There’s plenty of misconceptions about sports betting, so I decided to compile a list of my Top 10 Biggest Sports Betting Myths. Some views on sports betting are understandable whilst others are amusing, misguided, and just plain wrong.
1. “The Bookmaker Always Gets It Right”
Bookmakers don’t know the outcome of an event before it happens, nor do they always get it right. Those are myths.
Bookmakers are merely just experts in offering odds at lower-than-fair-value odds. That’s their role, and effectively their “fee” for the service they provide. In essence, it’s the reverse of this that you want to be doing as a bettor i.e finding odds that are better than fair value.
2. “My Tipster Provides Inside Information. All Dead Certs.”
Those that genuinely believe that their Tipster provides ‘inside knowledge’ unknown to the public, or ‘dead certs’, are most likely to lose large sums of money.
Some bettors want to find that ‘edge’ so badly that they’re willing to do just about anything to get it — including throwing money at any convenient tipster service that promises results that it’s highly unlikely to deliver.
But think about it. Realistically, if a tipster has some sort of inside information then it’s highly unlikely he would let anyone know about it so openly — if only to avoid a brush with the law. And why wouldn’t he simply bet on the selections himself rather than selling the knowledge?
Check out my post: Will Tipsters Make Me Money? Can They Be Trusted?
3. “There’s No Such Thing As Risk Free Betting”
Believe it or not, this statement isn’t true. Risk free betting opportunities do exact and many bettors profit from them. The two techniques are:
- Matched Betting: this is the process of earning money from betting bonuses & . I’ve written a detailed beginners guide to Matched Betting that’s
- Arbitrage Betting: this follows on from Matched Betting. ‘Arbitrage betting opportunities enable punters to profit from differences in the odds between bookmakers. Again, this is completely risk free. Learn more from my
4. “Arbing, Matched Betting, Bonus Bagging… No Point — They’re All Dead”
Some sources play down the earning potential of profitable strategies, and they’re incorrect to do so. In fact:
- Arbs are still an everyday occurrence due to the volatile nature of betting markets. There are “betting syndicates” making a living from arbitrage betting and they don’t want to encourage others to join in and disrupt the status quo. It’s still alive.
- Matched Betting has grown in popularity in recent years and specialist services currently boast that their customers are able to earn hundreds profit per month. Again, not dead.
- Casino Bonuses have declined in value over the years — that’s true. But they’ve now reached a point where they’re unlikely to get any worse. I’m not really an advocate of casino ‘Bonus Bagging‘, but professional gamblers continue to generate a profit using this technique.
5. “You Can’t Earn From Betting. It’s A Mug’s Game”
Like all other ventures, sports betting carries risk. But professionals certainly do make a living from it. The fact is, the guys successfully earn a profit don’t tend to talk about it too much — probably in fear of giving away their secrets.
Profitable gamblers often treat the sports betting markets like investments in the stock market. From my experience there’s two overall approaches to earning from sports betting:
- Find odds that go on to fall (significantly) by the start of the event. Generally if you are able to correctly predict odds that settle (just before the start of the sports event) at a lower price to what you’ve backed, then what you have achieved is a “value bet” — which is profitable long-term. I discuss this simple-sounding concept in my Punter’s Guide To Beating The SP.
- Identify odds that imply the chance of an outcome happening is less likely than reality. This is similar to the above point except that you aren’t necessarily predicting a fall in the odds. Instead you know that the real chance of an outcome happening is more likely than the live odds suggest. For example, the odds could be 10/, but you’ve calculated the “fair” chance as 7/1. Therefore, if you’re right, it means that the bet is +EV and another type of “value bet“.
You will however need to be fast at grabbing the odds you want as the betting markets are competitive. I recommend opening a Betfair exchange account for access to industry-leading odds, and using a fast Betfair trading tool, like BetTrader.
6. “The Underdog Won! The Bookies Are Screwed Now”
Bookmakers are rarely bothered by upsets, actually.
In fact, Bookmakers relish the publicity of an underdog win. It’s great advertising if the media reports that an average punter took a betting giant for tens-of-thousands of pounds on a long-shot. Leicester City winning the Premier League has got to be the finest, most publicised example of an underdog triumph ever witnessed.
But I wonder: How much volume did the Bookies accept from the punters backing Man City, Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea? How about the overly optimistic Spurs and Liverpool fans backing their team? All of those bets lost.
At the end of the day, Bookmakers constantly balance their books. If volumes betting are unbalanced then they’ll adjust their odds in order to make the least popular outcomes more attractive.
Surely the low volume on Leicester to win the league was merely balancing out huge volumes on other, more likely outcomes from the (so-called) top clubs. So the fact that a handful of Leicester fans won their bets probably didn’t really warrant the media attention that it received.
7. “There’s No Point Betting At High Odds. It Doesn’t Ever Win”
Pictured below is the mugshot of your mate who believes this to be true.
It’s obviously untrue that high odds long-shots never win — just look at #6 for evidence.
Odds are merely a probability, or approximation, of the chance of an event occurring. Inevitably an unusual event (i.e. an “upset”) will occur — but that’s life for you.
It’s true to say is that there’s “increasingly more risk“ as you bet on higher odds. Betting on high odds certainly requires deep pockets. So if you’re finding that the swings in your results are too big to handle and you’re not risk tolerant enough to cope, then start reducing your variance by keeping to lower odds. Naturally you’ll win smaller, but more frequently. It might be a little less stressful, too!
Just be aware that you’re not necessarily making a good bet just because the outcome is more likely to win. You can select likely favourites all day — but this is a very weak approach to sports betting. I elaborate in #8…
8. “The Odds Don’t Matter. You Just Need To Pick More Winners”
This line of thinking is precisely why Bookmakers continue to thrive.
Can we really just pick more winners and disregard the value in the odds?
The odds matter more than anything else. If we wanted to pick more ‘winners’ we could back Real Madrid to win every match. Or pick the strong favourite in every horse race.
Favourites like Real Madrid do indeed win very frequently. But backing Madrid every game definitely will not generate a profit long-term unless you can achieve higher (unrealistic) odds than what’s typically on offer. At realistic odds you would inevitably experience small, frequent wins, followed by the occasions when Madrid suffer an uncharacteristic loss or draw. The comparatively large losing stakes, offset by only small accrued winnings makes it difficult to generate a profit. Therefore the odds are what stand in the way of you earning from this strategy.
My advice to any beginner is to always focus on finding a good price and to forget about “picking winners”. You could pick a loser at 40/1 odds, but if the fair odds were 25/1 this was still a good bet to make. Equally if you accept odds way below what was fair then regardless of whether you win or lose you’ve still made a bad bet.
Importantly, you have to accept that you can’t always win*, which can be frustrating at times.
9. “Strategies Don’t Work. Sport Always Comes Down To Chance.”
Chance plays its part in sport, sure. Nobody can guess exactly what’s going to happen with complete consistency. But long-term success in sports betting is not dictated by chance; it’s dictated by the odds.
Odds need to be seen as probabilities — because that’s exactly what they represent. You can convert your odds to percentages using this calculator on Betting.com
Sporting outcomes can be assigned values for the chance of each event occurring. In fact, betting exchanges such as Betfair already do this. Remarkable as it may seem, the betting public forms the fair odds for outcomes.
Let me elaborate…
- Public opinion, both professional and recreational, drives market movements on the betting exchange.
- Every selection in a sporting event is made up of optimistic Backers and pessimistic Layers.
- As the market forms and we get closer to the start of the event, the public opinion reaches a consensus.
By the start of an event, the odds are at their most accurate and a phenomenon referred to as the “Wisdom of Crowds Theory” has played it’s part. The odds are intelligent*, as opposed to just irrational (random) points of view. The price represents a good estimate of the real life chance of the event occurring.
The fact that the betting exchange has been proven to generate accurate probabilities proves that sports events can be modelled by percentage values. Outcomes are not simply random and erratic, or completely unpredictable. And that’s precisely how pro bettors find ways to capitalise: when the percentages are occasionally off-track, that’s the time to bet and capitalise.
* provided there’s sufficient liquidity.
10. “Why Would I Use Betfair? Bookies Have Better Odds.”
Bookmakers rarely have better odds than the betting exchanges. If this were true then everyone would be placing arbitrage bets at the Bookies… all day, every day.
I think this false assumption comes as a result of misinformation from gambling affiliates. I’ve frequently read that a specific Bookmaker is offering the “best odds” for an event — when in fact you can head straight over to the exchange and instantly find better value 99%+ of the time.
Furthermore, the betting exchange odds aren’t always shown on popular odds comparison sites; possibly because it only serves to discredit the bookies those sites are partnered with. The omission leaves many punters misinformed.
Well, Bookmakers almost always follow the prices on the betting exchanges. They’re happy to rely on the public to form the market, and then simply offer sufficiently lower odds in their own Sportsbook. They’ll always try to sync their prices lower than the current ‘Lay‘ value on the exchange, in order to prevent an arbitrage opportunity occurring. Look for yourself if you don’t believe me.
Yet despite this, I should point out that there are several advantages that Bookies offer over the betting exchanges which I recognise in my post: Why Use Bookmakers Instead Of The Betting Exchange?
Sports betting sites and affiliates are increasingly under pressure to provide accurate information about gambling and the risks involved. In the future we can expect less misinformation. But for now hopefully this article has helped to debunk some of the most common sports betting myths.