5 Ways to Tell If Your Friend Is an Amateur at Sports Betting

by Henry Jablonski
on January 19, 2018

Sports betting is about three things. It’s about entertainment. It’s about making money. And it’s about letting your friends know that you’re smarter and sharper than they are. It’s my personal opinion that unless you’re a little egotistical and like to talk smack to your buddies about who knows a sport the best, you’re not a true sports bettor. Yes, you could be an adult about this and not, but seriously, where is the fun in that?

Today, I want to feed the fire and give you a little bit of ammunition in your upcoming debates with friends or random people you meet at the casino or the bar. I want to give you some tell-tale signs that the person you are talking to about sports betting is an amateur. Everyone likes to claim they are a professional, and in a field where there is no public proof about whether someone knows what they are doing, it’s easy to fib and say you’re the best. Remember, just because someone has a few winning tickets in their hand does not mean they know what they’re doing.

Should you immediately jump on someone and call them out if you see any of these things? I would advise not to. You could use these as indicators to you internally that the person you are dealing with isn’t as sharp as they say they are. You can keep them in your pocket as a sort of trump card if you ever need them. You can also use them to know how to proceed with the information that you get from this person. I’ll give you a reason in here that listening to people that are clueless might actually be a great strategy. Remember, just because you are listening to someone does not mean that you are planning to do what they recommend.

Just make sure that you are fully able to explain why each of these makes them a fish, or else you’re going to look just as silly. It would be like making fun of someone for not knowing how to say their ABC’s and then you not being able to say them either. Don’t worry, though. I am going to break each one of these down for you, so you’re equipped to drop the truth bomb on these amateurs if and when necessary.

They Give You Their Results as a Win/Loss Record

First of all, if someone starts talking about their success as a sports bettor and it’s unsolicited or doesn’t fit naturally into the conversation, that should be a red flag in itself. People that like to brag are usually the people who have no idea what they are doing. It’s like in a bar fight — you are never worried about the guy or girl that is mouthing off the loudest. You’re worried about the quiet one who doesn’t have anything to say, but just confidently stands by.

If they do give you their stats, it can be very easy to tell whether they know what they’re doing. If someone gives you their sports betting success in terms of a win and loss record, most likely they have no idea what they are doing. Why? This is because sports betting is not about trying to have a winning record. In fact, you can have a winning record sports betting and be losing money.

No, I’m not just talking about people who bet more on some games and less on others. You can be betting the same amount of money on each game, have a winning record, and still be losing money, which means you really aren’t that great of a sports bettor. You can also easily have a losing sports betting record and be crushing the books as one of the best sports bettors in the world.

Amateur sports bettors do not understand this. Remember, not every bet you make at the sportsbook pays out the same amount. Anyone can walk into a book and place a ton of bets on the huge favorites and walk out with a winning record. That does not mean they’re going to be profitable, though, which is really what determines who is a good sports bettor and who is a chump.

What they should be doing is giving you their results in terms of their return on investment (ROI).

This is a number that tells you how much money they are making based on how much they have invested in the process. You should always be giving your results in terms of ROI and never win/loss. Hint: this is another quick way to identify the chumps. If you give your ROI and they ask for your win/loss, you know 100% that they have no idea what they are doing.

One side note to this is that you’ll want to make sure that the person you are talking to was not talking down to their audience. Some expert sports bettors know that most people don’t understand this difference between ROI and win/loss and only understand win/loss. For that reason, they will sometimes give their results as a win/loss.

What you should do to make sure this isn’t the case is simply ask them to clarify. “That’s awesome. Do you know what your ROI is by chance?” If they hit you back with a number quickly and confidently, then you know there is a better chance they know what they’re talking about. If they say they don’t know, you’re probably talking to an amateur.

They Bet Every Game

Sharp sports bettors know that not every game is going to have value. They may have a system that allows them to bet a lot of games, but I personally haven’t seen any systems that are able to find value in every single game. That being said, I am sure that they exist. If they do exist, though, they are going to be a highly mathematical approach that most casual bettors don’t get their feet wet with.

If your friend or random person you met has bet every single game of the day or week, you can most likely assume they are just an action junkie and not a sharp bettor. Sharp bettors are very selective about the games that they choose to bet. They won’t bet a game just because it’s on or because it’s a big-ticket event. They bet only when they see value and a chance to make money.

Don’t get this confused with them having a pick or an opinion on every single game. Sports bettors are notorious for having a view or opinion on every single game. What I am talking about is people that fire a lot of money at every single game on the slate for the day, just so they don’t have to sit there without any action going. Trust me, you’ll be able to notice the difference quickly.

They Get Into the Wilder Prop Bets.

One of the easiest ways to identify an amateur is someone who gets involved in the wild prop bets without any real rhyme or reason. Now, I am not talking about making a few fun bets for low money or making a few wild bets once a year on the Super Bowl. I am talking about people that have to fire money at a prop bet just because it’s on the board and they have the urge to get the action in.

If they’re betting the skilled prop bets, that’s fine. A lot of sharp bettors use these bets to make money by leveraging their predictions on game flow and individual player performances. But, if they’re betting things like “whether the final score will be odd or even” or “how many penalties will be in a game” on a regular basis, they’re probably just a degenerate gambler who loves the rush.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with these bets, but if anyone tries to convince you that they are worth more than strictly entertainment value, they’re an amateur. I have seen some sharp bettors that do fire these, but they will be the first to admit they are strictly for entertainment and to feed their need for action. While these people are still considered sharp bettors, they probably won’t be around in the industry long because their self-control and lack of a long-term winning bankroll management plan will be their downfall.

They Feed Off of the Media

The media loves to promote the exciting storylines behind the scenes of games. Sometimes these storylines do have an effect on the outcome of a game, but a lot of times they are just pushed to help hype the game up for fans. If you’re talking to someone who is trying to establish their position based on one of these stories, you’re probably talking to an amateur.

Media personalities are not sports bettors.

They are not trained to find value and identify what is and what is not a good bet. They are trained and paid to get you excited and amped up for a game. If you’re talking to someone who is letting this influence their betting decisions, you’re talking to an amateur.

You’ll especially see this with underdog and comeback stories. Try and identify if the person you are talking to is just excited about the story or if it played a big role in their decision-making process. Sure, it should play some role at times, but it should never be the cornerstone of the strategy behind a pick.

They Use Outlandish Statistics

Out of everything on this list, this is my favorite. If you are talking to someone who starts spouting off statistics that really have no bearing on the outcome of the current game, you’re talking to an amateur. I really don’t care if every time a team plays on Wednesdays in their gold uniforms, and it’s after an election they win. That is a worthless stat that is only being pumped out by the media and stat folks to entertain. It should have no place in your betting systems and strategies whatsoever.

The reason this is my favorite is that I know these people spent a lot of time memorizing these statistics to prepare to argue their point. While I respect their effort, it’s always fun to let them know they are way off base. This would be like spending hours studying algebra for a history test. Kudos to you for learning all of that, but it’s worthless here.

Make sure that the statistics they are using actually have an outcome on the game at hand.

If they’re talking about the last twelve years they played, that only matters if the teams were mostly the same and even then, there are other conditions that have probably changed. If they start talking about weird conditions that don’t affect the game, such as the day of the week or the weather, this is another red flag that you’re talking to an amateur.

Again, I think these stats are fun, and they have a great place in entertainment. But, if someone is parading them around as a reason for making a bet on a certain team, they are certainly an amateur.

The Wrap-Up

These are all incredible ways to identify the person you are talking to as a sharp sports bettor or someone who is still in the kiddie leagues. While this is important for winning ego battles, it’s also important if you’re considering taking a recommendation from someone. If you can quickly identify that they’re clueless, you can save yourself the time and money by not taking a pick from someone who doesn’t really understand betting.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t at least listen to their point of view. A blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then. Also, sports betting is a lot about making bets at the right time based on how the betting lines move. How do the lines move? They move based on how the general betting public bets. What better way to know where the general betting public’s minds are at than listening to them talk about their picks?

You may be able to identify what is resonating with people and what is not and see when you think they may pounce on something. This could help you to know whether you should place a bet now or wait a bit for the line to move to a more favorable position to you.

Remember, just because you’re listening to them does not mean that you have to take their advice, and just because they’re amateurs does not mean they don’t have something useful you can use.
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