I know it doesn’t look like it, but math is at the heart of sports betting. Just because the players and teams produce the final results doesn’t mean that math isn’t being used. The key is seeing the math and then learning how to use it.
It’s hard to see the math in sports betting, and even harder to learn how to use it to your advantage. This is why the vast majority of sports bettors lose money. But you don’t have to join the majority.
Here are 6 facts you can use to avoid the fate of most gamblers when dealing with sportsbooks.
- Vig Math
Vig is the fee you pay to place bets on sporting events with sportsbooks and bookies. You can see the vig in point spread bets easily, but it’s harder to see in moneyline bets and most other bet options.
But the vig is there, and it costs you money.
You don’t have to be able to see the vig, or even completely understand it to know that it costs you money. But it helps to see how much it costs you, so I’m going to show you a simple example.
On a point spread wager:
If the line is accurate you win 50% of the time. In fact, the math shows that you have a 50% chance to win any point spread bet if you simply pick your teams at random. And this is exactly how most sports gamblers make their picks.
They think they’re making decisions based on facts, but most sports gamblers aren’t using the right facts or enough facts to make the right choices.
To see how vig costs you money, look at what happens if you make 100 bets at 11 to 10 and win 50% of them.
You bet a total of $1,100 and when you win you win $21. $21 times 50 is $1,050. This means that you lose $50 total on 100 wagers, or an average of .50 per bet.
Notice that this is equal to half the vig.
The vig is $1 because you bet 11 to win 10. If you bet 10.50 y win 10, you lose $25 on 100 bets, or .25 per bet. It’s still half the vig.
Every time you place a bet you lose on average half the vig.
- Placing Bets without Vig
What happens if you place bets that don’t have vig? In other words, you bet 10 to win 10. In this case, when you win 50% of your wagers you break even.
I can’t stress enough how important this is.
You have to understand how much paying vig costs you. The vig is your worst enemy when you bet on sports.
The vig that sports gamblers pay is what makes the books money.
You can see from the examples that as long as sportsbooks and bookies can survive long enough for the long term averages to work out that they lock in a guaranteed profit.
While most of the most profitable sports gamblers place bets with real money online sportsbooks, you can’t afford to do this often until you learn how to use math to make profitable betting decisions.
What this means is that you have to find as many ways as possible to place bets without paying vig as you can.
- Favorite and Underdog Math
I’m going to give you a simple math lesson that shows why you should focus on finding underdogs to bet on as you’re learning how to use math to win when you bet on sports.
You’re going to bet on favorites at times, but you shouldn’t do it until you can use math to show you why you need to bet on a favorite.
When you bet on a favorite, the only way you can win is when the favorite wins the contest, and wins by more than the points you have to give. This gives you exactly 1 way to win.
When you bet on an underdog, you win when the underdog wins the contest. But you also win when the underdog loses the contest, but loses by less than the number of points they receive from the line.
This is 2 ways to win.
In the long run this isn’t as important, but right now you’re not a winning sports gambler. The reason why you’re not winning is because you haven’t learned how to use math well enough. And until you do learn how to use the math correctly, you have to use every small advantage that you can.
- Home Team Math
The math is simple when it comes to home and away teams. Home teams win more games than away teams. This is true in all sports and is going to continue being true.
But this isn’t particularly valuable information because of point spreads.
The favorite team gives points, and if the books do a good job of setting the point spreads they use the power of the vig to make a profit.
However, home team math is valuable to you as you’re learning how to use math in sports gambling. In the last section you learned the importance of favorites and underdogs. When you combine this information with the fact that home teams win more often than road teams, you can build a beginner betting strategy that gives you a better chance to win than most sports gamblers have. Do you know what this simple strategy is?
The simple strategy is to make bets on home teams that are underdogs. This strategy alone isn’t profitable, but it gives you the best place to start. Use the information in the next 2 sections to find the home teams that get points that have the best chance to make a profit.
- The Importance of Math in Handicapping
The thing I like about sports betting is that every port produces statistics. Statistics are simply mathematical tools that you can use when you evaluate sporting events. Evaluating sporting events is often called handicapping.
You need to learn as much about statistics in every sport you bet on as you can. You have to learn which statistics are useful and which ones don’t help you handicap events. When you find the statistics that help you handicap games and the ones that you can ignore, you can start getting an edge when you place bets.
The main problem is that it’s hard to determine what stats are important and which ones aren’t. For statistics to be useful you need to look at them over a long period of time. If you don’t, you get fooled by short term variance.
The good news is that in today’s age you can access stats for a long range of time.
Figuring out what to do with all of these stats is what the next section is about.
- How to Use Math to Build a Model
Smart sports gamblers use statistics to build systems or models. These are the same thing, but I call them models.
Sports Betting Model
A sports betting model is something that you plug statistics into and the model shows you what the math says about which team is going to win and by how much. If you build an accurate model it quickly shows you which lines are worth betting on and which lines aren’t going to be profitable.
If your model shows the home team is going to win by 6 and the line is -6 on the home team, there’s no profit to be made. But if the model shows the home team is going to win by 6 and the line s -4 or -10, the line is profitable.
The way you build a model is to start using statistics.
You test every statistic that you can find to see if it helps your model predict results. You keep testing your model over and over until it helps you make a profit. Smart sports gamblers never stop testing their models.
Long term profits made by online sportsbooks and others that offer betting opportunities are tied directly to the vig. In a fair game, the vig guarantees a profit for the book and bookies.
But this doesn’t mean that you have to do things the way that they want you to do them. Your responsibility is to find out how to use math to profit instead of letting math be used against you. A good place to start is to get around the vig.
The problem is that even when you get around the vig you’re still only at a breakeven point. You can use math to push beyond this into profit.