Here are some key concepts you should know about, educational resources, tools and practical steps you can take to improve your betting.
1. Find value from odds deviations at bookmakers.
Different bookmakers offer different odds, which are possible to exploit through value bets. What a value bet is and how they occur is covered in these articles.
2. Start with clearing signup bonuses on the soft bookmakers.
The majority of soft bookmakers offer bonuses with a turnover requirement, e.g. a 10x. You can use arbitrage to clear these bonuses. For instance let’s say you are betting on an Over / Under in a basketball game. Bookie A offer 2.05 in odds on an over, while Bookie B offers a 2.05 in odds on under. By placing $100 on each side, you have a surebet with a guaranteed profit of 2.5%. [ 1 / (1/2.05 + 1/2.05)]. Remember that you’re goal is to clear the bonus, so you can go break even by taking 2.0 and 2.0 or even go slightly below. Just make sure that your bonus is large enough to justify taking bets with a slightly negative expected value.
3. Know that “tipsters” who are profitable would never give away their advice for free.
Most tipster make money from affiliate deals with bookmakers where they get money if you use their links to sign up to the bookmaker site or by getting a percentage of losses made by bettors. If a tipster has an actual edge or inside information they will act upon this themselves. Only once they have taken a position in the game will they be willing to give up this information. The result being that they get better odds than you. For instance if a tipster recommends Troy at home versus South Florida in the NCAA at 1.75. They could take an earlier position at 1.80. Once people start following their advice and the market drops to let’s say 1.65 they can take a bet on the other side to make a surebet. Most tipster also don’t want to give away their track record and for the once that do, there is no guarantee that they have not simply deleted some of the bets they have lost. For the tipsters who actually do show you their full track record, the sample size is often very low. If they only place 250 bets a season for example their results will mainly be down to luck. There are two good articles on Pinnacle, which covers how to evaluate tipsters track records and survivorship bias.
4. Don’t bet on accumulators.
5. Not having a staking strategy.
Even if you are placing profitable trades, without a correct staking strategy, variance could wipe you out. So what does a profitable staking strategy look like? Well there’s two options you can deploy profitably. A flat stake, and a proportional stake.With a flat bet size, you either put the same wager on every single game, or you put the same wager on games that have the same odds and edge. Flat bet sizing is fairly easy to use, but it's hard to select a proper size. A size too big will increase the chance of going broke, while a size too low will not yield big enough profits.A proportional strategy is where you place a certain percentage of your current bankroll on each bet. Kelly's Criterion is a formula that maximizes the growth rate of your bankroll. You should be aware that following the Kelly Criterion is high risk. You can reduce your risk by following for instance 30% of whatever the Kelly Criterion tells you to. I’ve also made a video where I explain the Kelly Criterion and how to apply it in betting.
6. Know how bookmakers work and measure by whether you are able to beat Pinnacle or the closing lines of the other sharp bookmakers.
7. Not tracking performance or analysing your game.
Lack of knowledge and analysis of your performance against the bookmakers is one of the biggest factors in not becoming a profitable long-term sports trader. Whether you are a poker player or day trader, keeping track of your results enables you to determine whether your strategy is working and whether you are running good or bad. This can in turn enable you to change your strategy for the better. When trading sports you should measure your performance versus the closing lines of the sharp bookmakers. If you are able to consistently place bets where you get better odds than the bookmakers closing lines you should be profitable in the long term.
8. If you are profitable at the soft bookmakers you will be limited.
This article covers some tips to make you stay under the bookies radar and make your accounts last longer. In this section you can find interviews with industry insiders and their advice for avoiding limitations.
9. Market liquidity = information
The bookmakers employ top sports experts and data scientists who take in huge amounts of information on everything from lineups, injuries and team form to place their initial odds line. In other words, information is used to calculate the probability of let’s say Arsenal beating Tottenham this weekend. One of the best sports traders in the world is Tony Bloom, the owner of Brighton Football Club and the betting syndicate Starlizard (http://read.bi/2fiaisZ). According to Business Insider, Starlizard employs 160 workers who spend their day crunching statistics and building their own computer models for calculating the odds of sporting events, e.g. Arsenal winning. To run a company of Starlizard’s size and pay all the employees, the betting size and volume needs to be huge, in the range of hundreds of thousands to millions of pounds per bet. If they believe that the bookmaker are giving odds of 2.0, when their own calculations say that the true probability of Arsenal winning is 1.9. They will bet a large amount on any odds above 1.9, causing the odds to drop until it reaches 1.9. It is not possible to place large bets on the soft bookmakers, so the professionals perform their betting at the sharp bookmakers who offer higher stake limits on games. Once the odds goes down on one side, it will inevitably rise on the other. So now the odds of a draw or away win could be at 3.40 and 3.90 respectively. Now, someone else might believe that there is value to be had by betting on an away win based on the information they possess. They will then place a bet on Tottenham to win, shifting the odds line again. Eventually the odds line will reach equilibrium, where no-one is willing to place any more money on any of the game’s outcomes. If you are going to place $1 million on the outcome of a game, you better make sure that you get it right, if not you will go out of business over time. This also implies that when someone is willing to place such high stakes on a game, they possess information that suggests that this is a profitable bet. Thus one can draw the conclusion that the more money is placed on a game (liquidity) is equal to information. Watching and analysing these high-liquidity markets, allows you to follow big movers such as Tony Blom. Essentially giving you access to their positions and information.
10. Some good free tools and resources are: