So You Want to Be a Sports Handicapper? Think Again

Celtics’ Jayson Tatum in the NBA Playoffs.
Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics against the Miami Heat in the NBA Playoffs. Andy Lyons/Getty/ via AFP

When sports bettors see handicappers on television or on YouTube videos, they often see people that look successful, talk like they are very successful, and have life by the tail.

They can only imagine working a few hours a day, working in sports and betting on sports, while making all kinds of money, what a life. While some of those things are true, others are very false.

Let’s examine the pros and cons of being a sports handicapper from different platforms.

Working Hours in Sports Betting Are Long

Let’s face it, getting up and being consumed with sports all day is not a bad way to make a living. You get to study sports of all kinds and take deep dives and figure out what to choose against the spread, totals, or moneylines and you get paid to do so. And you then get to watch sports to see how your selections turned out. Pretty great right?

What isn’t talked about is the hours. There is a perception you pick a few games, do writeups or have an algorithm built and you have the rest of the day to yourself while the money rolls in.

If you subtract the days off around baseball’s All-Star break and Christmas Eve, there is a betting card to handicap over 350 days a year.

Most handicappers that don’t have a second job, which many do, are not done when they make their picks, because to reach an audience, they, like everyone else in the world that has something to sell, have to market their product.

It is not unusual for cappers to work 50 or more hours a week (60+ during football), seven days a week.

Marketing Must Be Part of Your Skillset

Those of us that have been in the business for a long time know this is more than just picking winners. No question this is extremely important and that provides a natural way to promote you and your product.

But over the years, we have seen numerous great handicappers that had a real knack for picking winners go by the wayside because they couldn’t make enough money just by selling picks.

You have to be or learn to become an excellent marketer, that helps sell your product to the masses, which allows you to make a living and hopefully a good one. For instance:

  • Making videos and participating in podcasts
  • Network so you can take part in doing radio shows and/or getting on television.
  • Aligning with large sports betting websites that have large traffic, with you promoting yourself.

This all takes time and you have to network to make the right connections. Being correct with selections is imperative, but so is marketing.

Money Management for Expert Bettors

You sell your picks and back them up by betting them yourself is absolutely great advice if you are winning. A form of double-dipping. But when it comes to betting on sports, for ATS bets, you have to hit 52.8 percent to break even.

Most quality sports betting experts like to use 55% as their first goal in a sport and 60% or higher when or if they are locked. The betting public loves a hot capper and will pay them to ride streaks. Betting in those times can enhance your winning and livelihood.

But what happens if you are 50% or worse in a popular sport? If you are not doing well for your customers and you compound the problem by taking the money you made from your job and start losing that way, you become just another degenerate gambler on a losing streak.

The wisest handicappers follow what they preach about money management and take a portion of their money for betting, knowing they have bills to pay and have others that depend on them. Always remember, this is a commission job.

The Inherent Pressure of Working as a Sports Bettor

Let’s say you have made money in sports betting, enough that it has allowed you to buy things you wanted or needed and you have the confidence to keep your regular job, yet thoroughly desire to get into the handicapping field and you see plenty of so-called “professional cappers” in which from your research showed, you have a better record than they did.

When betting on your own, you are accountable to yourself. Open up a betting site, learn to do the marketing better than most and you build a client base and now you have customers with expectations.

This is no longer about you winning or losing, you are being paid to be successful and the pressure becomes different, though you are still essentially doing the same thing, making picks. 

In the fall, you put out a football Game of the Month or Game of the Year and you get lucky and in that one day, you make more money in a single day than you have ever in your life.

That adds pressure to succeed. If you end up being correct, you are on top of the world.

However, if wrong because your pick had three turnovers and played their worst game of the season, which was not your fault, the negativity from those you sold to can be overwhelming, especially the first several times that occurs. For every wager, there is a winner and a loser and this can shake your confidence.

Legalized Sports Betting Means More Competition

If you are a sports nut, who is willing to work long hours and have an understanding family, being a successful handicapper is a great deal of fun and can be rewarding, sometimes Extremely rewarding financially if you make the right connections.

One thing to always keep in mind, this is a job and the most successful people are smarter in some manner, which is why they have more money, they figured something out.

And with legalized gambling and more outlets opening up, including those being paid a salary to give out picks on media from betting sites, without your knowledge, the competition has never been more fierce.

The smarter and harder you work, the better chance you have for success. But in the end, it is still a job that you have to be better than someone else to have and to keep.

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