When I’m at the various sportsbooks around town people often stop me and ask how I became successful and got started in the business. I try to explain to them in short that it takes more than just winning plays to be successful.
Number one, they need to take emotion out of their wagering lives. Personally, I don’t even watch many of the games I bet on and mostly just get the final scores, but I understand that’s not normal.
That is because I am no longer a handicapper. Long gone are the 12 to 14 hour days of staring at four screens doing research and doing my own power ratings and charts. When I was a handicapper, I watched every second of every game, trying to learn even more about the teams.
But then I found a few kids out of college that use sophisticated models, programs and algorithms that have been back-tested for success. Now I let them do the work and I am now a pro bettor. Now I just shop for the best numbers to get down on the games.
I also have no allegiances or loyalties except to my bankroll. One of my favorite movies is “A Bronx Tale.” In the scene where the kid walks in upset about the Yankees, Sonny, the mob boss, asks him why he’s upset. The kid replies, “Bill Mazeroski, I hate him. He made Mickey Mantle cry.”
“The papers said the Mick cried,” Sonny says. “That’s what you’re upset about? Mantle makes $100,000 a year. How much does your father make?
“If your dad ever can’t pay the rent and needs money, go ask Mickey Mantle. See what happens. Mickey Mantle don’t care about you. Why should you care about him?”
That last line rings true for me in my sports betting life. I have zero problems betting on or against any team in any sport.
The way to take your emotions out of wagering are many, but they can be best summarized as looking outside one’s narrow perspectives and seeking out more possible outcomes. This can often be best accomplished by testing your assumptions and projecting the outcome of different scenarios.
Every new bettor should try to identify all potential risks prior to betting sports. Just the act of writing down all the potential risks will make a new sports bettor less likely to over-bet. Your bankroll should be the priority, and it’s important to identify all risks that could wipe out your entire bankroll.
A 53% or higher win rate is the magic number for profits in spread sports like the NFL and NBA. Amazingly though, if you win only 51% long-term you will eventually lose your entire bankroll. If your bankroll is gone, you’re out of action, so you need to safeguard it like a mama grizzly protects her cubs.
It’s also interesting that many casual bettors and sports fans (average Joe’s) bet on sports, but sports-betting doesn’t really fit their personality. Most have a low pain threshold. If they lose four or five in a row, they’re steaming and upset, and now they start to chase, bet higher amounts, etc. That’s a surefire path to bankroll misery.
In next week’s column, I’ll tell you how the pros size their bets and manage their money.
This week’s live dogs: Tulane +14 and UNLV +9.
Last week: 1-3