Essentials of Sports Betting – What Are We Up Against?

If you’re reading this article, you clearly have more than a passing interest in betting sports. Whether it’s the thirst for action, the challenge of handicapping, or something more there, the motivation and goals remain unchanged: to win more money betting on sports. Our article series will explore the “Essentials of Sports Betting” starting with the most basic fundamental concepts progressing to more advanced betting topics.

What Are We Up Against?

We’ll assume you already have an understanding of the basic mechanics of sports betting. What a point spread is, how you bet on a game, the “vig” etc.

Let’s start with this number: 52.38%, arguably the most important number in all of sports. This is the winning percentage you need to break even betting against the traditional -110 juice. Simply put, winning 53 out of 100 bets (assuming every bet is the same amount) will turn you a modest profit.

Below is the simple calculation for converting prices of -110 to the equivalent “break even” winning percentage.

You can use this to see winning percentage needed with different prices...which just happens to be perfect as we approach the marathon that is baseball.

For favorite prices (ie, -110, -105, -120, etc.), take the moneyline and divide it by itself minus 100.

Using the standard -110 prices on points spreads:
= 52.38%

Should you find a point spread with a dog price (ie +105), you then take 100 and divide it by the price plus 100.
100/(105 +100)
= 48.78%

Ok fine, we’ve bored you with math, so what does all this mean?

The novice’s initial reaction is, “I only have to win around 53%-54% of the time to profit betting on sports?! That’s easy.” In the short term, this is very attainable and even winning percentages of 60% or better are possible over short periods – but over the long haul, a 60% winning percentage is that white unicorn. Every successful handicapper, sports bettor, and betting syndicate that we have heard comment on this topic says that hitting just 55% to 58% of your bets puts you in the elite stratosphere, while anything above that is deity-like.

Need better perspective? If you go 10-10 for every 20 wagers (50%), you will be a lifetime loser betting on sports. However, if you go 11-9 for every 20 wagers (55%), you will be a lifetime winner, rubbing shoulders with the sharpest of the sharp.

As you can see, the margin for error is small, but winning is attainable. You must understand what we as sports bettors are up against. Understand that a winning percentage of 52.38% means creating the foundation for the development of a strategy to accomplish all of your sports betting goals. Understand and respect the math required to “beat your man,” and you will have a chance to do just that.

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