Why The Media Could Be Ruining Your Sports Betting Picks

by Henry Jablonski
on September 1, 2017

Ok, so the title of this blog might sound a bit dramatic but I assure you that the media’s influence could be something that’s making a huge dent in your bottom line if you’re a sports bettor who reads articles or watches TV. I promise that this is not a political attack or anything silly like that against the media, but is strictly coming from a place of trying to protect your bottom line.  Ultimately, I want you to make as much money as humanly possible sports betting, and therefore I have to bring things up when I think they could be hurting your bottom line.

So enough with the disclaimers and let’s dive into what I’m talking about. We’ve all had it happen before. You felt so strongly about a pick or prediction, and then you read your favorite analyst or flipped on ESPN and by the end of the article or segment, you were singing the praises of the other side. You couldn’t imagine how you could have been so dumb five minutes prior.

Is this a bad thing? The answer is that there is no answer. Sometimes it is a good thing, and sometimes it’s not. Hooray, more ambiguity. What I’m trying to say here is that sometimes analysts will bring you good information that you missed and sometimes they will be bringing you media hype that is pointless and counter productive to making your pick.

Let’s break this down.

Actual Analysts Versus Entertainment Analysts

Everyone and their brother that talks about sports online or on TV refer to themselves as an analyst. Are they correct? Technically, they are. They are analyzing the games and matchups and giving you their opinion. So I’m not saying that anyone is wrong calling themselves an analyst.

What I want to draw attention to is what the analyst’s goals are and how that is important to you. By looking at this, you can put analysts into two categories – entertainment analysts and actual analysts. What is the goal of an entertainment analyst? If you think it’s to give you their expert opinion, you’re wrong. Their main goal is to sell ratings and get people to watch the show. They are more concerned with entertaining you than giving you value picks.

Entertainment analysts don’t just exist on TV, though, they are more prevalent there. There are some online analysts that fall into the same boat. They are concerned with writing articles that are exciting and get the reader pumped for the game or matchup. These are all great if you are looking for a hype man/woman, but aren’t the best if you’re looking for a good value pick to make some money from.

What I like to refer to as ACTUAL analysts, are people that are looking to give you good value picks to bet on.

These guys and gals aren’t as concerned with being entertaining (though they can be) but are more concerned with being right and providing you a valuable service. They grow and keep their followership by providing picks that make people money. The other group of analysts keeps and grows their followership through being entertaining.

Obviously, you want to be looking for the actual analysts when you’re looking for additional insight or a second opinion or a new angle to look at a game or a bet. They might not be as exciting to read or listen to, but it’s going to be a lot more exciting when your wallet is filled with more money.

Sensationalism Versus Facts

The reason that the entertainment analysts should be avoided for sports betting is that “boring facts” and “correct picks” are not as exciting as the sensationalized stories. Picking an underdog or a comeback story is much more exciting than telling the public that the comeback isn’t happening or the underdog has no shot. These are the stories that sell games, and the entertainment analysts love to pounce on them.

Actual analysts can see through the media hype around games and matchups and look to data and cold hard facts. Again, this is not as exciting because it usually pops a hole in the feel-good story with a dose of reality. Casual fans just don’t like this reality. They like to live in the world where the unthinkable happens because that’s just plain more exciting.

Here are two fictitious analysis of a game to show you how the different analysts sound. Notice how one sounds MUCH more exciting even though it seems to discount the reality.

  • Bobby Boxer -850
  • Pauly Punches +1075

Analysis One – “We all remember the sad day that Pauly Punches left the world of boxing. His hands fell off, and they were just sewed on last week. Now after days of therapy, Pauly is ready to step back in the ring and reclaim what is rightfully his. We’re all excited to see him overcome the impossible and be the first boxer to win a fight with fake hands. It’s glorious to see his drive and determination, and we really are pumped to see him get in the ring and defeat Bobby Boxer.”

Analysis Two – “Look, we’re happy Pauly got his hands put back on but let’s be real. He hasn’t boxed in months, and he’s had literally three days of therapy. We would be surprised if he can even wiggle his fingers. He’s going to get knocked out embarrassingly come Friday night. End of story.”

Analysis one is exciting and captivates people. It makes them excited to watch the fight. But notice how it doesn’t really make a prediction. It just says we’re all excited and we can’t wait to see him get in there and win. It leaves you excited to see the fight and root for the underdog.

Analysis two, though, almost sounds mean. It doesn’t give in to the emotional appeal of the story. This wouldn’t fly on TV or on ESPN or anything like that. But it’s probably the truth. The sportsbook doesn’t care about the cool stories or sensationalism. As you can see in our fictitious example, they think Pauly has no shot as well.

Winners Versus Value

There’s a bigger factor at work here, though. Entertainment analysts (and sometimes actual analysts who aren’t as sharp as they think) love to pick winners. Isn’t that the point of sports betting, though? Let me tell you a true statement, and you be the judge of that.

You can have a winning record sports betting and be losing money. Yup. You can pick more winners than losers and still lose money sports betting. This is something that a lot of amateur sports bettors don’t fully understand and most entertainment analysts either don’t understand or choose to ignore.

Frankly, I’m not mad at them for ignoring this. If the betting public that watches you doesn’t understand value, then you should aim always to pick winners. You’ll seem like you’re always right and they will think you are a genius. If I were in their shoes, I would probably just pick huge favorites every day and sound like a genius. There’s no sense of accountability, so why not?

Without going too far off on a tangent, here’s a quick example showing you how this is possible. Let’s say that an entertainment analyst is picking five games and they end up picking three of them correctly. Do they look good to their viewers? Yes. Are they actually making money? Nope (in our example).

Here are the five games they picked and the outcome. To make things easier to see, we will assume that $100 was bet on each game.

  • Game Bet              Outcome
  • 1 $100                       Win
  • 2 $100                       Win
  • 3 $100                       Loss
  • 4 $100                       Win
  • 5 $100                       Loss

The problem is that not all games are paid out the same. Let’s look at this entertainment analyst’s record, but with the odds and payouts for each game they picked.

  • Game Bet                Outcome          Odds                     Profit/Loss
  • 1 $100                       Win                        -185                       $54.05
  • 2 $100                       Win                        -210                       $47.62
  • 3 $100                       Loss                       -160                       ($100)
  • 4 $100                       Win                        -145                       $68.97
  • 5 $100                       Loss                       +200                      ($100)

Total Profit/Loss: ($29.36)

If you had played this entertainment analyst’s picks, you would have lost almost $30. Even though they had a winning record, they would have been a losing bettor. This is as a result of one of two things that we’ve already mentioned. One, they don’t understand value and think it is all about picking who is going to win the game. Two, they do understand value, but they think picking winners looks better to their viewers.

Again, I can’t fault them for following number two. Some of them sensationalize the underdogs and pick way too many of them and some of them want to be the rock star that’s always right and always big huge favorites. Both of these schools of thought are bad news bears when it comes to being a profitable sports bettor.

Picking Every Game

Something to note is that an entertainment analyst is required to pick a winner for every big game and their opinions on the smaller, lower-profile games might not even be considered. This means that they may fully understand value, but the network or their content manager only wants them writing about the higher profile games and matchups.

Can you imagine if an analyst on ESPN said they didn’t have a pick on the game because they don’t like the odds? They would never say this because they are catering to fans and not to sports bettors.

If you are betting every game or betting only the high profile games and matchups, chances are you’re not going to be doing so hot when it comes to sports betting. Every game is not always a good bet (on either side). If you want to be a successful sports bettor, you need to look for games that present value and not just the games that are the most popular.

Actual analysts usually have the freedom to do this. They may suggest you bet a game that isn’t even showing on TV because it has great value. They may also recommend that there are no good games to bet that day. If you ever see an analyst recommend this, you can probably assume right away there is a good chance they know what they’re doing. If they would rather tell you to bet nothing than force a pick, in my experience, they’re usually pretty sharp and not worried about entertaining.

It’s Ultimately Up to You

Here’s the thing. A lot of analysts (in both categories) have their own systems that they have come up with and follow. Just because they are on TV or online being published DOES NOT mean they are any more educated or right than you are. Yes, their picks are being broadcast on a larger platform, but this doesn’t mean they have access to any additional information or have a better picking system than you do.

What I’m trying to say is don’t let an analyst talk you out of what you think is right.

If you have a pick you are confident in and an analyst disagrees, that’s ok. There is a good chance that you may be sharper than they are or you may see things that they don’t. Don’t assume that just because they are on TV that they know better than you.

Remember, they are catering to fans and viewers, and their ultimate goal is to entertain those fans and generate more viewers. They don’t care if there is “value” on a bet or anything like that because they aren’t interested in giving you winning sports betting picks.

Personally, I will come up with my own picks on games, and THEN I will see what the actual analysts are saying.  If they disagree with me, I will look to see why and see if I agree or not. Rarely do I change my pick after I’ve made it, but I do read and listen with an open minded. I am not stubborn and convinced that I am always right. On the same token, I don’t just assume that someone on TV knows more than I do.

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