There has been much discussion recently on how players have crushed sportsbooks during most of the NFL playoffs and the last few weeks of the regular season. Sensational headline after headline has been released about how betting sites have gotten their clocks cleaned by bettors laying the points on the favorite, but how much of this aligns with reality and to what degree are some of these mainstream headlines puff pieces to drive player intent?
A good starting point on the SBR Network is to review how the 1,500+ sports bettors performed over 17 weeks of the Beat The Prick handicapping contest; a $50,000 contest which asked participants to submit five plays per week on the point spreads and totals of NFL and College Football.
2016 BTP Member Performance
Percent: 50.14 %
A 50.14% win rate across more than 70,000 picks. This record reflects a loss at odds ranging at mostly -110, where the breakeven win rate to turn a profit is 52.4% How did these numbers compare to the 2015 Beat The Prick season, which similarly had around 1,500 participants making five picks per week?
2015 BTP Member Performance
Percent: 49.93 %
Players fared about 0.21% better this year vs. last. What's worth noting is that while these records reflect a total loss, the odds used in the contest were mostly -110 or full vig. By playing with reduced juice sportsbooks which offer better than -110 lines, players can substantially increase their expected win rate. The SBR Odds Converter calculator shows that if players had wagered at -105, the breakeven win rate becomes a dramatic 1% lower. While this may not sound like much, over the course of an NFL season, these small edges add up in a hurry and can lead to considerable savings.
Many bettors are comfortable with one sportsbook account and that's OK. But to win long term, it is important to optimize your strategy so that each wager you give yourself a chance to have the best of it, just as a Blackjack player would do well to understand basic strategy, sports bettors should fully analyze how they bet on sports and make sure no money is left on the table.
SBR Forum has a discussion board dedicated to handicapping theory and edge calculation called the Handicapper Think Tank. Whenever you're ready to jump in and join the discussion, create an SBR Forum account or sign in with Facebook, but feel free to read from a distance if you'd rather lurk and send questions on handicapping or anything sportsbook related to the SBR Mailbag at firstname.lastname@example.org.