Yes, the laws of sports betting math apply to you too!
Probably the toughest reality for recreational bettors to accept is that a 54-55% success rate is the widely-recognized ceiling on standard 11/10 football bets (risk $11 to win $10, or anything in that ratio). They don’t just believe they’re smarter than that. They’re certain.
Amateurs see their picks as virtual sure things that can only be derailed by horrible luck, horrible coaching, or a choking quarterback. If not for these, they would never lose.
It doesn’t help that sports betting audiences often hear advertisements or game analysis suggesting 65%, 75%, or even larger winning scenarios. But, the root of the problem is bettor arrogance rather than outside influences. Hype doesn’t create bad bettors. It just feeds their misguided belief system.
You’ll never hear a “square” saying something reasonable like “I’ve got nine bets this week, and I hope they’ll go about 5-4.” Sharps (pro bettors) would love that win rate. That’s 55.6%, just above the accepted ceiling. Overconfident squares are thinking 6-3 at worst with bad luck, maybe 7-2. And, they’re going to throw in a 9-team parlay because they’d be furious if all of their picks won and they didn’t hit a jackpot.
Some facts to keep in mind…
▪ Oddsmakers do a good job of posting opening lines. A few market leaders go up first to test the water. Those less confident in their abilities just copy the leaders. Bettors aren’t going to see “horrible” opening lines go up very often. If you’re thinking an opener is way off, you’ve probably made a mistake.
▪ Sharps bet any relatively soft openers quickly. Their nickname comes from skills for “sharpening” the earliest numbers. Unless you’re faster than the sharps, you’re betting into more difficult lines.
▪ Sports books know the public likes betting favorites, and will often shade the line a half point or a point in that direction (sharps try to time the apex with many underdog bets). If you’re the type to be very confident with your picks, it’s probably because you’ve visualized several favorites crushing out-manned opponents. You’ll have to pay a premium to back big chalk.
Recreational bettors aren’t as smart as oddsmakers, aren’t as smart as sharps, and don’t think paying a premium will matter because their picks are going to cover easily. They couldn’t possibly win 60-70% of the time against solid and shaded lines. They’ll be lucky to go 50/50 over the long haul. It takes 52.4% to break even with 11/10 vigorish.
That 54-55% ceiling is real. You’re extremely unlikely to achieve that through a lifetime of picks (unless you win your first few and stop!). Your choices aren’t likely to be strong enough for inclusion in parlays (which don’t pay off at true odds anyway).
Great expectations are unrealistic. Either you’ve realized that already in early-season action, or you caught some breaks and are due for a wake-up call. Learn to be happy with an 8-7 record (53.3%) every 15 picks.
▪ Both Mississippi schools in the SEC are coming off double-digit victories. Mississippi State (-16.5) beat Southern Miss 38-15, winning total yardage 386-344 and turnovers 3-0. The Bulldogs jumped to a 28-0 third quarter lead and coasted home.
Ole Miss (-5) opened league play with an impressive 31-17 win over Arkansas. The Rebels won total yardage 483-361, yards-per-play 6.3 to 5.4, and third downs 53% to 33%. That was their second straight noteworthy defensive effort. Though, Ole Miss lost its season opener 15-10 at Memphis as a field goal underdog.
This week, State hosts Kansas State in a nationally televised inter-conference rematch (ESPN, 11 a.m.). The Bulldogs bullied the Wildcats last season in Manhattan 31-10 laying 6.5 points. Sharps haven’t yet shown much interest in the revenge angle for the road dog. That would change if early-week point spreads in the range of -7.5 to -8.5 rise to the key number of 10.
Ole Miss must avoid a letdown as a big favorite over Southeast Louisiana (SEC Network, 3 p.m.). The Rebels will likely be laying between four and five touchdowns at kickoff.
▪ This week’s showcase game in the SEC was supposed to be Florida at Kentucky (ESPN, 6 p.m.). But, the loss of starting quarterback Terry Wilson for the season to injury has dimmed Kentucky’s hopes to make headlines. This is another dog sharps will probably avoid unless the key number of 10 comes into play. Florida was laying -9 midweek.
▪ Southern Miss fans will be playing close attention to a “sandwich” game at Troy (kickoff 5 p.m.). Will the Golden Eagles players be able to focus? They were sky high to face state-rival Mississippi State last week, and have national superpower Alabama on deck.
Might be telling that sharps didn’t bet Troy at low early week likes around -2. That suggests pro bettors believe Southern Miss has a good chance to win outright despite the awkward schedule spot. When a line doesn’t move toward a key number like three, it’s typically meaningful. Let’s see what happens in the market before kickoff.
VSiN returns Saturday to review the New Orleans Saints’ dramatic 30-28 win this past Monday night over the Houston Texans, and to preview Sunday’s NFC Championship rematch against the Los Angeles Rams.