Is It Worth Paying For Sports Picks?

All it takes is a quick internet search and you’ll find plenty of sports betting picks available for purchase. The question is simple: Is it worth it?

The straightforward answer is “probably not,” though there are some situations where using such services can be a part of your research and betting strategy. That being said, more experienced bettors typically avoid shelling out funds to get picks since they already have their own systems.

What about for newcomers? Such services can seem appealing, but it’s best to be cautious. Why? Many of these “professional” picks may just borrow the work of others or consist of straight-up guesses. Neither is what you want to be paying for. Always do your homework and research before putting down money for any services — especially “picks.”

Below we dive into the world of paying for picks, why we suggest you typically avoid them and what to look for in case you’re truly interested in taking advantage of these services. Read on for more information.

Should you ever pay for picks?

That really comes down to what you’re looking for when it comes to your betting, but our first reaction is almost always to avoid paying for picks. Sure, you may see all the offers and media members touting their “locks” and “guarantees.” You have to ask yourself, however, just how much better their picks are compared to yours after you’ve done your own research.

What does it mean to buy sports picks?

Buying picks is a simple concept: An individual or company offers to sell you picks for whatever sport you’re considering wagering on. Their services can range from simple moneyline single-game picks to futures and point spreads and more. Some of these services are one-time payments, while others are subscription-based models. In any case, you are paying to get the opinion of individuals who fancy themselves as professionals in the world of sports betting.

What is a “tout” or “handicapper”?

Touts and handicappers are people who sell information and sports betting picks. Usually, they take a flat fee for their services, though there are the (extremely) rare handicappers who will accept payment in the form of a percentage of the winnings their customers receive. If you were to ask professional touts what they do, they might compare themselves to a stockbroker or adviser who helps you determine where to put your money.

Since touts tend to take their money upfront before any outcomes are final, there’s no way for bettors to really know how much the picks are worth. In fact, some touts make their winning picks sound far more impressive than they really are, giving out different picks to different bettors, knowing that they can claim to be right even when many of their clients end up losing money.

Some handicappers are known for doing their work publicly, so they will make their picks and selections in forums or via a publishing platform, social media or another channel. These are typically free picks, with any additional picks costing a fee for those who would like to get more.

What is a sports betting picks service?

Much as handicappers are individuals trying to sell their predictions for a fee, a picks service is a company or group that does the same. A service, however, does so with multiple handicappers working together to create picks packages and offer a wider variety of options.

Some of these companies offer guarantees based on a certain winning percentage if you use their packages. The catch here is you usually have to wager on the picks the exact way that the service sold them to you. Otherwise, the offer is void. That makes your own research and handicapping a potential problem when you find conflicting data. Of course, you can just dismiss the guarantee and make your own picks anyway.

Do people actually pay for picks?

The reason there are so many touts and picks services available is that people do, indeed, pay for picks. For the most part, there is no way to accurately determine how many of those people ended up winning their bets. A service may list a winning percentage. Such numbers, however, aren’t always accurate, and services may manipulate them.

So why pay for picks? The truth is that researching your bets is time-consuming. If you wager at high volumes, you could find yourself dedicating much more time to your own betting homework than you have available. For many bettors, however, it just isn’t something they are willing to pay for. They do their own research and focus on a smaller number of games. They rely on their own wagering strategies and research to give themselves the best chance at winning.

How much is your time worth? Each bettor has to ask that question before paying any fees for picks. All the same information and data that touts and handicappers use is available to you, as well, but you have to put in the time to research it. Your betting strategy may eventually give you multiple regular sources for information that you turn to every time. The more practiced you become at handicapping your own bets, the more efficiently you will be able to spend your time while saving money in the process.

Are there regulations for handicappers who sell picks?

Regulating handicappers on the internet is extremely difficult because of the worldwide accessibility. It’s hard to regulate people who are selling their picks if they aren’t even in the same state, country or continent as their buyers. Now, that’s not to say there aren’t legitimate touts and picking services that do their best to provide an honest service. But, at the same time, it is often difficult to discern legitimate picks services from shady ones.

What to look for in a sports handicapper

If you’re dead set on finding a trusted tout to buy services from, you’re going to want to keep an eye on a few things. First and foremost, if you’re able to find a service that provides a guarantee, then you’re already going in the right direction. Touts who don’t offer any kind of accountability tend to be less trustworthy than those who do.

Another thing to look for is a tout who publishes weekly picks for customers to see. This ensures that everyone is getting the same picks and everyone can see just how well the handicapper is doing from week to week. The more statistics that the services or individuals provide, the more you can research them, their success rate and how well they have done in terms of helping their customers win.

Finally, reputable touts have good relationships with their clients along with a solid track record, viable and verifiable experience, and expertise in their field. There are a lot of scammers on the internet, and many of them offer what appear to be legitimate services. With the right research and diligence, however, you can avoid most of them.

Warning signs of a bad handicapper

If you plan to buy picks, be on the lookout for those who are just trying to steal from you. In sports betting, these folks are sometimes referred to as scamdicappers. Here are some red flags to look for:

  • No security: Does the website address have the little padlock next to it? Is it an HTTPS site and not just HTTP? Both of these things tell you that the site you are visiting has a level of security for transactions and information.
  • Inconsistencies: Does the email address the tout is using match the website domain? Are there loads of spelling mistakes on the site? Before clicking a link, hover over it with your cursor to see where it leads. Does the text match the link or are they drastically different? Is there a spelling mistake in the link address (such as Facebooks instead of Facebook)?
  • No (or bad) history or reputation: Touts who have no history or reputation in the betting industry likely aren’t very legit. Sure, there may be newcomers out there. But if you’re looking to buy picks, you should be looking for experienced and well-known handicappers. Research these people and companies before giving them any information. Forum sites such as Reddit can be a good place to start.
  • Suspicious reviews: When you go to buy an item online and you see that all of the reviews are extremely short, or they all sound remarkably similar, you probably recognize this as false information. Touts and picks services that are doing legitimate work are going to have reviews from clients that are individual and honest. Those that have false reviews tend to use generic wording, very short sentences and similar phrasing. Buyer beware in those instances.

Are touts just using a betting system?

Betting systems are procedures that bettors follow in order to help them maximize profits, especially after losing wagers. Some bettors may use such systems, while others do not. Some touts will use systems to minimize the amount of work they do in order to maximize their time vs. their profit. Sure, sometimes these systems work out well and customers receive a profit, but in many instances betting systems can lead to bankroll collapse and big losses.

Reputable handicappers are going to do their own research for the picks they provide. They aren’t buying picks from another source, simply guessing or using a betting system that plays losses as a reason to bet even more money. Instead, they offer services for individual games, weekly results and picks based on their own research. Those who are simply trying to take advantage of bettors will use betting systems to help them make their picks based on very little data or solid research. In those cases, customers may find themselves paying far more for their picks than they are getting back in profit.

Should you trust a “lock”?

In the world of sports — youth through professional — you can’t trust that any game is an absolute lock. We’ve all watched as an incredible underdog manages to break away for a stunning victory, leaving the critics, pundits, experts and everyone else a bit shocked. That’s one of the reasons why betting on a lock is never a guaranteed win.

Sure, there are games that give bettors far more confidence than others, but anyone who is trying to sell you a “lock” pick without offering some kind of guarantee is not someone you should trust.

Paid picks vs. free picks

The good news is that there are more free sports betting picks out there than picks you have to pay for. Obviously, the vast majority of those public picks aren’t going to be from experts. Instead, they are usually available for free from other bettors and those who are happy to share their research and findings.

Because free can often mean less quality, it is easy to be wary about using public picks in your own wagering. However, keep in mind that these picks are easy to find, tend to have comments from other bettors, and can be a great place to compare your own research, handicapping and picks against others. Sometimes doing so will complement your own findings and give you a bit more confidence, while other times the contradicting picks or information will give you pause and push you to do just a bit more homework before wagering.

So paid versus free? It’s really a personal choice and, again, goes back to time versus money. You’ll save plenty by finding free sports picks on your own, but it can be time-consuming, especially if you don’t have sources you turn to on a regular basis.

Is it worth it to buy picks?

The short answer? No. In the long run, it’s going to be the touts and the handicappers who are making money, not the bettors who pay for picks. Think of it this way: If these picks were so darn good, why do the touts even need to sell them? Wouldn’t they already have the answers they need to pile up the winnings?

Selling picks is their business, and they are in it to make money. Sure, it’s great if their customers get wins off those picks, but they are far more concerned about their own coffers than worrying about your bankroll.

Are there times to look at picks? Of course. As we discussed previously, using free picks to compare to your own conclusions can help you see how other people are interpreting the same data. You can use that to confirm your approach or determine if you should reevaluate.

Paying for services such as picks and information packages can save you time, but they will almost never save you money. Additionally, unless you are willing to do the research to find the absolute best handicappers and services, then you’re just as likely to come across a scam artist as you are a legitimate handicapper.

Postseason vs. regular season picks

When it comes to making picks each week, focusing on one matchup or a group of matchups is far more valuable than trying to research everything. During the regular season, you’re always going to have every team playing each week for the most part, which means the number of games and teams is relatively large. Once the postseason arrives, however, the field shrinks, which gives you fewer games to research.

Using picks, both free and paid, is likely to be far less reliable during the regular season than it will be in the playoffs. You’ll have fewer games to research, more information available and a lot more attention on the games from a wider variety of handicappers. If you’re using a reliable source for comparing your picks, then you’ll likely find even more value in that source’s postseason picks than its regular season ones.

Which sports are best for buying picks?

In the wide view of sports betting, there is really no sport that is easier to predict than others. Much of the appeal is that anyone can win on any given day, and the more talent that is pooled together — such as college sports compared to professional sports — the harder those predictions become.

Some sports and leagues, such as the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, college football and college basketball, tend to get more attention from experts than the less popular leagues. Because of this, there is more data available, which means the picks from reputable sources are likely going to be more accurate.

Bettors who focus on the sports with the largest followings are going to find themselves with far more options than those who bet on niche sports. Because of that, they’ll likely have access to more reliable picks.