Winning 55% of your spread picks might not sound that impressive. But it would make you a very, very rich man.
What’s a good winning percentage to shoot for when it comes to sports betting?
It’s not as high as you think. In fact, it’s around the same rate of success as Shaquille O’Neal’s career conversion rate at the free throw line.
Yes, 55-58 per cent is a very profitable winning percentage when sports 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 55 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.
12 wins of $100 = $1200
8 losses of $110 = -$880
Total profit $320
You profited $320 by picking 60% winners on 20 games.
Now, let’s say you bet on 50 games and won 28 of them, betting $110 to win $100 on each play.
28 wins of $100 = $2800
22 losses of $110 = -$2420
Total profit $380
You profited $380 by picking 56% winners on 50 games — more than you made picking 60% winners on 20 games.
Apply a small edge over and over
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 jar. There are 550 yellow balls and 450 red balls in the jar (the 550 yellow balls out of 1,000 total balls representing your 55 per cent winners).
If you were to just pick out 50 balls out of the jar, 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 55 per cent of the balls in the jar are yellow, you might pick 25 or more red balls in your first 50 picks.
Over 1,000 picks out of the jar, however, the law of averages says that you would pick a yellow ball approximately 550 times.
The more times you pick a ball out of the jar, the more likely you are to pick more yellow ones.
Similarly, the more bets you make as a bettor expecting to win 55 per cent of your games, the more likely you are to win more than you lose.
It’s the same way as 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.