No matter how much money you might be giving them on a semi-regular basis, and no matter how nice they may act when you place a wager, the truth is: your bookie is not your friend. Just like you’re trying to make a few extra bucks by wagering on the outcome of a particular sporting event, your bookie is trying to make a few (or more) extra bucks by facilitating those wagers you’d like to make. In other words, you’re trying to make a profit, and so are they. And in the case of the latter and to ensure there profits continue to grow at your expense; here are 10 sports betting secrets the bookie doesn’t want you to know.
You’re Betting Against An Army
Have you ever wondered how bookies establish the lines and the odds for a given sporting event? We can tell you, with 100% certainty, that it’s far from any arbitrary prediction, and it’s even farther away from the idea that you’re betting against the intelligence of a particular person or group of people in general.
As you’re undoubtedly aware, sports betting is a billion-dollar business. Sportsbooks literally cannot afford to give bettors any advantage. That’s why they employ some of the best statisticians the country has to offer and charge them with developing rigorous analytical models — using every statistic and variable you could possibly think of, which is then input into state-of-the-art technology for processing — when establishing a given betting line. So if you look at the odds or betting line for a given event and think to yourself: “I know something they don’t know,” you couldn’t be further from the truth.
Now, all of this is indeed not to deter you from making a bet. Instead, it’s just to set realistic expectations that, when you’re making a bet, you’re betting against an oddsmaker who has at least as much information — or more likely, more information — than you have, so bet accordingly.
Lines Are About Betting Action, Not Score Predictions
You’ve undoubtedly seen the betting line open up at a particular number for a game, only to shift — sometimes dramatically — in the days leading up to the event. While that could be the result of a star player for a given team suddenly being unable to play, more often than not, the line shifted as a result of a large volume of people betting a certain way, and the bookies wanting to generate bets in the opposite direction. Remember: bookies always want to hedge their losses, so it’s in their best interest to have as many people betting in both directions.
Let’s use Super Bowl LII (the most recent Super Bowl) as an example. When the betting lines for this game were first established, the New England Patriots were six-point favorites in many sportsbooks. But by the time the game was only hours away from kicking off, the Patriots were down to four-point favorites. That doesn’t mean that the oddsmakers suddenly thought the Patriots would win by only four points, as opposed to the six points in the opening line. Instead, that just meant that there was a ton of action on people placing money on the Philadelphia Eagles, and the oddsmakers thus raised the spread to coax more people to put money on New England, by lowering the number of points the Patriots would have needed to cover.
But with the benefit of hindsight, we know the six-point, and four-point spreads were essentially meaningless since the Eagles won anyway. What the bookie didn’t want the average bettor to understand is the fact that the betting line changed because most people were putting money on the Eagles to win. As a savvy bettor, those are the things you should be looking for.
They Don’t Care About Who Wins Or Loses In A Particular Sporting Event
For bookies, sports is all business. The bookies don’t share the emotion that sports fans invest in the outcome of a game (more on that in a moment). A bookmaker only cares about one thing: the total amount of money bet on a particular event — commonly referred to as “the action” — regardless of what side or outcome that money is being placed upon.
Accordingly, the average sports fan who wants to dabble in making wagers will look at the given options for bets, and make their wagers based on who they think will win a game. This is a rather “amateurish” strategy. Similar to the bookmakers, the smart bettors don’t look at it from the perspective of who they think will win a game, but rather make bets on the best value given if a particular outcome is reached for a specific event.
Stop Betting Big When You’re In A Slump
How many times have you been “in the hole” and told yourself that if you can just hit these next few bets, you can break even and walk away at least somewhat satisfied? If this sounds familiar, you’re certainly not the only person to think this way. And that’s great for bookies because no matter how skilled a bettor you might be, the odds are always with the house.
In particular, bookies love when people “chase their losses.” That’s when people will lose one bet, and then follow that up by making an even larger bet, to recoup their losses from the first bet, and maybe also try to pick up those winnings that they initially lost out on. So let’s say you wagered $100 on the outcome of a given game, and you lost. Now you’re down $100, instead of being up $200 (in a theoretical 1:1 payout). Betting another $100, to make up for that $100 you lost initially, is already a risky proposition since you could be down $200 if you lose another bet. But the worst thing to do is bet $200, thinking you can make another $200 in return, because if you lose that one, then you’re now down $300.
There are inevitable ebbs and flows in winnings and losses for a given better, but you have to realize that if you’re in the middle of a slump, your losses begin to compound exponentially, and things can get ugly for you in the blink of an eye. Treat every bet as an individual wager, and every loss as a sunk cost.
Picking From The Heart Is A Strategy For Suckers
If you asked bookies about who are their favorite types of bettors, they’re more than likely tell you that it’s those people who make bets on their favorite team, because unless your favorite team is akin to the 1972 Miami Dolphins or the 1996 Chicago Bulls, you’re going to lose as often as you win on average.
Betting should be about making decisions with your head, and not your heart. But fans who bet on their favorite teams to win are inherently skewed in the opposite direction because they want their team to win so bad that they’ll begin to rationalize why a win is inevitable, and why making a wager on that win is a “can’t-lose” proposition.
But what bookies really love about these types of fans is the “irrational confidence” these types of fans will have in their teams. If you’re a fan of a winning team, and your team happens to be playing a much-less successful team, it’s not even in your realm of possibility that your team could lose to said the inferior team. These are the types of situations where bettors will make irrational bets — and big ones, at that. And those big wagers can often lead to significant losses.
Betting On The Favorites Isn’t A Smart Strategy
The Miracle On Ice. Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson. Villanova over Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA Tournament Final. The 2007 New England Patriots losing in the Super Bowl. The Golden State Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. As all sports fan know: there’s no such thing as a “sure thing” in sports. Upsets take place all the time. And that’s when the bookies make their killing. Think about how many people make considerable wagers in a given situation, because they believe a certain outcome is inevitable.
Of course, in the situations where there’s an overwhelming favorite to win a particular sporting event, the sportsbooks adjust their odds accordingly, making it almost worthless to make a wager on the favorite. For instance: when Floyd Mayweather faced Conor McGregor in the much-hyped boxing match, Mayweather was the heavy favorite to win, and anyone making wagers on his victory was getting -400 odds. That effectively meant that they would have to wager $400 to win $100. From a cost-benefit situation, that doesn’t make sense; if you win, you only get $100 extra, but if you lose, you’re now out $400 (even though the risk was very low).
Bookies always tend to make the odds for the favorites — especially the overwhelming ones — in a way that delivers poor payout. That deters people from simply wagering money on the presumed winner because the upside is too low.
Bookies Make A Killing On Parlay Bets
Every time you make a wager, there’s a chance you’ll lose. It logically follows, then, that the more wagers you make, the more chances you’ll have to lose. And that’s precisely why bookies love when bettors make parlay bets.
For those who don’t know: parlay bets are when you make wagers on multiple events, under the premise that if you correctly wagered on the outcome of those events, you’ll receive a higher return than if you made wagers on those events individually. Of course, the difference is that if you made a parlay bet involving the outcome of two events, you need both of them to result in your favor to receive that higher return; if you had made wagers on each of those two individually, you would still receive some return if you were correct on one bet and incorrect on the other.
The odds against you compound when you make a parlay bet. Bookies know this, and that’s why they make the potential return of parlays so appealing — to seduce you into making a low-probability wager, under the (mostly false) hope of a big return. So when you ask to make a parlay bet with a bookie, it’s music to their ears, because their odds of making money goes up for every single wager you include in your parlay.
Timing Is Everything
Here’s one big secret that bookies don’t want you to know: when you make a wager for a game is almost as important as the wager you’re making overall.
As we discussed earlier: sportsbooks set the opening lines and odds for a given event, and then adjust both of those based on the direction of the money coming in. Especially in cases where there’s an overwhelming favorite in a sporting event, you could get very tempting — and highly lucrative — odds on the underdog if you make your bet early enough before the line and odds start to even out a bit.
Morey “Doc” Moseman, a professional gambler and consultant with DocSports.com, said it best: “The sharp bettors tend to bet underdogs, and they tend to bet them early.” Moseman goes on the state that less-experienced bettors tend to make wagers in the days (or hours) leading up to the event itself, and tend to bet on the favorite, even though the lines and odds have shifted to the favorite as well (meaning those bettors are getting a very low potential return on their bet).
Focus On The Niche Sports If You Want To Win Big Money
Even though the sportsbooks do have the aforementioned cadre of analysts helping them set the most favorable odds for a given sporting event, there are ways you can still “beat the house.” And one of those ways is to do your homework on more “niche” sports and make your wagers in that niche.
For the “big four” sports — football, basketball, baseball, and ice hockey — there is more than enough information and betting data available for those statisticians to use in their predictive modeling methods. The same is often true for major boxing matches as well. But the same can’t be said for less popular sports to bet on (like tennis), or newer sports like Mixed Martial Arts (especially in the women’s division). Many times, even the bookmakers will go by conventional thinking as one of their key variables in determining what a given line could be.
If you really want to find ways to beat the bookie, learning as much as you can about these sports could work to your advantage, especially when you happen to notice a case when the odds are heavily in your favor.
There’s A Reason Casinos Serve Free Alcohol
If you’ve learned anything from this list, it was hopefully the fact that you want that you need to operate with a clear mind, when considering and making a wager. Any time of impairment to that clear mind will tilt the odds in further in favor of the house.
And that’s exactly why casinos will happily provide bettors with all the free alcohol that their heart desires. After all, alcohol impairs people’s judgments and makes people behave in a way that they otherwise wouldn’t when they’re not under the influence of something.
That’s not to say you can’t enjoy a cocktail or adult beverage of your choice when watching a game. But if you’re considering making any types of wagers, it might be better to make those before you’re under the influence of something else.