The majority of people think that it’s impossible to make a living betting on sports. It’s probably no coincidence that the majority of people lose money betting on sports, so it might just be those same people who think it’s impossible to make money at it.
However, I know quite a few people who are able to bet sports at a profitable level. It’s not easy, and it’s not for the faint of heart. But it is more possible than you probably think.
In fact, if someone can just pick winners against the spread at a 55% success rate or higher, they could bet on sports for a living.
Here’s some even better news: If you’re looking to make a living betting on sports, or even simply looking for a way to supplement your income, certain sports are easier than others to find an edge.
Personally, I think hockey is your best choice for a sport to bet on professionally, since it receives little betting action and attention from oddsmakers when you compare it to the other major professional sports.
Before you start betting big on the ice, however, here are 4 tips that you need to know if you hope to make a living betting on hockey.
1. Be Disciplined
To bet sports at a professional level, you need a tremendous amount of discipline.
That’s especially true in hockey, a game in which so much luck and random events determine the outcome. You might be able to correctly predict which team will control the puck the most, take the most shots on goal, or even play with the most focus and intensity.
But you can’t control or predict an errant pass going off a skate and into your team’s net, or a team scoring a couple of late empty-netters (when a team is trailing late in a game, they often pull their goaltender in favor of an extra attacker) to send a low-scoring game Over the total.
This is where your discipline needs to take over. It’s all right to get frustrated or angry when you lose a wager that you rightfully should have won, but don’t let it affect your next bet.
Don’t bet more than you normally would on your next wager in order to “make back” the money you feel like you shouldn’t have lost. In fact, it might be best to sit out a few games after a bad beat until you can clear your head and make sure that the tough loss doesn’t have an effect on your handicapping.
Discipline also applies to the number of games you wager on. If you’re looking to make a living betting on hockey, you can’t be betting on games that you don’t honestly believe you’ve got an edge on.
That way, losses on some bets you didn’t have a mathematical edge on won’t wipe out the profits you made on your smartest wagers.
2. Have a Big Bankroll
If you’re looking to win big enough to make a living betting on hockey, you’ll need a really large bankroll. That’s because you shouldn’t risk more than 5% of your bankroll on any one wager in hockey (due to the volatility and randomness of hockey betting, as explained above), and it’s recommended that almost all of your bets be in the range of 1%-2% of your betting bankroll.
In case you’re not familiar with the betting bankroll term, it’s simply an amount of money that you have set aside for wagering. Your bankroll should not be money that you use to pay your monthly bills or for day-to-day expenses, and it needs to be money you can afford to lose without it having a significantly negative impact on your life.
Let’s say that you need to make at least $50,000 per year in order to make a living betting on hockey. If your average betting unit (amount you risk or try to win on every bet) is $1,000, you’ll need to win 50 more units than you lose over the course of the season in order to reach that $50,000 goal.
Even if you’re betting 5% of your bankroll on every bet (again, that’s pretty high in my opinion), you’ll need a starting bankroll of at least $20,000 in order to have a unit size of $1,000.
The best way to get that bankroll is by building your way up to it. Start by betting unit sizes of $100 (requiring a bankroll of at least $2,000) or less, and treat those units with the same importance as if they were $1,000.
As you win more money, your bankroll will build and build. If you’re a winning bettor and you don’t withdraw money from your bankroll, you’ll eventually have the $20,000 bankroll necessary to bet $1,000 per game. And the best part is that even if you lost that bankroll, it wouldn’t have really cost you anything because you’re still playing with the house’s money.
3. Look for Edges in Every Market
There are so many different ways to bet on hockey, and you need to be looking at the lines on all of them to see if you can find an edge.
Moneylines are the most common and popular way to bet on hockey, but they can also be some of the toughest odds to beat.
With so many people betting on the moneyline in hockey, oddsmakers are able to sharpen those lines to the point that the odds are pretty close to the true probability of the outcome. That’s also true of other mainstream hockey betting markets such as Over/Under or puck lines.
Meanwhile, team totals, period betting lines, and even props are comparatively soft lines. Not a lot of people bet on them, so oddsmakers don’t put as much time and effort into making those odds as they do the lines that they’re receiving a lot of action on.
It’s more likely that you’ll find mistakes on betting odds in those secondary markets than on a moneyline that will quickly be corrected by wagers from opportunistic bettors.
Live betting is another way to bet on hockey in which professional bettors can consistently find edges. Certain teams are more capable than others of coming back from early deficits, so you can usually find some great value taking those teams on the live betting odds when they give up an early goal.
Other teams are great at protecting leads, so even if they take an early lead and become much heavier favorites than they were before the game began, the odds might not completely account for how much their chances of winning the game have improved.
Oddsmakers will impose lower limits (the maximum you can wager on a game) in these secondary markets, so you probably can’t make a living betting on hockey if you only bet on these softer lines.
But you can still make a good chunk of your income betting on numbers that aren’t as sharp as the full-game odds that receive the majority of the betting action.
4. Always Get the Best Odds
If you’ve bet on basketball or football, you’re probably aware of just how valuable getting even just half a point extra on a point spread can be. If you can occasionally turn pushes into wins and losses into pushes by consistently getting +2.5 instead of +2 and getting -3 instead of -3.5, that can sometimes be the difference between a winning season and a losing one.
The same is true in hockey betting, although in a bit of a different way. Hockey spreads and totals don’t vary much by the sportsbook you’re using, but the juice that accompanies those lines does.
Same goes for moneylines, which can vary by as much as 10 or 20 cents depending on the betting sites that you’re using.
In order to make sure you’re getting the best possible odds on every hockey bet you make, you should have accounts at several different sports betting sites. Each site has its strengths and weaknesses, but by being a member of a lot of them, you’re able to exploit each one’s strengths while avoiding their weaknesses.
BetOnline, for example, is one of the first sites to post odds for the next day’s games. By being a member there, you can pounce on some soft opening lines before other people bet them into shape.
5Dimes also usually offers some pretty good hockey odds, especially on props and other secondary markets. And though Bovada doesn’t usually have the best odds on favorites, you can occasionally get better numbers on underdogs that most people don’t want to bet on.
Compare lines at as many reputable betting sites as you can. If you find books that consistently offer the best numbers on the types of bets that you like to place, you should be a member at them to make sure you can take advantage.
If you can even get an average of 5 cents more per bet (-105 instead of -110, for example), that will add up to quite a difference over a long season in which you place hundreds or even thousands of bets.
When you’re looking to make a living betting on hockey, that can make all the difference in the world.
If you’re looking to make a living betting on hockey (or any other sport, for that matter), be warned that it’s not going to be as easy as looking at stats for a few hours, making your bets, and then laying on the couch all night to watch all the winners come in.
You need enough discipline and a large enough bankroll to navigate through the inevitable times when the puck isn’t bouncing your way, you need an ability to think creatively to find edges where other people aren’t looking for them, and you need to be diligent enough to search for the best odds on every bet you place.
If you do all that, you’ve got a chance to make a living betting on hockey. Or, at the very least, the chance to bet hockey profitably enough that you can make it a supplement to your income.