Professional Tipsters earn a living by recommending selections to their clients (sports bettors). Some punters are satisfied with the intel they receive, whilst others feel cheated.
Relying on Tipster recommendations can be a naïve and risky approach to sports betting. The sports Tipping industry has several pitfalls, and there’s so many scammers and chancers to contend with.
So here’s everything you need to know in order to maximise your chances of finding a legitimate, profitable Tipster and avoid being stung.
Sports Tipsters: Industry Overview
Tipsters are Extremely Popular
I’ve said it before many times: finding value is the key to earning from betting.
But the majority of bettors take the (somewhat naïve) approach of “selecting winners”. And that’s precisely why sports Tipsters are so popular.
I’ve done some research into the popularity of sports tipping using Google Trends. I’ve drawn comparisons between the search volumes related to ‘Tipsters’ and those for ‘Value Betting’. Here are the results.
“Betting Tips” Vs “Value Bets“
“Betting tips” is becoming increasingly popular in searches, whilst “value bets” remains almost non-existent by comparison.
“Tipsters” vs “Value betting“
A slight improvement for the ‘Team Value’ this time — but not by much. “Betting tips” is more popular topic (by far) — and always has been.
What these search volumes show is that the vast majority of sports bettors will never fully convert, understand, or commit to the concept of Value betting as opposed to trying to pick winners.
I can preach my views and put my message across. But I’ll never convert the masses.
Negative Experiences With Tipsters
I previously tried looking for the best tipping service I possibly could find. My results were about as disastrous as I anticipated.
The service that I subscribed to (which I wont name) published historical profit records based on odds that were valid at some point — but not at the point the tips were released. In order words, they would publish ‘peak’ prices on horses and pass them off as the prices they were supplying to customers. That’s totally fraudulent in my eyes.
However, there is hope. Tipster proofing sites have drastically improved the level of transparency within the industry. You can learn more about tipster proofing sites from my post on the best tipster services.
What Makes Tipsters Worthwhile To Bettors?
There are good reasons why bettors subscribe to Tipsters. Here they are.
1. The Chance of Earning
First and foremost, punters use Tipsters in an attempt to increase their betting profitability.
The profitability of Tipsters is usually estimated (but never guaranteed) by their ROI over a period of time. Historical records provide some level of reassurance that their bet recommendations have, at the very least, been successful in the past. With past performance assured, it’s an attractive proposition to follow some Tipsters.
2. Obtaining Little-known Information
Tipsters are viewed as being a ‘knowledge’ on a particular sport (e.g. horse racing). They’re often experienced bettors or sports experts themselves, or have skills in data analytics. So their opinion represents something meaningful.
Sports betting is also competitive among friends. Winning feels like a display of one’s expertise, or intelligence. Therefore many punters use Tipsters to gain a competitive advantage over their peers.
3. Gaining Reassurance
Many bettors use Tips to confirm their own opinions on a sports event.
For example, you might form your own prediction for an upcoming football match. If this prediction is followed up by confirmation from a top-rated Tipster, then it might serve to strengthen the selections you’ve highlighted. Or at the very least, it’ll give you some confidence in your selections.
Now for the negatives…
What Are The Dangers In Using Tipsters?
It’s important to recognise why the majority of sports tipster services have disappointed punters for decades, and to underline the importance of seeking a proofed tipster.
Here are the main reasons:
1. No Edge, No Profit
Most Tipsters don’t give punters an advantage. In other words, they don’t provide an ‘edge’, and their selection method is worthless.
Imagine a perfect tennis matchup between Team A and Team B, where both contests have a 50% chance of winning. Your Tipster predicts “Team B”. The odds available are 1.5.
Well, if you placed — and won — that bet at odds of 1.5, the Tipster was ‘right’. But just because you made a profit doesn’t mean you received a good payout for winning. It was still a bad bet to make, because you required odds above 2.0 (1/1 in fractions) for it to be plus EV. The same concept applies to every bet you place.
Tipsters need to provide you with the minimum price you should back at. A good Tipster will appreciate the the importance of value — a poor one won’t.
This same problem echoes across all areas of gambling; not just in sports Tipping. The vast majority of betting systems, strategies, selection models, and staking plans — for both sports and Casino — ultimately fail in the long-run because they don’t yield any positive long-term advantage.
Sure, you can hit winning streaks without having any positive value in your bets. Your Tipster could provide you with 10 consecutive winning selections without ever considering their value. However, that’s merely a phenomenon commonly known as… luck!
Betting on value is essential. Without it, there’s no long-term profit. Yet the concept is still so understated.
Choose a Tipster who understands the importance of value betting.
2. Scams (They’re Common)
The worst kind of Tipster is one with no intentions of helping you earn. I’m talking about the type of guy who knows damn well that his selections won’t generate any profit, but he dishes them out to unsuspecting punters anyway.
Examples of Tipster scams:
- Different tips for different clients. Some Tipsters work on a “when you win, I win” basis. So they want ‘winners’. To maximise their chances of guessing right on a sports event, they’ll cover as many outcomes as possible. Some customers get one selection, others get something entirely different. It’s the classic Tipster scam.
- Bookmaker affiliates. Many Tipsters earn commission by recommending that you bet with bookmakers they’re affiliated to, in order to earn a rake-back of player losses. These Tipsters are therefore incentivised to refer losing players: a clear conflict of interest.
- Misleading numbers. It’s common to find Tipsters that document their betting history using “peak” historical prices. Yes, these prices existed at some point in time — so it looks clean on paper. In practice, however, it’s impossible to obtain those odds on every bet.
- Outright lies. Other Tipsters haven’t yet worked out the above “peak price” trick. So they just doctor their numbers entirely; often “neglecting” to record hefty losing streaks. It’s like shanking your tee-off in golf and saying “That doesn’t count. It was a practice swing!”.
These kinds of scams can be used in conjunction with one another. They continue to exist because there’s no shortage of punters looking to base their bets around the very flimsiest of evidence.
Note: not every Tipster is a scammer. I’m just making you aware of the worst case scenarios.
Tipsters aren’t usually mathematicians or stats gurus. So very often their strategies are devised naively — albeit with good intentions.
There’s countless Tipsters out there who genuinely believe they’re onto a winning strategy, and enjoy sharing the love around…. until it ultimately comes crashing down. They’re often gamblers themselves.
Here’s some of the usual mistakes:
- Reading too much into strike rates. A fundamental error in sports betting analysis is to count the percentage of winners you had, and chalk that down as a winning strategy. That’s not how it works. Profitability hinges on how good your odds were in relation to your strike rate.
I highly recommend that you learn more about the potential risks involved in sports tipping by following the links below:
4. Unclear Motivations
If someone has a winning formula they’re unlikely to give it away. This sounds a little cynical, but think about it: Professional gamblers and those with valuable knowledge on a sport are more likely to capitalise themselves than focus on helping other people to earn.
Furthermore, if a Tipster truly has some sort of “inside information” (as some claim) then it’s highly unlikely he would let anyone know about it so openly — if only to avoid a brush with the law. Equally, someone that’s designed a winning betting system — which may have taken years to create & refine — wouldn’t be in any rush to give away his selections and encourage more competition for odds.
Ok, it’s not inconceivable that a Tipster would sell his genuine knowledge at a safe, steady profit either. It’s, perhaps, unfair to presume that everyone with a winning system has a huge bankroll, high risk tolerance — and the desire to place large bets themselves. So it’s possible that some Tipsters reduce their risk by offering knowledge as as service.
But be realistic. Don’t expect the holy grail.
5. Inaccurate Records
Tipsters’ historical records are often inaccurate, incomplete… or non-existent. This is the major gripe many professional bettors have with Tipsters. In fact, there’s entire web pages devoted to slating Tipsters that’d claimed to produce a profit without providing sufficient evidence to back it up.
Sports Tipping is unregulated. So without proper proofing, it’s very hard to believe that a Tipster is profitable in the long run. Sadly there’s far too many scammers in this space to assume the best and take a leap of faith. For example, there’s a social media trend right now: accounts claiming to provide “sure wins”. Yet nobody can say with absolute certainty what outcome will prevail in sport; there’s always an element of doubt.
My advice is to steer well clear of Tipsters who make big promises without evidence. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remember that anything can happen with a small sample size. Judge Tipsters on a large set of data. I recommend reading my article on The Importance Of Sample Size In Betting Analysis.
Also check out this excellent post by GodsOfOdds: How Survivorship Bias Is Abused By Tip-Selling Sites. It explains how impressive looking betting records aren’t always what they seem
6. Competition For Odds
If everyone knows a good tip then the odds get crushed.
A tip could be perfectly legitimate and provided with the best intentions. But if it was given to a lot of subscribers, or the news becomes widespread, then the odds will be cut by the Bookmakers. This usually happens following an insurge of volume on a particular selection (e.g. a horse).
Therefore the speed of the information from your Tipster, and your execution, is imperative. If you’re too late to the party, then the value will be gone. Therefore Tipsters with fast, dynamic information sources gathered in real time throughout the day are likely to be more responsive and effective than those who pick selections at the start of the day.
Snapping up the odds you want, as quickly as possible, is made a whole lot easier with products such as Geeks Toy — one of the fastest Betfair tools. For even more automation I recommend subscribing to a configurable Betfair Bot.
To learn more about the specific things to look for in a tipster service, check out my article: How to Avoid Betting Scams.
Warning Signs To Look For
There are legitimate Tipster Services out there, but unfortunately there’s too many services that seek to prey on vulnerable punters by claiming ‘insider knowledge’, ‘dead certs’, ‘fixed matches’, and so on.
here’s the main warning signs of a bad tipster service:
- Unfounded selections, without good reasoning behind the process used
- Weak or non-existent account of profitability
- Consistently unobtainable odds
- Heavily affiliated with bookmakers
- Makes outlandish claims, such as “dead certs”.
If any of this resembles a tipster that you’re following, then you should seek better alternatives.
Remember that the concept of subscribing to a Tipster and immediately earning large sums of money trivialises just how difficult it is to generate long-term profits from sports betting. So do your homework and proceed cautiously. Bare in mind all the warnings I’ve listed in this post. This will increase your chances of find a Tipster that’s very systematic and provides genuine value; the diamond in the rough.
Recommended Tipster Sites
I recommend using the following sites because they “proof” Tipsters over a large sample of bets, and publish their records. You can read more about them from my review on the Best Tipster Sites.
Originally posted 12th June 2016. Updated march 2023.
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