Many bets take place just like this example.
Maybe you did put in a lot of research. What if it was the wrong research and you lose anyway? People love to rationalize and say they were unlucky. Doesn’t matter if it’s because they have a problem or if it is just their ego insisting they really knew what they were doing. Either way it makes things very easy to continue. After all, you know that even the top bettors are going to have to incur a losing. You convince yourself it is too hard to see if you’re making inaccurate picks, or if you really are just getting unlucky. These illusions keeps people going for a long time. Sooner or later, they just have to, and you finally realize it was them all along.
Then there’s The Sure Thing. I capitalized it because people think this is also a possibility. A lock. A can’t miss. The thing about professional or college sports is the difference between the two teams is so small. It is very underrated as to how small it is. If you are watching the best team in the NFL play the worst team, you feel like there’s no way they can lose. If the superior team plays the way they can play football, yeah they’ll probably win a huge percentage of the time. What if they play badly? If you play badly against another team full of freak athletes, all of whom are also professional football players, the supposed dominant team is at a high risk of getting beat. You will not just show up and win because you are better. You still have to do your job right, and not everybody always does this. You can’t completely prevent the other team from just having a great game either. That happens too. That is why there is upsets. And that is why when you play the moneyline in games that have a huge favorite, you are going to have to lay a lot of odds on them just to be the victor.
Betting $800 to win $100 doesn’t sound very appealing. When you win 6 of those in a row then finally the upset hits, you’ll understand why. The edges are not found easily. Think of it as being a detective. You can’t just show up to the crime scene and know who the culprits are based on what’s on the surface. You have to look well beneath to understand what’s really going on, and it just takes time.
I wish you the best if you take this on as a full time career. I can only imagine it first developed as hey, what could be better than making a living from my hobby? It’s doable. People do it. Humans have shown themselves to be capable of nearly anything. Just understand at all times this requires a near infinite amount of discipline and diligence.