Gambling Facts and Fictions
Sports Betting Handicapping
Gambling Facts and Fictions: The Anti-Gambling Handbook to get yourself to stop gambling, quit gambling or never start gambling
Copyright © 2004
by Stephen Katz
Library of Congress: 2004094023
Sports Betting Handicapping
Many sports bettors look down on horse race bettors as real suckers. Many sports bettors have tried horse race handicapping and wagering. Their bankrolls quickly got crushed. They quit horse race handicapping and wagering because it is such a suckerís game. To quit being a customer of horse racing was a smart thing to do.
Sports betting is not as much of a suckerís game as horse race betting, but sports betting nevertheless still is a suckerís game. Horse race betting with its huge 20% takeout house edge on each race quickly annihilates your money. Sports betting will annihilate your money also but not as quickly because the house edge is not as high as in horse race betting. But being a better bet absolutely does not mean that it is a good bet. Sports betting is still a bad bet.
Your basic premise of certain financial death by gambling against a house edge is favoring the poison of sports betting over the other poison of horse race betting, simply because it will kill your bankroll slower. Sports betting is still monetary poison and will always kill your bankroll. There is nothing in sports betting that can be done to save your bankroll except to not bet. Your bankroll is saved by not betting.
Sports betting and horse race betting are exactly alike in the fact that you absolutely do not have any control over the outcome of any bets. In fact, sports betting is exactly the same as horse race betting in that it does not matter how skilled of a handicapper you are. The monetary results of betting on sports or horses is the same as betting on random numbers. This is unlike gambling games of real skill such as poker and gin rummy whereby you can control the outcome. Card games are discussed in another chapter. There is not any skill involved in sports betting and this fact had better be realized or your bankroll is doomed. You absolutely can never predict the outcome of sports events with enough accuracy against the house edge to break even let alone ever make money. Nobody on this earth can make money betting against a sports bookie. You had better believe that.
Sports bettors are even bigger "geniuses" in analyzing games after the games are over than are horse race bettors in analyzing races after the races are over. Horse race bettors usually quickly forget about the race that was just lost and then move on to the next race. Sports bettors sometimes will mull over the game that was just played. They will think about the various situations and problems that happened in the game that caused the bet to win or lose. They may reflect on the game for some weeks, months or longer believing that this may help to handicap another game down the road. They may even remember the game for next season or for years to come, thinking this may help to evaluate the game plans of a coach or the tendencies of a team. This is a form of Monday morning quarterbacking. The expression "Monday morning quarterback" got this name because most professional football games are played on Sundays. Then on Monday after the games are over, everyone is a game analysis expert when they have all of the game scores. When the games are over, only then is any sports bettor a sports handicapping expert.
The sports betting Monday morning quarterbacks will always say, "If I only had that one extra piece of handicapping information, then I would have won that bet. If I only knew or anticipated the tendencies of that team a little wiser, then I would have won that bet. If only that pass receiver would have just caught that one important pass, then I would have won that bet. If only that pitcher had not given up that one homerun, then I would have won that bet." You must understand that it does not matter what events happened in any of those games or all the other games which are bet. You will always get ground out of your money.
In sports betting, all of the situations are random as far as making money gambling against a house edge is concerned. You cannot possibly accurately predict these games to overcome the house edge betting on them. Despite any of your perceptions, you are simply making random bets on random games of random athletic occurrences with random results. You believe that you have become a handicapping genius when picking a couple of football game winning blowouts by twenty-one points or more. Sooner or later you will also pick a couple of losers by twenty-one points or more. You can never realistically predict any of these occurrences ahead of time. It cannot be done.
You cannot ever predict sporting events with enough accuracy to beat the bookie. Even the very best teams can lose to the very worst teams. You will lose money betting on good or bad teams, home or visiting teams, and favorites or underdogs. Teams get hot streaks and cold streaks. Maybe you believe that you can win betting on hot teams and betting against cold teams. But you really cannot have a clue when these streaks will start or stop with enough predictability to make money betting against the house edge. It just is not possible. You are getting beat and always will get beat out of your money not because of your handicapping but simply because of the house edge.
All of the already known given information about a sporting event is already built-in to the point spread, over-under and all other forms of sports bets. So what it boils down to is that you are simply betting on random numbers against a built-in house edge which makes it impossible to ever win money. You may have what you sincerely believe is an exciting piece of new information such as a key player injury or a sudden inclement weather report which could alter the outcome of the game. But you cannot really know beforehand, even if the information is accurate, how it will affect the outcome of the game with enough accuracy to overcome the house edge. Key players get hurt on teams all the time and enough of the time the team may win anyway because the other players on the team step-up and actually play better for awhile. Teams that never won before on a muddy field can suddenly win on a muddy field. All of the new information along with your hunches, intuitions and feelings about a given game are all meaningless betting against a bookie. It does not matter whether you studiously analyzed all of the stats and trends then came up with some conclusion or whether you just feel lucky. In the long-run you will always lose money and in the short-run also if betting on enough games.
Sports bettors should believe that sports handicapping is actually just about as unpredictable as horse race handicapping. Human athletes have physical problems as do horse athletes. Of course the legs of racehorses are more fragile. Compare your own physical life to the physical life of a professional athlete. Physically, sometimes you have good or bad days without any real explanation for the differences. Sometimes you just wake-up with a headache, cold symptoms, muscle pain, etc., or maybe it was just something you ate. Professional sports athletes are the exact same way and more so. With a rigorous schedule of many practices and playing many games in a season, they are constantly prone to physical problems. Especially the arms of quarterbacks and pitchers, as well as the knees, feet and other body parts of key position players. Most times even the athletes are not really sure how they will perform in a game. They may be mentally prepared and in top physical shape but a knee cartilage may just about be ready to blowout. Even while warming up before a game, the athletes are never really certain how accurate their arms or how strong their legs will be throughout the game. Take a full team of football players, baseball players, basketball players, etc. Now just how are you going to possibly know the physical conditions of all these players? Performances in past games are a guideline but all that information is already built-in to the point spread and various odds.
The sports bookie oddsmakers in Las Vegas will have more information than you could ever possibly have, even on your home team. They know when teams are hot or cold and adjust the odds lines accordingly. They try to adjust the odds and point spreads so that they get equal betting action on both teams. They make money regardless of which team wins or loses. The bookies have gotten very rich off of gamblers because they are effective in getting equivalent money on both the winning and losing side of a betting proposition such as a point spread on a game. The bookie will win in the long-run and you will lose in the long-run. The long-run turns into the short-run if betting enough games.
An important point that you must realize is that the bookies could even have a margin of error but with the house edge they will still win your money. You think that with a computer programmed with a boatload of statistics and trends that you can outsmart them. There is not any chance of that happening. The absolute certain unpredictability of the physical conditions of the athletes as well as the weather conditions and little idiosyncrasies that occur throughout each game makes it absolutely, totally, completely impossible to beat the bookie house edge.
You must understand that even if the vastly remote, basically impossible chance existed that you were a bit smarter than the Las Vegas oddsmakers, you would still lose anyway because of the house edge. Your bankroll would still get ground out. But get back to reality. The chance of you being smarter than the Las Vegas bookies or the local illegal bookies who get their odds from Las Vegas, to overcome the house edge, just simply is not going to be possible. So forget about it!
With the randomness of sporting event outcomes given the various statistical betting lines, you can never beat the bookie. It does not matter if you buy more stat sheets, spend more time handicapping, gather more information, listen more intensely to the TV and radio trying to find that key piece of news before the bookie does, or buy some good luck charms. It completely does not matter because you will never overcome the house edge. You had better realize this fact right now. Do not fool yourself now or ever with thinking that your handicapping will get better and then maybe someday you will win at sports betting.
You must be convinced of the fact that betting on sporting events against the bookie point spread and odds is exactly the same as playing random numbers. Playing random numbers is exactly the same as flipping coins. To make it clearer about sports picks being random picks, use this coin flipping example. You must try this at least once. Start with a mythical bankroll of $5,000. Flip a coin and call it heads or tails. The betting is the same as with a bookie. If you bet $100 and call it right, then you win $100. If you bet $100 and call it wrong, then you lose $110. Whatever amount you bet, when you lose then an extra 10% is lost. Keep score on a notepad or calculator. Concentrate and try to get lucky or just bet hunches whether the coin flip will be heads or tails. Bet more money if you feel hot or lucky. Bet any which way you want to. Do this for an hour. You will begin to notice the exact same patterns as if you were betting on games. You will win two or three in a row, lose a few, get hot and win five in a row, lose a few, go a little cold, get hot again, go back and forth with wins and losses, etc. But after an hour, you will see what happens to your bankroll. Your bankroll will be down almost guaranteed. If miraculously you are winning money then keep on flipping. Your bankroll will eventually be crushed. Eventually on the notepad or calculator the balance will be $0.
It should be crystal clear that you cannot win money flipping coins giving up an extra 10% for each loss. But unfortunately for all sports bettors, their money is lost exactly like this coin flipping scenario. You may get ahead or immediately lose with the coin flips starting out. But always eventually sooner or later and usually sooner, the random coin flip heads or tails will even out. Just like your random sports picks will even out. But paying that 10% extra for each loss will not even out your bankroll. It will level it like a steamroller to a flat $0 every single time without exception. If some bookie only charges 5% for each loss instead of 10%, you still never will be able to make money against the house edge. Even a 1% bookie house edge would eventually annihilate your bankroll.
Some of the most annoying, loud mouth liars on the face of this earth are the "pay per call" sports tout handicappers on TV and radio and also those selling sports betting newsletters. For a given amount of money, any amount of which is too much, they make you pay for the privilege of losing your money on their picks. Of course they always over the long-run and most times the short-run, will lose at the exact same rate that you will lose. These sports touts know that you and they can never beat the bookie. Yet they continue to lie about their percentage of winners simply to make money from your phone calls or subscriptions. Sports touts are further discussed in other chapters.
You have a choice. You can follow the guidance of this book and believe in the Factual Laws of Gambling or you can continue the foolish, hopeless task of trying to beat the sports bookie. Not following this guidance will definitely, without any doubt, cost you many thousands of dollars to eventually learn the lesson that you have just read about. Be smart and hold on to your hard earned money. Do not ever make another bet with a sports bookie. Tell yourself and forever mean it that the sports bookie betting days are over and good riddance.
Now that you know how utterly futile and hopeless is the sports betting game, you simply cannot in good common sense pick-up the phone to make a sports bet. You cannot place a bet on the internet. Just do not do it. Always remember that the very next bet will be the continuation of a losing streak. Even if you start out winning it does not matter because you will always lose. You must resist betting on sports. You must extinguish that urge. That is your only chance to win. Be smart and enjoy watching the games knowing that it is impossible to make money betting on them. Have real lasting fun by being a good sports fan. Hereís rooting for you to stop or never start sports betting.