The below article was originally published as a “My Two Cents” section of the TSP Newsletter on October 25, 2022. It is being republished as an independent article on TheSharpPlays.com for future reference. Enjoy!
I have talked a lot about strategy lately. Let’s switch gears onto another topic I think might be of interest. What it takes to make a living in this game. To me there are certain characteristics you must hold to be successful.
I love the gambling business…it really does fuel me. Some nights I head to bed around 12-1am and I am back wide awake at 5:30am (sometimes earlier as many of you know from the timestamps on my messages to you). Once my eyes open I am honestly jacked up for the day ahead. I do not drink coffee nor tea. I grab a bottle of water and off to the computer. The excitement of both the action ahead in the trading day and in the sports betting markets has me feeling like a kid at Christmas…and honestly…every single morning. Today when I got up, with the content coming off a great 7-0 performance after a rough weekend…I was fired up. I awoke at 5am before my alarm and could not fall back asleep due to the excitement for the day and the residual energy from Monday’s performance. So, here I am working on the newsletter and putting together this section before 6am. Anyway, back to the point. What does it take to be a professional bettor?
- PASSION – You have to love this business of gambling. If you are into sports betting because you want money…it’s never going to work. First and foremost, you have to love the game. Not the “game” as in the sport you are betting on, but the game of analyzing action, handicapping, beating the sportsbooks on their prices, trying to crack the codes and decipher the puzzles that are the betting markets. You have to find pleasure in locating an edge or developing a system to beat the books. It’s not that you can’t enjoy the potential income prospect of sports betting. It’s just that it cannot be in the Top 10 reasons of why you got into sports betting. When I got into sports betting it was for the money…and I continually lost what I was trying to get…money. When I got good at sports betting, the money was seen as a measurement of success…a way to keep score in my game against the book. My goal was to be an individual who could beat billion dollar companies on their terms. Little old me, using a pen and paper and making price calculations and probability assessments to derive wagers that would locate value. Looking at patterns and angles that could provide an edge. Gambling must be something you do because you love it…not because you need a way to pay the mortgage. If you are trying to pay the mortgage you will always be playing with scared money and…”scared money don’t make money!”
- Fortitude – You have to have the ability to let losses be water off a duck’s back. If you are betting daily you are going to have hundreds of losses each year. You can’t be beside yourself after a loss, a bad week, a bad month or even a bad season. If you aren’t using that energy to figure out why you lost and what you can do better…just give up.
- Work Ethic – As some of you notice by my replies and posts…I do work almost around the clock. I am usually up and on the computer around 5:30am and then turn in around or after midnight. Throughout the day I might go for a walk, but I am getting tennis alerts for in-play, checking prices when something comes to mind, monitoring the stock market for my trades, etc. I vacation all the time…do you ever notice? No, you know why…because of my work ethic to my craft. It’s not to pat myself on the back, but it shows that even when I am spending an afternoon with family at Magic Kingdom or sitting by the beach in Hawaii…I am still working the markets and the action just like if I were sitting in the bunker…and I LOVE every minute of it.
- Responsibility – You need to take ownership of the wagers you make. I am using the analytics with my own handicapping and putting together my wagers for the day. Just because I am following a betting group who is taking SMU for the 3rd time after going 0-2 does not mean the betting group caused me to lose. It’s not the betting group’s fault SMU failed to cover. I know the group was 0-2 betting SMU. I knew SMU looked awful in previous games. Yet, after knowing all that, I made the choice of my own free will to place a wager on SMU…therefore it is MY bet. When you decide to place a wager…own that YOU made the decision. If you blame me or someone else for your losses…OK…but you aren’t learning anything from those losses if you feel the reason you lost was me! Instead, look at why you made that wager…what you liked, disliked, etc. Look at how the wager went wrong. Was it bad luck or bad play? The process of assessing what caused the outcome in the wager YOU decided to take will make you a better bettor and could potentially lead to the discovery of an edge, strategy or system for future wagers! “Failure is a chance to do better next time” – Henry Ford
- Patience – We all want to take a $1000 bankroll and turn it into a $200,000 bankroll overnight…or at worst within 3 to 6 months. It just won’t work. You will be pressing too hard and betting far too aggressively. It will only be a matter of time before sports betting mathematics wipe you out as you try to achieve unreasonable returns. However, if you work hard and are patient…allowing plenty of time to achieve your goals, you can get there. My first bet at an offshore sportsbook was back in 1993. I deposited $100 at English Sports Betting (“ESB”) and wagered $5 on a four team NHL parlay. You know why I remember it…passion and love for this business has made that little wager a cherished memory. Funny…just typing that brings back some memories. I would call the 1-800 number to check prices and place bets. Nostalgia is just coursing through my veins right now as I think back to that time in my life…and there it is…PASSION. The love for this game goes beyond the money or wins and losses. Just the memory of gambling in those early days fills me with joy here at the computer…almost 30 years later! I digress. Back to patience…I was betting $5 parlays and $11 straight bets when I first started with ESB and had a 20 unit bankroll ($100). I would deposit offshore in $50 or $100 amounts…nothing more because I was a high school kid and that’s all the money I could earn. Eventually, I would get to cashing $100,000 parlays (here)…and betting more money on a single game than many people make in a year…but it took me 15 years AND A TON of effort to get there. If a know-nothing high school kid from a middle class family living in a small town could do it…so can you. I am not Billy Walters son, my parents didn’t work in the gambling business. I found something I loved (gambling) and determined that I would find a wager to achieve success doing it. It was not easy, it was wrought with countless failures along the way, but I persevered. I knew other people…human just like me…were able to make a good living betting sports…I wanted to do it too. Hell, my senior paper in high school was about the casino business…and I got an A. I’ll have to see if I have that in the vault somewhere.
- Realize You Don’t Know Everything – You have to be willing to learn along the way. Too many people come into sports betting as if they know everything. It then blocks you to new ideas. In a business that is evolving every day…you have to be prepared and open minded to learn something knew. I have been gambling since the late 80’s when I would bet $1 on a parlay ticket family members would bring home from work. In 1993 I upgraded to betting with a telephone sportsbook (ESB). I have been a winning professional bettor since 2001…yet every day I am trying to learn more from others in the industry. Some of those others are older than me, some are younger than me…doesn’t matter. Some are smarter than me in this business, some are not as smart as me…but they know a thing or two that I don’t. I am open to anything someone has to offer or discuss.
- Setting Realistic Expectations – This goes along with patience, but it is a little different. Patience just means not rushing things and understanding it will take time. Whenever you get into a business or endeavor you want to set goals to hit so you know you are moving in the right direction. If those goals are too lofty, there is too much of a chance of failure which then can cause you to get demoralized and lose your discipline. At which point the whole house comes tumbling down. Setting realistic expectations for ROI, win percentage, profit goals, etc. is important because it will allow you to see if you are moving in the right direction. Achieving those goals will keep you motivated to achieve the next set of goals and so on. What I am talking about in this section is where most bettors struggle. They see a losing month as complete failure…something is broken and it’s time to give up…things will never be good. Such a dramatic emotional u-turn comes about only when you have unreasonable expectations for what professional and profitable gambling would be for you. If you set realistic expectations you would realize that losing months will happen all the time. Get used to it if you want to be in this business for decades.
- Setting a bankroll – You need to have a dedicated fund of money that is 100% for gambling. It cannot be money that is in your checking account or a portion of your net worth across all your assets. It has to be money you intentionally set aside as disposable and there for wagering. Some professional bettors have a business entity for their wagering activities…that’s down the road if you are just starting out. For now, just get a checking account, put your bankroll in it. When you win, the money goes in. When you deposit at a sportsbook, the money goes out. It’s simple and it ensures you have a visual of your bankroll at all times. Run your gambling like a business!
Now, because of my passion for this, I literally could go on and on. There are a lot of characteristics that make a professional bettor successful. However, embracing the broad strokes above will put you ahead of 99% of the aspiring professional sports bettors that are out there today. The other 1% are all TSP followers!
Good luck in your action!
~ The Sharp Plays