Can You Live on Sports Betting? Advice, Tips, and Pros & Cons
Every punter at least thought about this at one point or another. Especially if you’re actually good at sports betting. As you might imagine, though, the answer is not that simple. Sure, it’s possible – but it’s not going to be easy. Consistently staying in the green is difficult enough, and the majority of sports bettors never even get there. Bringing your sports betting profits to a level where you can earn a decent living? That’s a whole new level.
What you have to understand right off the bat is that turning a long-term profit from sports betting usually involves outwitting someone. More often than not, this means you’ll be trying to beat the bookies. Now, remember, best online sportsbooks are huge companies that have earned millions off of people not being able to beat them. If you think they’re going to let you easily beat them at their own game, you’re fooling yourself. People have done it in the past, though. Some have brought sports punts to such a level you could call them professionals. If others can, so can you.
Let’s put this in betting terms. Living off of online sports betting is not impossible – it’s just improbable. The odds are stacked against you, and you’ll need hard work and determination to beat them. Our point is that you shouldn’t expect this to be ‘easy money.’ You’ll need to invest time and money to develop your skills to a sustainable level.
That all sounds daunting, but remember – if it were easy, everyone would earn a living with sports bets. And then sportsbooks wouldn’t be able to exist in the first place. Either way, we can help you kick off your career as a professional sports punter. We can’t get you there, but we can give some pointers.
Understand Betting Value
Our sports betting guides always stress the importance of betting value. If you’re ever hoping to turn a profit with sports betting, the value should be your bread and butter. However, if your goal is to turn the hobby into a profession, you’ll need a much deeper understanding of it. For a pro punter, wagering looks more like a financial investment than gambling.
As such, we’ll explain it in terms of how investments work. In the grand scheme of things, investing in a business venture is not all that dissimilar to gambling. You’re essentially putting money towards a goal and hoping it will turn a profit. As such, the amount of money you need to invest is not the only factor worth considering. There are risks involved, and every venture has a projected profit. What investors focus on is the ratio between these two – the probability of success versus the profit potential.
As such, gauging which investments are worth going for is quite difficult. Some ventures offer an amazing profit margin but are quite risky as well. Conversely, some may be very safe, but small long-term profits mean that even the minute risks involved are not worth taking. It’s a careful balancing act.
That’s exactly how value in sports betting works – at least in the broadest of terms. Your profits shouldn’t be your only concern, nor should the probability of success determine your betting predictions.
How To Find Value in Bets?
If you’re going to balance probability and value, you first need to be able to find the implied probability of any wager. That part is simple, at least. All you need to do is follow this simple formula:
(1/ Odds) x 100
For example, if a bookmaker is offering 2.00 odds on something, the implication is that it’s a 50% probability. The problem with sportsbooks, however, is that they wouldn’t offer 2.00 payouts for a 50% chance. They would instead offer something like 1.95, which accounts for their bookmaker margin. The payout is essentially smaller than what the probability implies it should be. That’s called negative betting value, and it’s how bookmakers make money in the long run.
However, the probability of something happening in sports is not set in stone. There are many moving parts to setting prices at sportsbooks, and different bookies have different methods. That’s why you sometimes see different odds at different sites for the same outcome.
Essentially, what you want as a player are outcomes that the bookies have underestimated. For example, say they’re offering 2.00 odds on a certain bet for an implied probability of 50%. However, for one reason or another, you may know that the chance of that bet winning is actually 60%. If you were to make that bet, you would have positive betting value. Think of it as a bookmaker margin, except it works in your favour.
Bet Outcome Probability
This betting value guide makes it sound simple, but it’s not. Remember – value is your target, not the probability of success. For instance, you may run into bets at odds of 5.00 that are still worth taking because of the positive value. You also need to know the probability of a sports outcome better than the bookmakers. Now that is the truly hard part of making a profit with online sports betting.
How do you judge the probability of bets, besides the betting odds? That’s a good question, and we’re afraid there’s no simple answer to it. There are some tips we can give you, but ultimately it comes down to an excellent understanding of the sport.
- First of all, try to target smaller leagues, less popular events, and niche markets. Bookmakers simply don’t give these as much attention as, say, Premier League bets. This leaves more room for you to actually judge the situation better than them, simply because you’re willing to invest the time and effort. However, margins are also much bigger on such events, so it’s a bit risky.
- Focus on one sport or league, and follow it religiously. You need to be an expert to see how much a team is likely to beat another, for example. Keep up with team news, statistics, head-to-head histories, everything you can find.
- Practice makes perfect. Devise a system that suits you to translate data into probability. Again, there’s no simple step-by-step guide here. This will come with time and experience – two things you need either way.
We’ve established sports betting as a living is difficult to pull off. However, using betting exchanges rather than traditional fixed odds sportsbooks can make this easier to pull off. And everything above about betting value is the reason why.
Betting exchanges work by connecting players with other players and having them wager against each other. This is achieved through a system of “laying” and “backing” bets. Laying bets pretty much means you take the role of a bookmaker. You offer a wager at odds of your choosing, and other players may choose to “back” or take them.
This eliminates several problems. First of all, it’s much more likely that a single person will make a mistake and offer negative value as a bet. If you’re finding it hard to compete against bookmaking companies, you may have an easier time with punters like you instead.
Secondly, you are able to wager on either side of a bet. A backed bet is mostly identical to regular sportsbook wagers. Say, picking 1 in a 1X2 bet means you’re predicting that one team will win. However, laying that same 1X2 bet means you’re predicting it won’t happen. This opens up a lot of possibilities. You have twice as many betting options and twice as many ways of finding value.
Of course, betting exchanges are a double-edged sword. Two players participate in every confirmed wager. Presumably, this also means that one is getting positive value and the other is getting negative value. If you’re not good enough, you may end up losing more money than you would at a sportsbook. Moreover, exchanges charge a commission on all winning bets. This means that not only do you need to find value, you also need a margin that’s bigger than the commission to make the wager worthwhile.
Sports Betting as a Profession
These next few tips for living on sports betting may seem a bit rudimentary. However, they may just be the most important ones in this guide. In short, to be a professional sports punter, you need to think like one. The line between a pro punter and a problem gambler is in fact very thin. And the first thing you need to be able to do is to look at things realistically and objectively. You need to think like a professional.
The danger with gambling as a profession is that there’s always an element of luck involved. That’s why it’s not exactly a reliable source of income. Sure, you may be winning big, but will you still be in a month or two? There are sadly no straight answers here, and you’ll have to be a good judge of both your abilities and your goals. If you’re going to focus your whole life on sports betting, remember – most people lost at gambling, and you’re risking a lot.
In a smaller sense, thinking like a professional has a lot to do with bucking some common mistakes many new punters make. For example, football betting fans often simply bet on their favourite team or who they’re hoping will win the championship team. You can’t do that if you want to make consistent returns. Sports are a passion for a lot of people, and so is sports betting. For someone who makes a living off it, though, it needs to be a cold calculation. Leave your wants, preferences, and prejudices at the door. If the numbers are telling you to bet on that team you hate, do it.
Other Things to Consider
We get it - you enjoy betting, you’re good at it, and you know you can make a lot of money. So why not turn it into an everyday gig? Being good at betting is a great start, but making a living with betting online is always going to be an uphill battle. Here are some other points you may not have considered.
First of all, the bookies will be making it harder on you every step of the way. The reality of punting is that sportsbooks don’t want customers who are actually good at what they do. Unfortunately, having your account closed at betting sites is still an all too common occurrence, and it often happens simply because you’re winning too much. It’s unfair, but the practice has been around since the beginning of bookmaking, and it’s not likely to stop. This is just another reason why it’s difficult to turn online gambling into a reliable source of income no matter how good you are.
Moreover, there are other downsides to picking this as a profession. Getting a mortgage or a bank loan goes right out the window. Also, the volatile nature of gambling may not be great for your mental health in the long run.
Lastly, consider if you really want to turn a hobby into a profession. Your favourite pastime might just turn into looking at spreadsheets and crunching numbers. If you’re a 9-to-5 worker, that’s exactly the thing you’re trying to get away from, isn’t it?
As a final answer – yes, it’s technically possible to earn enough for a living using sports betting. However, it’s extremely difficult, and the odds are stacked against you in every sense of the word. If you’re still determined to take that plunge, though, we've provided some advice for making money with sports betting. Hopefully, this article will help. Good luck!