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Should You Pay for Sports Picks from a Handicapping Service?

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With the 2014-2015 football season on the horizon, sports handicapping services and pick sites are popping up like wildflowers all over the internet. Unfortunately, in an industry that is widely unregulated, the vast majority of these pick sites are nothing more than boiler-room operations employing salespeople who are trained to deceive the unsuspecting sports bettor.  Many of these services are experts at getting your credit card number as opposed to being handicapping the games and providing +EV sports picks.

When looking to hire a sports handicapping service, be sure that the service satisfies all of the following criteria:

  • Transparency – The handicapping service must publish all of its picks on its website  shortly after each game starts.  The games should also be graded against a widely available line at the time of release;
  • Independence – The handicapping service should be truly independent of any other pick site or sports book.   You’ll notice that many pick sites advertise sports books on their website, which means that the handicapper is actually making a commission on his client’s losses!  Having an affiliation with any sports book is an inherent conflict of interest for any handicapping service;
  • Customer Service – Is there a live person to talk to if you have an issue with your account?  Does the handicapping service offer a toll-free number (or any number for that matter) to its clients?  If the answer is “no” to any of the foregoing questions, you should eliminate the service at issue from consideration;
  • Confidentiality – Does the pick site promise to preserve and protect your confidential information?  Or, like many sports handicapping services, does it sell your personal information to third parties in an effort to make an extra buck?  When looking to hire a handicapper, be sure that your personal information will not be traded to outside parties because confidentiality is the hallmark of any legitimate pick site.
  • Long-Term Results – Has the sports pick site consistently out-performed the investment industry over a long period of time?  While losing days, weeks and even months are a reality due to the inherent nature of sports betting, the important question is whether the handicapper has achieved long-term, documented results. Judging a handicapping service on a large sample size is the only logical way to determine the likelihood of its future success.

The sports handicapping industry has developed a bad reputation for good reason. Fly-by-night operations are popping up everywhere promising get-rich-quick schemes to desperate sports bettors.  Pick sites create illusions and smoke-and-mirrors by advertising misleading win percentages and short-term results as opposed to educating the betting public on the importance of long-term, sustained growth. Meaningful return on investment is achieved over a period of months and years, not over a weekend or on one Monday Night Football game.

Lying by omission is also a popular tactic utilized by many pick sites.  These handicapping services will tell the bettor about the good runs while leaving out the bad runs that ultimately leave the handicapper as a 50/50 proposition long-term. This advertising tactic is often times used by large handicapping conglomerates that employ many handicappers on its site.  While handicapper A is on a “12-2 run,” handicapper B, C, D and E are losing their shirts but those results are conveniently left out by the pick site.  The odds are that at least one of the handicappers on the site will be on a winning streak so that the service can advertise that “red-hot run.”

Sports bettors need to demand more from the handicapping industry.  Demand a phone conference with the owner of the pick site to determine whether he is a legitimate expert at handicapping games.  Does he share advanced analytics or meaningless trends like “Team A is 31-5 on Tuesdays?”  In short, does he know what he’s talking about or is he merely a salesman desperately trying to get your money? Finally, there is a reason why most handicapping sites do not publish their results. Think about it for a moment.  If the pick site was truly successful, they would be shouting from the mountaintops with their winning records and long-term results. Instead, most pick sites publish outlandish winning percentages that are strictly meant to deceive the most desperate sports bettor.

Determining whether a sports bettor should purchase picks from a reputable handicapping service like Oskeim Sports involves two considerations: (1) the sports bettor’s beginning bankroll; and (2) whether the cost of service makes sense from a Return on Investment (ROI) standpoint.  A sports bettor needs to realize a winning percentage of 53.19% to break even with a handicapping service (52.38% without paying for a service).  If you believe that the sports handicapping service will increase your winning percentage by approximately 1%, it makes financial sense to invest in the service.

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