Being Realistic

Football Betting: Being Realistic

By Loot, Football Handicapper,

Prior to even stepping into a sportsbook or opening an online account, we should always take inventory of our expectations. We need to make sure they are realistic. If our expectations are out-of-whack, it will poison everything that happens from there. A big part of success at football wagering is being able to keep your expectations in-check.

Even the professionals have bad times in this business. People have this vision of successful sports bettors as guys who are winning almost all of their bets, magicians who ride in the back of limos with champagne and caviar. It’s a lot less glamorous. If you’re winning 58% of your bets over a long-haul, you are doing really good in this business. That’s not a number that is likely to inspire much awe.

So you’re not going to win every week. There might be stretches where it isn’t going well. For those in the know, they realize it’s a steady grind–a painstaking road to simply be a little over the .500 mark. In that mix are winning and losing weekends, but a certain steadfastness on the part of the “pro” bettor that allows him to hang in there and pull profits slowly.

The worst thing that can happen in a lot of cases is for a bettor to have a lot of initial success. They hit the ground running and figure it’s always going to be like that. When they reach the bumpy part of the road that awaits all football betting men, they are less-equipped to handle it. Their expectations ballooned up and the bubble burst, leaving them in the dust.

Having high hopes and a level of excitement when beginning to bet on football is fine. To think you are some scary genius who is going to pulverize the book for a lifetime is not. It doesn’t work that way–regardless of how well you might be doing at the moment. Success can be a scary thing for those ill-prepared to handle it. In a lot of ways, success poisons more bettors than simply losing bets.

There are betting men out there who become intoxicated by even brief moments of success. We’ve probably all had friends who after 3-4 good weeks betting football are now seriously considering themselves professionals. They see this as a new job. And then whatever pixie dust they had floating around in their heads disappears and they are sent crashing down to reality. Contrast that mindset with the guy whose expectations are in-line.

If a pro can pull 60% even in a season where he’s really hot, he’s still losing 40% of his bets. All he is trying to do is pull the string and have the curtains move in the direction he wants a little more often than it doesn’t. When a bad weekend or stretch of them ends in losing fashion, the guy with reasonable expectations can shake it off and chalk it up to just being the nature of the beast. The guy who quit his job to be football bettor after 6 good weeks is more likely to unravel after a bad run.

For most of us, both examples are extremes. We are not a professional bettor nor are we gambling degenerates with issues of self-delusion. We’re somewhere in the middle–guys trying to make an extra buck. We realize the guys who are behind making the lines are the real pros and we’re just sheep who are being led to the slaughter at a 98% rate. We know our limitations and how easy it is to become just another casualty lost in the world of football betting.


A big problem for a lot of guys is a sense of entitlement. They feel that success in football betting is something they have coming to them. After all, they’re the guys who know more about the game than all their friends. When watching a game, they are the ones making the most stimulating remarks. They’re big shots on the football forums and dominate fantasy leagues. They naturally feel they can use their football wits to slug it out with the bookie and come out with a profit.

As we all know, it doesn’t work that way. You could know enough about football to become an ESPN analyst and that gets you nowhere in the world of football wagering. You don’t see bookies running for cover over picks made by the “Swami” or Lee Corso. We realize that becoming part of the 2% that makes it at football betting in the long-run takes a special breed and it requires an awful lot of time and results to crack into that upper pantheon.