Distribution & You
Why the Size of Your Bet
Can't be Used as a Pry-Bar to Make More Profit Than You Deserve
Even if you have a long term
advantage against pointspreads and over-under lines, you will go broke with
the use of faulty money management. For our purposes in this article, we'll
say you have a 57.5% winning expectation on each and every bet. (Of
course, the actual winning expectation is rarely the same on any two bets,
- but our record shows we expect between 55%-58% over the long term.)
...So, how many winners can you expect in the next, say, 21 bets?
Well, 57.5% of 21 is 12.075, so the answer figures to be 12, producing a
win-loss record of 12-9.
Trouble is, a record of 12-9 is not the only thing that can
happen. There are several other results that are also very likely, and some
of these other results are not good. The graph below shows the binomial
distribution of all the possible outcomes.
Notice that although a result of 12-9 is the most likely of
all outcomes, a result of precisely 12-9 will occur only slightly more than
17% of the time. That's only about one time in six. In real life, you can
figure on a record of something other than 12-9 about 5 out of 6
With a 55% expectation-per-bet, you can plan on making any profit
at all only about 60% of the time over your next 21 bets. In 4
out of 10 cases, you can expect to win less than twelve out of 21 bets.
Even with a 55% winning expectation on every bet, you must be
aware that it is just as easy to go 7-14 (or worse!) as it is to go
17-4 or better.
Once in about 8 times you can expect to lose 13 or more of
your next 21 bets. By understanding the consequences of the probabilities
involved, you can avoid the disastrous results of using such
nonsensical money management traps as the so-called 'Kelly
criterion' or the suicidal 'one-star, two-star, three-star' nonsense,
or some other progressive betting schemes.
In our book, How Professional Gamblers Beat the Pro Football
Pointspread, we explain why most people go broke
betting on sports because they don't understand the ramifications of the
probabilities; - not because they can't call winners. They are victims of
the fallacy that progressive betting schemes can produce more profit than
Over the course of an entire NFL season we figure to have upwards
of 210 opinions against pointspreads and totals, - but that does not mean
we can view those 210 opinions as though they were ten individual 'blocks'
of 21 bets. The 210 opinions can be regarded as a continuum of bets from 1
through 210, or a continuum of 21-block units from 21 through 210. Bets 1
through 21 comprise the first such block, bets 2 through 22 comprise the
second block, bets 3 through 23 comprise the third block, etc., within 210
consecutive bets there are 189 blocks of 21 consecutive bets.
Since there are 189 'blocks' of 21 consecutive bets in a series of
210 bets, it's virtually a sure thing that we will have more than one block
wherein our record will be WORSE than 8-13, and it's also pretty much guaranteed
that we will have more than one 'block' wherein our record is better than
16-5. Neither of these results means we are performing better or worse than
our normal level of handicapping. Such results are caused by wholly normal
and natural fluctuations from the mathematical expectation - binomial
The trick is to be ready for the ups and downs that are bound to
occur simply due to the mathematics of the situation. With upwards of 210
opinions against NFL lines, we do expect an overall win rate in the area of
55%-58%, but we also fully expect a very bumpy ride along the way. Against
the NFL, to ensure that you'll still be alive in January, we highly
recommend a bet size of no more than 2% of your bankroll. Guarantees come
with toasters, not football bets, but we are confident we can offer you a
pool of 55%-58% winners from which to make your own choices over the entire
NFL season. How many bets we might win over the next ten or twenty tries,
however, is hardly more than a guess. Scale your bet sizes so you'll be
alive in January. Refrain from 'jiggling' the size of your bets; keep all
bets the same size.
NOTE: According to expert researcher Dr. Nigel E. Turner, Ph.D.,
Scientist, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, incremental betting is
one of the telltale signs of someone with a gambling problem.
Did you get that last paragraph? If you absolutely cannot resist
betting more on some plays than others, if you cannot resist increasing
your bet size to either catch up or to press a winning streak, you may have
a gambling problem.
Sports betting on a professional level must be approached as an
investment, not a bonanza. Understanding that fact may be the biggest
difference between successful bettors and chronic losers. Sports betting is
not a means to get rich overnight. Think "stock market," NOT
"lottery." Think "investment," NOT "Brink's truck
We have nearly 1,500 picks per year in Professional Gambler Newsletter.
(That's against pro and
NCAA football and basketball, pro baseball and pro hockey.) We
expect a minimum of 30 units' profit per 1,000. Risking 2% of your bankroll
per bet, you figure it out. What are the chances of doing that well in the
If you are not familiar with the vagaries of binomial distribution
described above, we recommend that you track us
for at least 100 picks, and preferably 200 picks, before subscribing to Professional Gambler Newsletter. It
will give you a better sense of the winning and losing streaks we expect
along the way.
Miller & Jack Painter, 1993
Jack Painter (right) taught us,
“If you use a Star-betting system you’d better like stars because
you’re going to be sleeping under them.”
Jack was a good teacher. His insights concerning
handicapping sports and managing a bankroll are helpful to even the most
sophisticated sports bettors. Before his death in 1994 Jack taught sports
betting at Community College of Southern Nevada and on his radio show, Insider
Sports. He did a lot for us, never asking for anything in return. We
still owe him.
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