The Myth of the Hot Sports Betting Handicapper

The most prevalent means of sports service marketing is some variant on the theme that so and so is “red hot” and you should therefore pay him your money and follow his plays. The crooked services do this by coming up with all sorts of confusing and contradictory rating systems and hyperbolic descriptions for their games. How many times have you heard a handicapper brag about being “16-2 on his 500 star MWC underdog plays of the month” or saying that his “Southern Conference total of the month is 60% lifetime”?

Basically, the bottom feeders of this industry can slice and dice their statistics all sorts of ways to make themselves seem “hot”. Or they can do what a lot of them do, and simply lie about their performance. When I was first starting out as a sports handicapper there was no such thing as the Internet (at least as it exists today) and I had to rely on a scorephone for line and score updates. This scorephone was sponsored by a group of touts not noted for their veracity, and you had to sit through a few pitches for their 900 numbers before you got to the scores. A bit of a Faustian bargain, to say the least, but it was an effective way of keeping up with scores in the pre-Internet dark ages.

So one night we’re at a party thrown by some kid that we didn’t like too much. My crew and I were racking our brains to think of some mean pranks to pull on the guy. Someone got the idea to rack up some 900# charges on our mark’s phone bill. Since there’s no such thing as 900# directory assistance, I resulted to the only 900# I could remember – one of the touts from the scorephone that had drilled his digits into my memory through the sheer force of repetition.

For the sake of argument, I decided to write down the tout’s NBA plays. I had less faith in his handicapping ability than I would in a prognostication based on a divining rod or Ouija Board, but since I wasn’t paying for the call I figured I’d just see how the guy did. I wrote down his plays and checked his performance the next morning.

To his credit, the tout went 5-3 on his 8 plays. By any criteria a 5-3 night is a solid performance. Later that day I called the scorephone and waited for the tout to start crowing about his 5-3 night. Much to my surprise, the tout didn’t say a word about his 5-3 night. That’s because he was too buy bragging about his mythical 7-1 performance the preceding day.

Now, I understand that the revelation that boiler room touts like about their performance is on par with “pro wrestling is fake” or “the games at the fair aren’t on the up-and-up” as self evident truths. The point I’m trying to make, however, is that the desire to be the “hot handicapper: is so great that the tout felt he had to embellish a solid performance the night before.

So despite the fact that some handicappers like about their performance, what’s wrong with trying to ride the hot handicapper? Plenty-it’s not only an ineffective way to evaluate a handicapper’s abilities, it also has a number of statistical and theoretical shortcomings.

The simplest way to explain what I’m talking about is to borrow a disclaimer that you’ll hear on every commercial for a mutual fund: “Past performance is no guarantee of future results”. The sports gambling milieu, like those of stocks, commodities and other financial instruments, is a marketplace and subject to a number of the same tendencies of other financial institutions (what economists call “market dynamics”).

The fact that a sports wager’s success or failure is dependent to a degree on the “whims” of a marketplace (of odds and pointspreads) and to a greater degree on other external events outside of the bettor’s control exacerbates what is already a matter of simple logic: what a handicapper does over a period of time (be it a day, week, month or season) has no intrinsic correlation between a handicapper’s performance one year and the next. In other words, the sports gambling marketplace and the random patterns of events that act upon them don’t care if I hit 60% last year. If I don’t do my work, crunch the numbers, get good prices to bet into, and catch a few breaks along the way I may end up beaten regardless of how well I performed in a subsequent period of time.

The Advantages of Online Sports Betting

Just one short decade ago, it was virtually impossible to engage in legal sports betting if you live in the United States or in Canada. Both countries prohibit betting on almost all organized sports, in any form at all. The exceptions have always been parimutuel betting, which is only applied to two or three different sports (among them dog and horse racing).

Outside of those sports, the only legal bets one could place on sports in North America had to be made in the state of Nevada. For whatever reason, sports betting seemed like a reasonable thing to do deep in the desert, but nowhere else.

The coming of age of the Internet has changed the face of sports betting forever. First of all, it has opened up whole new opportunities for those interested in making legal wagers on their favourite teams or events. No longer does a person have to wait to make a trip to Las Vegas in order to place a bet on the Final Four during March Madness. Instead, those bets can be placed with a Vegas bookmaker online, from the comfort of one’s own home.

And Vegas is not the only town in on the online sports betting action. All over the world, major bookmakers have opened online sites for those wishing to place a wager. This means that you can place a bet on virtually any sport in the world, from American football to lacrosse, in any league you want be it amateur or professional.

Of course, the governments of some nations (America in particular) are concerned with the prevalence of online sports gambling, so there are some sites which will not take bets from American customers. However, there are plenty that will, at least until the legality of the practice is determined by the governing bodies of the nation.

In the meantime, though, sports betting online means that there is more money floating around than ever before, all thanks to ease of access.

Aside from the many options offered by the number of bookies online alone, those wishing to engage in football betting, basketball betting, or placing bets on any other type of sport can also take advantage of alternate betting opportunities. Traditionally, sports bets have had to be made through a bookmaker. This business sets the odds and takes a cut of the action as well. The rise of the online betting exchange, however, has meant that bettors can make or take their own odds, often increasing the value of their bets. There are also opportunities to bet against a team or individual in a sports betting exchange, rather than just on a team to win.

Finally, online access means that people betting on sports have more information at their fingertips which can help them decide which bets to make. Sports information lines have up to the minute records of teams, statistics, rosters, and odds which can all factor into the responsible gambler’s bet day decisions.

The growth of the Internet has revolutionized many different industries, and sports betting is certainly among them. More information and a lot more options are two of the main strengths of online sports betting.