Betting on sports for a living? You mean some people actually make that a reality?
It’s an unfortunate but very real situation in the world of sports betting – the professional sharp is disappearing. While there still may be a few left who make their living gambling on games, the vast majority of bettors know that they’ll never make it to that level. Further, the ones with the mental capacity to pull it off typically choose an alternative path.
In this article, I’ll explain why it’s so hard to make “professional sports bettor” a career title.
1. It’s Just too Expensive (For the Bettor and the House)
If you’re a casual bettor, you know that the money you win on your best week of sports gambling is nowhere near enough to pay your bills, much less anything else outside of that.
The first problem many wanna-be sharps run into is that funding a bankroll that allows you to wager enough money to make a living is a challenge. For most, it would involve betting their entire life savings multiple times over throughout the course of the week in order to make real, livable money…and that’s assuming you actually win.
Krackomerger is the creator of a gambling app named KrackWins and was also one of the stars of a sports betting documentary series on Showtime called “Action.” The way he described the sheer amount you have to bet in order to win money was astounding. Krackomberger, when asked why it’s so hard to become a professional sports bettors, said it was because the margins of victory are just so small.
He said that was the case for all sports bettors.
“For every $100 that goes over the counter, we’re very happy with 102 or 101 coming back. I know it sounds crazy. I have to be able to bet five and six figures on a weekend in order for it to be worth a living to me.”
The idea of betting five and six figures per weekend is incomprehensible for nearly all gamblers. Not only do you have to come up with that large amount of money, but you also have to risk it over and over again. When you consider these 1-2% margins are par for the course in professional sports gambling, it’s easy to see why most just can’t quit their day job.
Many newly-legal sportsbooks have recognized that sharps bleed their books and destroy their margins (sportsbooks operate on fairly thin margins, too), and the high-dollar action is unpopular with executives. This has left pro bettors without a place to play in a way that lends itself to making a living.
And land-based books are getting more careful about dealing with high roller bettors too. A big bettor might have to spread hs or her bets across many different books to get as much action as they need.
2. The Stress Is Unsustainable
You can crunch the numbers all you want, at the end of the day, the teams and players you bet on are going to have to perform on the field, court, etc. This means that your income is in many ways out of your hands.
Of course, this doesn’t happen a good percentage of the time, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. When it comes to life as a professional sports bettor, you have to concede control and trust in your formulas to produce enough money to allow you to live.
If you’ve ever spent the last five minutes of a game biting your nails when you’ve had $30 riding on the outcome, imagine if you had your weekly salary at stake. This is an everyday reality for pro sharps and most find that the stress can only be managed for so long before it’s time to make a career change.
3. Most People Don’t Have the Mental Capacity
If your idea of a pro sports bettor is someone who spends their time drinking beers while wearing a foam finger and cheering on their team, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, most professional sports gamblers have backgrounds in law, advanced mathematics, data analytics, and similar professions that require a huge amount of intelligence and discipline.
A vast knowledge about sports isn’t necessarily a detriment, but sometimes it can lead gamblers to focus too much on the sports side and not enough on the odds. Sharps don’t make money trying to predict the outcome of a game, meaning they’re not really caught up in how LeBron James is going to matchup with Kevin Durant in Saturday night’s contest. Rather, they try to take advantage of high-value odds and high-volume plays where they’re able to win money by a slim, but more predictable, margin.
Make no mistake about it – the job might be called “gambling,” but sharps look to create a situation where they’re going to make a little bit of money consistently over time. Through complex formulas and data-driven algorithms, they’re able to set themselves up for success. The average person simply doesn’t have the time, and most importantly the intelligence, to pull this off.
4. Sportsbooks Are a Big Business Now
In today’s world of widespread gambling legalization, bookmaking has become a big, well-regulated business. That means sportsbooks have put a huge amount of resources into making sure their gambling operations remain profitable.
I touched on this briefly in the first section, but it’s worth mentioning again. The “new age” of sportsbooks has been the main driver of the disappearance of the sharps as we once knew them. Taking a multi-hundred-thousand-dollar bet is a giant liability – why mess with guaranteed profitability and get greedy?
Whereas most of your typical sports bettors have rejoiced at the sports betting revolution that’s currently taking place, it has unfortunately made sharps a dying breed.
The idea of making a living betting on sports is romantic to those who do it as a hobby.
While there are some pro sharps still floating around the corners of Las Vegas running the numbers, they’re becoming fewer and farther between each year. Somewhat ironically the reason for the fall of the pro sports bettors is simply that the business model of the industry has changed.
Time will tell if it will ever return to its old ways, but for now, most bettors, sportsbooks, and top real money betting sites are looking to keep things more casual on an individual basis.