Stay the course on system, otherwise it doesn't work

Stay the course on system, otherwise it doesn't work

November 07, 2017 3:00 AM


When pro handicappers are running +60% win rate, they don’t calcul ate how far in the range they have exceeded normal expectations. They know they are on a lucky run, but many fail to realize how far they have come.

When a +55% handicapper is in the extreme losing end (2nd or even 3rd standard deviation) they can commit a huge error since they don’t realize this is just part of normal long term expectations. Most will experience these three standard deviation ranges as they get to a larger adequate sample size at some point.

I have heard a so-called pro handicapper on the radio say, “I am going back this week to watch all the football games again and work twice as hard.” Even worse, they will tweak their model, when in reality nothing is wrong with it.

They may even quit betting midseason when needing to stay the course and finish positive. The edge is so small they will still be in the losing spectrum more often than you would like. Even successful handicappers may find themselves on that end (although rare) for a full season.

One of my friends asked me to follow a guy who was giving him NBA picks last year. The guy won some handicapping challenge the previous season. Well, he picked just enough games (small sample size) to be credited as the winning handicapper of the year. His selections were only NBA totals OVER the points. The problem is now (due to his lack of knowledge in statistics) he could be overbetting the next few seasons when in reality his plays had no edge.

It is similar when a heart surgeon or pilot finally receives certification to start performing heart surgery or flying commercial planes. A person selecting plays doesn’t go through a rigorous process performing heart surgery or having to land that plane. Yet, after they win for a few months they walk around as if they are a certified pro handicapper.

But if they went through testing as a heart surgeon does, they would realize they are in no way qualified to select plays. Doctors and pilots are actually qualified to perform through extensive years of hard training.

However, because of heavy randomness and simple binomial process in sports betting, a pro handicapper or average Joe can walk around for years believing he is now a professional accredited Dr. Handicapper, similar as a professional surgeon or pilot.

So what you have is a false doctor walking around believing he has a winning system, but he will ultimately have a tragic ending to his bankroll. And what is more tragic, because of the short term flash in the pan, this handicapper has all of his followers believing he is the real deal when in reality he just got lucky with 100 or 200 plays and happened to finish in the 2nd or 3rd standard deviation on the winning side, same as a grandma picking heads or tails.

In sports betting, people like to go by hunch, streaks, who’s hot and follow those we have no business following. Most people simply want to know your record the last few weeks or months. If you are “hot” they want to get onboard.

The average Joe bettor will not be able to win on his own. Guys like me, we are not average bettors. I’m connected with many long-term, successful handicappers. I generally dislike touts because they are pure marketers and can’t win; nor do they put their own money up on games.

But thinking about the average Joe bettor, who is most likely reading this article and just wants to win, I realize you don’t have the time to devote to develop a successful model to generate long-term winnings.

While it pains me to admit to this, the only way an average Joe bettor can win is to find one of the few handicappers with long term success and bet only what they recommend. 

My best: Ohio +5.5, Air Force -3.

Last week: 2-0

Season: 11-9-1