The Game Is With The Books

Updated: December 12, 2018

It’s no secret the vast majority of people that bet on sports lose their money. That happens mainly because there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the game being played, and who the competitors are.

While the game appears to be predicting who is gong to win a game being played between two professional or college sports teams, that is not the case at all. In the grand scheme of things, the game being played, and wagered on, is not unlike the coin in a coin flip game. As the bettors spend their time looking at the coin, the real game goes off almost without consideration. And it is rigged against you.

The real game is between the bettor and the books. The books will do their absolute best to make sure they put and keep you under a monetary disadvantage on every bet you place. Since most people never consider the game against the book as the one that matters, they succeed the vast majority of the time.

They do it with bets like totals and point spreads. Has anybody really thought about what these types of bets are? If you lose the bet, you lose what you risk. If you win the bet, you pay the book 10% on average of what should be your profit. The book wins either way, and the players lose either way.

For lack of a better way to think about them, they are the equivalent of paying the book 10% of the winnings for the privilege of having them flip a coin for you. Would you pay the book 10% of the winnings to flip a coin? If you bet on spreads and totals, that is exactly what you do.

Yes, there are a very few people, maybe2%, who make money taking those bets. Meanwhile, the vast majority slowly but surely pay the books bills for them, and a handsome profit to boot.

If you want to start winning (for the long term), you need to shift your thinking. The goal is not to pick the winner in a game where everybody loses except for the book. It is to find a bet where the book doesn’t have a monetary advantage you can not overcome. Even more, to find a bet that gives you a monetary advantage the book can not overcome. And yes, they are available every day.

That means never placing a bet when the return for a win is less than the amount you have to risk. That is,never take a bet with a negative line like -110. That rules out the favorites and totals and spreads. The only thing left is the dog,and that is where your money should be.

For proof, just look at a line sheet. If a dog is going off at +150, the books estimate the probability of it winning at 40%. If all was equal in the same game the favorite would be going off at -150, indicating a 60% probability of winning the game. But that is NEVER what you see. Instead, you see the favorites going off at -170. The probabilities reflected in the books lines usually add up to about 103%, give or take a little as needed to equalize the betting.

Since the book can not get both sides to participate in paying it, it charges the favorite bettor because it knows more people will bet on favorites in search of a winning percentage rather than profits. It really is that simple.

The lesson to take away is that you will always start on an even footing with the books if you bet on dogs. If you win the same percentage of your bets as the line requires to break even, you break even. If you win 3% more than the break even percentage based on the line,you make a very good amount of profit.

If you take favorites or spreads or totals, you are starting in the hole and will have to win about 3% more of your bets in relation to dogs line just to break even. In other words, the dog bettor who places all of their bets at +150 and wins 40% of them will break even. If the favorite bettor on the other side of that same bet wins 60%, they will lose their ass and churn away bankroll after bankroll.

So play the right game. The teams on the field are only a part of it. The real game is with the book, and they profit because they know you would rather win more bets and lose money than win fewer bets and make money.

That is a choice you have to make for yourself. For me, I like winning money…..

Good luck,

Sam Oconnel


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