Sports Betting For Beginners – A Realistic And Profitable Approach

An Introduction to Sports Betting

As more and more people are taking sports betting beyond the level of simple entertainment, and into the realm of serious investing and money making, I have seen that there is a huge demand for information about the basics. Or should I say, in some cases it would be very good IF people bothered to learn a bit about the basics – the core why, how and when – before diving head first, losing money and coming out shouting “this sports investing thing is just another scam”.

Because it’s not. At least not if you are a bit smart and patient with with it.

So on this page I will try my best to explain what profitable sports betting, or sports investing, is really about. How it works, what you can expect from it, what you need to get started etc. Even if you aren’t a complete beginner, but have yet to experience any real success in your betting I recommend that you review some of the topics on this page – you may find that you’ve been held back by some very rudimentary mistakes.

Sports Betting – Skill or Just Dumb Luck?

If you do it properly, sports betting has very little to do with gambling.The very idea of consistently making money with sports betting is foreign to most people, because they associate it with luck and gambling. Some people even go as far as categorizing the interest in any sort of betting as a character flaw.

While gambling addiction is a very real problem, one that you absolutely need to steer clear from, professional sports betting definitely has very little to do with gambling. We are not trying to win the lottery here, where you quite frankly stand a bigger chance to get struck by lightning than win. Nor are you going to bet because you in your heart are sure of a certain team’s superiority.

No, the kind of sports betting we talk about on this site has much more in common with trading the stock market than it has with gambling. Both forms of investing obviously always come with associated risks – without a genuinely working crystal ball there’s just no way to with 100% certainty determine how sports teams or companies will perform in the future.

In fact, one could argue that any kind of investment – whether it be investing in a new home or a new hobby – always comes with the risk that things will not turn out as well as you’d hoped. Nobody is going to pick winners all the time. But that said, you could actually make a good argument for sports betting being a less risky form of investment than the stock market – as is discussed in the below video:

But The Randomness Of Sports Is What Makes It So Fascinating!

In sports, sometimes the impossible does happen.In almost every sport there will be times when a newcomer or underdog surprises everybody by beating a superior opponent. Many people will fondly remember the “Miracle on ice“, when team US beat the USSR in the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. Or Andy Murray’s amazing tennis victory over a Roger Federer in top form in the London Olympics 2012.

These events are indeed part of the wonder with sports.

Since such miracles obviously happen every now and then, and are often impossible to predict, it is easy to assume that sports betting is nothing but a pipe dream.

But if you think about it, over the course of hundreds of games, isn’t it usually the case that the athlete and/or team that “should” win probably also WILL win? And as you may have guessed, there are in fact some people with a vested interest in sports betting – the bookmakers – that are on average pretty much on top of what is happening in the world of sports at any given moment.

In fact, their whole business model depends on it!

So, by combining the following you can actually make very a very educated guess about how a particular game will turn out:

  • Past statistics of the current team and/or players
  • Current form of the current team and/or players
  • What the bookmakers seem to think about the game
  • What the betting public seem to think about the game

The above is a simplification of the process, and various betting systems will combine the available data in different ways. But, continuing the comparison with the stock market, in many regards there is actually more information to base your bets on with sports investing than there is with stocks.

Unless you are doing arbitrage betting and “win” all the time, which will be covered more in depth in another article, you can expect a good system to win anywhere between 50 and 80 percent on your bets. And combined with a smart money management plan (see below for more on that), it is actually very feasible to make steady gains with a good sports betting system.

Alright, So How Much Can You Make?

It is customary among professional handicappers to NOT brag about how much they make. But from people looking to get into this I can related to the “how much” question.

How much money can you make with sports betting?What you need to understand is that, just like with any form of investment, how much you can actually make depends on how much you have to invest in the first place. “It takes money to make money” is a valid expression in this context.

Professional handicappers may often report the performance of their system in terms of units. For example, they could report that a system has made +12 units of profit for a certain period of time. That means to say that if you had placed 100 euro or dollars on each bet, your profit would have been 1 200 euro/dollars.

To give you an idea of what is possible, here are some recent statistics of the better performing Z-Code Systems:

  • Trey’s MLB System Plays for 2012: +52 units
  • Danilo’s Penicillin system from May 2012 to September 2012; +38.86 units
  • Joao’s MLB totals system season 2012; +48 units
  • NFL betting systems for NFL season 2011; +56,67 units
  • “Valdemar’s” statistical MLB picks generated early season 2013; +116 units!
  • Check the impressive results of the Automated Alpha and Delta trends live on this page

While it is important to remember that these examples are not projections for what similar bets might bring in the future, they do prove that a good sports betting system can yield very respectable profits. Another interestig thing to notice are the solid performance of the systems that combine the automated Z-Code tools with human analysis (ie. Trey, Danilo, Joao).

Can Anyone Do It?

Honestly speaking I do not believe that sports betting is for everyone. However, it is also my sincere belief that anyone motivated enough and willing to learn can master profitable sports betting.

Contrary to popular belief you do not have to become an expert at judging sports teams and athletes yourself, as you can cheat with that part by using some of the sports betting systems reviewed on this site to take care of that part for you.

But what you absolutely must do is to have the discipline to follow the rules of the various systems and to be consistent with your money management. You must at all costs avoid the pitfalls that will classify your betting as gambling rather than investing.

To learn more about that, sign up for my newsletter and you’ll receive my course “The 7 Deadly Sins of Sports Betting” for free. You’ll find the subscription form is in the top right corner of this website.

Getting Started With Sports Betting

Now let’s have a look at where the rubber really hits the road, how to get started with sports betting. As I talk about specific betting systems and pick services elsewhere on this site, I am not going into the specifics of how you choose your bets here. Here I will focus on the other important basics and practicalities you need to get setup properly.

And that means I have to start with a rather dreary and at times controversial topic.

Is Sports Betting Legal?

Before you do anything else, it is of course important to establish if sports betting is legal where you live or not. You wouldn’t want to lose all your winnings and/or face a huge lawsuit simply because you didn’t do your homework about this.

Now, unfortunately I can’t cover laws and regulations for every corner of the world. That would take up hundreds of pages and I don’t even have that information in the first place.

However, I WILL mention a couple of the most important markets.

The legality of sports betting and gambling is diverse and complicated.Within the European Union I am happy to report that betting on sports isn’t only perfectly legal, it is also well regulated and your winnings tax free (provided that your sportsbook is located in another EU country).

In the Unites States things are more complicated. Unless you live in the state of Nevada, it is probably the case that sports betting is formally illegal – and that includes placing bets with bookmakers abroad. The legislation is a big can of worms, and I’ve yet to find someone who can tell me straight exactly what gives on the other side of the Atlantic.

However, from what I’ve gathered it seems that people all over the US are indeed betting on sports with online sportbooks abroad. And although it is technically illegal no one has ever been prosecuted for doing so. If I’ve interpreted things correctly, the US state or federal government would really have to sue the bookmaker rather than the individual bettor, and I don’t suspect that will happen anytime soon.

I can’t give any solid legal advice in the matter though. If in doubt – consult a lawyer who is well versed in all the appropriate local laws. That goes for US citizens as well as everybody else. Although it isn’t the definitive or legally watertight word on the topic, this article on Wikipedia may also be of help to keep you up to date with recent developments in your country.

Choosing a Bookmaker

For the vast majority of bettors it will be most convenient to place your bets through an online sportsbook.

Unlike the old fashioned local bookies that just offer you the ability to be on the major sporting events the bettors of today, with the advent of the internet and betting on sports online, is not at all that confined. They can now consider betting on just about any sporting event available out there, with a few clicks of a mouse button.

It is of paramount importance that you sign up only with reputable, trusted bookmakers. There are many other sites that review online sportsbooks, such as this one. Choose one that you like among the ones with good grades and you should do just fine.

Personally I use Bet365 for most of my regular betting, and have been happy with their service so far.

If you are going to place “ordinary” straight bets it will be fine to pick just one or two of these trusted bookmakers. However, if you are going to do arbitrage betting you will need to sign up with several different companies. Please consult the Arbitrage Boot Camp document from RebelBetting to learn more about choosing books for arbing purposes.

Finally, when choosing a bookmaker you may also want to pay attention to the signup bonuses that some of them offer. This shouldn’t be the only factor for deciding on who to sign up with, but it is nevertheless nice to, like with Bet365, get your initial deposit matched with a 100% bonus (usually up to 100 euro). Note that you need to play through this bonus amount several times before you are allowed to withdraw the cash.

Assorted Practical Issues

Transfer to and from arrows.A more important factor when choosing your bookmaker may be what options they offer for depositing and withdrawing money from your betting account.

The best bookies will accept all major credit cards, payment processors (Moneybookers, Paypal etc.), wire transfers etc.

However, be aware that many bookies require that you withdraw cash with the same method you used for deposits. So it may very well NOT be possible to fund your betting account by credit card and to then withdraw your winnings by wire transfer. Check what their terms are and choose a method of payment/withdrawal that will be most convenient and economical for you.

If you’re from the US you also need to be aware that Paypal is NOT an viable option for you, although it is perfectly fine for international players.

In addition to checking whether sports betting is legal where you reside, you should also check how your tax authorities view your winnings. Like mentioned above, it is typically tax free within the EU but that may not be the case in your country.

Do your due diligence in researching this and plan out your betting activities appropriately.

Which Sports To Bet On?

The beauty of online betting is that you have virtually every sport on the planet right at your fingertips, at least for the major leagues in each sport.

With an online bookmaker you can bet on virtually every sport imaginable.

Ideally you should be extremely knowledgeable about the sport(s) you are betting on. You should be equally aware of past statistics and what the current form curves of each and every contender is. And then you need to factor in what the odds are, what kinds of bet types you should use for a  particular sport and if it is worth risking your money on a particular play.

Most people don’t possess this kind knowledge in a sport though – let alone in several. However, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t either!

I “cheat” with this part by using some of the services and professional picks I am mentioning in the review section on this site. Would you believe that I had never even watched a game of American Football or Major League Baseball when I first got started with this – and yet I quickly went on to make pretty good profits from those very sports!

With the picks from Odds Worth Betting I have also betted on US College sports, UFC and other events that I have zero knowledge or personal interest in – often with very good results.

A Non-Sexy But Important Aspect Of Sports Betting

Money management may not be the sexiest aspect of sports betting – but it sure is one of the most important. It is quite literally the difference between an advantaged player and a gambler. In fact, getting this wrong it is one of the “7 sins” I go into in great detail in my newsletter.

Keeping track of your money managementThe downfall of many sports bettors, sometimes even professional ones, is far from always due to not winning enough bets but due to lack of discipline and consistency when it comes to managing their bankroll.

As there is no guarantee that you will win any money with sports betting, you firstly need to set aside a bankroll consisting on money that you can safely afford to lose. If this amount is 100 euro or 10 000 euro is entirely up to you. But for novices it is naturally good advice to start out small, even if you could afford to risk more money.

Depending on the system you are following you will typically place just a percent or two of your bankroll on each bet you place. And, unless you are specifically dealing with a progressive system, it is important that you never try to chase after losses by doubling down. Neither should you lose your head after a few wins and raise your betting unit size to a level that is too risky for you.

Most importantly, you need to accept the fact that sports investing is a PROCESS – not gambling! It’s not about winning every day, it’s about growing your bankroll long term!

Using A Sports Betting Service

If you are going to rely on a third part service for your sports betting, be it some form of statistical data, software or simple “winning picks” service, it goes without saying that it has to be of a high quality to be worth your while.

When searching for winning, or even “unbeatable” as some people call them, betting systems it is also important to keep both feet solidly on the ground. Remember that, unless you are doing arbitrage betting, you will not be winning all the time. Even with the best of services you will experience hot as well as cold streaks, and it is for this reason that consistent bankroll is so incredibly important to your long term success.

I have seen certain “systems” that claim ability to win your bets 98% of the time, or some similar figure. Please be aware that winning that many bets is totally unrealistic. For ordinary betting systems (i.e. not arbing) that is simply impossible to achieve, and anyone who says so is trying to scam you. In reality anything that manage to get wins more than 60% of the time could be considered as a potentially very profitable betting system.

Services like these can cost anywhere from about a hundred to thousands of dollars per month, and what you get is surprisingly not always directly dependent on how much you pay. For example, Z-Code system is a comparatively affordable sports betting system, yet it deliver an amazing level of value with daily games and systems to bet on every day of the year.

And in addition to the tools and automated systems available to you, the community where you get to discuss and analyze games with like minded individuals. Many of these guys have years and years of profitable sports betting experience below their belt, and over time you can really learn about sports betting as a process from them.

In the world of sports betting that kind of opportunity is simply golden.

Photo credits: scburns (Hockey gear), emerson (assorted athletes)

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4 Responses to “Sports Betting For Beginners – A Realistic And Profitable Approach”

  • I am sure that this post is going to be a favorite for many who wish to go for sports betting in the online environment. This post was full of information about history, merits and demerits regarding online sports betting and it was really incredible. I would also like to ask everyone to visit and join my own online sports betting website [link removed] where the players can get some of the best bet to win ratios in the famous games like cricket, soccer, baseball, tennis and many more.

    • Admin

      Thanks for the kind words, and good luck with your website.

  • Matt

    I am brand new to sports wagering but with the uncertain economic landscape of the whole world right now< I am seriously considering using this type of investing to build my retirement with. I found this article to be well written and gives newbies like me a wide range of aspects to consider before stepping out on the turf. If anyone who reads this, who has additional insight to any of the afore mentioned topics, please chime. I find that conversation on a certain article can often be as informative as the post itself.

    • Admin

      Thank you very much Matt! Make sure to get my “7 deadly sins” course (it is completely free) before you begin as well, it covers many specific sports betting mistakes that beginners should be aware of. The subscribe form is in the right sidebar.