The primary reason why so many sports betting aficionados don’t take kindly to being referred to as gamblers is that they’re not the same thing. Gambling in casinos requires you to ride on a wave of pure chance and luck, while sports betting has a lot of statistics and skill involved. Sure, you could treat sports betting like gambling, and place bets blindly: but you’ll never be able to get the ‘edge’ that professional sports betters do.
Most of the time, the best sports betters are avid fans of the game themselves. They know all the stats not because they pore over numbers (though that is highly recommended) but because they love the sport and follow the games of their favorite teams over the years. Most of the time, you’re making predictions even while you watch a game. You probably are yourself a sports fanatic or know someone who is. Sports betting, simplistically, is taking your love and knowledge about a sport and putting a stake in your predictions.
There’s a lot of math involved in winning sports bets, and it’s almost impossible to be successful if you don’t understand the math of the entire thing. This guide doesn’t delve into the details but gives you an overview of what can get you on your way to winning. Remember that it’s crucial to find sports betting spots to find sportsbooks that have the best odds, as well as ones that will keep your financial information safe and secure.
Hit Rate and Probability
Your hit rate is basically the percentage of times that you win a bet out of the total bets that you made. So if you placed 10 bets and won 6 bets and lost 4 bets, your hit rate is 60%. If each bet was $10, you’d assume that you made more money than you lost. At a glance, this can seem like it makes sense. You’d want your hit rate to be as high as possible for the maximum wins, right?
This is where odds come in, and depending on the odds that were set by the sportsbooks, you can actually lose money even with a high hit rate. The bookmakers set the odds according to the probability of an outcome.
So if everyone’s favorite teams are playing and they will clearly win, the sportsbooks will make the probability of their winning high: and the rewards you get for this easy guess will be meager as well. But every match isn’t so black and white with a clear winner. Most matches are unpredictable, and the bookmakers try their best to predict the probability of wins and losses with statistics.
But unlike a casino, a sportsbook can be beaten. They don’t know the outcome either, so it’s really everyone just trying to do better math. That’s why you can make more accurate predictions than a sportsbook — the probability and money line that they set in place can never be an accurate prediction all the time. When you take into account this margin, you’re playing the game of probability, which is when you’ll start earning real money.
You can’t just hope to break even in sports betting with a 50% hit rate. That’s because even if you win 5 bets and lose 5 bets, the odds will cause you to lose more than you won. Let’s take the odds of -110, since it’s traditionally what is there for against the spread bets in football — if you spend $1,100, a 50% hit rate would mean that you win $500 and lose $550, giving you a loss of $50.
That’s why you’ll hear betters reiterating the magic number: 52.4%, which is the hit rate you need to break even. Anything above this, and you’ll be winning and taking money away from the sportsbooks. That 2.4% more than 50% can be hundreds and thousands of dollars depending on how high your stake was.