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How to Beat the Bookies


Since the beginning of betting, there have been people touting their sure-fire magic bullet for beating the bookies. I’m not just talking about recently, but since the days when Moses and his Zipporah used to go to the local camel racing track, throwing down handfuls of sestertius on his favorite hump-back.

The truth is, there is no magic bullet for beating the sportsbooks. However, there is a serious of steps that one can take to win over the long run and turn a profit. You might cringe when you read this next line … but most of it comes down to discipline.

They’ll Sell You The Whole Seat, But You’ll Only Need the Edge!

Yes, I took that subheader title from a radio announcement for a monster-truck rally that I heard a couple of decades ago … but it has a ring of truth in this situation: it’s always about finding an edge. Don’t bet just to bet. Don’t bet just because it’s a team you like. In short, don’t bet unless there’s a clearly defined edge and reason to take that side.

But what do we mean about an edge? Well, Good start is soft lines. So, it is critically important to open up various accounts at A-rated online sportsbooks. The reason for this is line shopping. Say you are handicapping the Packers vs. Bears and you like the Packers to win by a touchdown. Let’s pretend that Pinnacle has the line at -7 but as you are poking around, you see that Bovada has the Packers at -6.5. Now instead of a push if Green Bay wins by a touchdown, you get the win. There is a clear edge against that line if you have handicapped the game and believe the Packers are truly a touchdown favorite. If you only have the account at Pinny, you might not get your Bovada account set up, verified, and funded before that favorable line moves up to 7 as well.

Another reason lines shopping is so important is being able to select the book that has the best price on your risk vs. reward. Most of the time you’ll see spreads and totals at -110/-110. But there are a lot of reduced juice lines, especially at 5Dimes where certain games are listed at -105. This is the difference between a $.91 return on your dollar versus a $.95 return. IT may not seem like much, but over the course of the season and multiple bets, four or five dollars at a time adds up, and the extra bit of profit can perhaps cover an extra loss.





Make a Game Plan

This is perhaps the most important part of sports investing. You need to make a plan and stick to it. Set parameters and stay within them. In other words, stay in your lane. Stick to units and set a maximum wager amount and NEVER go beyond it. Pick a number of bets that you will make per week – according to your budget– and do not surpass that number. Furthermore, if you are just starting out, it’s usually best to focus on one sport. Ideally, this will be the sport you know the most about and follow religiously.

Making a game plan and sticking to it is important because it will help you keep your ego in check. When you start to win a lot, people ten to up their wagers or start placing more and more bets because they are ‘on a roll.’ The reasons that you are on a roll is because you are sticking to your system, and there are natural ups and downs. Believe me when I say that I am speaking from experience. In the past, I have gotten my bankroll up to amazing amounts, gotten excited and a feeling of invincibility and then drop a ton on a game I am super confident on. Well, just about every time, reality will choose this moment to slap you in the face. And you lose big, reversing so much of the progress that you have been building upon. Had you just bet within your normal parameters, it would have been a normal, absorbable loss.

The other thing we tend to do is start betting on games we shouldn’t. We get overconfident and start making dumb plays. Hence, our win/loss rate plummets and so does that bank role that we have been diligently building.

I can almost guarantee that even though you are reading this and I am warning you, 95% of you who actually go on to having some success at sports betting will commit one of these two mistakes or have already done so.

It’s a Numbers Game

Beating the books is all about data. You are going to be digging into team stats, situational numbers, etc. Take that same attention to detail and apply it to the way you track your wins and losses. Create separate spreadsheets that have all of your plays with the betting lines, price, the main reason you made the bet (the edge you found). I like to separate documents by sportsbook so I can keep track of my bankrolls in each book. Then I use separate tabes per sport and block it out to the wager type.

Adding this information daily will help you keep on top of everything you are doing and keep your strengths and weaknesses at the front of your mind. You may be looking at your sheets and say to yourself, ‘Man, I am sucking with totals right now.” So, you adjust either by betting fewer totals plays or changing up your handicapping strategy. Also, creating a space for why you chose to make each play will help you identify patterns in when and why you win, and when and why you lose.

In short, track, document, and analyze everything, and you will be able to adjust and become more successful over the long run. These are the three foundational aspects of beating the bookies over the course of a season. Remember, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. The bookies will win the sprint almost every single time. But you can pick your spots wisely, and keep adjusting to come out on top over the course of a season.


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