Why No One Wins 70 Per Cent Of Their Bets

Whenever you come across a handicapping service that says it wins 70 per cent of its picks or better, there’s only one thing you should do.

Drew Brees' late TD pass screwed under bettors Sunday.

Run away, as fast as you can.

It’s impossible to win 70 per cent of your bets over the long term when you’re picking against the point spread or totals. (Money lines can be different, since you could bet on -200 favourites all the time, though even then you’d have to win 66 per cent of those to just break even.)

Want proof? Just look at last week in the National Football League.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans

The Texans, 9.5-point favourites, led by just a touchdown in the final minute. But Neil Rackers kicked a field goal with 18 seconds left to give Houston a 10-point win and screw anyone who bet on the Jaguars.

New Orleans Saints at St. Louis Rams

There’s no such thing as a meaningless touchdown. The Saints trailed by 17 points late in the fourth quarter, but Drew Brees’ TD pass with

six seconds left made the score 31-21 Rams and sent the game over the total of 49. To make things worse for anyone who bet the under in this game, the score was 3-0 Rams late in the first half. There were also two defensive touchdowns in the game, and St. Louis scored two touchdowns in less than a minute in the first half.

Cincinnati Bengals at Seattle Seahawks

All signs pointed to a defensive struggle between these two teams, and that’s what we got for three-and-a-half quarters. The Bengals held a 17-3 lead late in the third quarter, making it seem like a lock that the game would go under the total of 37.5 points. But the teams combined for 23 points in the fourth — including a punt return TD and an interception return TD — to send the game soaring over the total.

In all three of these examples, the pick that ended up winning was the wrong one. Jacksonville should have covered the spread while those two football games definitely should have gone under.

(And let’s not even mention the bizarre safety with six seconds left in the Patriots/Steelers game, costing me a Patriots +6.5 bet I made with live betting.)

This kind of stuff happens every week, and not just in the NFL. Hockey totals and puck lines are often screwed by a late empty-netter, and many a basketball ticket has been lost on a “meaningless” buzzer-beating heave.

The point is that over the long run, there are simply too many random and unpredictable plays to win 70 per cent of your bets. An excellent but realistic winning percentage to shoot for is between the 55-60 per cent rate, which would make you a lot of money.

Those handicapping services that say they’re winning 70 per cent or better? Either they’re lying or they’re just spinning their numbers to make them look the best.