This series focusses on some lessons I learned the last 15 years as a sports bettor.
HANDICAPPING VS FOLLOWING
The big idea that got me into Sports Betting decades ago was that if I could just find some people that made a living by Betting on Sports and follow what they take, I could do equally good and also make tons of money from it. While this concept was fairly easy to achieve in the past, these days it has become a lot more difficult and most bets I place now come from handicapping them myself. This article is about handicapping versus Follwing and the huge gap inbetween them.
To start I would like to say that this concept is mainly aimed at following with higher stakes at serious bookmakers. It is extremely easy to exploit the business model of traditional bookmakers but they will quickly limit everyone who does this and it impossible to win serious money from them.
While it is definitely possible to follow others profitably with bigger stakes and make a living out of it, there are a lot of reasons why most will not succeed at this...
Sports Betting involves a lot of variance. This means if you were to assign 1000 monkeys to make random betting predictions, a lot of them will come out on top with great results in the short / mid-long run (remember Paul the Octopus). The interenet is not that different and can be seen in a very similar way. Every time you follow someone mostly based on their betting record, there is a big risk that the record solid just because they got lucky and you are actully following random bets that over time have a losing expectation.
Following a handicapper often brings about a lot of key information that is impossible to know.
- Personal Issues
How a handicapper is doing in his personal life often is unknown and emotions will always have an influece on results. When handicapping yourself it is quite easy to observe all this and take a step back when you see yourself being out of the flow or dealing with some more important things while neglecting betting activities.
- Original odds
Posted bets always include odds. These odds are mostly the current available odds (for example on Blogabet). There is no guarantee that these odds are the same as the persons who posted took themselves.
- Posting time
Since the market and the odds go up and down all the time and this is a game of small edges, it is most of the time impossible to know if there is a difference in time between odds being taken by the handicapper and the moment they were posted.
- Changing Patterns
One of the things that is highly important is consistency and predictability and it is most of the time impossible to know if the handicapper changed some of his patters on how he goes about things. This might translate in an increasing amount of bets all of a sudden, new angles he is exploring ...
- Conflicting Agendas
People who share their bets most of the time want to get as much as possible in return. This often leads to a combination of working for investors, giving them to their friends, having a paid service, posting on closed forums,... since the market is most of the time not big enough this leads do people down the line having to take worse and worse odds because many got in ahead of them. Handicapping yourself is a guarantee you will always take bets 1st hand and not 2nd, 3th or even 4th hand.
All these things are rather important and only when you handicap picks yourself is all this info freely available allowing you to adjust accordingly.
Everyone who is long into Sports Betting understands that the lines and odds at the asian bookmakers are set quite sharp and that this is a game of grinding out a lot of small edges over time. Everyone who claims differently and does not earn 100k+on a yearly basis from it basically does not really have any credibility to their claims.
Even if you know for sure someone you follow expects to make a profit in the long run, actually following them can be quite the challenge. The bigger betting markets work in a way where money flow directly influences the odds. Since profitable Sports Bettors are more likely to also have bigger stakes, them taking their own bets first often influences the odds directly. This highly cuts into the profit margins.
Example: When taking 2.08 odds with somewhat bigger stakes which instantly drops them to 2.04, an original profit expectation of +4% was instantly reduced by 50% and leaves onlye a +2% Roi expectation.
Add the fact that profitable bettors are more likely to have a bigger follwing which means more money will come in reducing the odds even more and it is easy to see the gap between handicapping profitably and following with a profit expectation. This makes following sharp Bettors often a game of speed where you have to be ready at all time to take what they post as fast as possible before everyone else who is following places their bets.
Often times odds will go up after you handicapped and took them yourself. Most of the time this is a really bad sing since you always want the closing odds to be lower compared to what you take. When it comes down to sharing bets, what often happens is a handicapper posting bets at a later time after the odds increased. This is generally not a spot you want to follow because you are likely going against the real sharp money (see Never Bet Against Big Moves )
Edge Limiting Dynamics
Posting bets for others to follow often brings about a lof of dynamics that limit your own edge. Often there need to be some kind of predictable posting schedule. This alone does not allow to increase your edge by optimising the timing when placing bets. On top, often handicappers need to wait for higher limits in order not to completely trash the odds instantly.
Following often translates in someone who sells their picks in a paid betting service. The fees for these services often require really high stakes in order to earn back the service fee to begin with. The high risk is rarely worth the high cost they come at. I might make a post calculating all these things out and how much stakes are needed to make it worth the risk in the future.
How I Go About Things
I see myself more as someone who provides mostly information and uses these platforms mainly as a way to stay sharp and improve instead of wanting to provide actual picks right now since the gap between me taking my bets and being able for others to duplicate this is quite big. (Example I took Racing Genk -1 @ 2.49 on the early market in the Europa League this week with the tiny 218€ limits that were available at the time. By now the limits increased to 866€ while odds dropped to 2.19 which makes this impossible to share.)
I do try to share some bets that are possible to follow in a fully transparant way by posting 100% of what I am taking some extra on in BTC at Nitrogensports right after I took them and always include the betslip. These bets also suffer a bit from the edge limiting dynamics above.
Previous Betting Wisdom Articles...
Betting Wisdom | #8 Always Hold Yourself Accountable
Betting Wisdom | #7 Do Not Bet Against Big Moves
Betting Wisdom | #6 Do Not Bet Combos | Accumulators | Parlays
Betting Wisdom | #5 If You want to win...
Betting Wisdom | #4 If You don't know your Betting Record...
Betting Wisdom | #3 Always Take The Best Available Odds
Betting Wisdom | #2 Never Bet On Public Underdogs
Betting Wisdom | #1 You Don't Have To Bet
Let me know how you are doing follwing handicappers in the comments!