WinPicks Reference Manual

Appendix A.4. Beating the Line

One of the first questions asked by prospective gamblers is "How often do you have to win to make money?" Well, as we mentioned earlier, the book gets a percentage of every wager. This percentage is called the vig (short for vigorish) or the juice. The vig is usually 10%. All gamblers have to pay the vig, but the winners get it back. To illustrate this, consider that anyone who makes a $10 wager has to give $11 to the book. Winners are paid $21. This $21 consists of the return of the original $10 wager, the return of the $1 vig, and the $10 that the winner just won. In contrast, if you lose you're out $11, since the book keeps the $10 wager and the $1 vig. If the number of winners and losers are equal, the book keeps $1 out of every $22 wagered, or the 4.5% that we mentioned earlier.

Every sports bettor should know that, due to the vig, you need to win more than 50% of the time to break even. For example, if you made a hundred $10 wagers, and won half of them you would lose $50. You would win only $500 (50 x 10) and lose $550 (50 x 11). The winning percentage you need to break even is 52.4%, which happens to be 11 out of 21.

Beating the line more than 52.4% of the time is harder than it sounds. You have probably seen advertisements or web sites where tout services claim an against the spread (ATS) record of 70% or higher. Many thousands of customers have fallen for these exaggerated claims. Don't believe it. Every gambler has a hot streak once in a while, but experienced handicappers know that a 70% winning percentage is impossible to maintain over long periods of time. If you consistently hit in the 55% to 60% range, you'll outperform nearly all of the tout services. Every year, the organizations that monitor touts services report that many hit less than 50%, or worse than they would do by flipping a coin. Far less than half of the tout services reach the 52.4% required to break even. And these services can be expensive, some touts charge thousands of dollars per season for their selections! When you factor in their fees, turning a profit becomes even less likely.

The plain truth is that the oddsmakers know their business. They normally set a sharp, accurate line, and beating it consistently requires a lot of work. However, WinPicks can greatly improve your chances since it does nearly all of the work for you. The majority of WinPicks customers routinely beat the point spread. In the following sections we'll discuss how to tap the power of WinPicks when wagering on pro football, college football, pro basketball, and college basketball.

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