In the world of sports betting as a profitable venture, it all comes down to numbers. For instance, if you’re betting at odds of -110, you would need to win 52.4% of your wagers to break even. Anything more would be profit.
But can sports betting profits be sustainable? After all, isn’t this a hobby of chance? Luck? Ask the professionals, and they’ll tell you otherwise. It’s a numbers game, plain and simple.
So what does a bettor have to do to make a profit over the long term? Below, we dive into the specifics of what can make, or break, a sports bettor’s dreams of profiting.
Can you make a living sports betting?
While the majority of us view sports betting as just a fun hobby, there are those who have made a career out of it.
Some have ties to sportsbooks, while others work alone and have plenty of success doing so. There are even professional sports bettors who join “syndicates” to work as a team, create strategies and even sometimes influence odds to improve their profits.
While it may sound like an interesting and exciting life, the truth is there aren’t many sports bettors who make their income solely on wagers. Even the amateurs who are extremely serious about betting often have other jobs. They may use online sports betting either as a supplement to their income or as a fun, albeit sometimes expensive, pastime.
Becoming an online sports betting pro
Here’s the truth of the situation: In order to break even with your betting, you need to win 52.4% of the time. Just over half. Sounds pretty easy, right? It’s not. And in order to become profitable, you need to do even better.
How sustainable is that in the long term? Once you take into consideration the bankroll you’ll need, the number of wagers you’ll need to make and the number of wins you’ll have to earn just to make a livable wage, you’ll see that professional sports betting is more of a pipe dream than an obtainable reality.
Let’s take a look at the playoffs for the 2021 NFL season. Once we escaped the opening round, it got crazy. The Cincinnati Bengals upset the Tennessee Titans on a last-second field goal. The San Francisco 49ers did the same with an upset over the Green Bay Packers. The Los Angeles Rams sent Tom Brady into retirement after beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by — you guessed it — a field goal. The Buffalo Bills almost had an upset win before losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime.
The following week? The Bengals played the upset special again, this time defeating the Chiefs to earn a trip to the Super Bowl. The final was 27-24. Over in the NFC, the Rams defeated the 49ers, 20-17.
If you were betting on the above games and were looking at the favorites, you’d end up in a bad spot when everything was over. Parlay? Even if you mixed in upsets, you likely wouldn’t have pulled off all four of those second-round games.
Making money as a sports bettor isn’t easy. Not even in the slightest.
No matter your sports betting goals, it’s a good idea to practice bankroll management.
Your bankroll is the amount of money you have allotted for making wagers. Some bettors do a weekly allotment, and others do monthly. In any case, the key is making sure that you’re managing your money, not going beyond the budget you have set for yourself and not wagering money that you can’t afford to.
It can be difficult to manage your bankroll if you’re not being careful. Or if you’re making spontaneous decisions. For example, if you’ve used your budget for the week, but then come across a “sure thing,” you still cannot take additional money to place that bet. It would be poor bankroll management on top of the fact that there are no sure things in sports betting.
You’ll hear the term “units” in relation to bankroll management. A unit is essentially the average amount of money you will be wagering on each bet. The idea is to always have a solid baseline for how much you’re going to bet.
Using units allows you to keep track of what you’re spending, what you’re winning and what your profitability is. You can also have a baseline to compare yourself to what other bettors are doing.
Tracking your sports bets
The best sports bettors don’t just line up their wagers each week and then accept their wins and losses before moving on. Instead, they meticulously track their wagering trends, their wins, their losses and potentially more.
By keeping tabs on every aspect of their betting, these veterans are able to use their own data to learn from their past wins and losses. Some bettors keep their records on spreadsheets, or even the old pen-and-paper routine. Others use tracking apps that help them stay on top of all of the action, no matter which sportsbook they are using.
The good news is that there are plenty of resources to help you develop your own bet tracking system, which will likely be beneficial to you in the long run.
Stick to your plan
It can be easy to stray from the path and into sports betting mistakes. While we’re not here to judge any bettor or how they spend their money, we do want to offer a couple of pitfalls to avoid.
- Chasing losses: This may be one of the most common betting mistakes beginning bettors tend to make. It does not feel good to see your money disappear because you lost a bet. Some bettors chase that loss by wagering even more, convinced that they’ll win the next bet and come away with enough money to make up for the amount they lost. When many bettors aren’t winning even 50% of their wagers, you cannot expect to follow a loss with a win just because you’re trying to make it happen. Understand your bets, understand your bankroll and accept the losses in the same way you accept your wins.
- Raising bets: Look at you over there winning a bunch of your bets. Feels good, right? You’re watching your bankroll grow, which is your goal if you’re looking to profit from sports betting. It becomes tempting to start increasing the amount of money you’re wagering. More money means more profits, right? It’s a dangerous approach. You have already created a betting strategy that is working. Bumping up your wagers without truly breaking down your bankroll could lead to all of your profits quickly disappearing. You can’t stay profitable if you just blow those profits.
- Betting with your heart: Sure, you desperately want to see your favorite team win, and it would be nice if you could make a profit at the same time. Fans tend to follow their teams with an impressive amount of passion, which means a lot of us can’t see ourselves placing a wager against them. Don’t wager just because you hope something will happen, though. You want your team to win, and that’s great. Placing money on that isn’t going to give your team an advantage. And, in the long run, it likely will end up costing you. Instead, if you can’t stand the thought of betting against your favorite team, then don’t bet on any games involving that team. Just watch the game and have fun without betting.
Stats and data
If you’re trying to become a profitable sports bettor, it’s important to do your research and homework. Data and statistics are your friends, and they are readily available online. They’re even free in many cases.
The amount of data you’ll be able to find is going to depend on the popularity of the sport you’re wagering on. Options like the NFL and college football have more than most, and the NBA, college basketball, the NHL and MLB have more availability than sports like golf, soccer, tennis and others.
You can use traditional locations to track data, such as sites like Baseball-Reference.com, or you can search for info on sources such as Twitter, Reddit forums and more.
Not all data is going to be equally valuable, which is one of the reasons that you need to develop a betting strategy that includes your handicapping and research, as well. Don’t just look at recent trends and information, either. Historical data can be valuable, as can future developments, like keeping an eye on weather forecasts.
Keep your data sources varied and use reputable sites with a proven track record of providing useful, accurate information.
Using online bonuses to pad your bankroll
Modern technology will allow you to have multiple accounts across the various Ohio sportsbooks. Because online and mobile betting is the driving force behind the surge in popularity and accessibility of sportsbooks, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one location.
By using multiple sportsbooks, you give yourself options for line shopping. Additionally, if you plan things out, you can also use your new accounts to claim bonuses for free bets, deposits and more at each book.
There’s nothing illegal or immoral about having multiple accounts. While it may prove difficult to keep track of everything if you spread yourself too thin, tracking your wagers will help you stay on task and organized. Use tracking apps to monitor your wagers, and you’ll find yourself able to keep your betting system nice and tidy.
You can pad your bankroll with deposit bonuses, free bets and other promotions. Take the time to look through this site for reviews of online sportsbooks and the bonuses they offer.
What is the most profitable betting strategy?
Do professional sports bettors use betting systems? While we can’t speak for every pro out there, most of the current information indicates that successful bettors have a system. Or they may use bits and pieces of various systems to create one that works best for them.
If you’re considering using an online sports betting system to help you along, keep in mind that there are quite a few, and not all of them are easy to use or understand. Many of them can seem contradictory, which makes it difficult to mix and match.
Our advice is to find one you like, study it and try it on a temporary basis. Don’t commit yourself to always using the same system since there are so many to choose from.
From the negative progression systems like Martingale, D’Alembert and Labouchere to the positive progression systems like parlay and Paroli, you have plenty to choose from. There are even outliers like the Fibonacci system and the unit system.
Do your homework and remember that you’re not stuck using a system just because you try it. If it’s not working the way you want it to, step back, reevaluate your options and try something else.
How long before you are profitable consistently?
It’s important to be realistic. The chances of you becoming a professional sports bettor are extremely slim. The vast majority of people who try to take that route end up failing. That being said, it’s not impossible if you’re dedicated enough.
Remember that in order to make profits, you have to keep tabs on your bankroll, track your betting and factor in losses as much as wins to see where you stand. At odds of -110, you need to win more than 52.4% of the time to start seeing profits. You have to remain consistent month to month, year to year and from sport to sport.
To give you an idea of what that looks like, imagine placing an NFL bet on 16 games in one week. If you win eight of those, you’re only at 50%, which means you’re losing money. You need to win at least nine of those bets to hit 56%. And you have to do that every single week.
It’s not going to be easy, which is why most people don’t get anywhere near professional status.
Paying for picks
Don’t look for shortcuts if you’re trying to be a profitable bettor. The majority of the pay-for-picks services you come across aren’t going to give you any more of a chance than if you sat down and picked the teams yourself.
Sure, there are some that have nice records that they are willing to tout. Or they may have big names who are happy to give you their opinions for a fee.
If you’re dead set on getting assistance, try free resources. Also, look for a record that you can verify. Reputable services will not only provide you with their picks each week, but they also track their wins and losses so you can see how well they do.
Paying for picks sounds like an easy way to get to the money, but you’re already digging into your potential profits by paying someone else to tell you where to wager. Remember that the services taking your money don’t need to win any bets to make a profit. You’re already helping line their pockets without any risk to their bankroll.