In a nutshell:

"With a 57.5% winning expectation, you are as likely to go 4-10 as to go 12-2... Sports bettors don't go broke because they can't call winners, and they don't go broke because of vigorish; - they go broke because they use faulty money management."
- J. R.Miller

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This article has been edited from a larger feature story in The KANSAS CITY STAR newspaper, written by Sam Mellinger, and published on Saturday, February 09, 2008

Winners in sports betting are the ones who treat it like a business

Saturday, February 09, 2008

…The Millers make it sound so damn easy. “You flip a coin and you win 50 percent. All you have to do is make 53 percent to keep your money…”

Of course, if it really were that easy…Vegas wouldn’t have all those presidential suites and neon lights and seafood buffets. The now-illegal offshore bookmakers wouldn’t think it worth the effort to skirt American law enforcement.

Estimates say as much as $400 billion — roughly equivalent to car sales — is bet on sports each year in America. Most of that is revenue for the house, and the biggest chunk is done illegally online.

More than 100 million Americans place sports bets each year, ranging from entertainment to recreation to full-time. A small percentage of them live the dream of gamblers everywhere, from the recreational, $20-on-my-alma-mater guy to the compulsive, lost-my-house guy.

You call it gambling, they call it investing. Some people play the stock market, they play the point spreads. Same theories, they say. Better chance of high rewards.

How they do it is a risky and harder-than-it-sounds story that some experts say is nothing more than a mirage that feeds the gambling machine. But as long as there are casinos taking bets, there will be millions of people trying for the dream life that only a few can realize.

 “We lived in Vegas,” J.R. Miller says. “And, well, one thing led to another.”

Vegas led to blackjack, which led to sports bets, which led to a newsletter and Web site —

J.R. along with son J.V. and brother R.J. play about 2,500 games a year. That’s six or seven a day, 50 a week and 200 a month. It’s a wearing-down process. Miller says “The most important thing is money management, and that means keeping bets steady and reasonable.”

The house’s advantage comes in a small portion it takes from winning bets, known as the juice or vigorish, a margin that means the break-even point for bettors is 52.38 percent.

The Millers rely on research and time for an advantage of around 2 percent that, when multiplied a couple of thousand times over, turns a profit that matches the neighbor’s salary. They keep bets to a small fraction of the total bankroll, allowing them to withstand extended losing streaks — like 0-13 during week 15 of the 1985 NFL season.

“What will kill most people is greed, making their bets too big,” Miller says. “It’s all about money management. The stats and information, with the Internet, are there for anybody to see…”

Successful sports gamblers are dispassionate, removed and emotionally uninvolved. Bets are expressions of mathematics and never to be taken personally. Trouble is, sports gambling often attracts the exact opposite kind of person.....


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