Gambling was legalized in my home state of Virginia in February of 2021. In the 10 months that passed from then, I went from a completely clueless bettor with a $2500 bankroll to a fairly educated bettor with a $225k bankroll. The success that I’ve had is a direct result of the edges and angles that I’ve discovered and exploited throughout that time. Specific edges and angles come and go though. Instead of focusing on those, in this article I’m going to share the process that I used for learning and discovering those angles. I’ll attempt to arm you with a set of valuable resources, as well as the mindset you’ll need to make the most out of knowledge you gain.
Before you start your journey for searching for profitable betting strategies, you’ll need to have a strong foundation in sports betting principles. For me, that came from reading The Logic of Sports Betting by Ed Miller and Matthew Davidow. It will provide you with an understanding of key gambling concepts, valuable insight into how bookmakers operate, and even some basic strategies for finding positive expected value angles. This book will give you the tools to be, at worst, a break-even bettor, and it provides the platform needed to start a profitable sports betting journey.
Too busy for books? I listened to the audiobook while walking, exercising, and cleaning up after the kids are in bed.
In the next section, I’m going to recommend a bunch of resources and strategies for learning about how to find profitable betting strategies. Those resources are going to be much more valuable if you have the proper mindset while you consume them. There are three fundamental things you should keep in mind throughout your learning journey.
First, understand why it’s good to be on this side of the counter. While bookmakers have the inherit advantage of dealing -110 lines, they are forced to deal with the problem of adverse selection. Bookmakers hang thousands of lines across hundreds of markets. They don’t get to choose which of those you bet though. You do. Even if 99.9% of the lines they offer are properly priced, if you can find the .1% that aren’t, you’ll profit.
The bookmaker is a giant castle that is attempting to keep everyone away from the treasure they have hidden inside. You are not an opposing army though; you are an ant. Crawl through the holes they don’t know they have.
Next, on your journey, you’ll learn about numerous different approaches to profitable sports betting. You’ll learn about originating, steam chasing, arbitrage betting, angle shooting, and other strategies. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you’re above, or not capable, of any of these approaches. To paraphrase Spanky, the money you make betting one angle isn’t any greener than the money you make betting a different one.
The bookmaker’s castle has holes in the walls, the floors, the ceilings, and the drainpipes. Crawl through any hole that you can find.
Finally, don’t assume people are smarter than they actually are and be curious. Every sportsbook has an angle that hasn’t been exploited yet. They make mistakes every day. Every pro bettor has failed to discover hundreds of angles. They’ll continue to do so. If you stumble across something that seems wrong to you in a betting market, don’t assume that you’re the one who’s wrong. Approach it with an open mind and drill into it until you understand why you were wrong, or until you can profit off someone else being wrong.
Are you completely sure the bookmaker locked every window? And every door? Heck, did they even take the time to build a gate?
You’ll be amazed by how much valuable sports gambling content is out there. Of course, you’ll also be amazed by how much more bad content there is as well. Pay attention to the sources that focus on process and ignore those that focus simply on picks. Set a goal to take one thing of value from every piece of content you consume and collect those somewhere.
Start by learning from actual, proven, bettors. My preferred medium for this was podcasts. Here are my top recommendations and how to navigate them:
- Circles Off – Listen to every episode from the beginning. It’s the best consistent evergreen content out there.
- Bet the Process and Deep Dive Gambling Podcast – Scroll through the list of episodes and look for evergreen topics and interviews. Feel free to skip the discussions that focus on specific games, though occasionally, you’ll get some good insight into the process that Rufus, Andy, or Drew used to make a pick.
- Be Better Bettors – Start with the listener Q&As. Then, move to the rest of the interviews. These give great insight into how bookies think and the challenges they face.
Don’t limit yourself too just these though – there is plenty more great content out there. In fact, I’d say every podcast interview with a proven winner is worth a listen.
Take a moment and imagine the scenario where you’re a professional bettor who has multiple angles they use to make money. Next, imagine you’re invited to be interviewed on a podcast. You’d struggle with wanting to share something interesting but not giving away too much of your edge. You’d have to make a compromise somewhere.
When you’re listening to these interviews, listen for the compromises.
Go read all of the educational content over at Unabated, and the rest of the educational content here at Analytics.bet. There’s a plethora of valuable information here, including real-world examples of different ways professional bettors have profited.
While you’re at Unabated, make sure to check out their trading tools and think about how you can use those to your advantage.
Forums and Discussion Boards
Join forums and discussion boards. Your goal here should be two-fold. First, it’ll give you another way to learn from others. You’ll interact with novice, intermediate, and professional gamblers and you’ll get insight into what their doing to gain an edge. Second, it will allow you to start building a network. The further you get down the profitable betting path, the more value a bigger network will have. Start investing the time now and it’ll pay off in the long run.
I started with reddit/r/sportsbook but quickly found that its long-term value is limited. I’d still recommend learning how people make money there and what challenges they face. Also, see if you can apply what you’ve learned in other places to find flaws in the strategies employed there.
Join the Unabated discord and the RAS slack channel. If you decide to sign up for a class at Analytics.Bet, that will also get you access to their slack channel which you’ll find to be full of people on a similar mission as you. It’s fine to just lurk here but don’t be afraid to ask questions. For as toxic as gambling twitter seems at times, the random questions I’ve asked to experienced bettors (e.g., Captain Jack) have always been met with kind, thoughtful responses. And, just this week in the Analytics.bet slack channel, Matt Buchalter (PlusEV Analytics) helped me work through a modelling problem that instantly made a model that I was working on more profitable.
Every book publishes a set of house rules that determine how wagers are paid out. Read those. Understand why every rule exists and how you could profit off the book if they didn’t have that rule. Find differences between the rule sets at different books. Why are they different? Which one is wrong?
There are several good courses out there which can accelerate your growth. The Applied Analytics of Sports Betting class at Analytics.bet offers a great jumpstart. It packs in a number of things that you’ll discover in the above resources and gives you a great introduction into using analytics to help you find edges. The Bayesian Sports Betting course they offer is the only resource I’ve found for learning advanced modeling techniques that didn’t require me to have a Ph. D. in statistics. Just like everything else in this list, these are optional, but can reap significant benefits.
Embrace the Grind
Finally, make sure to be “hands on”. Each time you learn something, try to apply it in a real setting with real money. Try steam chasing. Try originating (even something simple). Try arbing. Small amounts of money are fine. Make sure that you can apply what you’ve learned and that you understand what its advantages and disadvantages are. The more you do this, the more likely you are to stumble onto a profitable angle, or even profit itself.