Updated 2023 – Read New improved article: 20 Questions to Ask a Sports Handicapper Before Buying Picks
When you’re thinking about buying sports picks, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First of all, beware of touts. These are people who claim to have inside information or guaranteed winners, but in reality, most of them are just trying to scam you.
They are also called “sports handicappers” who will sell you their picks. Again, be wary of these people and do your research before buying anything from them.
Selling sports picks is a big business, with touts and sports handicappers promising big profits for those who buy their picks. However, in most cases, selling sports picks is simply good marketing based on short-term results and the hype.
The fact is that touts and handicappers are no more likely to pick winners than anyone else, and their track records often don’t stand up to scrutiny. As a result, buying sports picks is generally a waste of money. So if you’re thinking of investing in picks, remember that in most cases you’re simply buying into the hype.
If you feel, that you need sports picks, it’s important to do your due diligence and make sure that you’re actually getting what you’re paying for. Otherwise, you’re likely to end up losing money in the long run. This guide will help you to understand the world of touts, sports handicappers and selling sports picks.
Here are the 10 questions to ask before purchasing any sports picks subscriptions. If there is no clear answer, sports picks are not worth buying.
Table of contents
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Table of contents
How Big is the Sample Size of Betting Results?
A big sample size of bets and years of experience is important because, in the short run, betting results are the most likely the result of luck, not a betting skill.
I am sure you probably saw something like:
- We are on an amazing run 32–14 in the last 46 picks
- We are red hot 7-0 on Whale Plays
- We are killig bookies, 3-0 run
Below is an example of such marketing of short period results from one of hundreds or thousands of sports handicappers that sell picks:
Why you should not buy picks from such a betting service?
Two reasons, why you should not buy picks from such a sports picks service:
- Luck factor
- Not understanding the importance of long-term results
Luck factor & survivorship bias in the short run. Professional sports bettors and betting experts, who truly have a the edge, know the importance of long and consistent betting profitable results. A true picture of a skilled bettor is visible only after thousands of bets.
If they track bets from different angles (not just profit or W-L record) like closing line value, yield, ROI, p-value,… only then we can get the feeling about his betting ability. Thousands of bets and years of betting should be a standard.
The second problem is that either they don’t understand the importance of long-term results, or they simply consciously create hype about short-term results to attract naive sports gamblers, who are willing to purchase sports picks from them.
How to identify a legit sports handicapper?
- Step 1: Ask for long-term and detailed sports picks results.
- Step 2: Ask for pdf or excel files of their results, so you can make your own research if needed. Remember, that good sports handicappers have realistic results with losing weeks, months, and even seasons. But overall they should have profitable results in the lung run.
Remember, always focus on the bigger picture. Any gambler can have one month or even a negative year, but profitable long-term results with a detailed understanding of betting theory are what makes the difference between legit sports handicappers and the rest.
Do they track or talk about CLV, yield, and ROI?
Win-Loss betting records with net profit are flawed information.
The best and the sharpest bettors in the World track and talk about closing line value because this is information about beating the closing odds. In the last years, this is one of the most important topics among professional sports bettors.
Every serious sports handicapper tracks or talks about closing line value. If you combine his betting yield, ROI, his knowledge and big sample size with his closing line value results, you will have a better chance to find a good one.
What kind of sports and markets he bets?
When you follow any sports picks, you’ll need to find a betting market with good liquidity. Let me explain.
If sports picks are good, the odds will drop. This will happen, but you still want to bet on the league or sport, where you still have the advantage. If not, you are wasting your time and money.
The problem of small markets
Small and soft betting markets are great, especially for new bettors and people who start with small bankrolls. But they are great only if you make your own bets without following. I’ll give you an example:
Imagine a sports handicapper, who made a nice profit in net units in the Italian volleyball League.
But in reality, can you bet those games at your bookmaker?
Will you ever place a bet for the same odds?
Because if this is a small market and if your sports handicapper sends sports picks out to many subscribers, odds will probably drop quickly and you’ll not make any money. Odds can drop from +120 to -110, which happens all the time in volatile markets. If you’re following a sports handicapper who bet at +120, wins 50% of time and make profit, you won’t make a profit if the odds drop to -110.
Bigger betting markets and bet types
Big market sports and bet types, like spread betting or money line betting, with good liquidity are the ones, where you can bet with reasonable stakes and make good enough profit, that can cover your subscription.
The problem with the big betting markets is that they are very sharp. A very small percentage of bettors have positive long-term results based on their well-defined betting system and algorithms.
Even the best sports handicappers in the World have only a small edge in these sharp markets. If you buy picks, this edge must be big enough to cover your subscription and at the same time, you make a satisfying profit.
Which sportsbooks they use?
The odds are the key when you buy sports picks. Because if you can not bet on similar odds, you’ll lose. The question, where do they place bets and what kind of odds you’ll get is very important.
If they always show great odds and they use some local bookmaker, then this will not help you.
First, you must ask which bookmakers they use and then check if you can use the same or similar sportsbook, that can offer the same bet types, betting markets, and similar odds. The most optimal is to bet with online sportsbooks, because you want to bet as quickly as possible, after sports picks are released.
Time of releasing sports picks?
Once you buy sports picks, you become a follower and you’ll need to take certain actions to follow wagers. It is your responsibility to ask at which time they usually send out sports picks and then see if betting on these sports tips is a realistic thing to do.
Some betting services will send out 20 picks per day from different sports handicappers. You can not follow them unless you sit the whole day in front of the computer.
What is the ideal time for releasing sports picks?
Sports picks must be sent out early when the market opens. They must include detailed analysis and estimated probabilities, so you can adjust stakes if necessary. Late picks, before the game starts are useless and will not help anyone, because you’ll bet on worse odds on the market, which will lead in most cases to a loss.
Do they use statistics and algorithms?
Understanding how they find value bets is important, because most sports handicappers, who show their short-term results are just guessing.
Some betting services claim, that they use advanced statistics, but in reality, they don’t use any probabilistic methods. It is all based on looking at numbers, standings, and maybe some simple team rankings.
If you want to be successful at sports betting, you need to be able to accurately predict the probability of each outcome. This is not possible by simply watching games or reading news stories. And definitely not by giving opinions and writing good-looking betting previews. You need a well-defined betting system or model.
Most touts don’t have one.
Ask these questions about their method of picking bets:
- Do you use sports betting models and advanced statistics?
- How do you find value?
- Can you show me projected odds or probabilities for every game?
- How do you calculate the percentage stake?
What is their promise?
The promise must be realistic and simple. Best betting experts are always humble and don’t make unrealistic promises and guarantees. Nobody can win every bet. Even the best sports handicappers in history had negative seasons. It’s still only sports betting, where nobody should promise a profit for sure.
Red alert messages:
- We will make you rich with our sports picks
- We win 98% of the times
- Guaranteed picks (has a completely different meaning in reality)
They must be realistic and honest
The best sports handicappers will hit only around 53–55% of their bets, related to point spread betting, like NBA, NFL, NCAAF, NCAAB, and similar. The winning percentage (win-loss record) for other bet types is different and it depends on odds. The bigger the odds, the lower the W-L record, and the lower the odds, the bigger the W-L record.
What’s their bankroll strategy?
You can buy the best sports picks, but if you don’t have the money management you’ll lose.
Very important is to educate them about how they invest in sports betting, what is their stake compared to their bankroll, and what is their overall investing strategy.
They must show you exactly what is the starting bankroll when was set, and exactly what % of bankroll they bet on each game.
Get the answers about betting units
- What are 50 units?
- What is 5 stars play?
- What is 1 unit?
- Are units calculated from starting bankroll or from the current bankroll?
When you buy sports picks, you must know exactly how much you bet on a single game.
How many subscribers do they have?
This is a tricky question, which should be asked too.
Too many subscribers can be a problem
On one side, they will tell you that they have a lot of subscribers. With that, they are saying they are good. Which makes sense somehow.
But then ask yourself, if they have so many subscribers, will you get sports picks for the same betting odds?
Because if they send single sports betting pick to 1000 subscribers and everyone will bet $100, the market will be affected and the odds will drop? You will miss out on the odds and you’ll face a losing record with your bets.
Imagine, that you get the odds of 1.95 instead of 2.05. Winning 50% of games with the odds of 2.05 means profit, winning 50% of games with the dropped odds of 1.95 is a loss.
The price of the sports picks service
You should always take into account what is your budget, how big will be your unit based on sports picks’ service strategy, and if you will ever make a profit.
Professional sports bettors bet around 1% per game from their starting bankroll. So if you start with $10,000, your recommended bet is $100.
Check how many games they release per year, what is their expected profit, and then see if buying picks even makes sense.
If you pay one service $100 per month and if they make 10 units per month and if your unit is $10 (which is recommended stake with starting bankroll of $1000), you will not make any money.
- 10 units * $10 = $100
- Cost of the service = $100 per month
- Profit loss including the cost of the service = $0
Do the handicappers offer a training included in the price?
There is a famous quote from Albert Einstein, which says: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Many sports bettors have beaten the bookmaker, only few have demonstrated that it was not just by pure luck and that it was based on their skills. Professionalism in sports betting is much more, than just throwing out picks. The best cappers will not only provide long-term profitable sports picks, but they will also teach you how to bet and make you a better sports bettor.
If you’re looking to make some money betting on sports, you’re better off learning how to handicap games yourself than paying for picks from a tout. Most touts don’t make their money by actually betting on sports, but by selling picks to people who are looking for an edge. The problem is that most people who buy picks can’t tell the difference between a skilled bettor and someone who’s just lucky. As a result, they end up losing money even after paying for picks. It’s better to learn how to handicap games yourself so that you can make your own winning bets.
At the end of the day, whether or not you buy sports picks is up to you. If you feel like you need help making your picks, then by all means go ahead and purchase some. But if you’re confident in your ability to pick winners on your own, then there’s no need to waste your money on someone else’s opinion.
The best way I found to win at sports betting is by placing your own bets and not following or paying sports picks. The advantages of betting markets are small and paying constantly for monthly sports picks subscriptions is not sustainable.
Following sports picks means directly that you get worse odds because this must be automatically added to your overall investment.
You are paying for a betting advice
Nobody can make you rich overnight and nobody will win every single month. Losing is part of the sports betting world. What are you paying for, is a piece of advice. Some people spend hours and hours in front of their computer so they can win at sports betting. You are paying for their work, but nobody should ever guarantee 100% profit in betting.
Most sports gamblers bet too much on single games
Most people who pay for betting advice don’t have a big bankroll and they don’t have a defined money strategy. Because they pay for sports picks services and a the same time they have small bankrolls, their wagers are 15%, 20%, 30% of their current bankroll to cover subscriptions.
They put themselves in a must-win situation every day. This leads to losing money and a big disappointment.
Remember, that professionals bet around 1% per game and there is a reason for that.
Learn sports betting basics to avoid the loss
Learn what are the odds, what is a probability, how bookmakers operate, and all other fundamentals even before you place your first bet.
The difference between sports betting investments and other types of investments is that you don’t give money to your paid sports handicapper. He can not bet for you.
Sports handicappers with their sports pick just recommend, what you should play and how much money you should play.
Everything else is on you. Learning sports betting basics will save you a lot of time, money, and energy. At the start of a sports betting career investing in knowledge is way better, than investing in paid sports picks.
Blaming sports handicappers
Never blame sports handicapper service if the bet is lost. Betting services didn’t play that game.
There are so many factors, that can happen in one game. Successful sports betting is not about single game-winners.
Paying betting picks for one day, one week, or one month is always a gambling mentality, and not understanding the importance of a large sample size betting. We come down to sports betting basics, which can save you a lot of time and money.
Should you pay for the picks?
Depends on your situation, but most people who bet on sports will not benefit from buying sports picks. Taking into account the level of the knowledge of an average sports gambler, his bankroll size, his expectations, odds dropping, and the cost of picks services, buying sports picks will not pay off.
But if you decide to pay for the picks, ask them those 10 questions.