Vegas wiseguy report: Four sharp betting tips

Whether you want to admit it or not, most casual bettors don’t make a profit from their sports betting hobby but that isn't to say there aren't ways to improve your chances.

So what do wiseguys do that square bettors don't? Here are four tips that will help round your square corners:

Wiseguys don’t bet into bad numbers


Professional handicappers recognize the value of the half point. On the average college basketball Saturday there can easily be a dozen games that are won or lost against the spread by a point or less. The pro bettor will be on the right side of many of those decisions.

The pro will take the extra time to shop around for the best number at multiple sportsbooks. He’ll have accounts that are funded in enough places to ensure that when he finds the line that he is looking for, he’ll be able to place the bet. He’ll have an idea of which direction the line is likely to move, enabling him to bet early or late, depending on which time offers an advantageous number.

Recreational players, on the other hand, bet whenever they have time to call their bookie or to stop by the sportsbook, taking whatever line they get at whatever place they play.

The pro wins by a half point more often than he loses by the hook. Making a modest 20 bets a week (1040 a year, a number that is on the very low side for most professionals), it is not unusual to gain an extra 10 or 15 wins a year and another 10 or 15 pushes just by betting into good numbers.

Assuming the bettor is wagering a modest two percent of his bankroll on any given play, those 20 or 30 favorable decisions translates into a 40-60 percent swing in his return on his investment.

Wiseguys make more straight bets and fewer parlays


Professional bettors make the vast majority of their bets as straight bets, not as parlays. For amateurs, the number is much closer to 50:50, and there are many, many amateurs who rarely straight bet at all. But the straight bet is the wiseguys’ bread and butter.

Professionals are satisfied with the return on investment from a 3-2 day, or an 11-8 week. They are in it for the long haul, not always looking for the quick score that parlays provide. Amateurs are often lured by the big paydays that winning parlays provide; conveniently forgetting that a season largely consisting of steady 2-1 type days will be even more profitable than the big hits that parlays can occasionally provide.

Straight bettors never curse the 4-1 days – when they pick more winners than losers – because they make a profit every time, while parlay bettors don’t. There’s a reason that every sportsbook in Las Vegas has their parlay cards prominently displayed – frankly, parlays pay the bills at most joints here in town. That’s not to say pro bettors never go for the longshot score, but when they do, they do it for a considerably lesser percentage of their bankroll, and they do it in conjunction with their straight bets, not in lieu of them.

Wiseguys don’t let the luck factor make them crazy

Good bettors will get unlucky. Sometimes, they’ll be on the unlucky side every night for a week, or every other night for a month. There have been times when I’ll look at my spreadsheet at the end of the season and think I should have been up 20 or 30 units.

In sports, much like in poker, the better bets you make, the more unlucky you’re likely to be. Why? You’re going to be on right sides more than wrong sides and when you have the right side, the luck factor can only work against you.

This is very disconcerting for many casual bettors. Being on the wrong end of an error induced bullpen meltdown or a disastrous pick-six on the wrong side of the two minute warning is a painful experience. Sharp bettors know that these beats happen do their best to wipe the slate clean on a daily basis.

This is not to say that wiseguy bettors don’t occasionally go ballistic when they suffer a particularly bad beat – hey, everybody is human. But sharps generally let many of the tough beats roll off their backs.

Wiseguys are smart when betting their streaks

It’s one of the most common mistakes that recreational players make and it’s possibly the most costly. Amateurs press their losses, raising the stakes to get back to even off a losing week or a losing streak. Pro bettors know that there will be times when you lose more than you win.

Rather than raising the stakes during a bad run, the pro lowers his stakes, conserving bankroll while waiting and working hard for things to turn around.

Conversely, the pro knows that winning streaks are the time to press your bets, not the time to pull back with a conservative approach. When a handicapper is in good form and good rhythm, he’s not afraid to raise his stakes a bit, making larger plays when the percentages are in his favor (positive expectation wagers).

And when the wiseguy bettors win big, they don’t go blowing half their bankroll on a fancy new convertible or a dream vacation. Money spent on splurges isn’t going where it should be – back into the bankroll.

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