How To Win At Sports Betting

How To Win At Sports Betting

Jack Andrews
The Process
February 28, 2024


Sports betting isn’t about picking winners. If you’re doing that you’re trying to predict the future. And predicting the future is hard. Learning how to win at sports betting is about process, probability, and pricing. Let’s put you on the path to winning. 

Hi, I’m Jack from Unabated. I’ve been a pro bettor for over 20 years. I started out as a card counter attacking casino blackjack games. Then moved onto other games and now I focus on sports betting because sports betting is beatable. But it requires the right approach. I’ll show you how you can start your journey to winning where so many people lose.


It’s About Price

First, let’s talk about what profitable sports betting isn’t. It’s not a get rich quick scheme. Don’t be fooled by those who pretend that sports betting is about massive payouts and longshot wins. There’s a reason sportsbooks focus on those things and show you big winners. They want you to believe sports betting is like a lottery where you can risk a little to win a life-changing amount of money. 

In truth, how to win at sports betting is a process. It’s about finding the small edges that can exist everywhere, betting those edges, and then grinding out a profit over time. Find the edge, bet the edge appropriately, and then rinse and repeat. That’s the process.

It’s also about probability. Let’s find your first edge and that will help explain probability. Take this coin for instance. If I were to flip a coin, there’s a 50 percent chance it lands heads and a 50 percent chance it lands tails. Simple straightforward probability. 

Now let’s add in the price. If we each risk $1 on the coin flip, 50 percent of the time you’ll win my dollar and 50 percent of the time I’ll win your dollar. If we do this again and again, neither of us have an edge. We’ll just be swapping dollars back and forth for as long as we want to flip this coin. 

However, what if I put up $1.10 to your dollar? Each time you win, you win a $1.10, but each time you lose, you only lose $1. You know that this is a good bet because you win an extra 10 cents when you win, and you’re going to win 50 percent of the time. With each flip of the coin, you gain 5 cents of value. That’s your expected value. Expected value is a term sharp sports bettors throw around, or they call it EV. It’s what you can expect to win, not necessarily what you are guaranteed to win.

This is why sports betting is about price not picks. You’re still making the same bet, but the price you’re getting makes it a good bet for you. 

Understanding that everything is about probability and price is key for you to become a winning sports bettor. When the price is better than the probability you have a positive expected value. 

But how do you know the probability in sports betting? It’s a lot harder than a coin flip. Sports betting deals with real life events. These events have unforeseen variables like player injuries, randomness, and miracles.

Some people try to calculate their own probabilities. But remember, I told you predicting the future is hard. If you’re going to do that, you need a lot of study and research to be better than the sportsbook. On the other hand, some winning sports bettors rely on the market itself being somewhat efficient and they use that as their guide.


Let the Market Work for You

Let’s talk about the sports betting market. There are two types of sportsbooks. Those that take action from sharp bettors. And those which don’t take sharp action and just follow what those sharp taking sportsbooks do. 

People think that sportsbooks try to set a line so that half the bettors are on one side, and half the bettors are on the other side. But that’s not really true. In actuality, it’s only the sharp bettors that tend to shape the line. 

If these billion-dollar companies that you see on every other television ad think that following the sharp sportsbooks is the way they can make money, then maybe it’s the approach you should take as you learn how to win at sports betting.

You can use sharp sportsbooks’ lines as your source of truth of what they believe the probability to be. Then see if the price offered at other sportsbooks gives you positive expected value. Again it’s just a process of probability and price. In this case, everyone has -2.5, but there is -1.5 available here at Draftkings. 

So far this sounds simple, but there’s still a lot more to learn. For instance, there’s no one universal sharp sportsbook that you can look towards as your sole source of truth. Different sportsbooks have strengths and weaknesses in how they set lines and adjust to sharp action. A sportsbook that might be the sharpest for the NBA might not be as sharp in the NFL.


Learn How to Manage Your Bankroll

Next you need to know how much to bet. A lot of sports bettors think that the reason they don’t win is because of bankroll management. As if bankroll management can be some magic formula that can turn bad sports betting into profitable sports betting. They’re half-right, bankroll management might be a big reason why they’re not winning, but it’s not any magic elixir for what ails them. Chances are they are over-betting their bankroll or maybe don’t operate with a bankroll at all.

John Kelly developed a system known as the Kelly Criterion. In it’s simplest form, it  says you should bet your edge divided by the odds.

Take our coin-flip example from earlier, you had a 5 percent edge over me in the coin flipping. Kelly betting would have you bet about 5 percent of your bankroll on every flip. In sports betting, since we can’t exactly quantify our edge, using this full Kelly Criterion is very risky. If we are overestimating our edge, this will lead to overbetting our bankroll, which is a very bad thing. 

Instead, you can bet a fraction of Kelly such as a quarter or half of what it says you should bet. If you’re serious about sports betting, I strongly suggest dividing by at least four and using quarter-Kelly stakes.

The Kelly Criterion is used in investing and gambling but here’s an interesting fact, John Kelly never gambled a day in his life. He developed it as a system for managing signal across telephone lines. He didn’t live to see the investing or gambling applications of his work.


How to Win at Sports Betting? Probability Plus Price

Now that we know that our bet sizing is dependent on our edge, we need to know what our edge is. This is where probability and price meet. This is also where sports betting starts to require some tools to assist you in doing it well.

We express probability as a percentage,  the coin flip has a 50 percent probability of landing heads.  However, sports betting expresses probability in odds. That’s the positive or negative number you see listed next to a bet.  

So we know what an edge is, we know how much we want to bet when we find an edge, now how do we find an edge? 

In some cases it’s easy. If you can find +110 when it should be +100, like with the coin flip earlier, you have a 5 percent edge. Sometimes, it’s harder than that. If a sharp line is 52.5 on the total for a game, but there is one book offering 51.5. Is getting over 51.5 -109 enough to give you an edge if the sharp line is 52.5? 

That depends how much we’re gaining by getting a line a full point lower than what it should be. The ability to do the math and data science necessary to come up with those numbers is beyond most aspiring sports bettors. The process of shopping for lines, knowing who the sharp sportsbooks are, calculating the probability, identifying an edge, quantifying your expected value, it might all seem like too big of a hill to climb.

That’s why we founded Unabated. Because we know not everyone is a super hero of math, data science, and market knowledge. We provide tools to help you shop lines, we provide our Unabated Line which you can use as your source of truth for your probability and pricing. We help you calculate the probability and determine your expected value. We even highlight the good opportunities in the market to help you get to them faster and more efficiently. 

You can make good money picking off all these small edges in the market. There are dozens of them available every day. But this is just one weapon in your arsenal for beating sportsbooks. There are so many other weapons you’re going to discover and use. Likewise we’ve got many other tools at Unabated to help you beat other markets like props, futures, teasers, promotions, even in-game betting. It’s an abundant toolbox for you to explore.

Once you start to see sports betting through the lens of being a sharp bettor, you’re going to see why other people lose at sports betting. They don’t understand the market. They don’t understand just how bad some of the bets are that they’re making. They’re trying to predict the future rather than just approaching it as a process of probability at the right price.

Winning at sports betting is a journey. It’s a journey that can be a very lucrative side hustle or career for you. Unabated wants to help guide you along your path. If you want to learn more about Unabated, schedule a demo or join us in our Discord.

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