Sports Gambling Strategy

From the post I linked earlier (question from The Blue Horseshoe):

2. am19psu .. why do you think there isnt any decent lit. on sports gaming while I alone have 30+ poker theory books

The obvious answer is it's a lot easier to beat a random donkey at poker than it is to beat a professionally run sports book. That said, some attention has been paid to it, both by gamblers and academics. However, I'm not sure a successful strategy has ever been developed. Certainly, nothing has ever been published with as much mainstream success as card counting in blackjack or "power poker" in Hold 'Em and other no limit games.

I've been of the opinion that VegasWatch and MoneyLine, and to a lesser extent myself, are at the forefront of publicly developing a sports wagering strategy that is quantitative and repeatable. Maybe I'm blowing a little bit too much sunshine up our tails, but I honestly believe we are laying the groundwork for some good analytical research. I know I am not going to find the answer because I am 27 and have a real job, but there are smart people with more time on their hands that are going to stumble across ML's site and start thinking.

Contrarian strategy isn't a new idea, but the ability to employ the concept is greater than ever. With the internet, there is a lot of information out there prior to games. Whether it is consensus information, quantitative predictions, like Pomeroy or Football Outsiders, line movement statistics or even message boards, everything the contrarian gambler could want is at our fingertips.

In the old days, you really had to know the sport you were wagering on to spot a trap line. Squeeky is an example of this type of gambler. When he was playing every sport, he knew intuitively when the books were trying to attract action to a certain side. And this is still true. I can spot a good deal of the trap lines the books set in college football. But now I have a way to back up my ideas quantitatively. Before the internet, unless you knew a bookie, you couldn't get that kind of knowledge. And even then, you couldn't publish literature telling people to befriend a bookie.

Who knows, maybe we'll all end up going broke before we become truly successful, but I'm guessing that somebody, maybe (probably?) not us, figures it out. It's not going to be easy to learn how to do. Like other gambling strategies, it will take commitment and intelligence to make it work properly, and not everyone will be able to get it, but those that do will make sports wagering an investment strategy or a job, not unlike poker. In my opinion, it's only a matter of time.

Of course, even if we or somebody else figures it out, there will be the question of whether people will be allowed to use it. I tend to think they will, at least at small limits. This is unlike card counting in blackjack, where the events being bet on are less dependent on one another. A good card counter can clean out the house in blackjack. With sports gambling, by taking the anti-public side, contrarians are providing a kind of insurance to the risk and variance the books take on by setting a trap line. If people are betting 10 dimes a game and becoming a consistent winner, it wouldn't shock me to see books turn away their business, but at smaller limits, I wouldn't be surprised if books welcomed the contrarian's action.

This post has been more of a stream of thoughts based off The Blue Horseshoe's question, but it is obviously something I've thought about before. I guess the future will tell whether I am full of crap or forseeing where this is heading.


adam said...

If you include the internet as ("literature"), there is quite a lot of it on sports gambling strategy. It's just that 99.9% of it is unreliable.

Whereas in Poker it's okay to be publicly recognized because the casinos don't lose money from them, they are welcomed and they bring in more action for them. Hence all the books. But a true sharp is not going to want the limelight/public recognition due to the obvious reasons.