"There's Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics" ~ Mark Twain
Ok, maybe the world renowned author Mark Twain didn’t come up with this saying, but nevertheless it is usually attributed to him. This saying is often used to describe the persuasive power of numbers. At PickHub, we can think of no better phrase to describe the harmful and predatory marketing tactics used by many sports handicapping services that exist on the Internet today. Popular “handicappers” boast their amazing 65% win records, and go by their own self-proclaimed status as “Bookie killers”, or professional gamblers! These are their words, not ours. But rather than attack these services and their marketing tactics directly, instead we want to focus on what we at PickHub do differently - and how we are trying to create a more ethical and transparent handicapping service that truly has our customer’s best interests in mind. As part of this goal, this post will shed light on some of the myths in the sports handicapping industry.
Myth: There are sports handicapping services that will consistently win 60% of the time
This is patently false. We’re here to tell you that short runs are definitely possible (indeed, check out PickHub’s own October performance!). However, it is completely un-realistic to assume that this type of ROI is sustainable in the long-run. There’s multiple reasons why this is true, and we will briefly list them here.
- Lines are set by a combination of industry professionals, machine learning models, and advanced statistical methods. By design a sportsbook will try to set the line such that there is approximately a 50/50 chance on either outcome. This helps even the money on both sides of the bet and minimize the sportsbooks exposure to risk.
- If you could win 60% of the time in the long-run, then EVERYONE would use your service. Such an advertised return is quite literally better than the stock market (which traditionally hits 7% ROI year-over-year adjusted for inflation). Why on earth would Warren Buffet bother with the stock market when he could just take money from the casinos? Ah, indeed there must be something fishy going on here…
The two reasons above should have you questioning any sports handicapping service that purports to have such large returns for their customers. But more importantly reason (1) above is what you should consider when picking a sports handicapping service. How can the service that you’re using beat the oddsmaking teams at the largest sportsbooks in the world? Are they using the right tools? Or do they just have a guy in a funny hat who goes with his gut feeling as he sips cheap whisky?
We hope to educate our customers on these dirty details of the sports handicapping industry.
How is PickHub different?
PickHub is different in a number of ways. First, we highly recommend our users sign up as premium subscribers which provides FREE weekly picks if our model fails to meet the PickHub standard expected by our customers. This means if we can’t beat the vig (a 52.5% win rate), then you will not pay for the next week of picks. Realistically, we would love to hit the 55% to 56% win rate (which is a better return than the traditional bond market). Additionally, we strive to have some of the lowest prices on the Internet for sports handicapping services. This stems from the fact that we understand that betting can be (and often is) a losing proposition for many bettors. Charging high prices for “professional picks” by a guy who looks like this:
is not the best use of your money (by the way, the guy above is a fraud. Stay away from hucksters like this). We try to keep our costs low, and minimize our customer’s losses during losing weeks (which will inevitably happen).
The reality of sports betting is this: people often enjoy gambling on sports, whether or not they plan to profit. Indeed, all of the staff at PickHub loves gambling on sports as well! We would love to see a relaxation on the United States gambling laws so that more innovative solutions can be built around ethical forms of gambling (for example, peer-to-peer betting exchanges). Extremely low fee betting exchanges essentially eliminate vigorish, and make sports gambling a truly skill-based activity. While the current state of sports betting (i.e., placing your bets through traditional sportsbooks) is also skill-based, the deck is stacked against the bettor and designed to only make the market maker (the bookie) money.
As a result, we believe you truly do need to use advanced modeling and machine learning to give yourself any chance at profiting in the long-term. At PickHub, we are constantly working on building new models using machine learning and artificial intelligence and combining them in ways that maximize the edge we provide to customers. Will we give you a 60% win rate? No. Can we help you make money without lying to you? We believe so, yes! And at PickHub, we don’t stop with just giving you premium picks. We also strive to educate our members with posts like this one. So stay tuned and happy betting!