In Part One of this two-part series, we defined ‘tout’ in the sports betting context and explored ‘What Exactly Is a Sports Betting ‘Tout’? In this installment, we dig deeper into the market, how to spot signs, and how to identify the best sources of information for you.
In this potential “brave new world” of sports betting, many will seek help from statistical information providers; firms that provide extensive betting data such as DonBest; analytical services, outlets that provide detailed analysis of the data; companies or individuals that offer selections for a set fee, sometimes called “touts”; public handicappers in local and national radio, and in digital or print outlets; and, finally, from entities that track the information that the first four are disseminating in the numbers marketplace.
Many sites actually perform more than one of these functions.
Making a Prudent Investment in Sports Betting Information: The Right Source(s) for You, Managing Expectations, and Sniffing Out Shady Providers
If indeed SCOTUS rules in its current term ending in late June that the 1992 federal ban on sports betting outside Nevada is unconstitutional, millions are expected to join the legal sports wagering markets in numerous states looking to join the game. And these market entrants or those migrating from black markets will have important financial decisions beyond determining which team will win the game, or cover the spread.
Sports wagering requires many different skills, including a keen sense of money management. Because sports wagering is not a guessing game for successful participants, acquiring the skills to thrive in the marketplace usually requires some additional expense. The old saw that lessons cost money continues to be true.
Remain wary of unrealistic claims of success and overly aggressive marketing. These will be two of the key points to remember if you enter a regulated betting market near you, advises veteran Las Vegas handicapper and analyst Andy Iskoe.
Honesty, Longevity and Expectations
Information and analysis in the sports betting world is not that dissimilar to stock trading, according to Iskoe, a well-regarded survivor in a profession in which firms and people come and go almost weekly.
Iskoe, 64, a public handicapper, podcaster, columnist and newsletter publisher under his “Logical Approach” banner and for other services for more nearly 30 years, told Sports Handle that honesty and hard work are the keys to his longevity and reminds newcomers to the betting markets that a successful handicapper in point-spread wagers needs a success rate of 53-58 percent to survive.
“I would recommend novices as well as those who think they know a lot about sports wagering to maintain realistic expectations. For the most part, any service or information provider who says they can hit at 70-80 percent is not being truthful.”
According to Iskoe, the general public today, thanks to the internet, is 20 times sharper than the professional bettors of 20 years ago. “Now, all of the information is out there. The trick is in how you interpret the data and learning how to recognize those games in which a line may not have been adjusted. This is how you might find an edge. Or, you can pay a handicapper to find that edge for you in a point spread that, although accurate when it was established, may not have been updated.”
Sign up and participate in the various forums that are now a part of many sports information and wagering websites, Iskoe counsels. “And, don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how basic it might be. Prepare yourself for some criticism if your question is uninformed because that’s what social media does these days, but just ignore it.”
Forums and Tiers of Service
Forums on various sites such as Eye On Gaming, Covers, the Rx Forum, the “sportsbook” community on Reddit, and others will also give you information as to what services may be providing sounder picks and data than others, he added.
“Also watch out for handicapping companies that offer different levels of participation or service. This a common means used by those not so reputable as a way of increasing the sales pressure by pushing a new customer towards those picks available only if you pay more money. If a service offers, lets say, five different levels of selections, you might want to avoid them.”
Iskoe says companies with levels of service can easily manipulate their menu of picks to appear more successful than they actually are.
Iskoe advises those new in the betting markets that there are no real guarantees in sports betting. [Editor’s note: If you see one making such a guarantee, run.] The disclaimer that appears on the websites and commercials of most financial advisory services also applies to sports betting. That is: Past performance may not be indicative of future results.
Beware of any handicapping service that emphasizes marketing and turning over a client list. Look for one concentrating on picking winners for themselves and for you, instead.
The NFL Reality
According to Iskoe, veteran handicappers understand that in the NFL, for example, 40-60 percent of the games have a random result; meaning the last score of the game is likely to affect which team wins the game and covers or doesn’t cover the point spread. Of the games that do not have a random outcome, a good win result is 60 percent. Looking at 100 games and noting that 40 of them produce a random result, you would be 20 and 20. If you hit 60 percent of your other plays you went 36 and 24. Add the random games into the equation and now you are 56 and 44 for those 100 plays or winning at a 56 percent rate.
Good handicappers can often be on the losing side of the random plays because although handicapped correctly there has been a “fluky result.”
“This is why if a service actually claims consistent win results beyond 60 percent it is most likely exaggerating its success. Although attainable, it is not sustainable over the long run,” Iskoe said.
Consider the The Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest, regarded as the the Super Bowl of NFL handicapping. The 2017 contest drew a record 2,748 entrants, most of them sharper players than your average. Of that field, only 46 picked at 62% or better over the course of the season, or a mere 1.6 percent. And that was with the benefit, at times, of picking against stale lines that can see big swings come Sunday.
“Try to get beyond the statistical information that is now available to everyone,” Iskoe said. “Newcomers should learn enough to make your own selections and beware of claims by services that may be truthful but deceptive or exaggerated. The honest people who are working hard would naturally know more than someone who is working another job. By virtue of spending more time doing the work, this opinion is more informed and more likely to produce winners than the opinion of an individual who doesn’t have the time to do the work.”
Other longtime observers of the Nevada sports betting scene remind newcomers to look at data and selections with an open mind rather than just looking for reinforcement of a pre-existing opinion. They caution newcomers and even those who think they know what they are doing, to be judicious in determining which betting markets to enter. No individual or service wins every play. Perhaps you have a keen focus sense for ACC basketball or AFC East contests. Focus there. Pick the market or sport where you believe you have an edge.
A prudent investment in some ancillary assistance from an information service, a data analytics company, or even a selection provider may make the emergence of legal, regulated sports wagering markets where you live all the more enjoyable and profitable, as well.
Robert H. Mann, a 31-year resident of Las Vegas, is the industry writer and columnist for Gaming Today newspaper and gamingtoday.com. His opinions are his own and may not reflect those of sportshandle.com.