How to Win Consistently at Sports Betting

Winning at Sports Betting

Is there any other way to be a winning sports bettor than by grinding out profits on a consistent basis?

I suppose that a few gamblers may be able to use a combination of betting systems involving larger and larger bets, or a few big games a year, to turn a profit, but these tactics involve a great deal of risk.

Many gamblers double their bets after losses and try to make a profit by guessing right and getting a win before they run out of money. This works fine until they hit a long losing streak and have their entire bankroll wiped out.

Gamblers that bet a small amount on several games and then place a few large bets on games they think are locks run the risk of an upset on a big game costing them all of their profit and more.

The path that most sports bettors take to making long-term profits is figuring out a way to profit on a consistent basis. Consistent profits and wins help you manage your bankroll better and plan ahead for what you can do with your profits.

While it’s easy to see why most people agree that consistent is better, it leads to the question of how to win consistently at sports betting.

This is the question that every sports bettor is looking for an answer to. And it isn’t an easy answer to find.

Why Consistent Winning Is So Hard

Very few gamblers are able to win on a consistent basis. The main reason for this is because of the vig charged by the bookmakers. If you didn’t have to pay vig, you could flip a coin and break even in the long run.

To break even, you need to win 52.38% of your spread bets when you pay $110 to win $100. If you’re fortunate enough to place bets at $105 to win $100, you have to win 51.2% of your spread bets to break even.

Here’s an example of how much the vig on your wagers costs you.

If you make 50 bets at $110 to win $100 and win 25 of them, you lose $250. If you divide this by the 50 bets, you lose an average of $5 per wager. This means that with the vig, you still lose even if you win half the time.

Every bet you make with the sportsbook has a built-in vig. The money lines don’t show it the same way, but they have a charge built in. You can see this by the difference in the plus and minus numbers on money lines.

Here’s an example:

  • Miami + 350
  • Carolina – 450

If the bookmaker offered the money line with no vig, the plus and minus number would be the same. In this case, it would be + 350 and – 350, or + 450 and – 450.

You also see money lines at – 110 and – 110, and this isn’t the same as having no vig. This is the same as betting $110 to win $100 on either side of the game. The game is even, so it’s the same as placing a spread bet with no points.

But the vig isn’t the only thing you battle in your quest for consistent wins and profits. The other problem is that the bookmakers are always trying to figure out how winning bettors pick games and eliminate easy profits by adjusting their evaluation methods and the way they set lines.

The bookmakers are the side of the sports betting market that tends to create consistent profits, not the sports bettors.

The Good News

The good news for sports bettors is that the bookmakers are more interested in making a profit than eliminating your ability to win on a consistent basis. As long as they can find someone to bet on the opposite side of a game than you, they don’t care who wins.

Here’s an example

In an upcoming NBA game, Cleveland is playing at New York and is favored by five. This is shown as Cleveland – 5, and you have to bet $110 to win $100.

If you place a bet of $550 to win $500 on Cleveland and give five points, and another bettor places a bet of $550 on New York to win and gets the five points, the bookmaker locks in a profit of $50.

When Cleveland wins, you get back your $550 and $500 from the losing New York bettor, and the book keeps the other $50. When New York wins, you lose $550, and the book only pays out $500 of it to cover the winner.

Bookmakers want to have balanced books, so when they set lines and sometimes adjust them, the main goal is to make the lines at a point where it encourages an equal amount of betting action on each side of a game.

The reason this is good news is because the line that generates equal action on each side of a game isn’t always an accurate prediction of the outcome of the contest. Once again, it’s important to remember that the books don’t care about setting lines that accurately predict results.

How to Win Consistently

This is where winning sports bettors are able to find consistent profits. They find games that have lines that don’t agree with what should happen in a game. This is called finding value.

This is easy to say, but hard to do. You have to learn how to evaluate games in a way that can accurately predict future results, and you need to be able to do it well enough to show a profit.

You learned earlier that in order to make a profit you have to win more than 52.38% of your bets. Because of this, let’s work with a goal of winning 53% of your bets.

This means that out of every 100 games or contests you place wagers, on you need to win 53. This doesn’t seem like a big jump, because you know that you can pick games at random and win 50 out of 100.

So you need to be able to find enough games that offer value to win three more games out of 100. This is only 3%, so it can be done.

If you win 53% of your bets, you won’t be making much money unless you’re betting a large amount of money per game, but at least it’s a consistent profit.

With the amount of statistics and media coverage available today and the fact that the books are more interested in creating profits than good lines, I’m going to work with the idea that winning an extra 3% of your games is realistic.

So how exactly do you do it?

How to Find Value

The first thing you need to do is get a few things straight mentally. You aren’t going to flip a coin on 97 games and work extra-hard to find three games that offer value. You’re going to look for 100 games that look like they offer value and only bet on them.

It doesn’t matter if it takes a month or a year to find 100 games that offer value; you aren’t going to make a single bet that isn’t a value pick.

The odds are high that when you start, you’re not going to be very good at evaluating games for value. You’re going to make many mistakes, and the fact is that even if you do a good job, many games aren’t going to work out like you expect.

Sporting events are played by human beings and in conditions that are far from perfect. Humans have a tendency to mess up everything they touch. Why would sporting events be any different than everything else in life?

This means that you can do everything right and handicap a game down to the temperature on the field or court and know everything about the extended family of each player and still end up wrong about a game.

Over time, you need to learn from every matchup that you evaluate and see what you do right and where you might be able to improve. Often you won’t know immediately, because anything can happen in a single game.

But as you accumulate results over time, you should be able to see what works and what doesn’t. As you learn, you adjust your handicapping and refine it. Winning sports bettors never stop learning and trying to improve.

The best way to learn is to look for things that look like they do a good job of predicting performance. Then track these things until you figure out if the cause and effect is real or not.

As you find more things that work, you add them to other things that work, and when you find things that don’t work, you try to figure out why and stop using them.

I realize that this isn’t exactly what you want to hear, but the truth is that you can’t buy or find an exact step-by-step winning formula for sports betting. You have to develop your own winning systems and models and keep tweaking them for as long as you place bets.

Become the Expert

If you want to win consistently when betting on sports, you need to become the expert on whatever you choose to bet on. This means that when you start, you need to concentrate on one sport. It’s even better to concentrate on a small part of one sport.

If you like baseball, instead of specializing in MLB betting, concentrate on becoming the best AL East sports bettor. The smaller the number of players and teams you concentrate on, the better your chances are of becoming the expert.

I’m not talking about becoming the expert on ESPN. I’m talking about working hard and learning more than anyone in the world about the teams you bet on. Notice that I didn’t say “an expert.” I said “the expert.”

This might seem like a strong statement, but if you want to be a consistent winner when betting on sports, this is the only attitude you can have. If you aren’t willing to accept that you need to become the expert, then you should just go play the slot machines.

Is it going to be easy? It’s going to be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. But when you start turning your knowledge into consistent profits, it’s going to be worth it.

I recommend starting with a small NCAA conference and become the expert on all of their football or basketball teams. Tap into the media covering each team and build a database of every statistic you can get.

The lines for small-conference games are usually sloppier than the big conferences and professional sports, so it’s easier to find value if you’re the expert.

You can get good enough at this level to be able to see games that have lines that are several points off of your evaluations. Once you reach this point, the biggest problem you face is being able to get enough money down on the games.

Pay Less Vig

In an earlier section, you learned that you need to win 52.38% of the time to break even paying $110 to win $100, but only need to win 51.2% of the time when you pay $105 to win $100. From this, it’s easy to see that any time you can pay less vig, it improves your results.

Finding opportunities to make wagers with reduced vig is one of the most important things that you can do to help you make consistent sports-betting profits. This includes finding bookmakers that offer lower vig and thinking outside the box and finding a few ways to place bets with no vig.

The first thing to do is shop different bookmakers for reduced vig opportunities. Some books run lower vig on a regular basis and others have special deals that run from time to time. Take advantage of all of these opportunities.

You can even ask the sportsbook where you place most of your bets if you can pay reduced vig. They might say no, but you won’t know if you don’t ask.

Here’s how much more money you win over 100 games at $105 to win $100 over paying $110 to win $100 if you win 53% of the games:

100 games at $110 have a total cost of $11,000. On the 53 wins, you get back $11,130. This is a profit of $130.

100 games at $105 have a total cost of $10,500. On the 53 wins, you get back $10,865. This is a profit of $365.

This is over 2.8 times more profit on the same number of games and wins.

What happens if you placed the bets with no vig?

100 games at $100 have a total cost of $10,000. On the 53 wins, you get back $10,600. This is a profit of $600.

As you can clearly see, finding reduced-vig opportunities leads directly to more money in your pocket.

Can you think of any ways to make bets without paying vig?

Remember that the bookmakers are in the profit business, so they probably don’t offer many opportunities for no-vig bets.

The two ways you can make bets with no vig are betting exchanges and private betting networks.

Betting exchanges don’t usually offer bets that don’t cost anything because most of them charge a fee based on winning bets. But often these fees are less than the vig charged by bookmakers, so they can offer an opportunity to pay lower vig. Betting exchanges also have a few other challenges, but they’re worth looking into if you have access.

Though I don’t know of any exchanges set up to pay a set access fee, the model would offer an opportunity to place bets with a low overall fee if the exchange could attract enough bettors.

A private betting network is one that you create or find that has a group of sports bettors that place wagers within the group. The problem with this is that you can’t always find someone in the group who’s willing to take the other side of a game that you want to bet on.

Finding a private betting network is difficult, so many bettors attempt to build their own. You can start by talking to other people you know who bet on sports and by always looking for people you know or work with that might place occasional wagers on sporting events.

Even if you can only place 10% of your bets with no vig, it makes a big difference in your bottom line. If you can place 10 bets out of 100 with no vig and 40 with reduced vig, you effectively increase your profits without improving your handicapping skills at all.

Find Better Lines

The next thing you can do is find better lines. The lines offered by bookmakers vary by location and in many instances get adjusted as the games get closer. Once you evaluate games, you should look for the best possible line.

In some cases, you might be able to find lines on both sides of a game that might offer value. Though this is a risky play when you have to pay vig, if the game ends exactly like you predict and you can place a bet on each side with two different lines, you can get a big profit.

Here’s an example

You evaluate an NFL game and predict the home team will win by three points. When you check the bookmakers, you find an opportunity to place a bet on the home team and only give 2 ½ points, and at a different book you can get the underdog and 3 ½ points.

If you bet $110 to win $100 on each side and the home team wins by exactly three, you secure a profit of $200. But if the game ends with any other difference, you lose $10.

If you do a good job predicting final score differences, this can be profitable, but it’s not easy. You only need to be right once out of every 19 times or better for a long-term profit, so you can evaluate these opportunities as they come up.

But you don’t have to work both sides of a game to improve your long-term results. Simply by shopping for the best available line, you can win more games and push a few games that you would’ve lost.

Here’s an example
You handicap an upcoming NFL game with Miami at Carolina and predict Carolina will win by 10 or more. You check multiple bookmakers and find lines of Carolina at – 8 ½, – 9, and – 9 ½. In this case, you place your bet where you only need to give 8 ½ points.

If the game ends with Carolina winning by 9, you win the game, instead of pushing if you had bet at – 9 or losing if you had bet at – 9 ½.

Over the course of a season, making smart betting choices like this can help you win a few more games. In some cases, finding a better line might win the extra three games you need to win to go from 50 wins out of 100 to 53.

Tying It All Together

The fact is that you only need to do three things to win consistently at sports betting. You need to find value, pay as little vig as possible, and find the best lines. When you combine these three things, your chances of winning consistently go up a great deal.

Two of these things, paying reduced vig and finding better lines, don’t require any handicapping ability. No matter what level of skill you currently have at finding value, you need to start doing these two things immediately.


Now that you know how to win consistently at sports betting, all you need to do is start using what you just learned. Start looking for value, and test things that look like they might work. Eliminate the things that don’t work and keep building on the things that do.

Combine this with smart betting choices, and you can quickly learn how to win an extra three games out of every 100 you bet on. This is the way to become a consistent winning sports bettor.

About the Author
Shaun Stack profile picture
Shaun Stack
Shaun Stack has authored dozens of casino blogs and joined our team in 2022. He enjoys playing any casino game but is particularly fond of Blackjack and Texas Hold'em. Also, he likes betting on sports, especially the NFL. Shaun is a native of Kansas City, but now lives in Pennsylvania and is an avid PA sports fan.

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