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What Do Best Sports Handicappers Do?

A sports handicapper is someone who performs analysis of sporting events and makes wagers.

If you bet on sports, I am sure you’ve heard the job title “sports handicapper”. The idea of working at home, betting on sports, and making a lot of money sounds like an intriguing career, but what do sports handicappers do every day? Below we uncover what best sports betting handicappers really do every day.

Table of contents

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What does sports handicapping mean?

Sports handicapping is a process in which you analyze sports events to find the advantage against sportsbooks and betting markets. Finding the edge against bookmakers is the key to long-term winning in sports betting.

Handicappers use different methods and, sports betting models and systems, that can include different variables and information, such as power rankings, standings, injuries, exclusive information, advanced statistics, any other relevant data, that is important for the outcome of one game. Betting on games, where the probability based on your handicapping system is greater than the implied probability from a bookmaker is called value betting.

The most common bets based on handicapping process are: Moneyline bets, under/over, and betting the spread

Below are Cloudbet’s NFL handicap lines (spread betting), Totals (under/over) and Money Line for the game between Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots.

Handicapping moneyline bets

The most common Moneyline betting is about picking a winning side. If there are three or more possible outcomes, it is about picking the right outcome. Handicapping money lines is all about estimating probabilities and comparing them with sportsbooks implied probabilities (odds).

The handicapping process is about estimating the chances of two teams and then comparing with bookmakers lines.

Bookmakers implied probabilities:

  • Colts (-141)… implied probabilty of 58.5% and fair probability of 56.8 with fair odds of -132
  • Patriots (+125)…implied probability of 44.4% and fair probability of 43.2% with fair odds of +132

The goal of every sports handicapper is to find, which of these two sides has a better chance than it is offered by bookmakers. If the estimated probability based on your handicapping system is 50% on New England Patriots, then this is a value bet and profitable betting opportunity. Here is why:

If handicapping method is correct and it gives Patriots 50% of a chance then “the record of 50-50” on 100 such bets would profit in +12.50 units (50 wins 50 losses at the odds of +125).

Handicapping spreads

Handicapping spreads is about estimating spreads and comparing with bookmakers spreads. In our example Patriots are an underdog of +2.5 points and the most simple way of handicapping here is predicting spreads for both teams.

A good value bet is when the projected spread is lower than offered spread. If your handicapping system shows that England Patriots must be a favourite of -2.5 instead of +2.5, that would be potentially a good bet.

Handicapping Totals (Under/Over)

The process of handicapping is pretty similar to previous ones. A sports handicapper’s aim is to find if teams will score more (or less) points from those that are offered by bookmakers.

if the predicted score by the sports handicapping model is bigger than 45 from our example, then a potentially good bet is on over. If the predicted score is less than 45, the recommended bet would be under 45.

What makes a good handicapper?

Anyone who bets on games is somehow a sports handicapper, but there is a difference between professionals and recreational sports bettors. Recreational sports bettors don’t put a lot of effort into analyzing games and are looking for winners. Professional cappers who take sports betting seriously are betting experts, who always look for value bets.

Focus on Specific League or Sport

Sports betting is a tough market and a competition of sports bettors and bookmakers. It is hard to be an expert on every single sport and because of that, the best handicappers focus on one, two or a simply very small number of leagues or sports. This gives them an advantage against others who jump from sport to sport.

Expertise and In-depth Knowledge of the Industry

Best sports handicappers not only handicap games, but also understand how the market works, how bookmakers operate, what are the odds, the importance of closing line value and are aware of the risks involved.

Most bettors, who share their picks are just focusing on single games without researching a bigger picture about sports betting.

Sports Betting Models

Professional betting is all about the numbers. The best bettors have established well-defined betting algorithms and sports betting models, that can identify profitable betting opportunities. Pro cappers use advanced stats and other relevant information that can be implemented into a probabilistic system. They don’t guess based on their gut feelings.

Money Management and Long-Term Strategy

Short-term results are mostly random and heavily influenced by luck. To succeed, the best sports handicappers always focus on long-term results and ignore the short period runs and noise. They stick to their money management and they know exactly how much they must risk on a single game in order to win long-term.


They don’t let results swings drive impulsive actions. No matter how good you are at sports betting, you’ll face winning runs and losing runs. Even with the best sports handicapping system, that shows long-term positive results, at some point losing runs will happen. Professionals understand this and never over-react.

Long-Term Positive Results

Sports betting is a marathon and not a sprint. In the short run, luck is a huge factor and such results should always be taken with caution. The best handicappers have long-term positive results and track their bets.

How do sports handicappers make money?

Being a sports betting expert and making money regularly is not an easy task. It takes a lot of time, effort, passion for the numbers, and a little bit of luck too. But many professional gamblers make money because of handicapping skills. A good sports handicapper is making money by actually placing his wagers.

Some sports handicappers also make money by

  • seling sports picks
  • selling profitable betting systems, sports betting models or algorithms
  • sharing sports picks and creating brand which opens doors to marketing and affiliates
  • combination of all (placing actual wagers, selling picks, selling betting systems, marketing)

What is the difference between tout and sports handicapper?

Both tout and sports handicapper research games with the goal to find profitable opportunities in the betting market. A tout is a person who sells sports picks. Sports handicapper does not necessarily sell picks.

Is being a tout legal?

Yes. Touts and handicappers who are selling their advice, opinions, recommendations, analysis, are just advisors. Publishing such content is legal in most countries. In the USA it is protected by First Amendment. Some sports handicappers don’t even risk actual money on bets but are just selling their picks and predictions.

Are sports handicapping services worth it?

No. Most sports handicapping services are not worth your money. Only a few bettors have a true edge against bookmakers in the long run. This takes years of handicapping and thousands of bets that should be properly tracked (closing line value, yield, ROI,…). Most sports handicapping services are focusing on short-term results and the hype. They do not educate bettors and don’t have a long-term plan for a potential sports picks buyer. An average bettor doesn’t understand the complexity of the industry and how to identify a good sports handicapper.

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