Betting on sports and different social events might seem like an easy and fun way to generate money. To a certain extent it is, too.
If you plan to seek out enough cash of your hobby to finance something with it, or to actually make a living. you've got another thing coming though.
As a recreational bettor, the activity will certainly be a lot of fun for you. There's nothing like watching a game with a few buddies when you have money on one of the teams. Professional sports betting though, is something entirely different. In order to understand what I'm talking about, you need to first understand a few basic concepts like how a bookmaker operates and how mathematical expectation works.
When you bet on the spread (which is set by the bookmaker), you basically bet on a 50-50 coin-toss most of the time. Why so?
Simple: the bookmaker needs to balance every bet by setting the spread in a way that draws an approximately equal number of bettors onto both sides of the game. To achieve that, in theory, he needs to set up a 50-50 situation. That is exactly what he does (he never succeeds in perfectly balancing a match-up, but he's OK if he gets close enough to it) on most of the games he features. Betting on a 50-50 coin-toss might not sound very menacing for your bankroll (it would be useless but harmless in the same time), but the problem is, while the bet itself is a 50-50 one, you'll still have to deal with negative mathematical expectation due to the bookmaker's wig. The perfect example to illustrate what goes on is the following: if you and I both bet $1 on a coin-toss, we have a 50-50 bet with 0 mathematical expectation. If I were to bet $2 against your $1 though, on the same coin-toss, I'd be facing a negative expected value of 50 cents per bet.This is exactly what happens when you bet the spread in a well-balanced match-up.
You post $10 to win $9.50 (a hypothetical example) thus you face negative EV. It's true that the mathematical expectation working against you in this instance would be minor, but over the long-run it will build up horrendously, and eat your bankroll right up. In poker, there are different ways to turn the EV over into the positive range: by receiving a hefty sign-up bonus, a good rakeback deal, by reading opponents, by masterfully manipulating them, you'll actually create EV+ for yourself at the poker table .Likewise, in sports betting you need to go out there and create EV+ for yourself. Sitting around and betting with the squares will only earn you an unsightly hole in your sports-gambling bankroll.How do you go about seeking out "value" in sports betting? There are several ways: one of them would be through thorough handicapping (although I doubt you'll be able to consistently beat the bookie's lines just by that).
Searching out unpopular games (which the bookmakers pay less attention to) is one way to go about it. Another way is to reverse-handicap matches, by taking the Vegas lines and drawing your conclusions from them. Riding the hidden value is the best way to squeeze value out of the lines. Hidden value usually surfaces when the bookmaker is forced into doing something he wouldn't normally do: leave uncovered value on one side of a match-up. When the square money flows in overwhelmingly on the favorite (who statistically isn't really that much of a favorite at all), the bookmaker must shift his lines to lure bettors onto the other side. He creates value there. When there's too much value in going up against the squares the bookie will often decide to cover their bets with his own money.Go for the hidden value (it might require much more reading-up than you're used to), bet against the squares, and you'll be making a long term profit before you know it.