What’s a good winning percentage to shoot for when it comes to betting sports?
It’s not as high as you might think. In fact, it’s around the same rate of success as Shaquille O’Neal enjoys at the free throw line.
Yes, 56-58 per cent is a very profitable winning percentage when betting on point spreads and totals at -110 juice. (We’ll ignore moneylines in this article because the odds vary so much.)
That might sound stupid. Why not shoot for 60 per cent or higher? Wouldn’t 60 per cent be better?
Of course, 60 per cent is better than 56 per cent. But 60 per cent is also very hard to attain over the long run, meaning that you’re probably not betting on as many games as you should.
Let’s say you bet on 20 games and win 12 of them, betting $110 to win $100 on each play. That means you won $1200 and lost $880 (8 x $110), leaving you with a profit of $320. Your winning percentage is 60 per cent.
Now, let’s say you bet on 50 games and won 28 of them, betting $110 to win $100 on each play. That means you won $2800 and lost $2420 (22 x $110), leaving you with a profit of $380. Your winning percentage is 56 per cent, but you earned more than what you made when you won 60 per cent of your bets.
Basically, as long as you know you can consistently pick more winners than losers, volume is a good thing.
Think of it as picking coloured balls out of a giant box. There are 560 yellow balls and 440 red balls in the box (the 560 yellow balls representing your 56 per cent winners).
If you were to just pick out 50 balls out of the box, putting the balls back every time, there’s no guarantee how many yellow balls you would pick and how many red balls you would grab. Even though 56 per cent of the balls in the box are yellow, you might pick 25 or more red balls in your first 50 picks.
Over 1,000 picks out of the box, however, the law of averages says that you would pick a yellow ball approximately 560 times.
The more times you pick a ball out of the box, the more likely you are to pick more yellow ones. Similarly, the more bets you make as a bettor expecting to win 56 per cent of your games, the more likely you are to win more than you lose.
That’s how casinos make their money, after all. Someone might get on a lucky run at the Blackjack table and make some quick money, but over the long run the odds against the player will ensure the casino makes its money in the end.