To most sports gamblers, a professional bettor seems to have a perfect life. They wager on sports for a living, make their own hours, and earn serious profits.
That said, professional sports gambling may seem like a glorious career. However, it actually involves a long and slow climb to the top.
This guide discusses the realistic points of the path towards becoming a success when betting on sports. It also covers the small edges and long hours that gamblers must put it into turning pro.
Professional Sports Bettors Deal With Small Edges
When the general population envisions an expert sports bettor, they think of somebody who makes thousands of dollars with every wager.
They probably also picture a gambler who just can’t seem to lose night after night. The reality, though, is much different than this.
Instead, they have a small edge that they exploit through large bets.
Many sports gamblers consider themselves successful if they win 50% of their wagers at -110 odds. Of course, gamblers can win more far more bets against the sportsbooks if they back heavy favorites (e.g. -300 or better).
But -110 is a nice measuring stick for how successful you are in terms of win-loss percentage. Even if you win 50% of the time at these odds, though, you still won’t be making profits.
After all, you need to take the juice into account. A bookmaker takes 10% from the losing side in a -110 wager, meaning a 50% win rate won’t get it done.
Some handicappers claim they correctly guess over 60% of their sports betting picks. However, no handicapper or professional sustains such a win rate in the long run.
At best, one can only expect to be successful on 55% of their bets long term. This win rate certainly isn’t the 80% mark that many would envision for a pro.
You Can’t Expect to Win Big With a Small Bankroll
You won’t get very far if you have a 53% to 55% win rate and are only placing $10 bets. You can’t even earn a dollar profit from each wager at this rate.
You need to exploit your long-term edge with big bets in order to make serious profits.
Here’s an example on how much you might win as a lower-level pro:
- You place $2,000,000 worth of bets throughout the year.
- You win 54% of your wagers at -110 odds.
- 2,000,000 x 0.54 = $1,080,000 in winnings
- 2,000,000 x 0.46 = $920,000 in base losses
- 920,000 x 0.1 (juice) = $92,000 in juice paid
- 920,000 + 92,000 = $1,012,000 in total losses
- 1,080,000 – 1,012,000 = $68,000 profit on the year.
Unless you strictly bet point spreads, most profitable opportunities that you find aren’t going to be at exactly -110 odds. But I keep referring to these odds because they make for the simplest examples.
You also need to capitalize with large wagers as well. You can only place these big bets if you have the bankroll to do so.
You Must Build Your Skills & Bankroll
Sports gambling definitely isn’t something that you jump right into and immediately conquer. Instead, it requires you to put long hours into the matter.
You’re most likely not going to win right away. Therefore, you want to study general sports betting strategy while slowly increasing your bankroll at the same time.
You also need to work on your handicapping skills.
This way, you won’t lose too much money if your betting skills aren’t yet up to par.
All the while, you should also be slowly adding to your bankroll. This process involves saving money and using it to build your gambling funds.
You probably don’t have $50,000 or $100,000 just sitting around for gambling purposes. But you can build up to this amount through a combination of steady investments and improving your skills.
Eventually, You Need to Increase Your Bet Sizes
I highly advise that you don’t jump into sports gambling and start placing $1,000 wagers right away. Eventually, though, you want to up your bet sizes to make more money.
With a large enough bankroll, you may even theoretically earn thousands of dollars per wager.
Of course, you want that bankroll to back up those huge bets.
Otherwise, the volatility could ruin your betting career.
Therefore, you should put serious consideration into your bankroll size. Here’s an example:
- You want to place $500 bets.
- You also want a bankroll with at least 100 units to survive the volatility.
- You’ll risk 1-3 units on each match, depending upon how confident you are.
- 500 x 100 = 50,000
- You should start with at least $50,000 (100 units at $500 apiece).
Can You Grind From a Low Roller Into a Pro Bettor?
If you’re like most amateur online bettors, you’ll probably start with a $50 or $100 deposit. These amounts give you just enough money to make several bets on the games you watch.
However, you may also have aspirations of turning your small bankroll into a fortune someday.
The odds are definitely against you depositing $100 and eventually becoming a top pro. Then again, though, everybody has to start somewhere.
The reason why most sports bettors feel this way comes down to two aspects:
- They fail to put the work into strategy and handicapping.
- They exercise poor bankroll management.
Sure, everybody who sets out on the road towards professional gambling blames bad luck or external factors for their failures. In reality, though, the average bettor is lazy and impatient.
They don’t want to put an hour into handicapping a single bet. They want to put five minutes into handicapping 12 wagers and pray that they’ll win most of the bets.
Furthermore, the typical sports gambler doesn’t wish to grind their way up towards larger wagers. They want to quickly increase their bet sizes and take shots at the big time.
Long story short, it’s possible to go from a small initial deposit to becoming a professional gambler. But you also need discipline, patience, and steady investments into your bankroll.
Most gamblers aren’t willing to make these sacrifices. That said, it can sometimes feel impossible grinding up towards pro status.
Tips for Starting on the Path to Becoming a Pro
As discussed throughout this post, you’re not going to become a professional bettor overnight. But you can at least get started on the right path by following the tips below.
Save Up for a Starting Bankroll
A $100 bankroll isn’t going to help you become a professional gambler. Even a $1,000 bankroll won’t do the trick.
You need a sizable bankroll so that you can make large bets and survive potential losing streaks. The amount needed all varies based on how much you want to get out of sports betting.
Of course, you don’t have to put your betting activities on hold just because you don’t have a small fortune.
Instead, you can learn the ropes by making small bets while slowly adding to your bankroll on the side. If you save up enough money, you’ll eventually be able to become a serious pro.
Break Your Bankroll Down Into Units
Most professionals don’t look at their bets in terms of dollars. Instead, they break their bankrolls down into units.
If you normally wager $100 per bet, then your unit size will be $100.
Of course, you’ll likely bet more than $100 when you feel extremely confident about an outcome. Therefore, you might risk 2-3 units in these situations.
In any a case, here’s an example on how to break your bankroll down into units:
- You have a bankroll worth $75,000.
- You want 100 units.
- 75,000 / 100 = 750
- Each unit size will be worth $750.
Narrow Your Focus
You might be tempted to bet on multiple markets. After all, wagering on a variety of sports is more entertaining than just one or two.
But the goal here is mastery. You stand a much better chance of making profits someday if you truly know a market.
Going further, you should also pay attention to a specific division rather than constantly trying to scout an entire league. If you know one division extremely well, then you’ll be an expert on matches involving that division.
Never Stop Studying
Sports betting is fun because you may never truly master it. You could dedicate a lifetime to this pursuit and still get fooled by the bookies sometimes.
That said, you have lots of room to grow with betting. If you truly dream of becoming a professional, you should constantly be studying general strategies and handicapping tips.
As long as you never stop researching advice, you’ll improve over time. Improve enough, and you could very well make a nice living off of sports gambling.
Sports gambling may seem like a quick path to riches for skilled bettors. But in reality, it’s a long journey that involves lots of planning and patience.
You can’t go from zero to 60 and expect to win big right away. Instead, you should grind your way up the ladder while slowly adding money to your bankroll.
With this approach, you can improve your handicapping efforts while also building your gambling funds. You should also steadily increase your bet sizes—especially as you develop an advantage.