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Do You Need a Sports Betting Service?
August 30, 2009

Many people don't think twice about hiring an expert for a lot of things. The vast majority have a doctor, many probably pay an accountant to do their taxes, they'll retain an attorney for legal matters and seek out some kind of financial adviser for their investments. However, why the reluctance to something similar when it comes to betting on sports?

Well... trust is an obvious issue. "Touts" have a bad rep and many deservedly-so. Their sports betting service separates you from your money about as effectively as the Internal Revenue "Service". Want a relatively accurate depiction of the "dark side" of the sports betting industry?... simply rent the movie "Two For The Money".

Perhaps pride is a factor too? Giving someone else money to tell you what bets to make might be an admission that you have not been able to win on your own? So... if you have a nice spreadsheet documenting all the years you've finished in the black, feel free to stop reading now and go back to your handicapping. :)

I suspect others simply don't want to be reined in. Even if they admitted to being in the red long-term, the thrill they get from all the "action" - at least for them - makes it a wash.

In my opinion, someone who enjoys betting on sports seriously in order to make money but does not have sufficient time and/or expertise to do so successfully himself should think about a sports betting service.

Here are the important things to consider:

1. Can you talk to "the man"? The individual doing the handicapping and making the picks - is he available? If not by telephone, then at least by email.

2. Is he an expert? Has he established himself in your mind as someone at the top of the field. What is his long-term record? Has he written articles on sports betting? Perhaps a book? Has he finished well in handicapping contests?

3. Can you follow the service's picks after the game has started, but long before it has ended? A sign of a reputable handicapper is the ability to track his picks for free from just after the time it is too late to bet them.

4. Does the rationale for each play make sense? This of course assumes that the "tout" gives you a rationale in the first place. I suggest you look, for example, for comments about the fundamentals of the sport, match-ups, line value and motivation; rather than picks based primarily on "data mining" - which is quite popular these days. A good handicapper should be teaching you things in his write-ups.

5. How high is the hype? In the tout industry, hype sells... for a while... about a month actually (that's about the time it takes to get the credit card statement with all the pick purchases on it). Terms like "lock", "sure-thing", "bailout" and "game of the..." should all raise a red flag. They are the equivalent of a "cold call" telling you you've just gotta buy stock "XYZ" cuz its gonna double in a week.

A 5 Percent Moves Makes a Big Difference

I agree with the statement "if your accountant can't save you more on your taxes than his fee, he's not a very good accountant". Your sports betting consultant must grow your bankroll more than the price of his service.

Let's say that over the years you've been a break-even guy. At standard -110 odds, you're good enough to hit about 52% (52-48) winners on a 100 bet NFL season and almost "push". If a service simply gets you an extra winner here, avoids an extra loser there, and shifts that record by a mere 5% to 57% (57-43) you're now solidly in the black. As a $440 bettor, you've got a swing of $4,200 over 5 months (-$320 vs. +$3880). The "fee" for that profit is probably somewhere in the mid-to-high three-figure range.

A Case Study:

One of my typical clients is a busy professional in a relatively large North American city who we'll call "Mr. X". He's an intelligent analytical guy, so before spending a cent he took a look at the process of sports betting. After crunching the numbers he learned that its a long term scenario and you have to be sufficiently capitalized to give skill enough time to outweigh the short term vagaries of luck. He also realized that he had neither the time nor the experience to do his own handicapping successfully.

Beginning with the 2007 NBA Playoffs he made the commitment to join my "practice" over an extended period for multiple sports, knowing that with any service you need to have a sufficient number of trials (i.e. picks) to get the law of averages in your favor. He was prepared to start wagering at a $400 "unit" (4 percent) from a $10,000 bankroll. With the occasional slight variation he has basically done what I said betting-wise ever since. Those initial playoffs were enough of a success that soon afterward he was able to top up his bankroll with another $15,000. The past two years have also been profitable - to the point where (without any additional top-ups) he now has a bankroll of over $100,000 spread amongst his offshore sports book accounts and will be betting $2,000 per play this year on football.

Over the course of our relationship, his sports betting "IQ" has also increased so that now, when time permits, he does some of his own handicapping and is able to predict some of the plays in advance.

If you are considering a sports betting service, try to find a handicapper who's methods you respect and that you are able to interact with while you track his picks. Once you decide to pull the trigger, commit to it long term with enough of a bankroll to let him make you money.

Reed Hogben M.D.
The Betting Doctor

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