Our planet has successfully completed yet another journey around the sun, and with billions worldwide now ringing in 2019 in style, the time has come to make New Year’s resolutions.
More than most, American sports bettors have reason to rejoice as 2019 dawns, thanks to last year’s historic ruling by the United States Supreme Court. When the Court ruled 6-3 to repeal a federal ban on sports betting, 49 states – Nevada was “grandfathered” in and exempted under the law – are now eligible to legalize and regulate sports betting.
And this isn’t a mere theory either, as seven states already launched legal sportsbooks throughout the second half of 2018 – Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania.
That list is expected to double, or more, throughout 2019, as the early movers provide proof of concept for neighboring states.
Legal sports betting has also been a boon for operators like MGM Resorts International, which has partnered with all the major professional leagues to form marketing and branding deals.
All things considered, 2019 should be a banner year for sports bettors living stateside, so why not make a few resolutions specific to your favorite hobby? Setting goals, breaking bad habits, and pushing yourself to be better are universal benefits, so sports bettors everywhere have every reason to make – and stick to – the 12 New Year’s resolutions listed below:
1 – Branch Out into Different Sports
Most bettors tend to specialize in one particular sport, concentrating all of their research and analysis on a single league or game.
And while this focused philosophy can definitely pay dividends in the long run, it can be both entertaining and educational to become a well-rounded bettor.
First and foremost, the seasonality of sports scheduling ensures singular bettors only have a few months out of the year to work with. If you’re an NFL expert, for example, your window for clearing a profit on the pigskin will close in February when Super Bowl 53 is finished. And even if you bet football in general, the combined NFL and NCAA seasons only last through the Fall and Winter.
Baseball bettors get the Spring and Summer, while basketball fans have Summer and Fall available. But once those seasons have come and gone, single sport specialists are left with a barren landscape on which to bet.
For that reason, I’ve always preached a more balanced approach when it comes to digesting and wagering on sports. To truly give yourself the best chance of beating the books and turning a profit by this time next year, you’ll need to know the lay of the land for the “Big Four” professional leagues in North America – the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL.
And that’s at the very least…
Adding the collegiate level to your calculus immediately brings hundreds of additional contests to the table. Throw in niche sports like soccer, golf, and tennis, and you’ll suddenly have an endless supply of action available 365 days out of the year.
Before you go running off to lay down hard-earned money on a random game though, be sure to remember that old saying which cautions “fools rush in.” Nobody’s saying to bet blindly on sports or leagues you have no knowledge of – that would be a fool’s errand indeed.
To begin with, start absorbing as much information about the sport you’d like to explore. Scan the daily box scores, sign up for your cable package’s “League Pass” equivalent, and crunch as many numbers as you can.
From there, try a few “dry runs” at first, choosing a side without laying down any cash. Once you feel comfortable enough that your fake bets are winning at a 53.5 percent clip – the number needed to beat a bookmaker’s standard vig – only then should you line up for the real thing.
2 – Pay a Visit to Your Nearest Newly Legal Sportsbook
Remember that Supreme Court ruling mentioned in the introduction?
Well, the case of Murphy v. NCAA may not go down in history among the High Court’s most impactful rulings, it did manage to change the American sports betting landscape on a fundamental level.
Up until May 14, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 banned sportsbooks in every state except for Nevada. As a result of this pointless governmental overreach, the multibillion-dollar sports betting industry never disappeared – it simply shifted into the shadows.
Before the internet age, any sports betting enthusiast who lacked immediate access to Sin City was forced to book action with underground operators. These bookies could be anything from a shrewd coworker trying to make a few bucks to a Mafia-connected criminal enterprise spanning several states, and anything in between.
The arrival of the internet largely replaced back alley bookies, as bettors flocked to websites like Bovada and 5Dimes which are based offshore. But in either case, your neighborhood bookie and sites like Bovada have one thing in common – they’re still illegal.
Enter the Supreme Court, which changed all that in an instant by ruling to repeal the PASPA as an unconstitutional violation of states’ rights. Just like that, the floodgates opened, allowing mainstream corporate operators like MGM, Caesars, Boyd Gaming, Penn National, and all the rest to get in on the game.
Today you can saunter in to almost every Atlantic City casino and place a legal, regulated wager with a reputable operator. The same holds true for states like Delaware, Mississippi, West Virginia, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania, all of which have passed comprehensive sports betting legislation. And even in New Mexico, where no such legislation has been passed, an enterprising Native American tribe took advantage of its state gaming compact to launch a sportsbook at the Santa Ana Star Casino.
These legal sportsbooks aren’t limited to brick and mortar casinos or racetracks either. Major online operators like DraftKings and FanDuel – best known for popularizing the daily fantasy sports (DFS) craze a few years back – have become major players in the emerging legal American marketplaces. PokerStars has brought its BetStars online sportsbook to New Jersey and Pennsylvania, while 888 Sports is active in several newly legalized markets.
All told, American sports bettors in 2019 will have more legal sports betting options available to them than ever before.
If circumstances allow, try and find a few days to take a trip to your nearest legal sportsbook and savor the freedom secured by the Supreme Court last year.
3 – Steer Clear of Parlays and Other “Sucker” Bets
A wise man once proclaimed that there’s a “sucker born every minute,” and assuming the maxim holds water, these folks are invariably betting on parlays.
Listen, I’m no wet blanket or anything, and I’ll readily admit to splashing around on a parlay or two in my time. These inexpensive wagers offer a huge reward to risk ratio, and there’s nothing quite like sitting down to sweat the final leg of a nearly successful parlay card.
But nonetheless, I fully recognize that these bets aren’t in my best interest. They may be fun and exciting – especially as you lock in winners and near a massive return on investment – but it doesn’t take a genius to realize that parlays are definite losers over the long-term.
Don’t take my word for it though, just ask the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB), which releases Gaming Revenue Reports on an annual basis. By culling the NGCB data for Silver State sportsbook hold percentages – or the percentage of wagers kept by the house when bettors lose – the inferior nature of parlay wagers becomes quite clear.
Take a look below to see how the sportsbooks in Nevada fared when taking single wagers on football, basketball, and baseball, along with their hold percentage on parlays of all type:
Nevada Sportsbook Hold Percentage by Bet Type
|2005||3.84 percent||6.62 percent||5.63 percent||24.86 percent|
|2006||8.02 percent||7.27 percent||4.84 percent||30.89 percent|
|2007||6.25 percent||5.45 percent||4.80 percent||29.56 percent|
|2008||3.50 percent||5.89 percent||4.52 percent||31.36 percent|
|2009||4.45 percent||4.76 percent||4.38 percent||332.57 percent|
|2010||4.76 percent||4.74 percent||4.28 percent||33.50 percent|
|2011||3.30 percent||6.62 percent||3.52 percent||28.10 percent|
|2012||4.37 percent||4.91 percent||4.34 percent||23.33 percent|
|2013||4.98 percent||5.62 percent||4.27 percent||34.63 percent|
|2014||6.50 percent||4.89 percent||2.95 percent||36.83 percent|
|2015||4.86 percent||5.83 percent||4.39 percent||29.56 percent|
|All||4.72 percent||4.86 percent||3.18 percent||29.91 percent|
No, those aren’t typos, and yes, you are reading the data correctly. Over a 10-year span between 2005 and 2015, sportsbooks held less than 5 percent of your betting dollar on single wagers – but they won a whopping 29.91 percent on your parlay action.
And this isn’t a short-term sample issue either, as the same NGCB data runs all the way through 1984 with the percentages holding up across the board.
Simply put, parlays should represent only a tiny fraction of your total action. Take a shot here and there when the time calls, but shoot for a 20 to 1 ratio or higher when it comes to single wagers versus parlays.
4 – Practice Prudent Bankroll Management
The previous resolution touched on bankroll management theory, so we’ll leave this one short and sweet.
Every bet you make represents a portion of your overall gambling bankroll. To ensure long-term longevity in this highly volatile game, you must ensure that your preferred wagering “unit” – or the amount you typically fire on a play – covers only a tiny fraction of that bankroll.
Most sports betting experts and professional handicappers advise a 1 percent ratio of bets to bankroll. In other words, if you have $1,000 on hand, you should be betting in $10 units to start out. Of course, as that bankroll grows in time, you can increase your unit size accordingly. The key here is to avoid overleveraging yourself by putting all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak.
When you’re winning, it can be all too easy to take a significant chunk of change and lay it down looking for the big score. But all it takes is one bad beat – an ill-timed injury, a star player going off for the other side, or even inclement weather affecting the result – to leave you holding the bag on a huge loss.
By managing your bankroll responsibly, you’ll never be at risk of ruin based on a single outcome. In fact, it’ll take a disastrous losing streak involving dozens of losers in a row to put a dent in your bankroll. And on the other side of the coin, when you’re running good, you’re bankroll will swell to larger levels, allowing you to size up the wagering unit in kind.
5 – Don’t Wager on Your Favorite Teams
This one should be a no-brainer for any serious sports bettor, but you’d be surprised by how many people – sharps and wiseguys included – can’t help but back their beloved teams.
Ideally, sports betting should be approached through cold calculation and clean logic. You crunch the numbers, assess both sides, and put your money on whichever one provides the highest expected return. Done and done…
The only problem is, we’re all human beings and emotion easily trumps logic – especially when sports are concerned.
It might be your alma mater playing in a big bowl game, or the team for which your childhood hero suited up, but every sports bettor is susceptible to subjective plays.
Unfortunately for us, betting with the heart and not the head is a recipe for disaster. When you want a particular side to win, rather than believing they will, you’ll wind up laying money down on the wrong side more often than not.
And trust me, nothing hurts worse than watching your favorite team lose a big game, all while you’re parting ways with a pile of dough.
Indeed, a few savvy sports bettors out there advise taking the opposite approach – betting against your favorite team when the situation warrants. In this case, you’re granted a true “win-win” scenario… either your ticket cashes, or you get to cheer your team to victory.
For my money, however, avoiding plays which involve teams or sides you harbor an emotional attachment to is the way to go. Stick to the dozens of random teams which can be evaluated objectively, and leave your favorites to enjoy purely as a fan.
6 – Don’t Wager Against Hated Rivals
This is an extension of the previous resolution, but it bears repeating – try to avoid any wagering situation where emotions run high.
Let’s say you’ve sworn off any and all bets on your beloved Miami Dolphins – which is probably a good idea considering the team’s decade-long descent into mediocrity. Even so, when you size up the Sunday action for a round of NFL betting, you can’t help but pick against the New England Patriots, New York Jets, and Buffalo Bills.
These ancient rivals of the Dolphins seem to provide a perfect vehicle for a “hate bet.” You already want them to lose for the sake of season standings and playoff races, so what’s the harm in backing that desire with a little dough?
Well, as stated in the previous entry, any wager placed because of emotion instead of logic is likely to come down on the wrong side – especially if you’re a Miami fan futilely betting against the vaunted Pats dynasty.
Like I said earlier, when you remove favorites and rivals from the equation, you’ll still have upwards of 28 teams in any major pro league – and hundreds on the collegiate level – to choose from.
7 – Detach Yourself from the Result
One final extension of the idea covered above is to detach yourself emotionally from all outcomes.
It’s human nature to root for your side when a bet is pending, cheering for the positive plays and bemoaning penalties, but in the end this helps nobody. The game will play out exactly the same whether you’re watching or not, and indeed, most professional sharps don’t even sweat the result once a ticket is in hand.
Don’t get me wrong now, these pro bettors are definitely digesting as many games as possible for research purposes – they simply don’t live and die with each play, score, or final.
When you’re capable of firing on a side – heading out to the buffet for dinner, and checking the final score without feeling a thing – you’ll be much better prepared to whether the natural swings associated with sports betting.
8 – Toss the Touts Out the Window
One unfortunate consequence of legalized sports betting is the proliferation of “touts,” or the folks online who promise surefire picks and can’t miss plays.
Tout services have been around for ages, starting as magazine ads asking bettors to mail money in exchange for winners, and then evolving into telephone hotlines advertised on cheap infomercials. The modern tout plies his or her trade on the internet, and all it takes is a quick search for “sports betting plays” to pull up dozens of supposedly useful services.
The only thing is though, touts are almost always full of it. These people use arbitrary endpoints to provide seemingly savvy advice, mentioning that they haven’t lost a Wednesday college basketball bet for five weeks running, or how they’re 12-3 against the spread (ATS) backing moneyline underdogs.
What they don’t tell you about is all the losses incurred on non-Wednesday bets, or how they’re slogging through a 1-15 run taking point spread favorites.
Touts prey on the hope recreational bettors hold, tricking unsuspecting customers into paying for what amounts to a coin flip over the long run.
Dodge this danger altogether by swearing off tout services for good in 2019.
9 – Visit the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas
If you’re a “bucket list” type, and sports betting is your passion, then you might as well pay a pilgrimage to the world’s largest and most luxurious sportsbook – the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.
The Westgate casino itself isn’t much to write home about, but once you step foot inside the SuperBook, you’ll be blown away by its size and stature. Everything here is top-notch and cutting edge, including a wall-to-wall video screen board that can be toggled to give the biggest games ample space.
The staff is informative and helpful, the comps flow like water (or more likely, beer and cocktails), and every Sunday during NFL season sees the SuperBook become Sin City’s epicenter.
Plan a trip and see this place for yourself, and I can guarantee you won’t be sorry.
10 – Enter the SuperContest and Shoot for a Seven-Figure Score
One of the SuperBook’s centerpiece attractions is the SuperContest, a $1,500 buy-in NFL point spread handicapping contest like no other on the planet.
Entrants must pick five sides per week through the 17-week regular season. Covering the point spread is good for a point in the contest, pushes count for a half-point, and losses are obviously 0’fers in the standings. By season’s end, the 3,000+ players who compete in the SuperContest are whittled down to the top-100, all of whom earn a payout on their entry fee.
The minimum cashers double their money, but if you’re good enough to pick your way into the top-10, six- and even seven-figure scores await.
After a 5-0 run to close this year’s SuperContest, a player using the handle “Personal Gourmet” pocketed the grand prize of $1.4 million. And while pros definitely dominate the proceedings, several SuperContest champions over the last decade have been rank amateurs simply taking their shot – so why not take yours this year?
11 – Tip the Ticket Takers – Win or Lose
The staff manning any sportsbook counter in America are like any other service industry workers, which means they rely on tips to survive.
Their base wage might pay the bills, but sportsbook attendants need a steady flow of tips to supplement their income.
And that’s where you come in…
Don’t be the bettor who lays down $500 on several wagers, only to leave the ticket taker high and dry. Far too many players believe in cashing out only when they collect a winner, which essentially dooms the staff to a 50 percent tip rate – and that’s if the bettor is performing well.
Instead, include a small tip of a few bucks when you place your bets, and top it off with another toke upon collecting.
12 – Just Win Baby!
Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis is no longer with us, but his famous exhortation to the boys in black and silver still lives on.
This year, do your very best to make the smart plays – fading the public action, backing home dogs whenever possible, and avoiding parlays like the plague – and you’ll surely see an increase in your win rate in 2019 and beyond.
If 2018 was the year of sports betting legalization, 2019 will surely be the year of widespread adoption. The state of New Jersey is currently collecting millions of dollars in added revenue from its legal bookmakers, and those operations are turning a tidy profit to boot. This positive momentum will convince other states to join the sports betting gold rush, and according to experts at the American Gaming Association (AGA), there could be 30 legal states by this time next year.
To take full advantage of this new era, American sports bettors would be well-served to adopt a few of the resolutions above – or all of them if you’re feeling up to it. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll try something new and learn a little about yourself in the process. But in the best of cases, you’re bottom line will benefit immensely by incorporating sound strategies and helpful habits.