Popular Sports Betting Beliefs

There are many commonly held beliefs about sports betting, not all of which are true. Sometimes things are believed just because they are repeated often enough. For example, there are plenty of people that say it simply isn't possible to win money from betting on sports. That doesn't mean it's true though (and it's not even close to being true), yet some people believe it is because they've heard it so many times.

This doesn't mean you should dismiss all the commonly held beliefs of course, as some of them are indeed true. For example, it's quite common to believe that the bookmakers have an advantage over their customers. They absolutely do, and successful sports betting is all about learning how to overcome that advantage.

In this article we look at a few of the particularly popular beliefs, and discuss whether or not they are true.

The Bookmakers Always Win

This is true, with one important caveat. The bookmakers always win in the long run, but not necessarily on each and every betting market they offer. They don't always get their books as perfectly balanced as they would like, which means the wrong result can cost them money. It's quite possible for a bookmaker to have a losing day if a few results go against them.

Although the bookmakers do win money over time, it's important to recognize the reasons why. A lot of people think it's because they have an advantage that can't be overcome, which is not true. They certainly set their odds in their favor, but it is entirely possible to overcome their advantage if you know what you're doing.

The real reason why the bookmakers always win is simply because so many bettors don't really know what they're doing. A lot of people bet primarily for a bit of fun, without really putting a huge amount of thought into the wagers they place, and most of them are net losers in the long run. There are plenty of people that take their betting more seriously, but many of them make frequent mistakes and don't make much money, if anything at all.

It is definitely possible for anyone to make money out of sports betting. However, the fact is that there are very few people that put in the required time and effort to do so. This is why the bookmakers do always win money, not because they can't be beaten.


You Never See A Poor Bookmaker

This is one of the most quoted sayings related to sports betting. It has largely been true in the past, but it has become less so for a variety of reasons. Even when winning money from their customers, some bookmakers are struggling to cover all their operational costs.

The bookmaking industry is very competitive, marketing costs are high, and margins are low. Bettors have also, on the whole, become a lot more knowledgeable about betting in recent years. Most of them still lose overall, but they tend to lose more slowly and are more educated about things such as shopping around for the best odds and lines.

These things all combine to make it hard for bookmakers to turn an overall profit, particularly the small ones. The big bookmakers are still making money, but there are more than a few smaller ones who are operating at a loss or close to it. Therefore, on balance, we'd say it is no longer strictly true that you never see a poor bookmaker.


Sports Betting Is All Luck

This is, quite simply, nonsense. Playing the lottery is all luck, and so are many other forms of gambling. Sports betting is not though. Luck can certainly play a part, and frequently does, but the simple fact is that there is a great deal of skill involved in sports betting.

The best sports bettors in the world don't consistently win money because they are lucky. They win because they make the right wagers, at the right times, for the right reasons. They develop strategies that work for them, and put in the time and effort to analyze their betting and carry out any research required. They manage their bankrolls, control their emotions, and stay disciplined.


Bookmakers Limit Winning Accounts

Bookmakers are, of course, in business to make money. They have no obligation to take bets from anyone, and they are quite within their rights to limit the bets they take from proven winners. Obviously this can be very frustrating if it happens to you, but you should take it is a compliment. If your betting account is restricted or limited it means you are doing something right.

The bookmakers are not as quick to limit accounts as people think though. They will typically only place restrictions on your account if you are winning very consistently, or if they think you are "arbing" (taking advantage of varying odds at different bookmakers to guarantee a profit). They are very unlikely to limit your account just because you land a couple of big wins.

There are some things you can do to prevent your account being limited, particularly when betting online. You can spread your bets around a few different sports betting sites, as you are less likely to get marked as a consistent winner if your betting volume is low. You can also place some silly bets which are very unlikely to win every now and then, as this will suggest you are maybe not such a smart bettor.


The Odds Reflect Value

The odds of any given selection do reflect its value, so this statement is true. However, it's important to recognize that odds are not the only thing that determines value. It's not uncommon for people to believe that a selection is good value simply because the odds are high, which is not true. Equally, it is not true that a selection is poor value just because the odds are low.

If you were offered 1,000/1 on the moon turning purple tomorrow, you wouldn't waste your money. There is no chance that it's going to happen, and even the chance of winning $1,000 for every $1 staked doesn't make this a good value bet.

By the same token, if you were offered 1/25 on the moon not turning purple tomorrow you'd probably take the bet. You'd only win $1 for every $25 staked, but there is plenty of value as it's a bet you can be very confident of winning.

In summary, odds do reflect value – but only in combination with other factors.


Value Is Everything In Betting

This is a tough one, as value is very important in betting. If you only ever place good value wagers then you should win money in the long run, in theory at least. However, on balance we would say it is not correct to say that value is everything. This is because value is ultimately subjective in sports betting.

When playing roulette, you know that you have exactly a 1 in 37 chance of winning a bet on a single number (1 in 38 on an American wheel). The bet pays 36 to 1, so you know there is no value. If it paid 40 to 1, you would know there is value. However, in sports betting it's impossible to determine the exact probability of any particular outcome.

If a bookmaker set the odds on Novak Djokovic to win the US Open at 5/1, there would be value if you believed that the probability of Djokovic winning is greater than 20%. You couldn't accurately measure that probability though; it would be a judgment call. Your view might be that a bet on Djokovic represents value, but others might view things differently.

Therefore, we don't think it's right to say that value is everything in betting. Its importance is without question, but there are other factors to consider as well.